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From the Editor


Wanted: ‘Digitalis for the mind’

Vol. 2, No. 9 / September 2003

I’m suffering from congestive work failure. I’m sure you understand, as many of you probably are suffering from it, too, as you struggle to keep up with your work.

When I studied cardiovascular physiology in medical school, I learned about the Starling curve. Increasing work increases cardiac muscle efficiency up to a point, after which adding more work decreases cardiac output and leads to congestive heart failure. Miraculously, it seems, digitalis helps the failing heart regain its efficiency.

Congestive work failure also follows a Starling curve. I work more efficiently as my workload increases up to a point, after which more work makes me lessefficient. As I fall behind and miss deadlines, I become anxious and unhappy just thinking about all the work I have to do. So I go into work avoidance—going out for coffee, surfing the Internet, or even reading journals—to escape from thinking about how far behind I am. Of course, avoiding my work puts me even further behind.

Someday I hope the pharmaceutical industry invents a “digitalis for the mind” to treat my condition. Meanwhile, reading Current Psychiatry is the best treatment I know. It helps me to efficiently keep up with new developments in clinical practice—and sometimes provides a medium to productively channel my work avoidance.

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