Saturday, December 25, 2004

A Christmas wish

Last night, as you know from the last post, Santa stopped by our house for refueling. Before he left, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Without hesitating, I replied, "World peace. Right now. Today."

He grimaced. "You and the whole world, this year...well, I'm working on it. Isn't there anything else?

"For me? My wish?" I took a deep breath. "I wish patients would stop calling me by my first name."

He grinned. "What's wrong? Don't you like that?"

"I hate it. I can hardly stand it."

"Why, they're just trying to connect with you as a person, aren't they? Instead of that doctor role."

I groaned. "They think that's what they're doing, but they can't. It doesn't work. I'm not dealing with them as a person, I have to be the doctor. Calling me by my first name doesn't change that. It makes my job harder."

He stopped laughing and sat down. "Maybe you'd better tell me about it," he said.

"The hardest are the ones that call me by my first name as soon as they meet me, and then every three words after that. 'Shrinkette, you know, Shrinkette, that my problem, Shrinkette, all started, Shrinkette, when I was three, Shrinkette...' By the fourth "Shrinkette," I don't even hear any other word they say. I want you to change my name to 'Doctor.' Make it, 'Dr. M. D. Doctor, MD.' That will look good on my name tag."

Santa eyed me carefully. "You think they're playing a game with you."


"...and you think they're not respecting you...your hard work, your identity, your authority. It's a narcissistic injury for you. And you need to have professional boundaries with your patients."

He's good, I thought. "How did you know all that?"

"Ho-ho-ho! For years, I've delivered gifts at the Institute for Psychoanalysis, and they keep me informed." He turned to leave.

"All right, Shrinkette...I mean, Doctor Shrinkette...I won't be able to make them stop. But you will understand them better, and it won't get on your nerves so much. You will know what they are doing, and why they are doing it, and why it bothers you. You will still be the doctor, no matter what they call you. Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!"

Thanks, Santa...let's see how it goes at work, now.

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