To the Editor:
Thank you for the very interesting article “How to Cope if You Feel Attracted to a Patient” [November/December 2002, page 92]. I am not an expert on the issue, but I disagree that feeling attracted to a patient is necessarily a sign of burnout. One may argue that after returning from a restful, stress-free vacation, a physician could indeed be attracted to the first patient he sees. Attraction between the sexes is very normal and not part of a syndrome. It becomes a problem if the physician makes the patient aware of this attraction either verbally or nonverbally. I do agree that in some instances a physician’s involvement with a patient could lead to crossing the boundary.
I completely agree with you. I have written elsewhere that attraction to a patient can represent either an intra-psychic surplus or an intrapsychic deficit; that is, a physician’s attraction to a patient is not necessarily pathological. Since the Balancing Act department deals with professional burnout, the article represents that angle.