Humor as Used in the Doctor-Patient Relationship: Constructive and Destructive(2)
I wondered whether humor in psychiatric practice was a useful tool in the psychiatrist-patient relationship or whether there were special concerns with its use as compared with the use in general medical practice.
Psychiatrist Shrinkette covers this issue on her blog and has responses from some visitors on how they look at humor in psychiatric consultations. In addition, Shrinkette wrote me e-mail stating, in part, her view:
"...what's different about psychiatry is that the relationship between psychiatrist and patient becomes fodder for understanding the patient's life and symptoms. People respond to us as they've responded to other important figures in their past (it's called transference). So humor becomes one more variable to interpret.
Another difference is that sometimes patient's symptoms can include
extreme humor (manic patients, for example). We're supposed to model
appropriate behavior, and that means not cracking up at their stream of
manic jokes (if the whole session consists of the patient joking and me
laughing, that's not therapy!) But sometimes we can soften an
important message to a patient with a little joking (at least we hope
Thanks Shrinkette. ..Maurice.