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Many years ago, Paul J. Fink, M.D. was head of the American Psychiatric association, and made a remark in a speech which I have never forgotten, although I can’t find the text of the original speech.

He said something to the effect that prostitution and psychiatry had the same problem — the amateurs think they are as good as the professionals.

I can’t give any kind of a reasonable assessment of how this would apply to professional prostitutes.  It seems to me as if there is a tremendous amount of information available to anyone who seeks it with assiduity.  Besides, I am unaware of structured training, university degrees, or licensure or any kind of proof of skill for professional prostitutes.

As for psychiatrists, I am constantly amazed by how many people are unaware of what we really do.  Misinformation abounds in the media, films especially. Read more on Leave Medical Comments Out Of Politics…

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In 1932, my paternal Grandmother-Of-Blessed-Memory bought the house where my father and aunt – and eventually my brother and I — grew up.  Until her passing while I was in medical school, she was the undisputed queen of the castle.

As a stereo-typical Jewish Mother, she was in constant competition with my mother in the kitchen.  My mother always tried to act pleasantly, but between her father driving in from two hours to the west and arriving at 6 am on Sundays to tell her she was too fat, and my father’s mother besting her in the kitchen, she was generally miserable and had little ability to hide her misery from me.

My father did not show my mother any affection where I could see. Read more on The Power Of Silence…

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I was so well-behaved and knowledgeable in elementary school that the only times  remember being reprimanded, even gently, was when I was told to let other students answer questions occasionally.

I was pretty much always teacher’s pet.  Even at gifted children’s school.

John Holt visited my fourth grade class once a week.

He had no pet. Read more on Circles — Sacred and Scientific…

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Once upon a time when I was a humble resident at the outpatient clinic of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, Kansas, I shared a patient with a psychologist in private practice.  He was Jewish, of eastern seaboard origin and training.  He asked me for a date, and we dated a few times.  Dr. C. was really smart, and was a top-notch therapist who knew plenty more than a lot of the university types. After four dates, he did not even try to kiss me — not even a chaste peck on the neck — nothing, really. I liked him.  He was a puddingy guy, in both body and disposition — no athlete, not a heartthrob, and I certainly could not motivate myself to kiss him first.  But I really did like him. I asked him, as gently as I could, if he wanted to continue to hang out, because it was plain to me that this was not going anywhere.

“We got no limerence,” he told me. He was a little disappointed that I did not know the meaning of the word.  I shrugged my shoulders; this was psychology, not psychiatry, and I knew plenty of stuff, but not this. He told me that when he looked at me, he saw the tiny piece of food stuck between my teeth.  Besides, I was a “larger” woman and he preferred shorter. He was really saying I was too heavy, which I would have been for lots of folks at that time. I thanked him for his candor. I saw him next at a local film series with his date, a very thin woman with crooked teeth, who did not seem to have any food stuck between them. He was right.  We had no limerence. As far as I was concerned he didn’t find me in any way “sexy” and didn’t want to try and that was just fine, really.  It was all cordial and we continued to share patients. Curiously enough, I was friendly with his family. The idea of a psychiatrist and psychologist being married and practicing together was financially seductive to his family.  It was easy to stay with them when I was invited East to present a paper at a conference. I told his sister-in-law, after a warm greeting, that love was not going to happen and certainly not marriage but I needed friends and I was only a resident so not very rich could I stay with them anyway?   She laughed and then so did I. All of this has been good. I now have love and limerance and a thousand other delicious things with my beloved husband. Still, I checked up on Dr. C’s use of the term “limerance,” and it was accurate. Read more on Limerence And Love…

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When I was very itty-bitty and went to synagogue, there were certain moments when I felt the presence of the Deity so clearly and strong that my eyes and ears would be fixed on the events on the pulpit and I would tremble. This happened at the point in the liturgy when the Cantor held the Torah over his head. The Torah is the set of scrolls that contain the first five books of the Old Testament, hand copied onto the parchment in Hebrew. This alone was a marvelous achievement for this man with a deformed hip who did not exactly look as if he pumped iron.  He sang majestically, and the whole congregation knew this tune cold. Everyone also knew the words.

