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[Opinion] Why Did a Psychiatrist Seek Psychiatry?

Posted October. 31, 2001 09:18,   


Those residents who are in the training process towards the psychiatry specialist are often advised by their predecessors or mentors to undergo psychoanalytic treatment for themselves. Psychiatrists are those who deal with human mind or consciousness, and thus need to have clear `self-awareness` in advance.

Vocalists should take care of their body because it is their instrument. As for psychiatrists, their personality itself is the instrument for treatment, and thus their first patient should be themselves. For this reason, I decided to undergo psychoanalytic treatment though it was not a requirement.

Twice a week, I became a patient at my mentor`s consultation room. I sought out the psychoanalytic treatment, which took 50 minutes per visit, for two years without any absence. My mental illness might have been serious for I told the stories concerned with my self about 200 times, for about 160 hours.

The scene inside the consultation room, in which I was given the psychoanalytic treatment, was a little bit strange. I and the psychoanalyst, who is also my mentor, spend 50 minutes without looking at one another. I lay myself on the long bed-like chair facing upward, and the psychoanalyst sits down a little apart from my head. I don`t remember what posture my physician was sitting for two years.

Such a strange arrangement of seats is one of the classical principles of psychoanalytic treatment. Patients can derive their feelings or thoughts from the deep inside of their mind as they are insofar as nothing is captured by their sight.

Such an idea as `The doctor`s face seems to say that the doctor thinks I am stupid` or `This doctor seems to think that my story is boring` may keep the patients from thinking freely, and the objects in the room can sometimes make it harder for the patients to be absorbed into unconsciousness. It is probably because of an influence of this that I believe there should a certain `mental distance` even in the perspective on the world. I was desperate at the time of treatment, thinking why I was so full of inferiority complex, why my desire to be recognized followed me so deadly that it was never detached from me.

One day I said I wanted to be an inpatient at the psychiatry ward. I hoped that I would lie on the bed wearing inpatient`s clothes, eat whatever given to me at fixed times, and have listeners of my story at given times. To accept and experience the patient`s instinct as it was, which also takes place in the physician`s mind, was one of the most wonderful realizations I ever had.

In addition, I am also convinced that this is the most fundamental source of energy in understanding and treating patients as psychiatrist.

I am often given a question with curiosity, ``What kind of people go to psychiatry?``Those who ask this question may have the same premise in their mind that I had in the past as to `I am a total different person in quality from those patients`.``

It is true, of course, that people go to psychiatry for various physical symptoms caused by stress such as headache, insomnia or neural gastroenteritis. But people who go to psychiatry including them pay a visit in order to discover their genuine mind that they have lost as they are living.

To be aware of the genuine mind of oneself, that is, `self-awareness` starts from the place where one`s self is revealed as it is. But we have been living in the place where suppressing self is more virtuous than revealing it, where those who push themselves forward are threatened with a beating. Under such threat the tender inner flesh has concealed itself.

It may be that we are now unable to imagine what our true self was like. Then, people`s daily confidence, ``I know myself best.``, is really true?

I am tempted strongly these days to go back to my mentor`s consultation room again as a patient who is undergoing psychoanalytic treatment. Is it because of a seasonal mood that exacts a `shake’? Or is it because I am just a psychiatrist with poor inner-strength? This is a psychiatrist`s autumn fragment on the last day of October, for whom self-awareness is still too much.

Chung Hye Shin (Psychiatry Specialist, The Director of `Heart and Heart` Psychiatry Specialist Clinic)