As a psychiatrist, I know my profession is a powerful lens that can bring the truth about individual lives into focus and help people see that truth for themselves. And I believe the same lens I use to treat patients can be trained on our culture, in a search for insights that will move human beings toward bold thought and action. I reject the notion that psychiatry is only a listening profession. I think psychiatry and psychiatrists have a lot to say, given all we have been privileged to hear. If only, I have thought in lighthearted moments, a psychiatrist like me could write prescriptions that would prompt people not only to take medicine, but to reflect deeply—the way patients will sit back in my office and wrestle with questions I have asked—then perhaps many could be coaxed a bit closer to living with passion and purpose.
PROJECT PRESCRIPTION is my way of harnessing my psychiatric skills, the power of prescription writing and the power of art and media to make people think, make them debate (even with themselves) and bring them closer to their heartfelt beliefs, whether those beliefs be in perfect accord with the prescriptions I have written, or in direct opposition to them.
The prescriptions are written large because they are based on large ideas and ideals. They are ones I am willing to shout. I cannot easily step away from them once they exist, nor, I hope, can those who will come into contact with them.
Keith Ablow, MD