The Words We Use

Psychiatric TimesVol 37, Issue 2
Volume 37
Issue 2

Chairman and Founder, MJH Life Sciences, Mike Hennessy, Sr, introduces the February issue.


Communicators and clinicians-the words we utter have great meaning and carry great weight. On the cover, for instance, Dr Steven Moffic discusses the tragic state of affairs in Australia as the wildfires wreak havoc on that country. In that same article, he talks about physician burnout, which can happen when emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion extinguish the fire or passion that is so predominant at the beginning of one’s career. And later in the issue, Dr John Miller alludes to feeding the flames of knowledge in our ongoing quest for lifelong learning. Depending on the context, fire can have either negative or positive connotations.

In clinical care, the choice of words and when to use them also has immense impact. In this issue, Dr George Mecouch explores the conversations he had with a patient with depression, psychosis, and delusions. While psychopharmacological strategies helped, the words they shared were instrumental in her recovery and healing. Similarly, Dr David Osser notes how expert words can have an impact on patient choices: once hearing study results on the beneficial effects of lithium, otherwise ambivalent patients become more open to integrating lithium into their care.

Indeed, nowhere is it clearer how words affect people than in psychiatry, where stigma continues to be a problem for patients, families, caregivers, and clinicians. This month’s Special Report and CME articles explore the stigma of violence and trauma and the interplay between violence and its consequences. In doing so, the articles provide practical tips for treating psychiatric disorders. Similarly, choosing when and what words to speak is important, especially when you find yourself between a rock and a hard place. Dr James L Knoll IV shares insights on the ethical, moral, and malpractice issues surrounding disclosure in his analysis of a challenge posed by Dr Eduardo Constantino.

And, with that in mind, we hope that cover-to-cover, the words you find in this issue of Psychiatric Times enlighten, entertain, and educate you as you feed the flame of lifelong learning in psychiatry!

Mike Hennessy Sr.
Chairman and Founder, MJH Life Sciences

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