Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breaking News--Ars Psychiatrica Renovation Considered!

"Would that all excellent books were foundlings, without father or mother, that so it might be, we could glorify them, without including their ostensible authors!"

Melville, "Hawthorne and his Mosses"

I'm hoping for some feedback--change may be in the air, but no demolition is planned. I've been at this hobby for over two months now, and I'm wondering where to go with it now. Specifically, for the half-dozen (I'm rounding up) or so of you who may read this blog now and then (you know who you are, even if I don't), I'd be curious to have any feedback regarding what you may have liked or not liked about the format and content.

Chief among the changes I'm considering is the whole anonymity thing--speaking for me personally, and without any implicit criticism of incognito bloggers (whose numbers are legion, and many of whose blogs I enjoy following), the mask hasn't really felt natural to me. To some degree this is because even apart from blogging, the Internet has forever limited physician privacy (well, everyone's privacy), particularly for those with any record in the public domain.

In my former job I published a dozen or so articles, mostly in fairly obscure academic journals. Before the Internet few non-academics would have had the misfortune to stumble upon those writings, but now any patient can Google my name and infer a good deal about my interests and points of view (these were not scientifically technical articles, but rather had to do with the ethics and humanities of psychiatry). And do I, personally, really want to place in the public domain anything that I would be ashamed to see in a newspaper or journal article?

Going cognito (?) would change the tone and approach somewhat, although not drastically. A couple of illustrations might vanish, and some flights of fancy may be a bit more disciplined (future ones--no retroactive editing here). But it needn't become drily professional either. Being a psychiatrist, therapist, or physician shouldn't prevent one from even personal or poetic self-expression in the public sphere so long as clinical care and patient privacy are inviolate.

No, I'm not imagining that this prospective self-disclosure is a matter of any particular excitement. But, again, as I consider a more straightforward approach, I solicit suggestions and recommendations. As I see it the 44 posts thus far can be broken down into these categories:

1. Examinations of literary works or figures with psychiatric ties or dimensions
2. Considerations of social and cultural trends and implications for mental disorders or psychiatry
3. Discussions of what the practice of psychiatry is like
4. Personal prose-poetic speculations, usually alarmingly bad and rather self-indulgent (these would probably decrease under the cognito plan)

Please let me know if anyone comes to this site hoping for more or less of any of these. Oh, and anonymous comments are welcome!


John J. Coupal said...

Funny you should ask...

Several days ago, I was going to comment that I appreciate your honesty.

In a post, you had told us your political philosophy and background that fleshed out the technical details that you covered. Many physicians, scientists, and other professionals today would never have revealed that personal information.

Such professionals make grand announcements and judgements that are political opinions disguised as scientific fact. Such deceit is an insult to the reader, and a con job.

Whatever minor tweaks you do to your blog have to keep the built-in honesty.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the posts that fall under 2 and 3. Keep up the good work anonymous or not.

Anonymous said...

I, too, look forward to posts that are of the nature of 2 and 3.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of number one, but appreciate the intellectual honesty as much as anything here. I haven't felt this way about a blog in years; you have a way of building trust, putting yourself out there without ego and defensiveness. I like people who can be didactic with a very light touch, and I take that as an offering. You're also proud to be a psychiatrist in a way not often seen by psychiatrists on the Internet, also very refreshing. Yeah, this is a special place, keep going.

Anonymous said...

I like 1 and 3, and what the last commenter said about being proud to be a psychiatrist is nice too.