It's psychiatrist -- not "shrink"

LETTER — Posted March 13, 2006

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

At the risk of being accused of over-sensitivity, I would like to ask my fellow physicians to refrain from using the term "shrink" as a synonym for psychiatrist. The stigma of mental illness is well known and centuries old. Because of fear of "losing one's mind" the mentally ill have been subject to myriad slanderous terms: nuts, loco, bonkers, ad nauseam.

Similarly, those who try to ameliorate their suffering are denigrated by the appellation of "shrink." Along the same vein: "Psychiatrists are as nuts as their patients" or the ultimate backhanded compliment: "You're the sanest psychiatrist I know."

Care of the mentally ill is never easy: Stigma, discriminatory insurance coverage, etc., but it is worsened by fellow physicians' calumny. We may never convince Hollywood to stop using the term, but let's start with us.

Mark Dillen Stitham, MD, Kailua, Hawaii

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/03/13/edlt0313.htm.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn