The Origins of Suffering

Written by Marcus M. McKinney, D.Min. LPC

Filed under: SIP

The first month of residency at Connecticut Valley Hospital corrected a lot of preconceptions about mental health institutions. Dr. Dori Laub, whose passion for his personal interest in preserving the stories of those suffering in the Holocaust taught me about humanity and inhumanity – and their intersection in psychiatry. And then there was the young, brilliant Brazilian psychiatrist who looked like he lived in the 60s. His humor and constant laughter blended with a love for the most difficult situations we would see in our year-long formation.

One day, half of our interns argued that a new young, angry patient was most certainly suffering from a ‘chemical imbalance’ while the other half insisted the patient suffered from “psychological trauma” from an early life experience. The young psychiatrist shut down the argument by proposing “everything is biological and everything is psychological … and I challenge you to prove which one comes first… and which one inflicts the most suffering for this patient”. He noted throughout the year that we should best avoid seeing ourselves or others as anything less than whole.


“Remember to cure the patient as well as the disease”

Dr. Alvan Barach