Today I was chatting with a young woman who sings semi-professionally, and we talked about conductors. I proffered my pet theory that all great musicians are bonkers, and she looked thoughtful and said that several of those she knew probably had mild autistic spectrum disorder. This was a much more sophisticated hypothesis: that such a personality could give people with great musical gifts the tenacity perseverance and single-mindedness necessary to succeed professionally. I found this insight fascinating, but it also challenged my assumptions about the hierarchy of expertise. Normally I would have expected that I as the doctor would be instructing my patient on medical matters, but in this case she was instructing me. We can always learn new things, and a little humility never does any harm. Incidentally, she singled out Harry Christopher (leader of The Sixteen) as being a exceptionally normal person, so you don't have to be odd to be a great musician - but it helps.
Back in April I mentioned a mother of two young children who had developed postnatal depression after the birth of her second son, as she did after the first. I prescribed an antidepressant and have continued to see her regularly. She has done well, and when I reviewed her today she told me that she was feeling a lot better, and indeed was now the best she'd been for a long time. She also told me for the first time that her own childhood had been really bad and abusive, and that it had been her mission to provide a happy childhood for her own two. Interestingly she added that she no longer felt cross or angry with herself.
You don't need a degree in psychology to see that the pressure of wanting to provide a perfect happy childhood had added to the stress of motherhood, and that her perceived failure had made her angry with herself. I was delighted with this outcome, and pleased with myself for the small part I had played in producing it.
One of my friends who keeps an eye on this blog thinks I am obsessed by breasts, but I am going to dwell on them again nevertheless. Today I was consulted by a young woman who is part of an old and respected profession (though not the oldest, you understand). She was dressed in a black trouser suit, but it was her top that called for attention. The V-cut was low, and she was wearing one of those bras that lift and push the breasts together. They were nuzzling together like the twin fawns mentioned in the Song of Solomon, their whiteness contrasting with the black material of her top.
I won't say that they were the elephants in the room, for they were delightfully proportioned, but I kept my eyes firmly fixed on her face for fear that they should accidentally lower their gaze onto what the French call "la gorge". I couldn't quite work it out. It may be that all the bright young women are flaunting their tits nowadays and that it is such a perfectly acceptable fashion that she didn't think twice. Or perhaps she is making a statement such as "I am fully conscious of my sexuality which is not available to you - noli me tangere". Or perhaps she does it to intimidate colleagues or clients at work? But when visiting the doctor the conversation may well include matters of an intimate nature, and the presence of the twin fawns seemed an intrusion to me. The rules are quite clear: fully clothed during the initial consultation, behind the curtain to disrobe, then examine the appropriate part in a clinical and non-sexualised setting. I couldn't help feeling that she was breaking them.