- Enchant: to subject to magical influence ; bewitch:
- to delight to a high degree
The Loss of Enchantment
Nothing is more tragic than the loss of our ability to be enchanted. I see it in my friends, my patients, and even myself. That loss happens when we are no longer entranced by our lives and our dreams. This loss can happen slowly, such as when a person is forced to engage in a job or lifestyle that seems inauthentic, soulless, or disingenuous. Or tragedy may strike in an instant, changing the very foundation of a persons’ life forever; leaving us reeling and asking “why?”
I often find in my practice that the underlining cause of many of patients’ complaints is a loss of enchantment. Whatever the dream was, whatever they thought they wanted to become, some element of what they felt drawn to do, or called to do, has been lost or forsaken. Helping patients find that original vision and honor it, is a great reward for me and a great part of the therapeutic experience.
When Doctors Become Disenchanted
I still remember the day that I decided to become a naturopathic doctor. I remember the excitement and optimism I had felt when I recognized what I wanted to do with my life. You see, I had become enchanted by medicine. By the art of healing in its purest sense—as a simple act dedicated to helping others get out of pain.
Medical school has a way of beating the dream of medicine out of young would be doctors. Whether it is a conventional medical school program or a naturopathic one, students are stressed, over-worked, frightened, and often feel beaten down. I saw over 30% of my fellow classmates—some of whom probably would have made wonderful physicians—leave medical school within the first 2 years. For them, the enchantment had ended, and they crawled away over-taken with thousands of dollars in student loan debt and mountains of regret. Where had the dream gone for them? Would they find another path to follow? Would they become enchanted again? I wondered.
My years spent in medical school were terrifying. I feared for my grades of course, and I feared certain clinic shifts that made me feel like I was suspended on shards of thin broken glass too terrified to move. Many of my former classmates tell me that it took them years to physically recover from the strain. Some of us walked away from our medical school experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of one sort or another. And for many of us, the dreams and romantic notions we once had about medicine died before we took that final oath; the day we waltzed across the stage at our graduations. We were no longer enchanted.
I am inspired by the work of Pamela Wible, MD. Wible is dedicated to helping doctors rediscover the passion they once had for medicine so that they can dream again. Wible has also been an active spokesperson drawing attention to the American epidemic of physician suicide that claims the lives of over 400 American physicians annually. Wible has been instrumental in helping doctors remember what originally drew them to medicine in the first place, reigniting their love and passion for medicine. She is active in helping doctors shape their practices based on their original intention. She calls this “the ideal medical practice model.”
While I have never met or worked with Dr. Wible directly, I have a great deal of respect for her work and have certainly been influenced by it. And on those dark days when I feel myself falling into a state of disenchantment myself, I try to remember what called me to my work, and that original simple dream I once had of helping people get out of pain using the time honored traditions of naturopathic medicine.
To find out more about my work, you can visit my web-pages at http://www.doctorwhimsy.com/