Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's My Life, I'll Blog If I Want To

So while we were giving our talks on On-Line Communities and blogs at APA last week, a gentleman asked a question about "transference." I took the mic, I figured it was a question for me since I have the psychotherapy practice (in addition to being a Community Psychiatrist in clinics that serve the chronically and persistently mentally ill----I'm starting to get touchy about this).

So I talked a little about Transference to The Blog and how some of our readers seem to have their own ideas about us and who we are.

No No No No No! The gentleman wasn't talking about transference to the blog, he was talking about how my the existence of the blog effects my real live patient's transference to me! A totally different question. This has been an issue since day one, at least as an issue that other psychiatrists always raise to me. So far, I've been left to say that I'm not aware that any of my patients have found Shrink Rap. I wrote, way back when, about The Blogging Shrink
mostly in response to commenters who felt uncomfortable with the whole idea of a psychiatrist who blogs, maybe about their patients in a confidentiality-violating way, or maybe about the discomfort of knowing too much about what goes on inside their shrink's mind or life.

Since no one patient has told me they've read our blog, I talked instead about the responses I've gotten when patients have read my novel: Monday at The Charm. The truth is, none of the patients who've read it have been completely comfortable with it. One was obviously uncomfortable, the book is graphic, it has sexual (paraphilic, actually) content and the characters are a bit free with the expression of profanity. Clink, of course, was inspirational.

Whenever people asking me about my writing and my patients' reactions, inside I get a little queasy. Outside, I get a little defensive. It's as though I feel, or I hear, that by having a life other than the quintessential silent shrink life, I'm doing something wrong. You're not supposed to be out there, a literal open book for your patients to read. The old psychoanalysts went to great lengths to remain 'blank slates.' No family pictures in their offices, some didn't wear wedding rings, there were rules about who would leave if the arrived at the same party.

So I'm a writer. I don't volunteer this, my novel isn't displayed in my waiting room. I don't hide or deny it either, and if I have something I want to say, sometimes I say it rather publicly. I don't know how it effects my patients, and I don't know what I can do about this anymore than I could control if a patient found out something about my personal life. "How do you feel about this," is the best I could come up with.

And I'm not leaving a fun party if a patient shows up, but I might drink a little less and skip the tabletop dancing.

Before I go, the same gentleman asked about the gender of our readers: so please do take the sidebar poll.