kirkirkir

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What are people in psychiatry like? Are they really neurotic and weird like people say? Easy to get along with? Big egos? Nice?
 

birchswing

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As a patient who has seen a lot of doctors, I would say the distinguishing factors between psychiatrists and other specialists is coyness. I'm someone who wants to be in control and so I do a lot of medical research. Most doctors are comfortable with this. In my experience, psychiatrists have been less comfortable with this than other specialists, and if they don't know something they have responded in a frustrated, sometimes flustered way rather than saying "I don't know." I find myself having to be more careful around psychiatrists than other specialists as they can't quite contain me and instead I feel like I am containing their emotions. I mentioned this to a family therapist I saw the other day, and he seemed to know what I was talking about. He mentioned working in a state hospital and how he would show patients their PDRs (not sure what he was referring to, I may have gotten the acronym wrong) and that psychiatrists would get upset at him and would like to maintain some sort of distance in communication between themselves and the patients. I think that's less typical in other specialties. Psychiatry is a bit rare in the reluctance to share diagnoses at times. I've noticed psychiatrists don't like to be pinned down with providing a diagnosis. Things are a bit ethereal at times. I would guess that's more a function of the field, though, than of the inherent personalities of those who go into it.

I can't think of any other distinguishing personality features other than coyness, but my sample size isn't huge. My sample is also affected by geography.

As an aside and to those who have heard the theory I've espoused before that I live in a twilight zone of less-than-great psychiatrists, I found from this new family therapist an explanation for this, which goes back to the 1970s and the military build-up where I live (we have a lot of military bases). He explained it very, very quickly so I didn't exactly follow the logic, but it had something to do with managed care beginning in the 1970s, which for some reason was more prevalent in our area due to all the military bases (didn't catch the connection there), and that we had lower reimbursement rates from insurance than the rest of the state (I have heard that before), and that there was a mass exodus of psychiatrists in the 1970s from the area. He started in this area in 1977 and said there was a shortage of psychiatrists then that is even worse today. He said that I wasn't wrong in my perceptions regarding the quality and availability of psychiatrists.'

Edit: Ethereal doesn't mean what I thought it did. I meant something sort of ambiguous and in the ether, so to speak (now I'm not even sure if that's an idiom people use; I've used it for years but I googled it and don't see it being used--to me in the ether means, something amorphous and undefined).
 
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Ceke2002

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My psychiatrist enjoys beating (kicking, elbowing, forearming, high kicking) the living daylights out of a heavy bag on his days off, when he's not meditating on the compassionate heart of Buddha, hiking up mountains in Bhutan to perform ritual prostrations to the Guru Rinpoche, or bemoaning the fact that Megadeth dropped out of the Adelaide leg of the thrash metal 'big four' tour. He's also a 5'7, 61 kilo, self identified bespectacled Asian 'nerd' with the occasional penchant for being an easily side tracked, slightly hyperactive goofball, who does a brilliant impersonation of a turtle retreating into it's shell if you pay him a compliment, and has a noticeably anti-authoritarian streak in him. He's also kind, compassionate, ethical, appropriately empathetic, guided by a strong moral compass, professionally boundaried at all times, passionate about his work and the care of his patients, and the best Psychiatrist I've had in more than 20 years. :)
 

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I don't know.
 
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There is a big range of personalities in psychiatry, so I can't really describe a particular "type." Imagine if someone asked what a typical internal medicine doctor is like. It's hard to say.

To address the neurotic and weird part, some psychiatrists are but in my experience it's not super common. I also find fewer malignant narcissists or outright cruel / antisocial people in psychiatry than I have found in, say, surgery. You will get some odd folks who entered psychiatry because of their own mental health problems, though even most of these I have met are genuine, kind people who really want to help others because they know what it's like to suffer from mental illness. Overall the colleagues I meet through my work have been a major positive who have helped me grow as a professional and a person, not something I have to "put up with" or otherwise grin and bear.
 

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If you really want to generalize, I'll describe my colleagues as intelligent, thoughtful, interesting, and WAY more fun than some of the anal-retentive internists I've known! :naughty:
 

kirkirkir

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Thanks for the replies. And yes I'm looking for generalizations obviously not all are the same.
 

