Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I Haven't Gotten There (Yet)

A psychiatrist I know is going through a phase-of-life change. It's one you only get to once. He's made the comment that in looking back, he made some mistakes and said some things he shouldn't have to patients who were going through this same phase-of-life change, long before he did. The event of it has made him more empathic to what his patients were feeling, something he didn't comprehend until he was in the same shoes.

I know the feeling. People look to their psychiatrists for wisdom, and you know, we don't always have it. Patients will ask for suggestions about marriage or child-rearing from psychiatrists who may be single, childless, or on their eighth divorce. It doesn't mean we don't have the answers-- sometimes these things are better dealt with from a safe distance-- but sometimes it might. I look back at some of the things I said to the parents of teenagers, back when mine were oh-so-cute-and-loving toddlers...and I wince...oh, my, I was so clueless back in the day. Can I recall my patients? I'm sorry, I said some stupid things back then. I shrug a lot more than I used to. I don't know if it's helpful, but I do know it's more honest.