Our hospital psychiatry team comprises doctors, nurses and allied health – no elbow patches or Sigmund Freud beard in sight
- The modern mind is a column where experts discuss mental health issues they are seeing in their work
“Are you a psychiatrist? Can you analyse me?” I was at a small airport heading home from my regular clinic in a rural town. Like many Australian towns it’s a friendly place where everyone welcomes you warmly, sharing casual banter. He pretended to lie down on the row of airport seats but was prevented by the molded plastic armrests. His colleagues, check-in completed, joined us. “You’ll never cure him in a million years. Analyse me.”
As a psychiatrist I’ve learned this comes with the territory. Everyone has an image of the New York psychiatrist’s couch and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, even if, like me, they’ve never seen it. Some are wary: “I’d better keep away or you’ll think I’m crazy.” Many see an opportunity to understand someone close: “Can I ask you something? (hushed voice) It’s about my (friend/husband/father/daughter).” Or solve a problem: “What do you think I should do?” Or receive a caring word, comfort. Curiosity is common – everyone has a psyche.
Dr Saretta Lee is a Sydney psychiatrist