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My psychiatrist enjoys beating (kicking, elbowing, forearming, high kicking) the living daylights out of a heavy bag on his days off, when he's not meditating on the compassionate heart of Buddha, hiking up mountains in Bhutan to perform ritual prostrations to the Guru Rinpoche, or bemoaning the fact that Megadeth dropped out of the Adelaide leg of the thrash metal 'big four' tour. He's also a 5'7, 61 kilo, self identified bespectacled Asian 'nerd' with the occasional penchant for being an easily side tracked, slightly hyperactive goofball, who does a brilliant impersonation of a turtle retreating into it's shell if you pay him a compliment, and has a noticeably anti-authoritarian streak in him. He's also kind, compassionate, ethical, appropriately empathetic, guided by a strong moral compass, professionally boundaried at all times, passionate about his work and the care of his patients, and the best Psychiatrist I've had in more than 20 years. :)
I'm glad you like your psychiatrist. However, based on your detailed description of his personal life (including his exact height and weight), I'm not sure that I would cite professional boundaries as one of his strengths. Of course, there are differences of opinion on self-disclosure.
 

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What are people in psychiatry like? Are they really neurotic and weird like people say? Easy to get along with? Big egos? Nice?
It's a pretty diverse field. You'll get all types.

If you end up at a low end program that ISN'T very good, you'll likely get a higher percentage of folks who are really neurotic. Better programs try to screen this out or at least minimize it. These folks can be challenging at stressful programs and most of the better programs can be fairly stressful.

If you end up at a top level program that IS very good, you'll likely get a higher percentage of folks who are narcissistic. Better programs try to screen this out too, but a subthreshold narcissist loves to appear humble. It feeds the ego.

I have a hunch you'll minimize the above most at a strong community-based program, but that's mostly conjecture. If you're really trying to avoid all of the above, you may be in the wrong field. And I don't mean psychiatry. I mean medicine.
 

kirkirkir

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@nondeadyet thanks.
It's a pretty diverse field. You'll get all types.

If you end up at a low end program that ISN'T very good, you'll likely get a higher percentage of folks who are really neurotic. Better programs try to screen this out or at least minimize it. These folks can be challenging at stressful programs and most of the better programs can be fairly stressful.

If you end up at a top level program that IS very good, you'll likely get a higher percentage of folks who are narcissistic. Better programs try to screen this out too, but a subthreshold narcissist loves to appear humble. It feeds the ego.

I have a hunch you'll minimize the above most at a strong community-based program, but that's mostly conjecture. If you're really trying to avoid all of the above, you may be in the wrong field. And I don't mean psychiatry. I mean medicine.
Thanks. Not trying to avoid, just curious. I go to medical school where everyone is a neurotic narcissist, so I'm used to it.
 

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I'm glad you like your psychiatrist. However, based on your detailed description of his personal life (including his exact height and weight), I'm not sure that I would cite professional boundaries as one of his strengths. Of course, there are differences of opinion on self-disclosure.
He cited his height and weight when he was challenging me on my body perception when I was going through a minor hitch with my eating disorder recovery; our sessions do sometimes go off on slight tangents of philosophical and spiritual discussions that are then tied back to the therapeutic process; I'm interested in areas such as mindfulness and the practice of yoga, to name a couple of things, for the purposes of stress reduction etc, that just happens to be one of the areas he works in, which is one of the reasons I agreed to see him in the first place; we occasionally wind things down for a couple of minutes at the end of an appointment by chatting about various life anecdotes and interests; and his more open style of disclosure is something that has gradually built up over the last 5 years. Most of the time it's me asking permission to ask questions of him, which he then decides if he will answer, but he has never revealed anything I would consider inappropriate. If he had, or if I had any inkling that the boundaries weren't fully intact, I would have left therapy a long time ago. Considering my past experience, boundary violations are one thing I am acutely aware of.

Having said all that, no he's not perfect and yes we've had our 'oops, that didn't go too well' type moments over the years. I don't expect my Psychiatrist to be superhuman and never make a mistake, I just expect him to treat me to the best of his ability and ensure, that no matter what, the triad of therapy consists of us maintaining the set roles and boundaries of therapist, patient, and field. And maybe it's just me, but I don't consider having a brief conversation along the lines of - (him) "So what have you got planned for the weekend?" (me) "I really want to get back into snorkelling at some stage, so I'll probably see if I can shop around for some new equipment on sale seeing as my old stuff is falling apart" (him) "Oh awesome, I love snorkelling, hobbies are important so I'm gonna push you on this one" (me) "Well you won't have to push too hard, I love the ocean, I can't wait to get back out there and hit some of my favourite reefs" - to be in violation or contradiction of any of those roles. YMMV. :)

Edited to add: But this is a good example of the variety of not only personalities, but treatment styles within the field of Psychiatry. So in terms of the OPs question I suppose it does show that it's hard to generalise any one particular personality type when it comes to Psychiatrists.
 
