I’m often asked for my opinion of and reaction to our new healthcare reform.
My immediate reaction is to correct the concept that this legislation has anything to do with healthcare. It is more properly insurance reform.
I stopped accepting insurance payments in 1996. In the intervening years, I’ve successfully operated a cash-only practice and in the past few years have been drawn into coaching other doctors in how to operate such a practice and consulting with people who are tired of insurance tyranny.
The term bandied about in the recent debates about healthcare reform is “access.”
The talking heads — both media and governmental — claimed a large number of people were uninsured. I recall numbers in the range of 40 million, and I’ve heard such numbers debunked.
Read more on Access Is A Null And Void Concept…
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.
I have sat silent for a long time, waiting for the news to come in from Fort Hood, waiting for people to understand and explain. Now, I have read and seen enough that I think I understand.
As always, my own life and experiences have been so rich and so diverse that I have an overwhelming memory or vision.
It was a California state prison; I have worked in a few. Religion was always especially popular within the prisons where I worked. I assumed, as did the mental health personnel in general, that it was because inmates felt so dehumanized and downtrodden that they could be expected to grasp onto anything that made them feel good. We knew and understood this.
I certainly maintained friendly associations with all chaplains. I considered them a bit idealistic, a bit naive, but I also considered myself that way. And in that feeling, that belief, that “give them the extra mile” feeling, I got some peace.
Still, I remember the day I was scared. I rarely ventured into the areas of religious worship, but once, just once, I happened to be out crossing the yard during one of the five daily times of Muslim prayer. I could not count the number of inmates, as they covered the yard.