Doctor needs help


Doctor needs help


your avatar   "Doctor", 30-year-old woman

I am a doctor - a resident actually - and I need help. I wish someone could help me. How can I explain that I am not a loser, I am not dumb, I am not a moron to my professor? How can I top so many exams previously and now with him, I can't even answer simple basic questions? He makes me feel small, worthless, and alone every day. He tells me I am a waste of life; that I should die instead of living like this, and now I believe him. I want to end this too. I don't want to live anymore, but no one will understand. No one will believe that I can be depressed. I have no one to talk to. I can't move even one muscle in my body. I wanted to save lives, now I wish someone can save mine. Help me.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

My dear, I don't know the laws in your country, but in any western country, this man would be committing a crime. This is bullying. He has no right to treat you this way. His treatment of you says NOTHING about you as a person, a student, or a doctor, but says LOTS about him.

People who put other people down like this always feel small inside, and they need to bully others to feel better about themselves. If he were a good doctor, he would remember the Hippocratic oath: "Above all, do no harm." He is harming you, so his behaviour is unethical.

If he were a good teacher, he would find good things in your performance and acknowledge them. When you made a mistake (we all do; that's what learning is about), he would help you to improve without criticising you as a person. So, he is an incompetent teacher. If he knew how to teach, he would not be doing this.

It is completely unacceptable for any person, particularly one in authority, to refer to another person as a loser, a moron, dumb. He has managed to gain power over you as a pocket Hitler, and this gives him a feeling of strength. He has sucked that strength out of you to the point that now you feel suicidal. Right. That was until now. Now, it is time to fight back. Take back your power. You can.

In previous times, with other instructors, you did well. So, we know you have the ability. In order to return to that, you need to change your emotional reaction to being in his presence. Here are a few tricks you can experiment with:

1. Imagine him as his age, dressed in his clothes, but tiny: the size of a 6 year old little boy. He has to jump up and down by bullying you because he is so small inside. Are you going to be overwhelmed by a little kid? Of course not. Only, do your best not to actually laugh at him, ridiculous as you'll see him now.

2. Before you had this fellow as your superior, you had others who behaved decently. Pick the best one. Before you have your next contact with little boy bully, imagine you are actually with this past instructor, who is only disguised as Dr. Monster. It is a mask, not the real person. Then, answer the question from this decent instructor, or do the procedure with the decent instructor looking over your shoulder, not the little monster.

3. You know you are competent, and able to come out on top in examinations. You are doing medicine because you are motivated to save lives and relieve suffering. Regardless of what this little boy says, do your best to carry on your life's work. You are not doing it for him or for his approval, but for your patients, present and future.

4. Instead of taking his nonsense as true, become defiant. The more he abuses you, the more you can show yourself that you can do it, and do it well. His bullying can be the spur to make you into the best doctor.

With love,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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