Tag: psychotherapy

Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern

June 11th, 2019 — 11:26am

Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern

If you are a Howard Stern fan, undoubtedly you have put this book on your reading list. While I never subscribed to his special Sirius radio channel, I do remember him from his earlier am Radio days and his periodic TV appearances and also I have seen him on “America’s Got Talent” TV series. He is well-known for his out spoken sexually explicit speech (including of course the title of this latest book) and his confrontation of his radio guests.

In this book, he has chosen to include transcripts of some of his interviews with various celebrity guests over the years. This includes interviews with Madonna, Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert, Paul McCartney, Conan O’Brien, Joan Rivers, Larry David, Michael J Fox, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, John Stewart, David Letterman, and many others. There also are several interviews with Donald Trump before he became a political figure.

However, the essence of this book is that he has provided a preface to each interview where he attempts to discuss his and his guests state of mind at the time of the interview, (which could have been many years ago or perhaps quite recently). A constant theme in his discussion is how he himself has changed over the years because of his own psychotherapy. He acknowledges his self-centered personality, insensitivity to his guests and how his therapy has allowed him to be much more empathic to other people. He uses his own insight into himself to encourage his guest to reveal their deep-seated feelings, and at times regrets, in their relationship with others. Of course, most of the people being interviewed and discussed are very well known celebrities. Particularly, poignant is when he discusses how some of his guest reacted to the death of some other well-known celebrities, especially those who died by suicide.

Toward the end of the book he appears to regress and revert to the old classic Stern as he presents an interview with his mother where he is obsessed about his own conception and how and when his father may have stopped using a condom.

I am sure this book will be quite successful and Stern’s fans will suck it up.

 If you wish to purchase this book please click here 



Comment » | AM - Autobiography or Memoir

Getting The Most From Your therapy by Jeffery Smith, M.D.

February 14th, 2016 — 10:50pm

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 9.17.25 PMGetting The Most From Your Therapy by Jeffery Smith, M.D.

Instead of a written review of this book, I have conducted an interview with Dr. Smith in a podcast. Please click the following line to hear this broadcast: Interview with Dr. Jeffery Smith.

To obtain a copy of this book, please click here

Comment » | MHP - Mental Health/Psychiatry

How We Heal and Grow: The Power of Facing Your Feelings by Jeffery Smith, M.D.

October 7th, 2014 — 9:00am

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 5.38.33 PMHow We Heal and Grow: The Power of Facing Your Feelings by Jeffery Smith, M.D.

I was recently asked by my colleague and friend Dr. Jeffrey Smith, to write the Foreword for this new book that he has written. I was pleased to find it an excellent book. He offers a fresh and sensible way to look at how people develop dysfunctional patterns and facing feelings that have been avoided is the pathway to healing growth. He covers the full range of human problems from quirks to serous personality issues. He discussed the work of Freud, Mahler, Kernberg and many others including his own work. Interestingly the book is directed towards the lay public and I am sure will be received. However it really also belongs in the hands of therapists and any mental health professional who is involved with therapy. Dr. Smith has been teaching this subject to psychiatry residents and other psychotherapists for many years and is always very well received. He approaches the subject from a development al point of view. He points out how most of us have pockets of immaturity and how to outgrow them. Dr. Smith  discusses how and why the minds resist change. One of the central themes of Dr. Smith’s explanations is the phenomenon of catharsis where our underlying raw unprocessed feelings emerge and lose their power over us and are transformed when we share them with a therapist in the context of connection and safety. He describes this process and how it brings about an almost immediate change to the pathological emotions. I tend to look at the need for catharsis as something that has to occur over and over again which we often refer to as working through process. We do both agree that catharsis is an ongoing part of therapy. While this therapeutic work does require the empathic presence of the therapist. Dr. Smith also examines how some of this work may be able to done singularly when the person is trained in mindfulness in the Yoga and Buddhist tradition. The range and scope of the book is quite wide. He includes discussion of anxiety symptoms, trauma and depression although I felt he was little light on this latter subject particularly in regard to the role of loss. There is fascinating discussion on the dynamics of Multiple Personality Disorder in which he is a one of the few therapists with significant experience treating patients with this condition. Dr. Smith also brings his rich  experience in treating addiction into the book. He shares where dynamics and developmental experience is important and where the here and now social interaction is crucial. Included in the book is one of the best discussions of conscience and superego that I have ever come across. There is also and excellent section on the narcissistic personality and a description of how to understand a parent who had this condition and how to deal with important people in your life who have it. This is really a unique book that should have great appeal to therapists, students learning therapy and people interested in understanding their own emotional issues as well as those around them. I can also picture how this book may be very useful for people entering therapy, It will alert them to what to look for in themselves. It may very well facilitate the therapeutic process. In fact, I plan to give a copy of it to some patients who enter therapy with me. I am very pleased to conclude that Dr. Smith has made an outstanding contribution to our profession and to the education of the public.



