I'm pretty sure that there are just assholes in every profession. If anything I'd like to think that jobs revolving around treating others would attract sympathetic people. Maybe most people in the mental health field are nice but just get worn down over the years. Which if so would be tragic.
I think this is very much the case, especially "lower rung" mental health professionals. As most people who know me from chat know, I worked at a youth shelter for a little over a year. I have been told by a lot of people that I am incredibly empathetic and I have wanted to be a therapist for a long time. I have a very strong drive to help other people and have trouble watching the news because I get angry at injustice.
By the end of my tenure as the bottom rung of the mental health profession aka "direct care" I was burnt out to the point of having a relapse in my own mental health issues so severe that I almost completely detached from what I was doing. I was disgusted by the limits of the system and the ignorance of the so called "higher ups." I was given a huge caseload and put in charge of taking care of several teens, many with severe mental health issues (think psychotic breaks, extreme violent tendencies, etc.) I worked incredibly long shifts, and I had no official "breaks" at all. I remember more often than not I did not eat during my shifts unless it was a quick grab of whatever was left over that we made for the clients (and even then half the time I couldn't eat it since I am a vegetarian and most of it was covered in chicken broth? for some reason). Keep in mind these are 10-13 hour shifts, sometimes longer. There were days when I did not get a chance to use the bathroom. I was asked to come in to when I was ill enough have trouble driving to work 12 hour shifts and basically told if I didn't come in I wouldn't have a job. A huge part of me loved what I did, but it takes a toll on you. I wasn't allowed to be "too empathetic" because it would be breaking boundaries, yet I was supposed to be teachign what appropriate boundaries are. I dont think many people would argue that it is appropriate for teen girls to ask young women (for I was only a few years older than the oldest clients I worked with) for advice on things like makeup and hair. I got in trouble for singing to the kids becuase it was "too motherly" yet I was there to take care of them. I had to shut myself off so I could get through the day.
I often butted heads with my superiors because I knew that our practices were poor. There is something fundamentally wrong with housing rapists with rape victims. My boss was contradictory and put on a "good face" when she needed to get by things like inspections. I can't get into to many examples, but one such example is when she told me to break our own policy (which we had just been required to review as part of an annual education thing) about housing a sex offender in a double room because "we didn't have the space and well, other places do that." Well, those were other places, that is a bad idea in general, and it was AGAINST OUR POLICY. But when her boss was there *I* ended up taking the fall for something similar, even though I was actually only following my boss's instructions. The training given to people in these positions is piss poor. Being "medication certified' means absolutely nothing. I was put in charge of educating our entire staff about medication interactions, and I was the youngest one (edit: youngest full timer) there. The only reason I knew anything about it is because I happened to have been on (at one time) many of the meds our clients had been on, and I probably saved one kid from having severe kidney issues after telling a staff member that lithium + ibuprofen is a terrible, terrible idea.
There is a condition called "vicarious traumatization" that is in some ways related to PTSD and many, many mental health care professionals suffer from it. It burns you out, it makes it hard to take care of yourself because you put a lot into other people, and eventually you turn into a zombie and are just trying to get by. You lose sleep and ahve nightmares, and it is hard to view innocent situations as they are. Everything is a danger, every person is a predator, etc. I got out of the situation I was in before I became a cynic at a VERY young age. And when I started engaging in some of the very practices I was supposed to help heal the kids from, I knew I absolutely ahd to leave, but some people don't have that option or that type of self awareness.
I'm not defending the crap doctors and nurses and health care professionals that are crap just because they ARE crap. There are plenty of people who are power trippers, crazy chasers, and just not suited for the job. But a lot of people burn out fast and really do want to help, but once you yourself lose the will to feel because if you do you know you'll break down and do something awful (I won't even disclose the many things I wanted to do because I still can't forgive myself the thoughts I had at the end of my work there).
Personally, I will never again go to a therapist who doesn't admit to me that they also seek therapy. My current therapist is AMAZING and openly admitted to me the other day that she regularly seeks therapy as well, when she needs it, because she needs to self care to care for others.
P.S. I think I also, in part, adore her because she also basically paraphrased "studies show intelligent girls are more depressed" by noting that intellectuals and artists are more analytical and willing to face how ugly things really are, and at times refuse to "put on blinders" to how fucked up our world is because there's something wrong with that type of ignorance. Though of course there is also genetic predisposition and chemical processes.