Author: Dora Calott Wang, M.D.

Publisher:The Penguin Group

ISBN:     978-1-59448-753-8

Click Here To Purchase The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

Hey Doc, can you prescribe some meds for this condition of mine?” I mutter to myself as I pick up the pen to write this book review. It was due a month ago but the pressures of my schedule precluded my having met that deadline. The guilt is great and has been eating at me for weeks now. Of course I shouldn’t feel this way as there is just too much to squeeze into my daily 18-hour schedule. Alas, as I read on, I realize that it’s just a mild case of depression brought about as a result of my hectic rush. In fact, as I finish reading, I gather that the anxiety will soon pass. “Thanks Doc”, I murmur as I begin to write.

Fragments of a fast paced society! Dora Wang’s book, The Kitchen Shrink, is filled with fragments; fragmented lives, health, work, and time. She succinctly describes a fractured health care system where the drive for profits quickly replaces the desire for wellness. She does it with a masterful writing style of constantly changing images and thoughts all weaved into the larger story.

In her view, our country’s move to a Helter Skelter medical system continues to plod forward. It is a system that no longer values patient care. It is absent of the wholeness you would expect; replaced by compartmentalization that switches from one provider to the next all taxed by a bureaucracy that knows no end. This is the system that Dr Wang sees. The manuscript comes across as a composition of isolated informational items; small bits of thought scattered and seemingly displaced yet woven into a story that you won’t soon forget.

Dr. Wang’s underlying premise questions the theories of David Ricardo’s principles on the division of labor when applied to the medical profession. Is this profession better off with increased productivity brought about by specialization or was there something more valuable in the supposed less productive (from a profit perspective) but more paternalistic and holistic approach? How should the cost of wellness be computed? Should medicine be immune to the profit motive that is best practiced through the division of labor or does it even apply since psychological care is more about fixing a broken spirit or mind; not creating a new one? In a broader reflection, she seems to be telling us that the commoditization of the health care system is a cancer quickly spreading its destruction.

In her particular halting style, Dr Wang reflects on her career experiences and evolution as well as the broader changes to the industry at large. She pangs us with the overhead that has developed where the emphasis is seems to be placed upon the creation and spread of a heath “care” system that is designed “not to pay and not to care”. Her thoughts remind me of the problem with pollution. It’s obviously a problem, and we all contribute to it, yet there is no real accounting as to the real cost for society at large. As a result, we just stumble along and endure its bad effects.

As an interested reader and concerned citizen, it would be most interesting to see a follow up book that looks at the tremendous changes that have been heaved onto the industry since this writing. How does Dr. Wang view the so called “Obamacare” legislative law passed in 2010? Does it serve to help or hurt what clearly is a badly flawed system in her view?

If you sometimes wonder why we are where we are and have the time for just one book that peeks inside the ailing health care system, you must give serious consideration to The Kitchen Shrink. It is an excellent read, well written and enlightening. Dr Wang implores us to address the philosophical question of the objective of health care rather than to further Band-Aid what it has become. It is thought provoking and, though the message is dire, the book will keep you turning the pages one after another.

Click Here To Purchase The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World