Comment » | MHP - Mental Health/Psychiatry

Unhinged by Daniel J. Carlat

June 13th, 2010 — 2:47am

The following is a book review that I wrote which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry. It is followed by a brief Q & A with the author.

UnhingedUNHINGED  Daniel J. Carlat, M.D. Free Press 255 pages 2010

Dan Carlat, in addition to practicing psychiatry, writing his popular newsletter and blog, editing a series of psychiatry books for Lippincott/Klowers (one of which I co-authored) and writing monthly blogs for Psychiatric Times periodically (as do I)   has written expose pieces about psychiatry for the N.Y Times and other widely circulated publications. He has spoken out about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the practice of psychiatry and particularly the large amount of money earned by psychiatrists from the drug companies  often without disclosures. This latter point has been considered to have  ethical and legal ramifications. Knowing this background, I eagerly approached the opportunity to review his new book Unhinged  published by Free Press    (2010) and given a subtitle of  “The Trouble with Psychiatry-A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis.”

Early in the book, Dr. Carlat shared his own experience as a practicing psychiatrist where he specialized in prescribing medications and referred patients in need of talk therapy to a “psychotherapist.” He expressed his view “that most people are under the misconception that an appointment with a psychiatrist will involve counseling, probing questions and digging into the psychological meaning of one’s distress.” He goes on to site data which shows that 1 out of 10 psychiatrists offer therapy to all their patients. (I am not sure if this is a valid point since some patients clearly don’t need or want psychotherapy.) He then talks about the well known income differential which favors providing psychopharmacology treatment over psychotherapy. He provides a case history where he did not tell a patient that psychotherapy might work just as well as medication. He said that he decided upon medication because he received little training in  psychotherapy during his three years of psychiatry residency (Mass General) and that he “ doesn’t do psychotherapy  because “I can’t do psychotherapy.” One of the themes of this book is Carlat’s odyssey to ultimately deciding to learn more about psychotherapy and follow a mode of his father who is a psychiatrist and develop a practice which combines psychopharmacology and psychotherapy even if he doesn’t make quite as much income as he did in the past. He shares the interactions with colleagues, teachers and mentors as well as patient vignettes, which lead him to this decision.

This book also examines other controversial issues. For example, Dr. Carlat discusses DSM which he calls “ The Bible of Psychiatry.” He believes that the tradition of psychological curiosity has been dying a gradual death and that DSM is in part the cause and the consequence of this transformation of our profession. He argues that as a result psychiatrists are less interested in “why” and more interested in “what”. (I thought that psychiatrists could chew gum and do other things at the same time. If we continue to use and refine it, DSM allows us to communicate better, do research and get paid.) Carlat interviewed both Bob Spitzer and Alan Francis, the leaders of DSM III and IV respectively who are  both quite critical of the emerging DSMV.

Not surprising, knowing of the previous writings of the author, a good part of the book dealt with the relationship between psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry starting off with a chapter on “How Medication Became the New Therapy.” There is a  description of the evolution of various drugs used  in psychiatric  practice including the story of Prozac as well as examples of how and why new drugs are introduced as patents on old ones expire. While most of these stories are fairly well known to psychiatrists, it may be surprising to see the behind the scenes descriptions of how side effects such as sexual dysfunction and suicidality were initially minimized and ultimately handled.

The chapter on “How Companies Sell Psychiatrists on their Drugs” reflects some of the writing that Carlat has made in the popular media. He personalizes this important topic by describing his own  previous  relationship with various pharmaceutical representatives. He also reveals the fact that drug representatives have access to each doctors’ prescribing pattern before they visit him or her. He discusses how friendliness and  bringing little gifts such as books or one’s favorite Starbucks coffee have played a subtle but distinct influence on doctors and their prescribing habits. (There have been recent restrictions on these practices.)

