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"You Should Be a Psychiatrist"

Posted on December 3, 2007

A high school teammate saw the makings of a psychiatrist in an empathic, 15-year-old Gary S. Sachs (bio).


The true story is when I was very young, I had a neighbor who had a child my same age, and this was a very, very attractive mother. This boy lived across the street. And what happened there is that she died of brain cancer, and the father reacted by having nothing to do with that side of the family, destroying all the pictures, and they moved away.

And when I was 15 and starting to play football in high school, that young man was the quarterback of our team, and we recognized each other. And he was so amazed that I remembered his mother, the details of their house, the times we spent together more vividly than he and his sister did. And they were like, “You should be a psychiatrist.” I thought, “Hmm.”

It was so comforting to them. That was the beginning of an interest that had been there in the background, having had the benefit through junior high school of a very interesting program where we had advanced science courses on the weekend. And I was getting through eighth and ninth grade teaching from people who in some weeks were talking about Melanie Klein and psychoanalysis, another week phase contrast microscopy, and some very advanced concepts in biology.

So I was kind of ripe for, “You might go that direction," because the idea of understanding people and how the brain worked was a part of this science exposure that I had at just the right time.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 International Conference on Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, PA.


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