I had begun perusing fellowships in the cities where he wanted to move. I am grateful to have a specialty that encourages a close connection to my patients. I’m surprised by all your emotion – especially the way you describe yourself at work.” He expected me to have control over my emotions because of my profession.I am privileged to see and consider the motives, desires, fantasies, and fears of my patients. Psychiatrists are trained to examine emotions and behaviors, characterize them first as symptoms, then as diagnoses, and finally assess the best way to intervene.
His response to me: “I thought you really understood me. Only a psychiatrist could be so cruel.” I didn’t think I was cruel, and I don’t know how well I understood him – or why he got that impression.
Perhaps I do ask more intense questions earlier on in conversation than others might?
Indeed, my profession requires accessing deep truths about people’s lives in a short period of time.
After a day of hearing these real stories, I don’t want to exchange small talk. The second experience prompted this column – a recent breakup with a man I really felt and thought I could be with.
I sensed the change in his approach to me – the transference, if you will. However, I think as a young, single psychiatrist, I have a space of loneliness that is too easily filled by the pain shared by my patients.