"What Are You Talking About?"
I work part-time as a teacher of family doctors. The program provides training on psychiatric disorders and emphasizes the importance of emotional support. The new doctors are given plenty of time in the clinic to visit with their patients and learn about their challenges.
One of our interns who has never lived in Utah and knows nothing about Mormons is still struggling to understand the cultural climate here. Last week he was interviewing a new patient and stumbled on what he thought was a raging psychosis.
Doctor: "Well, Mrs. Olsen, we've talked about your high blood pressure and your medications. Are you experiencing any particular stress in your life?"
Patient: "Oh, yes! It's the Sunbeams. They're driving me crazy."
Doctor: (very surprised): "The sun beams?"
Patient: "Yes. I've never had trouble with them before, but this group won't sit still. They bounce all over the room, and run out the door and down the hall."
Doctor: (reaching for a pen): "Have you told anyone about this?"
Patient: "Of course. I told the president."
Doctor: "Really! What did the president tell you?"
Patient: "She said Sunbeams are like that. I'm just going to have to learn to deal with them."
Doctor: (concerned that he may be missing something): "I know people who are sensitive to sun beams. Do they cause you a rash or anything?"
Patient: (confused): "A rash? No."
Doctor: "What's the biggest problem they're creating?"
Patient: "It's the noise. They just won't quit talking."
Doctor: (astonished): "The sun beams are talking to you?"
Patient: "Well, yes. But mostly they talk to each other."
Doctor: (scribbling furiously in the chart): "I see. Can anyone else hear them talking?"
Patient: (after a moment of stunned silence): "You're not LDS, are you?"
- Robert Armstrong, M.D.