香山リカのココロの万華鏡:カゼの功名 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) February 20, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The unexpected upside of a cold
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:カゼの功名 /東京

Although my health is one of the few things I pride myself on, I recently came down with a cold. My fever went down after a single night, but after that I completely lost my voice.

A psychiatrist cannot just laugh off losing her voice. However, I discovered that my lost voice wasn't as much of a hindrance as I expected it to be. When I told my patients, my voice just a whisper, "Sorry, I have a cold ..." they would lean forward to hear me, and I felt the emotional distance between us greatly vanish.

During our meetings, there were patients who would tell me, "I understand, doctor," and grasp what I was trying to say to them. There were even patients who kindly helped me out with their prescriptions. I was completely reliant on my patients, practically doing nothing but sitting and nodding.

Of course, there were times when my lost voice kept me from conveying things I wanted to, but for those things that absolutely had to be said, I could still whisper them out.

Perhaps it was because the patients had to listen very closely to hear me, but for some reason I felt like my whispering got across better than when I speak normally. Even patients who normally are picky about what medicines they take simply agreed to what I said.

Looking back at this, it's enough to make me feel that almost all of the things I normally go on about during a consultation are in the end, perhaps needless. Maybe a few words are all that's really needed for accurate communication.


The more we feel awkward or like we have something to be ashamed of, the more likely we are to increase the number of words we use in an effort to hide our uneasiness, but this only makes us seem more suspicious to others. I have told myself that in future patient consultations, I want to try to take a relaxed approach, using short sentences and only saying what is necessary.

While I learned that having one's voice taken by a cold is not a necessarily negative experience for a psychiatrist seeing patients, it made me a big burden on my colleagues at the university I work at. I was supposed to proctor entrance examinations, but since I could not project my voice, another teacher had to take my place.

Even though I was present at a morning assembly of the proctors, the speaker had to announce that another professor would stand in for me. How embarrassing it was. Ah, sure enough, I had better take care of my health. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2011年2月15日 地方版

by kiyoshimat | 2011-02-21 06:59 | 英字新聞

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