The Kitchen Shrink by Dora Calott Wang, M.D.

Title: The Kitchen Shrink
Author: Dora Calott Wang, M.D.
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Source: Caitlin at FSB Associates

The Kitchen Shrink Book Cover

My best friend is a psychiatrist who works with military veterans so I was interested in reading what Dr. Calott Wang thought of the current medical system in the US.  The Kitchen Shrink is a memoir that reads like a string of stories to illustrate her points.

One example is how the family doctor who was paid upfront and treated like a family friend (or a respected community member) is now relegated to a physician number in a managed health care system designed to not pay the doctor.  I’ve seen her point firsthand.  Dr. Light delivered me when I was born and was at my oldest brother’s bar mitzvah.  If we hadn’t moved from California he probably would have been the family doctor until he retired or passed away.  Doctors I’ve had for several years (my family practitioner, ob/gyn, gastroenterologist, and opthamologist) I know well enough to ask about their families but newer doctors I would have problems recognizing them outside their office.  And I doubt they would recognize me. 

My insurance benefit form shows me the original cost of the services provided, how much was discounted, how much insurance paid and what is left for me to pay.  It’s difficult to make sense of it at times.  For example, I had blood drawn in May and June at the same facility for the same tests and yet the second blood draw was $25 less.  Who comes up with these figures?  It’s not difficult to imagine the paperwork hospitals and doctors need to fill out in order to get reimbursed for providing medical care.  Or to imagine doctors/hospitals hiring people to take care of the paperwork and deal with the insurance companies.

The flow of the book is good but I had to stop about two-thirds of the way through to give myself a break.  It was depressing.  I took two days off to read something lighter before returning to it.  Some of the changes and consequences Dr. Calott Wang describes were only visible to her in hindsight.  I think her book is a good place to start a discussion on how the medical profession became the health care business.

Author Bio
Dora Calott Wang, M.D., 
is a psychiatrist with degrees from the Yale School of Medicine and the University of California, Berkeley. She was awarded a prestigious writer’s residency from the Lannan Foundation. Dr. Wang has been in private practice and served on hospital staffs, and is currently a medical school professor. She lives in New Mexico with her family.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment

  1. Sounds like the book makes a lot of good points. And I’m with you, I never understand how the same thing can cost different amounts on different days.

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