A PSYCHIATRIST'S VIEW OF HIS OWN PROFESSION

Fr Jim Cogley



Some years ago a retired psychiatrist was giving an evening in a local venue. He was asked that if he were starting his career over again what changes would he make? He replied that

during his time the focus was 95% on medication and 5% listening. He would now begin with 95% listening and little or no medication. He believed that listening to a patient’s story, holding them in their pain, and validating their feelings, no matter how intense, was the only way to long-term healing. Without feeling there could be no healing and the problem with medication was that it suppressed what needed to be expressed and thereby prevented the breakdown from becoming an important breakthrough. He also commented that traditional psychiatric practice was good at holding and containing but had little to offer when it came to genuine healing. In the past straightjackets were used to constrain patients whereas the modern day equivalent is medication. He shocked those present by saying that he now had little time for his own profession because in relation to facilitating healing it was quite bankrupt but still operated under the guise of having all the answers. His recommendation was that in their training psychiatrists would need to engage in their own process and understand themselves before they could truly be of help to anyone else.