Psychiatric Annals


How Much Are You Going to Live This Year?

Jan Fawcett, MD


Psychiatrists are in a unique position to reach out through clinical practice, research, and educational activities.


Psychiatrists are in a unique position to reach out through clinical practice, research, and educational activities.

This first issue of Psychiatric Annals for 2004 is focused on bipolar disorder, guest edited by William Lawson, MD, PhD. Bipolar disorder is a good metaphor for life, as well as a topic of growing importance and char-' leiige to the clinician. This series boasts some notable features compared with previous discussions on bipolar disorder, in that it includes sections on racial and ethnic differences, a discussion of migraine in mood disorder, and a discussion on the complexities of genetic findings in this illness.

For me, the approach of a new year, much as birthdays and the beginning of the academic year in July, prompts me to ask myself the questions: Did you live the past year to the maximum? Did you get sufficient meaning, enjoy enough time with loved ones, do enough for others less fortunate, express loving kindness, and live enough outside your skin? Did you really live in the now to the highest degree possible and did you do enough to keep your fragile body functioning well enough to support your brain to maintain a clear and receptive consciousness? What are you going to do to live more effectively next year?

This raises the conundrum of how to be mindful in daily life without thinking too much - a real dilemma for members of Western civilization. Plan ahead but live in the now. Be mindful but learn to multitask. It's quite a challenge in a world where Christ or Buddha would be seen as representative of "the homeless."

What a beautiful challenge - making the time we have as full and meaningful as possible. Focusing on the uncertainty, presence, and mystery of life to deepen the experience of daily life is a challenge worth pursuing. For psychiatrists, one approach is to deepen the meaning of the privilege we have been given to relieve suffering and promote the enjoyment of life of our patients. This may be accomplished both through clinical practice and research, as well as by sharing our experiences to help educate others.

Join me in New York the weekend of March 27-29 for a symposium designed to expand understanding and clinical skill in treating one of most common threats to enjoying a meaningful life and living outside one's body - anxiety disorders and comorbid anxiety. The nation's clinical experts will be there. Check the announcement in this issue for more information (see pages 14 and 15), and we'll see you in Manhattan.1


Sign up to receive

Journal E-contents