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Rearview: A Psychiatrist Reflects on Practice and Advocacy in a Time of Healthcare System Change
Barry B. Perlman. BookBaby, $15.99 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-1-09-835460-2
What is a psychiatrist’s work really like? Perlman, the former director of the department of psychiatry at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center and president of the New York State Psychiatric Association, offers some nuanced answers in this artfully constructed debut memoir. Rather than give a straightforward chronological look at his career, Perlman frames his experiences through vignettes from his work life, which “share an experience and perspective on it and offer insight into the way we doctors understand our professional lives.” The author covers a wide range of topics, including the impact of patient suicide on mental health professionals and the wrenching ethical conundrums presented by end of life decisions. The subject matter isn’t all grim, as when an upset patient asks Perlman why he stuck his tongue out at her. The question initially baffles him, but he eventually places that action in context: he had asked her to do so as part of a neurological exam almost a year earlier. That encounter, he writes, taught him “to be as aware as possible of all aspects, verbal and non-verbal, of my interactions with patients.” Readers intrigued by inside accounts of the medical profession by practitioners such as Oliver Sacks will find this a thought-provoking complement. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 03/03/2023

Release date 04/01/2021