Benedict Carey is a New York Times mental health reporter. In last Sunday’s Times, he wrote about Joe Holt, a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Mr. Holt was dealt a particularly tough deck of cards: in addition to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he had a horrible and traumatic childhood with much loss, placement in a facility where he was physically abused, and periods of homelessness as a teenager. He now has a stable marriage, has adopted children and keeps numerous foster children, and holds two jobs, one as a computer consultant and another as a therapist (if I read that correctly). He struggles with his emotional life, but my take on this was that this is one extremely resilient man who has waged a successful battle against many demons and his story is inspirational.
So Benedict Carey often writes stories that are skeptical, if not outright critical, of the mental health field. This story did not have that tone. I found it interesting, though, that he chose a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who’s life was not “typical.” What did I find not typical? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*
I saw a patient recently for parasites.
I get a sinking feeling when I see that diagnosis on the schedule, as it rarely means a real parasite. The great Pacific NW is mostly parasite free, so either it is a traveler or someone with delusions of parasitism.
The latter comes in two forms: the classic form and Morgellons. Neither are likely to lead to a meaningful patient-doctor interaction, since it usually means conflict between my assessment of the problem and the patients assessment of the problem. There is rarely a middle ground upon which to meet. The most memorable case of delusions of parasitism I have seen was a patient who I saw in clinic who, while we talked, ate a raw garlic clove about every minute.
“Why the garlic?” I asked.
“To keep the parasites at bay,” he told me.
I asked him to describe the parasite. He told me they floated in the air, fell on his skin, and then burrowed in. Then he later plucked them out of his nose.
At this point he took out a large bottle that rattled as he shook it.
“I keep them in here,” he said as he screwed off the lid and dumped about 3 cups with of dried boogers on the exam table.
To my credit I neither screamed nor vomited, although for a year I could not eat garlic. It was during this time I was attacked by a vampire, and joined the ranks of the undead. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*