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Hopkins Medicine Magazine - Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work

Hopkins Medicine magazine Spring Summer 2011

Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work

By: Neil A. Grauer
Date: May 20, 2011


Hopkins reader books Spring 2011

Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work
Dinah Miller, MD,
Annette Hanson, MD,
Steven Roy Daviss, MD
(The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011)

As today’s consumers of products on the printed page wonder if newspapers and books will survive the onslaught of new technologies, it’s reassuring to encounter a book that is based on the authors’ blog and podcasts.

Clearly, neither psychiatrists Dinah Miller, Annette Hanson, and Steven Roy Daviss—nor the Johns Hopkins University Press—think that books are doomed; and for those interested in the challenges, complexities, successes, and failures of psychiatric practice, that’s good. The creators of the Shrink Rap blog, which features entries by all three authors and an untold number of ancillary contributors (many with pseudonyms, such as “Battle Weary,” “Drytears,” and “Murky Thoughts”), and the My Three Shrinks podcast, have sought a wider audience by compiling an engaging volume designed to share the insights gained and dispensed through these more ethereal venues.

Miller, since 1998 a consulting psychiatrist for Hopkins Hospital’s Community Psychiatry Program, decided she wanted to launch a blog to sort out her feelings about her experiences as a volunteer psychiatrist in Louisiana immediately following Hurricane Katrina. To do so, she sought the help of two Internet-savvy friends—Hanson, a member of the Hopkins psychiatry house staff from 1989 to 1992 and now clinical assistant professor at the Hospital; and Daviss, head of the psychiatry department at Baltimore-Washington Medical Center.   

Thus was born the blog in 2006, followed shortly thereafter by the podcast. Both became popular—and it is easy to see why, based on this book. The authors cleverly use the case histories of fictional patients “to write about what we do without the concern that our real patients might feel betrayed or wronged.” They also created fictional psychiatrists—admittedly with “a little bit of us” in their treatment of patients.

In 12 chapters, they explore such areas as why people seek care; how people can get help for mental health problems; how psychiatrists work in the mental health system’s different treatment settings; varieties of psychotherapy; psychiatric medications; pediatric psychiatry; and what happens “when things go wrong.”  Neil A. Grauer

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