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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Kitchen Shrink...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Dora Calott Wang is a Yale-trained psychiatrist who began her career as a doctor with great enthusiasm. But after less than a decade of her practicing medicine, that enthusiasm was shattered by the seismic shifts that shook the entire medical profession.

Once a cherished, even sacred, vocation, medicine has become a business driven by profit. What made medicine turn its back on its central tenets? In The Kitchen Shrink, Wang explores what happened, through the prism of her own research and experience. In these pages we watch as she struggles to maintain her professional standards as health care's priorities shift away from the compassionate care of patients and, instead, toward improving the bottom line, and along the way we meet some of her patients, whose stories reveal an oft-ignored human side of our besieged system. As the medical landscape shifts beneath Wang, she confronts depression and exhaustion, and fights to find a balance between work and home, as it become ever clearer that she cannot untangle the uncertain futures of her patients from her own.

Part memoir and part rallying cry, The Kitchen Shrink is an unflinchingly honest, passionate, and humane inside look at the realities of free-market medicine in today's America.

As someone who grew up in a country with socialized medicine and who now is a health care provider, I’m always intrigued by people who seem to hold the view that socialized medicine is a good idea.  When you look at the waiting lists, the government red tape and the fact that private health care is growing, anyone who professes to want government intervention into health care holds a view somewhat opposed to mine.
Dr. Wang recalls some of her experiences over the years as she works with people and companies in her own attempt to provide help and care for the mentally ill.  Her stories are heartbreaking, and she documents the changes over the years as her time with patients grows smaller and smaller, and the number of medications grows longer and longer. 
After reading this book, I won’t say that I am for socialized medicine, but she did at least make me think that there are some areas of health care that are not best served by the private sector.  Maybe a return to a non-profit model for certain health care sectors is not necessarily the worst way of helping them.
Overall, an interesting book.  Not a fun read, but definitely makes you think.

Thanks to Caitlin with FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Dora Calott Wang here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/10


  1. As someone who's lived in countries with privatized and socialized medicine, I don't think there's one perfect answer, but I will take privatized any day. We think our son is suffering the consequences of the poor care he received when we had socialized medicine. Sounds like a thought provoking book.

  2. This does sound interesting - the health care debate is something I am really interested in. There are elements of a socialized system (improved continuity of care, minimum primary care for everyone) that address real gaps in our system. But the waiting lists, access to good, prompt care etc are downsides. As Kathy says above, there is no easy answer, unfortunately.