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splik

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What are people in psychiatry like? Are they really neurotic and weird like people say? ?
i've never met a medical student who wasn't neurotic. i am the least neurotic resident in my program by a longshot (though they joke i am on the psychotic spectrum) but i can tell you i am neurotic compared to my non-medical friends. it's not possible to make it through medical school without a degree of neurosis. the top psych programs (esp in the NE) often have their fair share of borderline and narcissistic residents

internists are even more neurotic than psychiatrists.

surgeons have their fair share of alcoholics

anesthesia (and from the recent surveys inexplicably dermatologists) have the preponderance of drug addicts

but i'm not sure what youre point is? i think their are unfair stereotypes about psychiatrists. if you are looking for more psychologically healthy individuals you shouldn't have gone to medical school
 

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He cited his height and weight when he was challenging me on my body perception when I was going through a minor hitch with my eating disorder recovery; our sessions do sometimes go off on slight tangents of philosophical and spiritual discussions that are then tied back to the therapeutic process; I'm interested in areas such as mindfulness and the practice of yoga, to name a couple of things, for the purposes of stress reduction etc, that just happens to be one of the areas he works in, which is one of the reasons I agreed to see him in the first place; we occasionally wind things down for a couple of minutes at the end of an appointment by chatting about various life anecdotes and interests; and his more open style of disclosure is something that has gradually built up over the last 5 years. Most of the time it's me asking permission to ask questions of him, which he then decides if he will answer, but he has never revealed anything I would consider inappropriate. If he had, or if I had any inkling that the boundaries weren't fully intact, I would have left therapy a long time ago. Considering my past experience, boundary violations are one thing I am acutely aware of.

Having said all that, no he's not perfect and yes we've had our 'oops, that didn't go too well' type moments over the years. I don't expect my Psychiatrist to be superhuman and never make a mistake, I just expect him to treat me to the best of his ability and ensure, that no matter what, the triad of therapy consists of us maintaining the set roles and boundaries of therapist, patient, and field. And maybe it's just me, but I don't consider having a brief conversation along the lines of - (him) "So what have you got planned for the weekend?" (me) "I really want to get back into snorkelling at some stage, so I'll probably see if I can shop around for some new equipment on sale seeing as my old stuff is falling apart" (him) "Oh awesome, I love snorkelling, hobbies are important so I'm gonna push you on this one" (me) "Well you won't have to push too hard, I love the ocean, I can't wait to get back out there and hit some of my favourite reefs" - to be in violation or contradiction of any of those roles. YMMV. :)

Edited to add: But this is a good example of the variety of not only personalities, but treatment styles within the field of Psychiatry. So in terms of the OPs question I suppose it does show that it's hard to generalise any one particular personality type when it comes to Psychiatrists.
So there's a notion of boundary violations and boundary crossings. Boundary violations are always a bad idea and should be avoided. Boundary crossings are a little more fluid and might or might not be problematic. It sounds like your psychiatrist might be engaging in some boundary crossings, especially in the context of a long term therapeutic relationship. So from that, it's harder to say if something is "fully intact" or whatever. It's your treatment, and none of us are there, but I'm not entirely sure I disagree with strangeglove's statement.
 
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Ceke2002

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So there's a notion of boundary violations and boundary crossings. Boundary violations are always a bad idea and should be avoided. Boundary crossings are a little more fluid and might or might not be problematic. It sounds like your psychiatrist might be engaging in some boundary crossings, especially in the context of a long term therapeutic relationship. So from that, it's harder to say if something is "fully intact" or whatever. It's your treatment, and none of us are there, but I'm not entirely sure I disagree with strangeglove's statement.
Fair enough. I tend to be of the view that minor boundary crossings (self disclosure from a therapist, for example) can be beneficial to the therapeutic process, depending on the individual patient, and do not constitute any sort of non-intactness of professional boundaries (professional boundaries to me meaning things like you don't treat therapy like a friendship, the therapist works to ensure that any empathic responses given to a patient are done in an appropriate and balanced manner, the therapist does not discuss his personal issues with a patient, the therapist and patient do not socialise or contact one another outside of the therapeutic field, the therapist does not engage in rescuer type behaviour, boundary violations or anything else that might reasonably be considered damaging to a patient, and any (non physical obviously) contact within the context of therapy occurs at set appointment times for a set period within that time frame). But I do understand that different therapists work in different ways.
 

