He was a small but very intelligent and articulate young man. I had seen him before, but it had been quite a while. He came to me complaining (as did his family) that he was having some trouble controlling his anger, dealing with quarrelsome students at school, and not always getting his assignments inside or outside of school completed in a timely manner. We discussed the usual ways to approach this, I ...

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He came in for his routine yearly visit with me, stable for the most part in that he was living with his chronic psychotic illness and moving through the world in a fairly normal, logical way most days. He was in his mid-twenties, neat and clean. He was attending to his personal hygiene and wearing rumpled but passable casual clothes. His hair was combed, but it had not been cut ...

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I listened to a Planet Money podcast recently titled, Burnout.  It dealt with the origin and characteristics of burnout, and I would highly recommend it. You’ve all heard the term and have a vague knowledge of what burnout is, I’m sure. You may have experienced it yourself. It affects call center employees (as in the podcast), all sorts of service workers, doctors and other health care providers and countless others. Looking back ...

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She is tall, thin and wears torn jeans like a mannequin. A silky top flows around her, masking the thin torso, the exposed ribs. Her hair is long, fine and the ends are perfect. Her face is smooth, drawn, a bit careworn, but that is why she is here. She carries herself with an aristocratic bearing that is not learned but genetically endowed over generations. She is rich, entitled and ...

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My father worked as a middle manager in the textile industry for many years after he graduated with a degree in textile engineering from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. As far as I know, he was the first to graduate from college in his family. I can only imagine how exciting it was for him to leave the little town of Cochran, travel to the big city of Atlanta, work to ...

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I went into medicine because I wanted to learn about the craft, become proficient at healing disease and easing suffering, and because I genuinely liked getting to know more about my patients and hearing their stories. These reasons for going into medicine as a career and staying in medicine as a vocation have not changed significantly through the last three decades. The problem we are faced with pretty often nowadays is ...

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You’ve all heard it. Those ads about that wonderful product that will change your life. The new kind of mattress that will finally give you a good night’s sleep every night. The new electric car. The superfood. They go on about them for thirty seconds or a minute, you are enthralled, and you dream of going right out and purchasing. Ah, marketing, how powerful you are. How much we want ...

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One of the episodes of the Walking Dead was titled “JSS.” In this brutal episode, one learned by the end of the show that one of the characters, then others after her, had learned that all they could expect to do for the moment was JSS, or just survive somehow. I met a patient recently who embodied that mantra. Small, petite, with stringy hair and sun-browned skin, she did not look the ...

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Popular shows like Gray’s Anatomy, ER, and House, MD have given the television watching public a good eyeful when it comes to the inner workings of medicine, hospitals, and emergency rooms. They have also shown us how the personalities of those who take up the stethoscope and reflex hammer run the gamut from the sweet, demure, tentative types to the sons of bitches who cut first and ask questions later. I ...

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“How far did you go in school?” This is a question that I ask every new patient as a matter of course. Granted, I have gotten some very odd answers, including hearing from a very successful businessman who only finished the seventh grade, or a very psychotic person who has a double master’s degree. Not implausible, but certainly not expected or the mainstream answer from the majority of my patients. Now, leaving the ...

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