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January 16, 1978

Evaluating Psychiatric Treatment

Author Affiliations

From the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Englewood, NJ. Dr Shapiro is in private practice.

JAMA. 1978;239(3):233-234. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280300065028

PSYCHIATRISTS, like everyone else, win some and lose some.1(pp722-756) The inability of a psychiatrist to cure or to alleviate a patient's illness may reflect the psychiatrist's limitations with a refractory illness, or it may reflect some difficulty the patient is having in perceiving the benefit of therapy.

Occasionally, failure is due to the psychiatrist's lack of skill or to the interference of the psychiatrist's own problems in the therapy.2 More often, failure is due to obstacles inherent in the nature of psychotherapy as a treatment technique. In many of these instances, one psychiatrist may succeed where a colleague has failed, since a patient who gives a detailed description of his disappointment with his former psychiatrist provides his new physician with valuable information.

The patient or his family, angered or disappointed by failure, may ask our opinion about the psychotherapy. We should be able to distinguish proper psychiatric treatment