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Should Psychiatrists Disclose Their Personal History To Patients?

Dr. Maureen Goldman talks about self-disclosure for psychiatrists and brings the topic up in the context of Marsha Linehan’s recent announcement that she was treated for a psychiatric disorder as a teenager.

In Clinical Psychiatry News, Dr. Goldman notes:
Psychiatric care and psychotherapy are different from the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship, where the mutual sharing of personal experience is an integral part of helping people maintain sobriety. I believe that there is middle ground between disclosing personal information and presenting myself as a blank slate. In my practice, I show myself to be a real person. I make mistakes and admit them. I joke about my poor bookkeeping skills and inferior technological skills. I look things up during sessions if necessary, and I tell patients when I need to do research or consult with a colleague. I treat them as real people, too, not just as patients.
I do not, however, share my own story. Mostly, I think that I can help people feel heard, understood, and known, and create a therapeutic plan without personal disclosure. I communicate that “I get it” without being clear that “I really get it.”
I cannot speculate about the motivation behind Dr. Linehan’s decision to allow her mental health history to be chronicled in the New York Times. The story was a very public disclosure, and in that way quite different from a disclosure made in the context of a one-on-one, doctor-patient therapeutic relationship.


We’ve talked in detail about self-disclosure before, and specifically about whether psychiatrists should tell their patients if they’ve suffered from a psychiatric disorder.  See Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Narcissism: No Longer A Personality Disorder?

Via an article in The New York Times entitled “Narcissism No Longer a Psychiatric Disorder”:

Narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and the need for constant attention, has been eliminated from the upcoming manual of mental disorders, which psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness.

As Charles Zanor reports in today’s Science Times, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — due out in 2013 and known as D.S.M.-5 — has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition. The best known of these is narcissistic personality disorder.

So, blogging is normal then? Kinda takes the fun out of it…

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Okay To Be A Doctor AND Bipolar?

“I have bipolar disorder. Can I be a doctor?” One of our readers asked this. It’s one of those questions to which there is no real answer.

Being a doctor takes a long time, it requires reliability, diligence, and a willingness to learn things you may not want to learn (organic chem anyone?) and do things you may not want to do. It requires endurance and passion. You need to be tolerant of many things: Arrogant supervisors, irritable colleagues, sick people who may not be charming and who may, in their distress, be downright nasty. You have to tolerate a militaristic order and be willing to work with a system that may be very difficult, wrong, and demand your obedience in ways that may be uncomfortable. (Oh, I am so happy to no longer be a medical student or a resident in training.)

So can you do it with bipolar disorder? Can you do it with diabetes? Can you do it with attention deficit problems? Can you do it if you’re disorganized or ugly? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Brain Damage, Behavior, And Football

In psychiatry, we’ve had a hard time drawing precise links between brain pathology and psychiatric disorders. We can do it for groups of people: “Disease X” is associated with changes in brain structure of “Brain Area Y” or metabolic changes in “Brain Area Z.” But it’s groups, not individuals, and it’s an association, not a cause-and-effect, or a definite. We still can’t use this information for diagnosis, and there are still patients with any given psychiatric diagnoses who will have brains where “Area Y” is the same size as those without the disorder. We’re learning.

From what I read in this New York Times article, Owen Thomas was a bright, talented young man with no history of psychiatric disorder and no history of known concussion. In April, he committed suicide — a tragedy beyond words.

Sometime people commit suicide and everyone is left to wonder: There was no depression, no obvious precipitant, no note left behind, and every one is left to wonder why. The guilt toll on the survivors is enormous, as is the grief for their families and communities. In this case, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the young man was apparently struggling with the stress of difficult school work and concerns about his team and employment.

Owen’s family donated his brain to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. They discovered that Owen’s brain showed damage similar to that seen in older NFL players — he had a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Latest Interviews

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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