My Knowledge Journey
My goal in becoming a psychiatrist was of course to help those with mental illnesses. But I also wanted to learn about the deeper and more private parts of human nature. I felt that an office, hospitals, nursing homes and group homes might be the places to find this. Research was important and I could have been a part of that world at Yale (indeed I have read journals every week since I began practice) but it was not the place where this part of people’s lives would be revealed.
Learning about our hidden spaces and the ways in which our minds worked would take knowing people for long periods and helping them through difficult times of their lives.
This approach even brought me to a foreign country—Peru—not only to do the work of treatment (I was part of a group that started mental health services in the poor areas of the Peruvian Andes), but to see for myself how people in very different circumstances understood their mental health problems.
There was one more piece to the puzzle for me. When I studied from psychiatric journals, I found myself looking up philosophical issues that flowed from the things I read. There was more to think about than symptoms and medicines. People’s lives—both inner and daily lives—along with the world they lived in needed a more careful look.
All of this brought me to the conclusion that there was something wrong with all of us, something that sprung from the world we lived in. It was time for me to write “Frontal Fatigue. The Impact of Modern Life and Technology on Mental Illness.” I hope this gives you the greater understanding of our minds and the world we live in that writing it gave me.