During medical school, professors advised us to “have hobbies” and to “do stuff outside of medicine”:

  • “It’ll give you have something to talk about with patients.”
  • “It’ll help you maintain balance as you go through your training.”
  • “It’s important for self-care.”
Medical students, as a population, tend to be compulsive and there’s always more to read and learn. (Medicine, like many fields, entails lifelong learning, even when you are tired of ...

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The New York Times and NPR recently published articles related to the Goldwater Rule. In short, a magazine sent a survey to over 12,000 psychiatrists in the U.S. with the single question of whether they thought presidential nominee Mr. Barry Goldwater was fit to serve as president. Few psychiatrists responded. Of those that did, more than half -- still over 1,000 -- said that he was ...

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Somehow people knew he was about to enter the room. The thirty or so people in the room were seated, though people began to stand up. “Are we supposed to stand up for the surgeon general?” I asked the person sitting next to me. She shrugged. If we remained seated, everyone would have noticed. So we stood up. “I’ve been in this position for a year and a half,” Dr. Murthy ...

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A reader I respect asked me for my thoughts on trigger warnings. Per Wikipedia, trigger warnings are “warnings that the ensuing content contains strong writing or images which could unsettle those with mental health difficulties.” Let’s put aside the last part of that definition, “those with mental health difficulties”, as some articles suggest that trigger warnings are not limited to those with mental health difficulties. Part of ...

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You could feel the air rushing out of her lungs and into your face if she was screaming at you. “STOP CALLING ME A WHORE! I AM NOT A WHORE, YOU DIRTY N-GGER!” No one, in fact, was calling her a whore. “DON’T LIE TO ME, MOTHERF-CKER! I HEAR ALL OF YOU CALLING ME A WHORE! I HEARD IT, JUST NOW!” Her best defense was a loud offense that included liberal use of racial ...

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While slogging through a crappy first draft of a document about the value of psychiatrists in mental health and substance use disorder services, I did a literature search for supporting evidence. I found nothing. (1) “So how exactly are we helpful?” I mused out loud. Maybe we aren’t: There are groups out there who do not believe that psychiatrists can or do help anyone. I am an N of 1. ...

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I recently completed the buprenorphine waiver training. Buprenorphine, itself a partial opiate, is a medication that can be prescribed to patients who have opiate use disorders (e.g., taking Oxycontins or injecting heroin to get high). A physician must complete an eight-hour training and take an exam to become eligible to prescribe this medication. The physician must then apply for a specific “X license” through the DEA to prescribe it. In some ...

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I’ve been invited to speak to a group of attorneys who work at the interface of psychiatry and the law. The topic of my talk? “Psychiatry 101.” A psychiatrist who gave this talk to a similar group a few years ago advised me: “You should assume that lawyers are laymen. It’s surprising how little they know, given the work that they do.” This teaching opportunity to teach has given me pause: What is mental ...

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My husband was in the aisle seat, I was in the middle seat, and The Man was in the window seat. The Man had one white earbud in his ear; the other one was dangling in his lap. His right thumb swiped through several screens of his smartphone in less than a second. He heaved a sigh. “This is f*cking lame,” he muttered. The plane was supposed to take off 15 minutes ago. ...

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When he and I first met, he told me that he had a doctoral degree in psychology, was the CEO of the jail, and could speak 13 languages. To demonstrate, he said, “Hong tong ching chong lai tai!” He then punched the door to his cell and shouted, “GET THE F-CK OUT OF HERE, B-TCH!” I did. The next week, he answered my questions about the pencil drawings on his walls. “My name ...

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