Like many others, I am of the type who has been made to feel less. Less than healthy, less than human; whatever, the kind of feeling that sells diet food and diet plans. Read more on A Few Extra Pounds Might Not Be So Bad…
I enjoy having friends, like just about everyone does. But that’s not why I’m in this business. When a patient needs help, I will do my best for them every single time. And if a few colleagues get bruised egos along the way, so be it.
She was a 53-year-old woman, but I don’t think she even would have liked to hear me to refer to her as a woman. We’re talking about someone who was short and stout and wore the kind of cap one would expect to see on a newsboy during World War I. She wore a very male looking zipper jacket, and told me she had the name of the other woman to whom she had dedicated her life tattooed on the back of her neck.
Regardless of all this, her face was red and she was crying. She told me she was chronically suicidal and never thought about anything else. Despite being medicated, her depression seemed to have gotten worse. Read more on What is there to Treat?…
I remember vividly and will never forget when a home-made bomb blasted the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was April 19, 1995, and I was in the midst of morning rounds at a major hospital’s inpatient psychiatry unit.
A lot of people were “decompensating” — going psychotic, had beliefs the world was coming to an end and needed extra medicine.
They called it the worst homegrown terrorist attack on U.S. soil up to that time in our country’s history.
I thank the basis of my personal belief system that I was not closer to the explosion at that time, and that I was not personally involved in the later and more catastrophic attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Read more on Which Should You Choose — Therapists Or Friends?…
I had seen this woman as a patient only once before, but I had seen more like her than I could count. She was in her late fifties, like me. Her gray hair fell in waves down her shoulders, Alice-in-Wonderland style. All of her clothing was childlike, too. If her hair had been blonde (as she had insisted it once was and was still meant to be) she would have looked, from the back, like a little girl in her calico dress.
She had been “traumatized” by her family. She didn’t want to talk about details and was more than a little surprised that I made no effort to push her to divulge them. She wanted to tell me about all the types of psychotherapy she had studied and learned, or even more she wanted to tell me about all of the great and famous figures of psychology she had met personally, and how wonderful they were.
“I don’t care if you met God himself or—–herself.” She was not happy with my response, but by now she had enough sense not to be surprised. She was labeled as a “borderline personality disorder” as well as a “treatment resistant depression.” She had refused anything even remotely resembling an antidepressant; she was worried about all kinds of side effects. She was on diazepam (generic Valium) and would accept nothing else. Among other things, this drug would do a fine job of keeping her depressed. She would not consent to anything else and it seemed to have helped minimally with anxiety. The choice of medication had been only one in a garden of self-sabotaging choices. She had been a training patient for a couple of generations of therapists, none of whom seemed to have been able to do her the least bit of good. Read more on If You Are Stuck — Try Dancing…
Last summer, there was a movie, called “Snakes on a Plane“ which I think my husband wanted to see. The “plot” (which obviously fell a little short of classic Shakespearean construction) has something to do with a witness transported on a plane and somebody tries to “whack” him with a bunch of snakes. I absolutely did not want to see it. (To my husband’s credit, we still have not. Yes, there are men who love their wives THAT much.) I don’t much like snakes. I tend to avoid them. I do not run screaming if I see a garter snake.
Incidentally, they say the film initially did quite well, probably because of a lot of internet hype. It went on to do less well than expected. I cannot help but wonder if that had something to do with the way a lot of people feel about snakes.
In college when I took comparative vertebrate zoology, they called it “herpetophobia,” which literally means fear of reptiles. The more correct term is “ophidiophobia,” more specifically meaning fear of snakes. Read more on Getting Rid of Phobias Without Drugs…
Although I don’t hang around with a lot of psychiatrists, I certainly have met a lot. Some of the most famous and powerful had “subspecialties.” That means, they had pet theories which they had developed and written books about. They had simple ideas that they thought described the entirety of human behavior. They did a lecture circuit.
After their academic book had sold the requisite less-than-ten copies, mostly to their immediate families, they were sometimes able, by tying their findings to the popular and moneymaking arts, to write a “popular” equivalent of their learned meanderings.
One of the more successful was an older guy I knew back in New England, who had me visit a campus outside of that august “6-state area” regarding an opening that never materialized. He had a whiff of “Harvard” about him, so I have no doubt that if such an opening ever materialized, it was filled with a person of that same origin.
My job-seeking life was filled with similar experiences, which explains a little bit of how I became a “renegade” doctor.
This great thinker believed that everybody’s behavior everywhere was primarily motivated by shame. He took painstaking care to explain this using as an example the plot of “Les Miz“ on Broadway then. I think he may have even played some recordings in his lectures. (He actually sang me some of the airs from that same show in my interviews with him, and very badly.)
“Shame” is not a bad concept. I am certain that riding the coattails of the then popular “Les Miz” was a good move. I did not know then and will not now whether it was his own idea or that of a publicist. I think “Les Miz” is one of the great stories of all time and I have certainly heard of careers built on worse. But one of the few words I said during that depressing interview had something to do with my perceived greatness of Victor Hugo.
She was a woman in her early seventies. She looked tired, almost haggard, although neatly dressed. She had obviously seen a lot of hardship in her life, but she wore it well. She looked like someone you could trust, a “salt of the earth” kind of person.
It is unusual to see a senior come to a psychiatric clinic for the first time. We see women of all ages, it is true; about 70% of the psychiatric patients in most average (not Department of Veterans Affairs) medical clinics are female.
I took a detailed history. It seemed that the headaches came on when her husband yelled at her or threatened her. He did that often enough. He was of some kind of northern European origin. She had married him after the death of her first husband in an accident; her first husband had been her real love-match. But she was a traditional housewife, who wanted to keep house more than anything in the world.