Wednesday, 30 June 2010


A medical student in the BMJ describes the stigma that faces doctors who specialise in psychiatry. They are often viewed as reject doctors who couldn't do well enough elsewhere. I have never had to see a psychiatrist, though my view of them is somewhat jaundiced by the appalling abuse ME patients have had to face from the psychiatric lobby in this country. Still, I find it bizarre that those who seek to fix broken minds are looked down on by those who seek to fix broken bodies. But I know medicine is full of snobbery and hierarchy. My own father - a consultant anaesthetist - was detrimental about psychiatrists. This was the sixties/seventies and ironically he actually needed a psychiatrist but that is another story. And over the years I have - as a patient - heard different consultants be nippy about GPs. I recently read Direct Red by Gabriel Weston and the writer/doctor describes the astonishing arrogance of some high ranking surgeons (this is worth reading, albeit a slim volume and a little repetitive at times, but a great insight into the world of surgery). What arrogant doctors seem to forget - and I know there are many fine and lovely doctors - is that if people did not get ill they all would be out of a job.


Stray said...

I've met one very lovely psychiatrist and a lot of very awful ones.

On the whole they are an arrogant bunch themselves, but I do understand their predicament - they spend most of their time faced with desperate people demanding solutions from them to problems that we barely understand let alone know how to 'cure'.

Very little in psychiatry is science (though the same could be said of a lot of medicine) and yet we prefer them to act with a science based confidence, instead of an inquiring mind.

I suspect this bind alone causes them to go slowly insane, or at least lose touch with the humanity of the people they deal with.

I think surgeons can all be assumed to have a serious narcissistic disorder. Any normal person would be too paralysed by the fear of error to even begin.

Mim said...

It depends on the individual doctor. Some are good, some not--like so much in life.

The hell with arrogance!

nmj said...

Hey Stray, Your ratio of awful to lovely seems high, that is not good... I imagine it is a tough job, that is why it is so odd that other medics look down on them... I think an inquiring mind is always a good thing in any branch of medicine!

Hey Mim, Of course, it just mirrors life, the nuances and snobberies, the good and the bad, but unfortunately we often depend on these people when we are at our most vulnerable.

PollyDrew said...

i think psychiatry should be encouraged to be an art form and not a science: the doctors need to be able to think outside of the box as they need to understand where their patients are coming form.

arrogance isnt limited to any particular specialty its person just so happens that surgery benefits from narcissistic traits and therefore the speciality attracts people with them!! i have met some lovely surgeons!

whilst they may think they are god however i tend to believe that it is more difficult challenging and subsequently rewarding to treat a mental illness as opposed to a physical one. physical illness is understood, we have procedures and policies in place to deal with them. mental illness? everyone is just fumblinmg round in the dark. i hope a light gets turned on at some stage i the future with respect to treatment.