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Exploring irony in psychiatry

Vol. 8, No. 12 / December 2009

Dr. Nasrallah should make us all proud. In his editorial, “Does psychiatric practice make us wise?” (From the Editor, Current Psychiatry, October 2009) he presents how deep, complex, and relevant our work as psychiatrists can be and how it can enhance our personal development and wisdom. I think this article should be required reading for every medical student. Dr. Nasrallah even provides suggestions on ways to research how our brains may change. However, this must be tempered with some irony.

Recently, I attended a lecture on “Irony” by University of Chicago professor Jonathan Lear. He asked profound questions of irony, such as: “Among all the pious, is there a pious person?” and “Among all the doctors, is there a doctor?” He explained his point by wondering how often we fall short of what we can be as doctors. Extending that idea to Dr. Nasrallah’s column, in our days of 15-minute med checks, we might ask, “Among all psychiatrists, how many are Nasrallah psychiatrists?” As the saying goes, it takes one to know one.

H. Steven Moffic, MD
Professor of psychiatry
Medical College of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI

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