Mercy Now

by mchisol1 on January 28, 2013

"I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion and respect lately.  A very caring medical student shared with me how challenging it was for her to remain compassionate and respectful when caring for a particular patient who, in a delirious state, through no fault of his own, was uncharacteristically combative and rude.  Being compassionate and respectful in certain circumstances, which can emerge from environmental, provider, and/or patient factors, can be challenging even to the most seasoned clinicians.  But compassionate and respectful we must be, even in the face of violent and help-rejecting behavior, even when displayed intentionally and characteristically by the patient.  We must remind ourselves to focus on the therapeutic relationship, not the behavior.  Compassion and respect are essential to this relationship and to healing.

I recently attended the Association for Academic Psychiatry meeting in Nashville, Tennessee where I participated in a Master Educator class, went to a great talk on Woody Guthrie’s work’s relationship to his illness, and led a workshop on Twitter for psychiatric educators.  I learned a lot there.  But I learned even more when I wandered away from the meeting to hear some of the city’s great live music.  One song I heard that night, in particular, has stuck with me.  Its title has become a mantra of sorts that I turn to when I find my compassion and respect being challenged.  I encourage you to have a listen.  It might help you always treat every patient with compassion and respect regardless of the circumstances if you remember, in the words of Mary Gauthier, that “Every single one of us could use some mercy now.” - Margaret Chisolm, MD

Listen to Mary Gauthier sing "Mercy Now"

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