We all need some directions, except for John.

John was a handyman I employed some time ago.  He could build and fix and assemble anything.  One day I asked John if he could put together a stereo cabinet I had purchased.  It had what seemed to me like a million pieces.  John said sure and went about assembling the stereo cabinet.  When he was done, I admired the finished product.  The stereo cabinet looked just like the picture on the box it had arrived in.  Then John handed me several unused parts to the stereo cabinet.  I asked John why he didn’t use them and didn’t he read and follow the directions.  He replied, “Directions? I just looked at all the pieces and put it together”.

I guess John didn’t need directions.

In the consulting room, patients often ask me for directions.

One patient recently said to me, “You’re the doctor, just heal me.  Tell me what I am supposed to do to be cured”.

Another patient said to me,”You’re a hard man.  You have all the answers, but you don’t give me any”.

First time patients frequently start their first session by saying something like,”I have never done this before.  What do you want me to do?”

I used to give directions.  But not many these days.

I used to think that I was being helpful by giving directions.  But now I think that the only one being helped was me.

On a good day, I am better able to tolerate waiting and seeing what directions will emerge from the patient. I have less of a need to prove I have all the answers and know everything.  After all we are there to discover what is in the patient’s mind, not mine.  Even though most patients come to treatment to learn what is in my mind, assuming I have all the answers.  As I frequently hear patients say to me, “You’re the doctor. You went to school, I didn’t”.

But in order to learn about the patient’s mind, I have to empty mine.

I have to proceed without directions.




Dr. Brody





Leave a Reply