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Knutsen, E.J. (1977). On the Emotional Well-Being of Psychiatrists: Overview and Rationale. Am. J. Psychoanal., 37(2):123-129.

(1977). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 37(2):123-129

On the Emotional Well-Being of Psychiatrists: Overview and Rationale

Elaine J. Knutsen, M.D.

There are two characteristics of our time contributing to the increased openness of concern about the impaired physician. Although the focus of this paper is upon the emotional well-being of the psychiatrist, the broader issue of the impaired physician cannot be separated from it and is therefore pertinent. The two characteristics are the legitimization of concern with the quality of life and the emphasis on the accountability, and therefore on the competence, of the physician. The latter applies to all physicians but has a particular thrust for psychiatrists because of both the hitherto general privateness of the work of so many of us and the close relationship, particularly in psychotherapeutic endeavors, between our emotional state and our efficacy. In a somewhat different way the legitimization of personal concern about the quality of one's life has a particular pertinence for the psychiatrist in that it raises the question of whether he can allow for himself that which he encourages in his patients.

Those of us who are particularly concerned with the issue of the emotional well-being of psychiatrists are repeatedly impressed with its complexity and far-reaching ramifications. One way to conceptualize and therefore to bring order to considerations of the issue is to think in terms of two dimensions, a longitudinal one and a cross-sectional one. The longitudinal axis is the range of emotional ill-being/well-being. The cross-sectional axis calls attention to categories to be considered at various points along the longitudinal axis.

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