Dora Wang’s acclaimed memoir as a physician and psychiatrist in a changing health care system was nominated by her publisher for the Pulitzer Prize.
The personal story of how a psychiatrist confronts the profound changes sweeping the medical establishment as they reshape her life and career.
In the past two decades, a seismic shift has occurred within the walls of our nation’s hospitals and doctor’s offices. The medical profession- once considered a sacred, cherished vocation-has devolved into a business motivated by a desire for profits. Even psychiatry, once the mainstay of the human interaction between doctor and patient, has fallen victim to rising costs and dictates by insurance sources.
How has medicine strayed so far from its roots? In The Kitchen Shrink, psychiatrist and lecturer Dora Calott Wang delves into what happened.
Through the prism of her own story, Wang elucidates key events in her professional life-the declining state of hospitals and clinics, the advent of managed care, and the rise of profits at the expense of patient care-that highlight the medical profession’s decline. Along the way we meet some of her patients, whose plights reflect the profession’s growing indifference to the human lives at risk. There’s Selena, whose grief over her mother’s death and lack of family support make it difficult for her to take the medicine that keeps her body from rejecting her new liver, and Leonard, a schizophrenic with no health insurance who develops peritonitis and falls into a coma for three months. Each new story brings additional compromises as the medical landscape shifts under Wang’s feet. She struggles with depression and exhaustion, witnesses the loss of top doctors who leave in frustration, and attempts to find a balance between work and home as it becomes ever clearer that she cannot untangle the uncertain future of her patients from her own.
Part personal story and part rallying cry, The Kitchen Shrink is an unflinchingly honest, passionate, and humane inside look at the unsettling realities of free-market medicine in today’s America.
“A beautifully written memoir about the author’s frustration with the transformation of the profession of medicine into the business of health care, and the unraveling of the doctor-patient bond.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred (read more)
“In this well-written and moving memoir, Dora describes the dismantling of the mental health safety net. Hospitals close, ill patients are turned out on the streets, and others die because their insurance plans deny them much-needed medical care. In the middle of this gloom, Dora has a baby girl…”
—San Francisco Chronicle, Frances Dinkelspiel (read more)
“Our health care system is sick…The Kitchen Shrink should be required reading for all of our legislators.”
“As the nation works on a plan to provide better medical care, it is vitally important to read The Kitchen Shrink.”
—Maxine Hong Kingston, National Book Award Winner
“What a wonderful book, so full of heart and wisdom and generosity. I wish everyone in the country would read it.”
—Karen Joy Fowler, Author of The Jane Austen Book Club