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June 5, 1991

Medicine Man

Author Affiliations

Bozeman, Mont

Bozeman, Mont

JAMA. 1991;265(21):2788. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460210030006

The young couple who came into my office that day were good-looking and well dressed. The woman was slender and wore a subtly flowered dress that set off her brunette coloring. The man was more casually attired in knit shirt, linen slacks, and loafers. They could have been models on assignment. They were, in fact, the first Native Americans from the nearby reservation to come to our mental health center.

The first thing that became apparent was that they were not on the best of terms. The second was that the young woman was not going to utter a word; not then and, as it turned out, not the next day. When I addressed her, she shook her head firmly. It was up to the man to explain that she was along solely as an observer.

When I asked the man (let's call him Frank) how I could help, he