The Kitchen Shrink (Hardcover)

A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

By Dora Calott Wang

Riverhead Hardcover, 9781594487538, 368pp.

Publication Date: April 29, 2010

List Price: 25.95*
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The personal story of how a psychiatrist confronts the profound changes sweeping the medical establishment as they reshape her life and career.

In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred within the walls of our nation's hospitals and doctor's offices. The medical profession- once considered a sacred, cherished vocation-has devolved into a business motivated by a desire for profits. Even psychiatry, once the mainstay of the human interaction between doctor and patient, has fallen victim to rising costs and dictates by insurance sources.

How has medicine strayed so far from its roots? In The Kitchen Shrink, psychiatrist and lecturer Dora Calott Wang delves into what happened.

Through the prism of her own story, Wang elucidates key events in her professional life-the declining state of hospitals and clinics, the advent of managed care, and the rise of profits at the ex­pense of patient care-that highlight the medical profession's decline. Along the way we meet some of her patients, whose plights reflect the profession's growing indifference to the human lives at risk. There's Selena, whose grief over her mother's death and lack of family support make it difficult for her to take the medicine that keeps her body from rejecting her new liver, and Leonard, a schizophrenic with no health insurance who develops peritonitis and falls into a coma for three months. Each new story brings additional compromises as the medical landscape shifts under Wang's feet. She struggles with depression and exhaustion, witnesses the loss of top doctors who leave in frustration, and attempts to find a balance between work and home as it becomes ever clearer that she cannot untangle the uncertain future of her patients from her own.

Part personal story and part rallying cry, The Kitchen Shrink is an unflinchingly honest, passionate, and humane inside look at the unsettling realities of free-market medicine in today's America.

About the Author

Dora Calott Wang, M.D., is psychiatrist who has degrees from the Yale School of Medicine and the University of California-Berkeley. She has been in private practice, served on hospital staffs, and been a medical school instructor. She also has a master's in English from Berkeley and lives with her family in New Mexico.

Praise For The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

"A beautifully written memoir about the author's frustration with the transformation of the profession of medicine into the business of health care, and the unraveling of the doctor-patient bond...A thoroughly compelling message- without an ethical commitment to the value of every life, "the very humanity of our society" is at stake."
-Kirkus (starred review)

"In a memoir that reads like a quest, psychiatrist Wang reports a decades-long mission to discover or, rather, rediscover the profession to which she once aspired and that is currently becoming more and more obscured by the burgeoning so-called health-care industry. Her personal story dovetails with an account of a medical profession floundering under an ever-increasing avalanche of paperwork, driven by and a consequence of the profit motive. This all began, she says, in the 1980s with deregulation, and it represents a 180-degree reversal of previously held notions about the medical profession, from a time when "courts repetitively ruled that it was 'against sound public policy' for companies to seek profit from medical care." Insisting that for-profit medical care is counterintuitive to good medical care, this daughter of an economics professor notes that good medical care lessens the need for itself and does not look for repeat business. That the current health-care crisis has caused anguish and even physical illness in Wang and her like-minded peers registers near palpably."