Tuesday, November 14, 2006


One character in the novel I’m reading is a sin-eater, a man who, for a bit of silver, takes on the sins of other villagers at their deaths. His serves by accepting responsibility for the past behavior of others. For this he is paid, but also universally reviled.

Sometimes, in darker moments, I wonder if the current shortage of psychiatrists is not so much a dearth of professionals skilled at treating mental illness, but rather a lack of individuals willing to take on liability for other people’s future behavior, behaviors over which we realistically have, at best, merely a thread of influence. How much of my salary compensates me for helping people—and how much is just paying me off to be culpable-by-proxy when the unpredictable, yet inevitable, tragedy transpires? And, perhaps, to accept an increased likelihood of being myself the victim of such a tragedy?

Through my work I believe I have helped many tortured souls live more peacefully (if not rest so eternally). Yet the work (and I) are reviled by many, often not least by my own “clients”. And I have had my bit of silver for it. Sometimes I can feel flames kindled for others licking at my own feet. As I say, these are dark moments.


Blogger charlsiekate said...

That was very beautifully written. I work for two superior court judges, which in georgia and most states, is the level where the murder trials and the child molestation and all the felony offenses are tried. I'm about to go downstairs to watch a murder trial of a man accused of murdering his wife and he is claiming insanity.

I feel like my judges often feel the flames of fire lit for others. And I know it increases their danger.

Deep thoughts for a wednesday morning.

11/15/06, 9:58 AM  
Anonymous hilllady said...

What's that book, Dr. Turbo? I'd like to read it, once I finish Crime and Punishment.

Is the liability you're describing literal (i.e., you can be held accountable for the behavior of your patients) or figurative (you feel, or feel that others feel, that you are accountable for the behavior of your patients)?

11/15/06, 10:04 AM  
Blogger Katinka said...

Yes, excellent piece of writing!! Turbo, you have a knack for addressing what's amiss with the status quo in a very compelling way. If I had any power to change the situation, I would!

ps.(I second Ms. Plausible's request for the name of the book.)

11/18/06, 7:34 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

I am slightly ashamed to state it, but the book is Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander".

11/22/06, 1:43 PM  

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