A PSYCHIATRIST REFLECTS

Fr Jim Cogley



An eminent and retired psychiatrist was asked that if he was beginning his profession all over again, what changes would he make? He replied that he would spend ninety-five percent of his time listening and just five percent medicating, whereas, throughout his career, it had been the other way round. He spoke of still seeing some patients on a private basis and when asked how many he had prescribed medication for he replied ‘none’. Such admissions from one who was and is most highly respected reveal the imbalance that lies at the heart of the psychiatric profession, where the human story gets overlooked, and the answer is perceived to lie in getting the right cocktail of drugs. During the same talk he also expressed his belief that by listening to a patient, and supporting them through a crisis, the vast majority would come through and not need long-term medication. He also mentioned that when a patient was merely contained through a crisis, it was highly likely to recur, whereas when he or she was guided through to a place of healing, it was very unlikely.