I often refer to myself as a Shrink rather than as a Psychiatrist.  My colleagues are divided over the sobriquet. “Shrink” can be used in a derogatory way; at first glance it doesn’t sound nice. Other medical specialties don’t have nicknames, so why should Psychiatry?

I like the title. First of all, I am fond of short one syllable words (“Spo” for example).  “Psychiatrist” is a mouthful, and it sounds too much like psychologist or even podiatrist. (A joke; I went to see a podiatrist. He turned out to be a psychiatrist. He said there is something the matter with you, your nose is running and your feet are smelling!)

I hope my approach conveys I am OK with jocular self-pokes. Psychiatrists often come across as aloof or stuffy (a leftover behavior from psychoanalysis training when the doctor was to say as little as possible) “What brings you to see a shrink?” or “So, your primary doc asked you to see the shrink?” helps make patients relax.

I also like the word “Shrink” because it refers to a very basic concept of Jungian psychology.  Sometimes a Complex takes over the Ego and acts as if it is the Ego. It is sort of like a board member ‘full of himself’ pushing the CEO out of the chair and announcing “I am running the show now.”  We try to ‘shrink’ these complexes down to their proper proportion and position (viz. get the Ego back in charge).  So ‘head shrinking’ is ironically about expanding ego strength while shrinking nasty bloated complexes.

So I am in the camp of  “Shrink = positive”.  “Shrink” can be very camp.

After all, laughter is the best medicine.