Improving Mental Health: Four Secrets in Plain Sight – by Lloyd I. Sederer, MD
I had just read Siddhartha Mukherjee’s wonderful, short book The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Science. On a weeklong hike in Spain last year, walking eight hours a day, I had a lot of time to think. Inspired by this book about nature, medicine and the three rather counter-intuitive laws Mukherjee had ‘discovered’, I wondered what might be said of my field, mental health and the addictions. I wondered, as well, what might make a difference for clinicians working with patients and families – as well as by those directly affected by mental and addictive conditions - regarding their critical and heartbreaking concerns and struggles?
As the days of hiking ensued, I came to four foundational truths, if you will, instead of laws, which I call ‘secrets’. They are insights from a long career, which I believe are hidden in plain sight. I imagined a book of patient stories; historical incidents and notable people; book, TV and film references; and (non-jargon) science reporting to reveal and illuminate each of the four secrets I meant to propose. I sought to deliver to practicing psychiatrists, general medical and pediatric doctors, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and trainees in all these disciplines what they could do more of in everyday practice. I also wanted to speak to people with mental disorders and their loved ones about what they too can do to make an immediate difference in their lives. I jotted some notes as I walked and talked about them with my wife, one of the best writers I know. In a couple of days, I had the design for this book, and its principal themes.
I want, as well, to recognize not just the inspiration of Dr. Mukherjee’s book but the encouragement he offered me when I wrote him about the book I had in mind. That was more than I needed to get started.
The “secrets” I believe that are there for all of us to see and apply are: 1) Behavior serves a purpose, 2)...Continue Reading