Psychiatrists

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People often want to know something about their psychiatrist.

There is this thing called “transference” where their past relationship history can certainly color what they think and feel. I have no big secrets to hide from my patients, so I can usually be direct and take only an insignificant amount of time on these issues. Usually it just takes one of my stabs at humor.

For those to whom religion is an important facet of life, I am often asked about my beliefs. I often end up saying things like, “I am very sorry I am Jewish and not the Christian you would have preferred, but do you think Christ could work through a crazy old Jewish lady like me who would work really hard to help you feel better?” A “yes” and a laugh and we get straight into the meat of things with that one. Read more on Liberal or Conservative — Different Brains or Different Opinions?…

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He was just 18. He had been followed by child psychiatry with a diagnosis of depression. He had long refused to take any pills.  As far as this poor, agricultural county was concerned, I was just seeing him so I could bill MediCal and fatten up the county coffers. The previous psychiatrists had simply noted he was depressed, was not suicidal, and refused any participation in his own treatment.

He was a young man of few words, with a common Hispanic name.  He sat there and twirled one of his lush curls. It became pretty obvious he wasn’t going to give me a complete history.  He said he would never take pills, not ever. To his credit, he did say I could talk to his mother, if I wanted to, but he had to be in the room and hear what she said. Someone brought her to me, from the waiting room.  She spoke only Spanish; fine with me. I learned my Spanish mostly from my patients, who in that time and place could rarely communicate well in either Spanish or English. His mother was charming, really grateful that I wanted to talk to her. She kept complimenting my clothes and elegance. I told her it was all thrift shop.  I doubt she believed me. Read more on Diagnosis From The Guts…

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She was an administrator at the rural branch of a county mental health system. A therapist by training.

On the classical scale in the hallowed paradigms of the twentieth century, a psychiatrist like me who had sacrificed (or in other cases, put on hold or marginalized) her biological destiny — well, a psychiatrist like me would have been the head of the team.  I would have sat at the head of the table with those who had not survived anywhere near as many years of authoritative education silencing each other to hear authoritative pronouncements. But she was the chief, not me. Read more on The Language and Culture of Psychiatry…

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I started researching workplace stress more feverishly and with fewer records of sources than usual for me, as the patient was — and still is — me.

I have practiced in every setting I can imagine a psychiatrist being in — public and private, government (from federal to county) solo and institutional, whatever.

But now I have more physical and emotional fatigue.  More struggle getting my work done in the timely manner I expect from myself.  More need for (albeit, sounder) sleep.  And more “Sunday Night-it is” — for who has not complained about job stress? Read more on Sunday Night-itis — AKA Job Stress…

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The fastest, easiest test of the memory that I know is the one where you have to remember three objects five minutes after you’ve been told what they are.

This is part of a standardized test of cognition (typically testing for dementia) known as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Actually there has been more debate of the “what is this test and what objects should be used?” variety than anyone can possibly imagine.  It is usually not too tough to engage someone in talking about something else for five minutes, to keep them from repeating it in their head. Read more on MEMORY TESTS…

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I love being a ”shrink-lady.”  (okay, a “psychiatrist.”)

I did not pick it out of a hat.  I tried a couple of other medical specialties.  The “doctor” part — well, there was never any doubt about that part, really.  I mean the idea of taking care of other folks came into my head pretty early on, as did the idea that I was smarter than most other kids, ahead of where I was “supposed” to be.

My family had some health problems as I persevered in schooling.  It became evident that doctors had not only status but power over other people’s lives. Read more on Your life, Your Work – What’s The Difference?…

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The first person I remember who approached me telling me clearly and articulately that uncertainty was his problem was Dr. W.

Not that he was (or ever could have been) a medical doctor.  He was an engineer who had been laid off for being somehow “supernumerary” from Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas.

Very stable, very “establishment, a former president of the synagogue (where we had met) the late Dr. Larry Weller was the kind of guy who wore a necktie around the house, just because he was more comfortable that way.  His wife was a sharp-as-a-tack social worker.  He was continually thankful for this, as his two adult children were living and working elsewhere and the two of them could keep their home and live fairly well (with the occasional flight to New York to visit relatives) on her salary. Read more on Uncertainty Is A Tough Mistress…

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I think this was said to me for the first, last, and only time at the first, last and only mixer for singles I went to in Wichita, Kansas.

I don’t remember the man’s name or face, but I do remember how he responded to my answer to his inquiry about what I did for a living.

“Psychiatrist? That sounds like a fun job.  You probably get to talk about sex all the time.”

My response was undistinguished.  “No, not really.” Read more on Psychiatrists Don’t Just Talk About Sex…

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The person who walks into a psychiatrist’s office looking for help is not necessarily the patient.

Often, they are simply the family of the patient.

Sometimes, they themselves have something – possibly a disorder, but maybe just an emotional or attitude problem — that would seem somehow lesser in magnitude than the psychiatric diagnosis the person who is or should be the patient has actually got. Read more on Families Often Indicate Psychiatric Problems…

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I remember a supervisor from the past whom I never thought had the right personality to be a psychiatrist.  I mean, he was a little angry and domineering for my taste.  But heck — I gave him a “bye” since he worked in a prison context.

I was never attacked by a prison patient through my tours-of-duty through four (all-male) California state penal institutions.  I had a couple who ended up on their knees, crying, stroking my hands, or even asking permission to kiss me (denied, of course).

They said I was “nice” to them.  I guess I treated them like human beings — something pitifully lacking in the prison system where everything seems oppressive and depersonalizing. Read more on Assaults On Psychiatrists…