Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The importance of combining 'old' and 'new'
I recently attended a conference joined by a number of professional psychiatrists. Listening to a number of presentations discussing the latest genetic studies or new medication therapies, among other topics, was rather difficult as I had to take note of all katakana and English words, but there were many other presentations that took the opposite approach.
For example, patients suffering from serious diseases, such as cancer, sometimes experience a complete reversal of their day-to-night lifestyle patterns. In such cases, when consulted by physicians, many psychiatrists tend to respond to the situation by suggesting the use of sleeping pills.
A veteran doctor present at the conference, however, said the following:
"Instead of rushing to prescribe sleeping medication, how about trying to move the patient's bed toward the window, for example? A simple thing like this has helped many patients restore their daily rhythm and to sleep at night."
I've heard similar suggestions at many other symposiums and research presentations, too. Among them are such that promote "monitoring patients' conditions while listening carefully to them, instead of prescribing sleeping pills," and "examining the patient in front of you even if there's a lack of advanced medical equipment."
In other words, what these specialists are trying to say is to place value on diagnosis and treatment that do not rely on science and technical skills.
I found myself agreeing with these opinions.
We have digitalized all patients' clinical records at the clinic where I work. However, given this transformation, I tend to plan the entire treatment process from diagnosis to actual cure, only by looking at the computer screen.
However, isn't a normal doctor-patient conversation along the lines of, "You wake up often at night ... But aren't you taking daytime naps? Oh, you do? In that case, how about going out during the day to move a bit?"
What is really important after all? Isn't going back to the basics and remembering an "analog" style of diagnosing and caring most important?
Having said that, a doctor refusing to accept medical innovations, saying things such as, "I'm not aware of the new method of checking brain blood flow in dementia; I don't understand these difficult, new things; all I want to do is just observe my patients," would be a problematic behavior, too.
Needless to say, what is really important is to combine both new and old things in life in a well-balanced way.
However, it is exactly this "well-balanced way" that is most difficult for human beings to achieve.
For example, aren't there people who go from eating absolutely nothing in an attempt to reduce weight, to eating excessively on the rebound?
While I often fail like this when attempting a diet myself, I want to aim at providing "well-balanced treatment based on a combination of 'old' and 'new'" in my consultation room. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
June 03, 2012(Mainichi Japan)