Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for December 6th, 2013

7 Minute Evaluation

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 6, 2013


“That doctor gave me Zyprexa after talking to me for seven minutes,” or so I have heard, so many times, from so many patients, particularly patients who have been psychiatrically hospitalized. On the one hand, I can understand that diagnosing psychosis is often a quick endeavor, and Zyprexa is an antipsychotic, so that is a linear and logical path. On the other hand, the patient cannot develop confidence in his treatment after such a brief encounter, where the psychiatrist has most likely not inquired about his social or cultural history. Yes, this history could have been obtained by a non-MD professional, but is there value in the physician asking the questions so that he/she can hear not just the answers, but how those answers are formulated? Is there value for the patient in spending time with his physician so that he can develop trust in order to increase the likelihood of  compliance? All my readers know my perspective. Spending time with patients is a critical art that psychiatrists must learn and practice to develop an understanding of patients and in order for patients to develop an understanding of themselves. Prescribing psychotropic drugs is an enormous privilege, which can only be done judiciously after thorough history taking, and relationship building. The privilege to give a medication that alters mental functioning must be treated delicately and respectfully. This requires time, patience, skill, and education. Our field is doomed without that. I live in fear.

Posted in Psychiatry in Transition, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Relationships, Teaching, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 4 Comments »

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