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What are people in psychiatry like? Are they really neurotic and weird like people say? Easy to get along with? Big egos? Nice?
Interestingly enough, one of the PGY4s at my program is doing a research project looking at personality self-assessments in residents in various specialties.
 
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kirkirkir

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i've never met a medical student who wasn't neurotic. i am the least neurotic resident in my program by a longshot (though they joke i am on the psychotic spectrum) but i can tell you i am neurotic compared to my non-medical friends. it's not possible to make it through medical school without a degree of neurosis. the top psych programs (esp in the NE) often have their fair share of borderline and narcissistic residents

internists are even more neurotic than psychiatrists.

surgeons have their fair share of alcoholics

anesthesia (and from the recent surveys inexplicably dermatologists) have the preponderance of drug addicts

but i'm not sure what youre point is? i think their are unfair stereotypes about psychiatrists. if you are looking for more psychologically healthy individuals you shouldn't have gone to medical school
Again, not looking for anything, just curious. Judging by your reply I'd assume psychiatrists are bad at grammar. (Totally kidding :) )

Interestingly enough, one of the PGY4s at my program is doing a research project looking at personality self-assessments in residents in various specialties.
I'd love to see that.
 
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i've never met a medical student who wasn't neurotic. i am the least neurotic resident in my program by a longshot (though they joke i am on the psychotic spectrum) but i can tell you i am neurotic compared to my non-medical friends. it's not possible to make it through medical school without a degree of neurosis. the top psych programs (esp in the NE) often have their fair share of borderline and narcissistic residents

internists are even more neurotic than psychiatrists.

surgeons have their fair share of alcoholics

anesthesia (and from the recent surveys inexplicably dermatologists) have the preponderance of drug addicts

but i'm not sure what youre point is? i think their are unfair stereotypes about psychiatrists. if you are looking for more psychologically healthy individuals you shouldn't have gone to medical school
Narcissism is a personality trait, but I really don't get what people mean when they use borderline as a trait. In other words, I am pretty sure that psych residents aren't cutting and threatening suicide or disassociating under stress, intense anger, or engaging in reckless and impulsive behaviors. Which personality trait are you associating with the term borderline? In clinical settings it is often used to describe anyone that they don't like. I also notice that young attractive women get called that by the women who work on the unit and the older and less attractive the woman, the more anger toward the young girl on the unit. Hmmm...that could be a good research hypothesis.
 
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Ceke2002

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In other words, I am pretty sure that psych residents aren't cutting and threatening suicide or disassociating under stress, intense anger, or engaging in reckless and impulsive behaviors.
Thanks a lot, I just had a vision of my Psychiatrist in full borderline mode and now I've squirted tea out my nose at the hilarity of that image. :roflcopter:
 

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Most of the psychiatrist I have talked to have been easy-going and they enjoy having deep (but fun) discussions about a variety of topics, same could also be said about psychologists.

My psychiatrist enjoys beating (kicking, elbowing, forearming, high kicking) the living daylights out of a heavy bag on his days off, when he's not meditating on the compassionate heart of Buddha, hiking up mountains in Bhutan to perform ritual prostrations to the Guru Rinpoche, or bemoaning the fact that Megadeth dropped out of the Adelaide leg of the thrash metal 'big four' tour. He's also a 5'7, 61 kilo, self identified bespectacled Asian 'nerd' with the occasional penchant for being an easily side tracked, slightly hyperactive goofball, who does a brilliant impersonation of a turtle retreating into it's shell if you pay him a compliment, and has a noticeably anti-authoritarian streak in him. He's also kind, compassionate, ethical, appropriately empathetic, guided by a strong moral compass, professionally boundaried at all times, passionate about his work and the care of his patients, and the best Psychiatrist I've had in more than 20 years. :)
Wow. I dont know how many meditating australian buddhist psychiatrists there are, but it probably wouldnt be that hard to identify him (e.g. http://bfy.tw/1Sku ) Seems like you really admire your psychiatrist, but it does seem like he has some boundary issues :)
 