Dr. Carlat also outlines his own experience of being a “hired gun” where he gave paid talks to primary care doctors and psychiatrists earning as much as $30,000 in one year. He told how he and his wife were flown to NY and stayed at luxurious hotels and ate in fine restaurants paid for by the pharmaceutical firm for which he was a speaker. He eventually decided that this was morally wrong and stopped this practice. He did go on to write about other psychiatrists whom he reports have made millions of dollars and in some cases were also receiving research grants.  He told  how they were not reporting to their universities, the income that they were receiving which was required. He details Iowa Senator Grassley’s investigations into very well known psychiatrists. He raises ethical questions about doctors taking pharmaceutical money while promoting off label use of various medications for treatment of ADHD and bipolar disorders in children.

There is a discussion of what Carlat calls “the seduction of technology”, specifically referring to the promotion of Vagal Nerve Stimulation and Trans Magnetic Stimulation.    (I observed how the latter technique was actively being promoted at the recent APA Meeting in New Orleans).  Interestingly, Carlat concludes this chapter with a statement that “psychiatrists  need to reacquaint themselves with the missing skill of psychotherapy.”

Perhaps one of the most interesting and controversial thesis of this book is the author’s conclusion that “medical school is the wrong place to train psychiatrists.” He believes that there should be programs that integrate psychopharmacology and psychological technique from the beginning of the training of psychologists . He goes on to say that  psychologists should ultimately prescribe medication as well as do psychotherapy. He describes one experimental model that was briefly used in the 1970s  at  a teaching institution in California but failed to be accepted as a model for licensed care. .

Whether or not you  agree with the arguments, analysis or conclusions of Dr. Carlat, there is no doubt that he has written a very thought provoking book that is based on his own experience with a reasonable attempt at documenting many of his statements. (There are 16 pages of notes and references).  His discovery of psychotherapy as a valid form of treatment will not surprise many of the readers of the journal where this review is appearing. His idea that that psychiatry at this time is troubled and in crisis is probably best judged by a longer historical view. However I suspect that this book will be used by historians to reflect some of thinking of the time as will be  another book written by the psychiatrist Peter Kramer  which came out  17 years ago titled Listening to Prozac . In the meantime Dr. Carlat’s views are out there for discussion and debate.

Take Five With the Author

Following are the answers to five questions I recently asked Dr. Carlat for this blog:

Dr B: Can you describe the reaction of your colleagues to this book?

Dr. C: The reaction from colleagues has been mixed. Most have agreed with the central idea, which is that psychiatry has moved too far into psychopharmacology and has largely abandoned therapy. Many have disagreed with my fairly radical proposals, such as creating an entirely new training system that would be an alternative to medical school and residency. And of course, some have become positively apoplectic at the idea that psychologists can prescribe from a limited formulary safely. So I’ve had my share of fan mail and hate mail.

Dr. B: Do you believe that at present there is enough transparency about possible conflicts of interest in national presentations at meetings and in journal articles?

Dr. C: No, all we get is the name of the company. We don’t get the amount of money, nor the name of the product that the presenter has promoted. These pieces of information are critical for the audience to judge the likelihood that money is affecting the accuracy of a presentation.

Dr. B: Do you have any ideas how the new healthcare legislation (Obamacare) will impact on the practice of psychiatry ?

Dr. C:It will increase the demand for psychiatrists, simply because we will be adding about 30 million people to the health insurance rolls. Some have argued that the emphasis on gate-keepers and accountable care organizations will take business away from psychiatrists, but I can’t imagine PCPs have either the time, interest, or expertise to deal with our patients.

Dr.B: Do you see psychotherapy by psychiatrists being viable in over the next 5- 10 years.?

Dr.C: Not unless psychiatrists are willing to take a drastic pay cut. There’s way of prettying this one up. Insurance companies are never going to pay nearly as much for an hour of therapy as for 3 or 4 psychopharm visits. So the more therapy you choose to do, the less money you will make in direct proportion. That’s assuming, of course, that you are taking insurance. As many as a third of psychiatrists have opted out of insurance and charge their regular fees for therapy, much higher than what they get reimbursed by insurance. Personally, I don’t think that’s a viable option from the standpoint of ethics and health care policy. And it’s demeaning to us. We’re saying, essentially, “our skills are not valuable enough for your health insurance to pay what we think we’re worth, so we don’t take insurance.” I’m not one of those who villainizes insurance companies, partly because many of my trusted psychiatrist colleagues work for insurance companies, and I know what they are up against. They make a serious attempt to come up with a fair market price for therapy, and they have found no compelling empirical evidence to suggest that a psychiatrists’ therapy session is worth double a social workers’.

Dr. B: Can you tell us about any new books or projects with which you are involved?

Dr. C: I am just extremely busy managing my publishing business right now. I wish I had time to write another book, but I have nothing in the wings.

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