by Lawrence H. Climo, M.D.
When he was laid off at age 65 by the inner-city mental health clinic where he served as a senior clinical psychiatrist, Lawrence Climo, M.D., concluded he wasn’t ready to retire. Instead, he set out on the road, literally and figuratively, taking temporary assignments at medical facilities around the country. His encounters along the way led him to profound insights about patient care, the medical system, and himself.
This book, which recounts both the inner and outer journey, is filled with stories of great feeling and wisdom. About his time on the road, Climo writes, “I found myself reconnecting with some familiar and some not-so-familiar insights into my field and myself. I remembered the obvious and humbling insight into the mystique of psychiatry. That mystique, I recognized with refreshing clarity, is not about psychiatry. It isn’t even about the psychiatrist or psychiatric treatment. It’s about healing. I also came to appreciate that the power of words resides less in their meaning than in the magic of the stories they tell.”
About the Author
Lawrence H. Climo, M.D. has been a practicing psychiatrist for more than forty years, the last five as a locum tenens or itinerant practitioner. His temporary assignments have taken him to the Southwest, Appalachia and New England where he has worked in general hospitals, state hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and in the VA system. A Yale graduate, he is Board Certified (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology). He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for military service in Vietnam.
“… a deeply humane and wise meditation on the factors that either contribute toward or impede healing. Like the after work glass of sherry, this book should be sipped not gulped. I usually read two or three vignettes at a time and then stopped to think about what I had read and to sit with the feelings that had been evoked. I was often moved by his account of what his patients struggled with, by how he thought about them, by the parallels drawn to his own troubles, and by his ongoing efforts to discover ways to help and heal.”
—James Sacksteder, Associate Medical Director, Austen Riggs Center
“When Dr. Lawrence Climo was forced to confront a dismaying sense that his professional identity and training was becoming obsolete in the new healthcare landscape and that his brand of psychiatric therapeutic skills seemed to be losing its relevance in the field in which he had spent his entire professional life, he resisted his immediate impulse to turn his back and flee, instead accepting a series of temporary jobs where there was a shortage of psychiatrists. The journals he kept as he traveled the country as a kind of modern-day itinerant healer became the basis for this compelling collection. With unusual empathy and considerable literary skill, he recounts the stories of the people for whom he cared. Each vignette is a kind of prose poem, by turns riveting, tender, funny, disturbing and heartbreaking. And his deftly and honestly rendered tales serve as object lessons in the extraordinary power of the very ordinary act of listening. This book will surely hold an important and necessary place in the literature of healing.”
—Marie Harris, poet, editor, freelance writer and former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire
“Thoroughly enjoyable, a wonderful and important read.”
—Deirdre C. Neilen, Ph.D. Editor, The Healing Muse
“Dr. Lawrence Climo provides the reader with a fascinating kaleidoscopic account of an ‘itinerant psychiatrist’ who took on temporary positions in several less than privileged mental health facilities across the country. A gifted listener, blessed with a sensitive ’third ear,’ and a rare capacity for self-reflection and interpersonal resonance, his rendering of patients’ stories conveys his genuine concern for the mentally ill as well as his belief in the old adage, ’physician, heal thyself.’ He clearly struggles with his personal psyche, but in the end comes to term with his sense of loss in the context of a broader awareness of the human spirit.”
—Leo Goldberger, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, New York University
“… beguiling, blending science, compassion, wit and wisdom, always telling the truth, which at times can be hard to sit with. I would recommendPsychiatrist on the Road to anyone interested in getting to understand people, particularly people with serious mental illness and those who offer services to them, lay and mental health practitioner alike. One word of advice. As tempting as it may be to read the stories collectively, please be prepared to invest the time, digesting the substance of each one.”
—Dennis McCrory, M.D. Board of Directors, National Alliance of the Mentally Ill