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What’s a psychiatrist?

Recently I was in the company of a colleague who is a psychiatrist (aka shrink).

We were walking into a large supermarket. He’s saying hello to the chap who’s greeting customers. The conversation goes as follows:

Chappy: So what if you don’t mind I ask do you do?

Shrink: I’m a forensic psychiatrist – which is different from a psychologist. Basically I lock up the criminally insane and provide treatment for them.

Chappy: You know…[hesitating a bit] know what I thought you were?

Shrink: No, tell me.

Chappy: I thought you were a doctor. You just have that look about you.

Shrink: Well a psychiatrist is a medical doctor.

Chappy: Oh so you mean you’ve studied for your doctorate and all that.

Shrink: I’m a doctor like any other medical doctor.

Chappy: Orh..r..i….g……h…..t [the sort of spread out ‘right’ that you get from the English when they don’t know WTF is going on].

Well actually: the non-verbal context of this was that although my shrink colleague took the effort to differentiate himself from being a psychologist, he could not have expected to be differentiated from being a doctor. It still didn’t sink when he told the chappy that he was a medical doctor.

This is the way England is. People appear to have lots of intelligence but what they really have is a lot of ‘lip’. Ooooh…now I’m extrapolating too much from one incident. No – it was an extrapolation from lots of incidents; this is just one of them. Come on – I think I can expect any person of average intellect to know that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor.

If you don’t get the point – leave it alone and move on.

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