The words were those of Proverbs 3:18. “It is a tree of life to those who hold it fast….” As a child I regularly visited the cemetery with my family.  My Father-Of-Blessed-Memory would speak the prayers for the dead for the whole family, as my mother did not know how and my brother was too young and I probably believed I was, too — except really I was too female, but not yet in any way ready to deal with that fact. Many graves had the shape of — or at least a drawing of — a tree of which the trunk or a major branch had been cut.  For a child in a sunshine-filled cemetery, the idea of death being like a pruned version of the tree of life was accessible and acceptable in the context of nature. Read more on From Trees To Networks…

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I was a neurosurgeon in training in western Canada when I decided I need to buy myself a typewriter.  I know that I reveal my age when I describe it as typing only on the piece of paper inserted into it.

I reveal my age even more clearly when I admit that I read the classifieds in print in the local provincial Canadian newspaper.

I drove to the modest apartment of a family somewhere in the wilds of Alberta, Canada.  The typewriter was nearly new with a “standard” keyboard such as the one I had learned touch typing on at the Beaver Country Day School.  Typing was supposed to be a skill a woman could “fall back on” in case high-falutin’ plans like specialized medical training did not work out. Read more on Salespeople, And Used Cars In Particular…

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Mostly everything that comes up and hits you in the teeth about the current controversy around “core standards” seems to be more political than born of actual knowledge.

This no surprise, really, since this is the reductionistic American mentality that makes it difficult to have meaningful conversations with the American Public without making them sound a lot like radio talk show rants.

With customary naiveté and sheer guts, I made the decision that I could not have an opinion about it without knowing what it actually was. Read more on Core Standards For Education – Political Grandstanding?…

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I was in my specialty training when I read Peter D.Kramer’s “Listening to Prozac.”

I remember thinking he was articulate and observant and all kinds of wonderful things, riding the cusp of a great change in psychiatry, doubting him to be a “real” scientist who would hang out at a meeting of the Society for Biological Psychiatry as I once did.

I was wondering what to do with the result of his observation that certain character traits, such as “rejection sensitivity,” could be somehow changed for the better with psycho-pharmacology. Read more on “Listening to Prozac” and What People Really Want…

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I do not claim to be perfect but I DO claim to be a good doctor.  Not just a good psychiatrist.  Being a good doctor comes first.

One reason is that despite a lot of medical practice since graduation (I will admit to wincing a bit when I quote the figure in years–34) in multiple specialties, I still believe that taking care of other human beings and trying to help them through life is a sacred trust.  I actually believe that doing what I do the best I can is more important to whatever religious future my soul can scrape up than showing up at public worship.  Honest.

Another reason that I am a good doctor is that I am old enough that an amazing amount of bad medical things have happened to me.  Often before I knew better, they were the side effects of prescription drugs.  I now accept them only as temporary solutions.  I would rather dive into the world of alternative natural substances — which do work — if the practitioner is someone who knows what they are doing which I do. Read more on Cholesterol Lowering and Drugs…

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I was traveling the United States looking for a graduate level training job in neurosurgery.  Women were not as accepted in medicine as they are now.  Personally, I think it is at least in part because medicine was still considered a serious profession.  Most of the places I interviewed had never hired a woman as a neurosurgery resident before.  They would ask me behind closed doors (with no witnesses) if I planned to have a family or practice part time and thus compromise the investment in time and money they planned to make in me.

Oy!

I had met Mother Rocky, the great Jewish matriarch of a hunk of St. Louis, on a flight to that august city, where I had lucked out by getting a free upgrade to first class.

She seemed to think I would have some interest in an arranged marriage. Read more on The Part of Being Female I Still Wrestle With…

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