Talk to a psychiatrist long enough about what they do, and you are going to start to hear about diagnoses. They assess for groups of symptoms that meet criteria for these diagnoses. They make decisions about medicines based on these assessments.
So that sounds reasonable enough. But it gets very limiting when you try to talk to them about what you think might really be going on with someone you are trying to help. Actually, you can start to feel crazy if these conversations go on long enough. I can only imagine what it is like for patients who engage in these converations with psychiatrists about themselves.
Psychiatrists steer it back to diagnosis because that is what they are most comfortable with – your label, or the label of the person you are discussing. They don’t always do this explicitly, but that is what guides most of their discourse with you.
It helps sometimes to bring this up, and ask if there are other factors apart from diagnosis that they would like to weigh in on.
It can turn the conversation in a very refreshing direction.