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Would You Be Friends With Your Psychiatrist?

I started seeing a new psychiatrist about two weeks ago. His name is Abbas Jama, MD. He is a black Muslim from the African country of Somalia. He's very bright, with a research orientation. I admire his work. He was a research fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine doing research on the genetics of schizophrenia. Dr. Jama is the type of person I would like to have as a friend. I think we would get along very well. I like few people. I have no feelings about most people, and dislike a few. But I also really like very few people. I haven't had a psychiatrist I really liked since about the year 1991. I don't form a working therapeutic relationshyip with the vast majority of psychiatrists I see. I think it's because I can't form a relationship with a psychiatrist that I never seem to improve in therapy. I've been seeing psychiatrists since 1977, when I was 23 years old.

Be that as it may.

I would like to socialize with Dr Jama. Is that an appropriate or inappropriate wish?

There's some evidence that socializing with one's psychiatrist is not necessarily inappropriate. In 1978, when I was 24 years old, my then treating psychiatrist, I.J. Oberman, D.O., told me that he owned a farm. He said he lived on the farm and that I would be welcome to stay at his farm for a few weeks. I never took him up on the offer.

Was it inappropriate for my psychiatrist to offer to have me as a houseguest at his farm for a couple of weeks? I don't know. Dr. Oberman was an experienced psychiatrist, 58 years old at the time. He was a trained psychoanalyst, and, in fact, had done his analytic training with Theodor Reik, who had been a student of Freud's in Vienna. That's my one claim to fame: that I was once treated by a psychiatrist who was trained by an analyst who had been trained by Freud himself. In a sense, there is a direct link between me and Sigmund Freud, however tenuous that link might be!

Should I ask my current therapist, Dr. Jama, if he would have lunch with me? I strongly suspect that he would say no. But I can try.

Views: 7

Tags: friendship, loneliness, psychiatry, schizoid

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Comment by Gary Freedman on July 28, 2009 at 12:19pm
Well, he's a 4th year psychiatry resident. He'll be completing his residency the end of June 2010. Maybe we could be friends after he stops being my psychiatrist -- after the appropriate time goes by.
Comment by synchronicity on July 28, 2009 at 7:52am
Hi there

I am new to reading your blog...I saw the title on the front page and had to respond. No...I truly don't think it is a good idea to socialize with your therapist. There are ethical boundaries in place for a reason. I just had to leave a therapist because he was revealing way too much about himself and also was trying to hug me and it was only the third session. I think perhaps it is fun to think about...befriending your psychiatrist but it would not serve your best interests in the end. That is just my take on things.
Comment by Dazzling Zoomer Gal Diana on July 27, 2009 at 7:26pm
Gary, Zen - you may find this article interesting. http://www.slate.com/id/2223479/
Comment by Cheryl Ann on July 27, 2009 at 10:35am
I'll agree with Zen with the added comment....it depends on why he asked you to stay on his farm. If it was strictly for professional reasons, then perhaps not but definitely walking a very fine line. Other than that, yes, your old psychiatrist was not staying within the ethical boundaries.

I'll give you an example of how fine a line this is.....my ex and I were in counseling together, and our counselor was working on a book. I type for a living, and I offered to take his audio notes for his book and type them up for him, on a professional level, for a fee. He did a little research and realized that if my ex and I split (which we obviously did, since I refer to him as my "ex"), then my ex could turn around and sue our counselor, stating because of the professional relationship he and I had (typing his book), he influenced me in some way to leave my husband. As a result, I did not type his book.

Any counselor or psychiatrist that suggests a relationship outside of the counselor-patient setting is acting unethically.
Comment by ZenDog on July 27, 2009 at 10:19am
Yes.
Comment by Gary Freedman on July 27, 2009 at 10:17am
Good advice. I was wondering because I mentioned that one of my old psychiatrists asked me to stay with him at his farm. So that doctor was acting unethically?
Comment by ZenDog on July 27, 2009 at 10:16am
Generally speaking, as a rule, I tend to view all practitioners in the field of mental health with a good deal of skepticism. The principle reason for that is simply a question of honesty. It all boils down to the question: what is it they won't say? and why?

They are tinkering with systems of belief at both the individual and the social level in conjuction with the power of suggestion, and it doesn't appear they can be honest about it. I don't like it.

I'm sure not all of them agree with some of what's going on today so I do try to keep an open mind. But really, it's difficult, and besides, my head hurts.

It does. My head hurts.
Comment by Cheryl Ann on July 27, 2009 at 10:11am
Gary, having a social relationship with any person you see on a professional basis (in this case, your psychiatrist) is considered ethically wrong. It is considered what is called a dual relationship, and having a dual relationship with someone in that field opens up the possibility of all sorts of problems. Most states have regulations against such relationships, and a professional is actually risking losing his license by having any kind of a dual relationship with a client. As much as you like your psychiatrist (which is a good thing), I would strongly recommend you not pursue a personal or social relationship with him and keep it strictly professional, for both his sake and yours.

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