As a psychiatrist with over 30 years experience, I have a couple of things in common with Dr. Drew. Being a psychiatrist is not one of them. He is an addictionologist. More on that later.
Having been on staff at the same two hospitals in Pasadena, California as Dr. Drew was, albeit well before him, I’m (almost) experiencing a fuzzy sense of kinship with America’s Addictionologist. In fact, at times, I feel myself basking in a few scattered rays of the good doctor’s starlight just by having shared those experiences with him.
When I saw Dr. Drew explaining to an awestruck CNN interviewer why it’s no big deal diagnosing people via their televised images, I felt like running to the bathroom and yodeling into the old porcelain phone. Had I done so, Dr. Drew would have diagnosed my reaction with 99.99% accuracy as acute nausea. (Nobody’s perfect).
Dr. Drew, Renaissance man that he is, recently gave an addictionologist’s diagnosis of Charlie Sheen’s apparent psychiatric problems based upon his public behavior, and recommended treatment. Immediate hospitalization, no less.
I was gratified to hear from Dr. Pinsky, in the course of the CNN interview, that medicine and, by extension, its subspecialty, psychiatry, are on a par with political and weather commentary in terms of appropriatness for media consumption. Even as a psychiatrist (though I did go to med school), I could say that a mole-like lesion on someone’s face big enough to show up on TV was probably a mole. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time seeing how Dr. Pinsky, without referring the person to a dermatologist for further investigation, including a biopsy, could say for certain that it wasn’t a potentially fatal melanoma. Instead he seems to be saying, “That was easy!” (Apologies to Staples).
Dr. Pinsky’s smug view of his capabilities as Doc-in-a-La-Z-Boy makes little sense with respect to the diagnosis of mental illness, his most recently acquired area of expertise. It’s so much more complex than a zit. I’ll bet he’s scaring the hell out of plenty of folks out there who now want to hospitalize Aunt Gertrude just because she got a little giddy from that margarita and called herself the Wicked Witch of the West.
If Dr. Pinsky, as he professes, really wishes to educate, he should do so. Within his area of expertise. But, I would urge him to be wary of the ethical standards that govern many of the health professions. These expressly state that thou shalt not diagnose without thoroughly examining a patient first and making sure that you have his or her permission to share your opinion. No wonder Charlie challenged Dr. Drew to a fistfight. (The Warlock versus the Drewminator). When it comes to a punch-up, I’d probably bet my clams on Charlie, but if it were a grandiosity contest…
Woody Allen once said that the late Normal Mailer pledged to donate his ego to the Harvard Medical School. I can just see Dr. Drew’s up there on a shelf, marinating in the next jar to the left.
Here’s the relevant link: http://drdrew.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/28/%ef%bb%bfdr-drew-talks-envy-celebrity-rehab/