The Ethicist on Whether Shrinks Should Lie to Keep their Clients

Article

What should psychiatrists do when asked about their religion, knowing it's not the religion of their patient?

The following originally appeared on Shrink Rap.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We've been busy brining, basting, baking, eating, and visiting with family. Sad to go back to the daily routine.

-----------------------

In today's NY Times Magazine the ethicist entertains the question of whether it's okay for a psychiatrist to lie to keep his clientele. (!)

I am a psychiatrist who happens to be an atheist. Occasionally a patient asks me what religion I follow and, displeased by my answer, seeks another psychiatrist. I am a physician, not a priest. Religious beliefs seem as relevant to my profession as they are to an accountant’s. Nevertheless, candor sometimes costs me a patient. May I claim a belief in God to avoid damage to my credibility and business?

VAIDYANATH IYER, THE WOODLANDS, TEX.

If you want the ethicist's answer, check out the column here.

I think that most of us would agree that it's not okay to lie with the intention of keeping business. What if a patient asks how long you've been practicing, and your sense is that the patient wants an experienced psychiatrist-- would it be okay to say 10 years, rather than 1 year? Clearly not.

Personal questions can be awkward, however. In traditional psychodynamic therapy, the therapist doesn't answer personal questions---the "blank screen" is necessary for the treatment, and the meaning behind the question is explored. This can be very off-putting to some patients, and for myself, I find that it feels disingenuous, and I prefer to simply answer questions. It helps that I don't get many questions: Do you have children is the most common, I've been asked my religion a couple of times, if I have a dog (Yes, two, would you like one?). Here and there, I've been asked rather unusual questions (Do I have a cook? Who has a cook? No, but I'd like one!)

Click here to read the rest of this post.

Related Videos
Bhanu Prakash Kolla, MBBS, MD: Treating Sleep with Psychiatric Illness
Awaiting FDA Decision on MDMA Assisted Therapy, with Bessel van der Kolk, MD
Bessel van der Kolk, MD: The Future of MDMA Assisted Therapy in PTSD
Bessel van der Kolk, MD: What MDMA-Assisted Therapy Taught us About PTSD
Why Are Adult ADHD Cases Climbing?
Depression Screening: Challenges and Solutions at the Primary Care Level
HCPLive Five at APA 2024 | Image Credit: HCPLive
John M. Oldham, MD: A History of Personality Disorder Pathology
Franklin King, MD: Psychedelic Therapy History, Advances, and Hurdles
Robert Weinrieb, MD: Psychiatry-Hepatology Approach for Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.