On September 17, 2013, I joined the growing  ranks of physicians who  have gotten  a message they hoped  never  to  receive: “There has been a mass shooting in the area.  Prepare to receive casualties.” That morning, a  gunman was indiscriminately mowing down people at the US Navy Yard.  Within an hour my hospital had geared up to provide both medical and supportive care, answer calls from those seeking to know the ...

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“It don’t matter how many men you shot in Memphis,” the saying goes, “if your name is Sierra or Sequoia, you can’t sing the blues”. In a sense, this adage reworks an older, more bitter joke from the civil rights era, the one that begins “some of my best friends are …” and ends with “but you wouldn’t want your sister to marry one.” Both statements embody stigma, the social effects ...

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“All psychiatrists do is push drugs!” I have heard this repeatedly, from students, wary patients, even family members who don’t pick up on a carefully worded hint that they just might benefit from getting help.  For some reason, no one makes the same complaint about infectious disease specialists, or oncologists, though I wager that the success rates of our drug treatments are roughly equivalent. As a psychiatrist, I try to treat people ...

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“What about combined psychiatry-family medicine-neurology-internal medicine programs?  Should I try to do a triple board program in psychiatry-child psychiatry and pediatrics?” Every April, I field such questions from a slew of rising fourth year students who have become, to their surprise (and sometimes dismay), passionately interested in psychiatry. Psychiatry is a shortage specialty and psychiatric issues rank high among the challenges facing medical care systems here and around the world. For ...

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