Taking the Helm With Gratitude—To Boldly Go
Taking the Helm With Gratitude—To Boldly Go
It is rather difficult for me to avoid turning this greeting article into an homage to Dr Pies. My mirroring of his farewell piece2 with my title and preliminary quotes was meant to signify my great respect for him. How much I have learned and benefited from his wisdom, patience, knowledge, and compassion over the past 4 or so years cannot be measured. It is my belief that we share many basic core values and interests. In particular, we both share a passion for writing, and when it comes to Psychiatric Times, we both feel strongly about continuing to “advance the ethical and educational goals of this ‘paper,’ and to serve our readers with integrity and distinction.”2 Thus, I cannot imagine that my basic approach, as editor of this journal, will be dramatically different from his.
But as my second preliminary quote suggests, I should not attempt to be Ron Pies—although, thankfully, I can still rely on his guidance and experience. Besides the fact that he is a highly accomplished psychiatrist and author, there remains the aphorism: “I gotta be me.” As my third preliminary quote suggests, I really like preliminary quotes. But beyond this, just as Dr Pies quoted Quarterback Kurt Warner on retirement, I felt compelled to quote the fictional “Quarterback” of the Star Trek series to capture some of my own feelings about beginning this “mission.”
Why Captain Kirk? Despite his bombastic nature, large dose of “healthy” narcissism, and superb overacting, one always knew what was really at the core of James T. Kirk: his allegiance to his crew, his mission, and the “prime directive” of non-interference. To borrow a phrase from forensic psychiatry, one always had the sense that Kirk held fast to the principle of “respect for persons.”3 Honestly—it was there. You have to look a bit past the overconfidence. This was why, in a crisis situation, you could always be certain that his abundance of self-love would take a backseat to his respect for persons. He was, at times, known to be a bit of a “maverick,” yet he could always be trusted to overcome a disaster. While considering the universe deeply, he considered himself lightly.4 He was perpetually ready to laugh, often at himself.
The universe is all about change, and your opinion about such change governs the way you feel.1(p2)
So on my new mission, I hope to draw upon Kirk’s better qualities. In this endeavor, I would ask you to bear with me, for in this quadrant of the galaxy, there will no doubt be much for me to explore and learn. I bring my large supply of enthusiasm and will let experience and trustworthy advice shape me into a better Captain. Fortunately, I will not be alone. The crew aboard this ship happens to be some of the finest, most decorated explorers ever to graduate Starfleet Academy. I know because I grew up learning from their writings and successful missions.
During my residency, which now seems too many light-years ago, I was an avid Psychiatric Times reader. Because my father was and is a psychiatrist, I more or less grew up with copies of PT around the house. I vividly recall that when I became a psychiatry resident, I had many lively discussions with faculty and residents about Psychiatric Times articles. Psychiatric Times has always seemed to me to be an important “middle ground”—somewhere between academic journal and newsletter. I firmly believe that it serves a vitally important function for our field. We need this medium because it is where we have the freedom to discuss the important issues without the excessive stiffness of an academic journal, which might shut down free-flowing creative and intellectual thought about rapidly evolving topics in the field. Yet as Dr Pies noted, PT maintains an investment in scientific accuracy and oversight so as to be a reliable map of our psychiatric galaxy.
Before he died, Rabbi Zusya said: “In the world to come they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”1(p54) – Ronald W. Pies, MD
Aboard Psychiatric Times, we are free to explore every area of our complex field and engage in open, collegial dialogue and, if needed, well-intended debate. Equally important, we are free to power our engines with the dilithium crystals of psychiatry—art, poetry, and the humanities. Our field is relatively young, yet already so highly complex. It is for this reason that I believe that Psychiatric Times is an invaluable resource for putting into practice the wisdom of touching “upon all the arts,” and knowing “the Ways of all occupations.”4 It has been, and always will be, my practice to value others’ creativity and intellectual differences. It is with great honor and enthusiasm that I look forward to working with and learning from Psychiatric Times’ staff, writers, and readers. In turn, I believe you will find me a trustworthy, flexible, and friendly colleague. I promise to do my best to tone down (at least some of) the overacting.
What is a Man, but that . . . lofty spirit . . . that sense of Enterprise! That devotion to something that cannot be sensed . . . cannot be . . . realized, but only . . . dreamed! – CAPT Kirk (Star Trek Episode: “I, Mudd”)
So here we go! Let us look to the horizon—Psychiatry, an incredible and humbling frontier. These are the voyages of Psychiatric Times. Its mission: to explore strange new theories of mind, to seek out new evidence-based treatments and relieve suffering, to boldly go where no bio-psycho-social science has gone before. Sulu (ie, “Sue” Kweskin)—ahead . . . warp factor one.
References1. Pies R. Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic’s Guide to the Art of Living. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books; 2008.
2. Pies R. Turning over the helm: hail—and farewell. Psychiatr Times. 2010;27(5):11.
3. Appelbaum PS. Ethics and forensic psychiatry: translating principles into practice. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2008;36:195-200.
4. Musashi M. The Book of Five Rings. Wilson W, trans. Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd; 2002:32, 57.