November 14, 1980

Becoming Psychiatrists: The Professional Transformation of Self

Author Affiliations

Forensic Center Ann Arbor, Mich


by Donald Light, 429 pp, $18.95, New York, WW Norton & Co Inc, 1980.

JAMA. 1980;244(19):2211. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310190061030

Becoming Psychiatrists describes the metamorphosis of interns into first-year residents and psychiatrists and psychotherapists. The author had an unusual opportunity to participate in a psychiatric residency training program affiliated with a major eastern university. The program was in a period of transition. The past emphasis on traditional psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy was being modified as residents were encouraged to assume more responsibility in the local community. Thus, the focus of training had begun to shift from analytically oriented therapy to therapeutic techniques more appropriate for community psychiatry.

The author addresses the structure of the training program, including what a psychiatrist learns and how one becomes a psychiatrist. Both of these areas are extremely important, since there is a process of socialization that occurs during residency training. The values and goals of the profession are either accepted and assimilated en masse by the new resident, modified in some form, or rejected in