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Ceke2002

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Wow. I dont know how many meditating australian buddhist psychiatrists there are, but it probably wouldnt be that hard to identify him (e.g. http://bfy.tw/1Sku ) Seems like you really admire your psychiatrist, but it does seem like he has some boundary issues :)
Not as easy as you think. He doesn't come up under that search. I also just typed in a more extensive search field using the information in that post, and he still doesn't come up (so then I typed in nearly every word I've associated with him on here and he still doesn't come up under a google search). You don't think I'd actually give away his identity that easily. ;)

Obviously you work in a different manner regarding self disclosure. I don't consider a therapists self disclosure in session to be an issue, so long as it's ultimately beneficial for the patient. There is nothing my Psychiatrist has told or confirmed to me about himself, thus far, that has not been of benefit to me therapeutically speaking. As for admiration, I've said before I give respect and admiration to those who deserve it, I'd also be just as quick to lay down the law if my Psychiatrist ever did self disclose anything that was that not in my best interest to know or hear. And without going into a huge amount of detail, a lot of what I do know about him was initially accidentally garnered from the web during unrelated searches on other topics that at the time I had no idea there was a shared interest in. I decided to be honest in session about what I'd found, because I was a little freaked out running into my Psychiatrist online like that (not in a literal 'we're having a conversation' kind of way) and he simply confirmed the information, and then over a number of years has gradually allowed me to ask the occasional question of him (he chooses whether to answer or not, and I always ask permission before asking any questions myself, so there's no role reversal of the power differential in our sessions). Besides that you don't think after 5 years that you can't get to know someone at least partly through things like observation, noting their non verbal responses to certain topics, and so on? (unless of course you spent those 5 years conducting therapy in a completely blank room, sitting behind a screen, possibly using a voice modulator :p).

All jokes aside this has actually opened a rather interesting can of worms, with opinions on either side, and I'm sure a few more that are sitting somewhere in the middle. I find these articles on the subject quite interesting to read as well, and it does seem the issue of 'to disclose or not to disclose' isn't as simple as 'yes or no'.

https://www.psychotherapynetworker....ulyaugust/item/1741-therapist-self-disclosure

http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/to-disclose-or-not-to-disclose/

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/ethical-aspects-self-disclosure-psychotherapy

http://societyforpsychotherapy.org/the-big-reveal-ethical-implications-of-therapist-self-disclosure/

https://www.relationalta.com/admin/docs/resources/the_therapist_self-disclosure.pdf

 
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I wouldn't be so sure. Just saying based on experience.
I saw the post that splik linked to above so I stand corrected. :) I was mainly just cautioning against a misuse or overuse of that particular diagnostic label. It is one of my pet peeves so I tend to overreact when I think I see it as I am sure a few former supervisees of mine would attest to. :oops:
 
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I saw the post that splik linked to above so I stand corrected. :) I was mainly just cautioning against a misuse or overuse of that particular diagnostic label. It is one of my pet peeves so I tend to overreact when I think I see it as I am sure a few former supervisees of mine would attest to. :oops:
Totally. Everyone we don't like has BPD or is a little "borderliney." I think narcissistic labels are also getting overused these days, too.
 

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I saw the post that splik linked to above so I stand corrected. :) I was mainly just cautioning against a misuse or overuse of that particular diagnostic label. It is one of my pet peeves so I tend to overreact when I think I see it as I am sure a few former supervisees of mine would attest to. :oops:
Borderline can be descriptive and not just a diagnostic label, similar to psychosis and neurosis. Basically, having such a fragmented sense of self and others that it borders on losing touch with reality. I think given the context of the post, it makes sense. But in response to the original post, I don't see any more borderline psychiatrists than any other specialty, in either sense of the term (although it would be interesting to study that).

Hypothetically I also think it would be harder for someone with borderline personality pathology to get into a top program (northeast or elsewhere), although certainly possible. Succeeding in medical school requires decent interpersonal skills. If they had the intelligence and work ethic to compensate, I would guess they would pick a more competitive field since they provide a more cohesive identity.
 
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