Workaholic psychiatrist

Xiang, a highly accomplished, workaholic psychiatrist, consults a psychoanalyst. He is a capable clinician with a robust DC-based practice. However, in the personal arena he’s had several disappointing relationships. Each of his girlfriends has broken up with him, asserting that he consistently prioritizes his work over their relationship.

He seeks out a psychoanalyst, saying, “my last girlfriend told me that ‘work was my other mistress’. I think that’s true. I know I need a more systematic, frequent, approach because I think that I use my work to avoid closeness”.

“For a few years, I was in twice a week therapy. I kept it pretty cerebral. But, eventually, I used work as an excuse to stop. I’m more serious now; I recognize that it isn’t the women; it’s about something inside of me. A colleague of mine with similar difficulties sought analysis. It really helped her but it was a ‘rough ride’; however, she fell in love and found her life mate. When she first told me she was entering psychoanalysis four or five days a week for several years, I thought she was crazy. That’s a really big commitment. But, now I see that it was worth it for her. I know that my journey will be difficult. I’ve walled off a lot of pain.”

“Also, some of my psychopharmacology patients, here in Washington DC, have found psychoanalysis to be really helpful. It seems like it is hard work and time-consuming. But, I think it might be worth the effort. I want to resolve these difficulties so that I can find a life partner and have a family. And when I use work to circumvent this treatment, I know I’m a workaholic psychiatrist and I hope you’ll call me on it.”

The analyst comments, “calling you on it – and, trying to understand what’s happening between us, maybe that’s a job we can share.”

“Yes, he agrees, Also, who knows, not only do I enjoy psychopharmacology, I like to doing psychodynamic psychotherapy at point maybe I will decide to pursue psychoanalytic training and even become a psychoanalyst at some point. Since you are a Training and Supervising Analyst, if I decide to enter training — I’ll already have a Training Analyst who has certification as a psychoanalyst.

This vignette, about a workaholic psychiatrist, is fictional but describes one of the kinds of patients who decide to enter psychoanalysis.

Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dr. Lynn Friedman, Ph.D., FABP, is a Clinical Psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, and a Clinical Supervisor in full-time, private practice. She provides evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as supervision to psychoanalysts-in-training and other mental health professionals. Beyond this, she is a board certified, psychoanalyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University and the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis.

I'm interested in exploring a consultation with you, what's my next step?

I provide psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consultation, supervision & executive coaching. If you are seeking consultation from a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in DC, feel free to call me: 240.483.3530.