The Chronification of Pain

Published online at Scientific American on December 29, 2017. Earlier this year, I wrote about my patient, Andrew, an engineer who developed a heroin habit. An unfortunate series of joint replacements had left Andrew with terrible pain and, when his medication ran out, he turned to heroin. Months after his surgeries—after his tissue and scars had … Continue reading The Chronification of Pain

What Do “Emotion” and “Mood” Actually Mean?

Cecilia (not the patient’s real name) was 15 the first time she tried to kill herself. She sliced into her left wrist with a razor she had hidden away. The initial sting silenced her emotions, but as she went deeper her arm tensed. Her head dizzied with pain. Too much. She screamed out and threw … Continue reading What Do “Emotion” and “Mood” Actually Mean?

The Role of Neuroscience in Psychiatry Redux

Originally published on Scientific American's Blog on April 28, 2017. Neuroskeptic has launched the “mother of all blog posts” against my article, published earlier this week. Neuroskeptic is skeptical that there is a “War Between Neuroscience and Psychiatry.” I fully agree. There is NOT a war and I regret the first title that was published … Continue reading The Role of Neuroscience in Psychiatry Redux

Case Study: When Chronic Pain Leads to a Dangerous Addiction

Originally published in Scientific American MIND on March 1, 2017. Before this, article was originally published with the title "A Painful Descent into Addiction." It was 4 P.M., and Andrew* had just bought 10 bags of heroin. In his kitchen, he tugged one credit-card-sized bag from the rubber-banded bundle and laid it on the counter with … Continue reading Case Study: When Chronic Pain Leads to a Dangerous Addiction

The Rise of Evidence-Based Psychiatry

Originally published on Scientific American's Guest Blog on February 28, 2017. On January 2, 1979, Dr. Rafael Osheroff was admitted to Chestnut Lodge, an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Maryland. Osheroff had a bustling nephrology practice. He was married with three children, two from a previous marriage. Everything had been going well except his mood. For … Continue reading The Rise of Evidence-Based Psychiatry

Psychiatry When You Don’t Speak the Language

Originally published on blogs.scientificamerican.com on June 23, 2016. “It’s been an exciting morning—we got a new patient last night with acute mania,” the resident said with a wry smile. It was my first day in Changsha, China. I was at the Second Xiangya Hospital and frankly, I began to tense up wondering what “exciting” meant. … Continue reading Psychiatry When You Don’t Speak the Language