Magical Thinking

Photo: Bohman

One of my patients suffers from chronic constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome. During the literally twenty years since she was first diagnosed, her symptom pattern has remained remarkably consistent: she has perhaps 1-2 bowel movements per week, occasionally accompanied by some mild cramping. Even she admits the symptoms are more a […]

The Good Guy Contract

Photo: tosaytheleast

Twenty years ago, the first woman I ever loved broke my heart. Like many break ups, the end came in stutters and sine waves rather than as an abrupt but mercifully irreversible amputation. However, for reasons I couldn’t understand yet quickly began to resent, my ex-girlfriend continued to ask favors of me. […]

What Compassion Is

Photo: pedrosimones7

The other day I was out walking my son in his stroller (my now constant occupation) when a homeless woman approached me asking for money. I’d seen her before in the neighborhood many times, including behind our condominium using drugs. I turned down her request and continued walking, to my chagrin, as […]

Your Neighbor Is An Alcoholic

Photo: peteSwede

My patient smiled a toothless grin and told me, “I feel fine, doc.” But he was far from it. His liver enzymes had risen into the thousands, his skin was a pasty yellow I didn’t need the benefit of sunlight to see, and his albumin (a protein whose level indicates the liver’s […]

Marriage As A Business Proposal

Photo: SimonShaw

People marry for all sorts of reasons. People enjoy being married and stay married for reasons that evolve over time. Though studies have shown being married is associated with a longer life span (for men, at least), I don’t believe—nor is there evidence—that a married life necessarily results in more happiness in […]