When you work with poor people, there will be at least one who earns his or her daily bread in the world’s oldest profession.  Some of them may even admit it.

French Prostitute Hangs Out At A Cafe'
I have done lots of work in various county mental health clinics in various states and I developed a couple of hard and fast rules for when I work with economically disadvantage people.

I always try to “connect” with them.  I have always loved the quote “I am human, so nothing that is human is foreign to me” by Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence. He was the Neil Simon of the ancient Roman empire, an author of comedies.

I have always imagined the modern embodiment of this quote to be the state of being stuck with a perfect stranger in an elevator. I want to believe that if I am not only a good psychiatrist but a good human being, I can generate a conversation with anybody.  And the people who enter my office in some of these placements are poor folks whose experience of life on the planet is very, very far from my own.

Read more on I Never Officially Practiced “The World’s Oldest Profession”…

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She was 38 and attractive, by any measure, but she was manic. Sleeping was a problem, despite some pretty high doses of prescription drugs.  She was open about her past; surprisingly.  She had been recently dismissed from her eleventh hospitalization.  She was 10 days out, and would have been living on the street if the county had not sprung for accommodations in a less than glamorous motel.  She had not a penny to her name.  She was in the area where I was only because she had once had some friends there.  Now all her friends were either gone or dead.

Her teeth were mostly missing.  I did not ask her to remove her ill-fitting wig, for I wanted her to keep whatever pride she had been able to preserve.Her face was worn, but her cheekbones proud and high.

She had not expected a female physician.  She said she always got tired old men with white beards.  She said I was too attractive to be a psychiatrist.  That I probably could have done well in her profession, had I dared too.  I thanked her for what I took as an amazing compliment; what else could I do? Read more on Victimless Prostitution? Think Psychiatric Victims…

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