A week in psychiatry with Marianne Kastrup
In each issue we ask one of our colleagues to write a contribution about the week at their job. Although we are all psychiatrists, our days and conditions vary a lot. It is therefore both interesting and inspiring to read what daily life is like to our colleagues. This time, Marianne Kastrup gladly agreed to describe her work week. She had several plans how she would spend her time after retirement, but serious illness in her family and the subsequent Covid pandemic changed these plans. So, what to do?
I returned home after an exciting meeting with the editorial group of Nordic Psychiatrist where we unanimously agreed that the next topic should relate to the current international situation and the role of psychiatry in war. I have good friends and colleagues both in Ukraine and in Russia and spent several hours reading several links I had received from a friend and expert in Russian history to get a more comprehensive picture than what is presented in the media and by our government. I thought of my last visit to Kyiv in 2019 teaching Ukrainian junior doctors and the WPA Kyiv hybrid congress in 2021, little did we know.
In the morning I went for a ride on my bike in the nature park where I spend most of my time. Living close to nature overlooking the ocean is fairly new to me who has spent the last 40 years in the center of Copenhagen. In the afternoon I was planning the agenda for the initial meeting of representatives of international medical groups in Amnesty International. I have been a member of the only medical group in the world fighting death penalty for many years and we are right now in the two Danish Amnesty International medical groups trying to reestablish an international network with colleagues from other European countries.
The evening I spent in a Zoom general assembly. I am a member of the association “Fair citizenship” working for a more just and fast handling of applications for Danish naturalization. The Board members are younger persons who have become Danish citizens, but after some thoughts I agreed to stand for election and am now a Board member – senior indeed, but hopefully my psychiatric knowledge may be useful not least when advising those seeking naturalization.
I went to Aarhus to meet with the two co-editors of the Festschrift that we published for the anniversary of the Institute of Psychiatric Demography, Risskov. The institute is no longer existing. But the three of us had a fine time editing the Festschrift and still meet. The institute that was my first workplace provided me with incredible opportunities and a work environment that I never experienced elsewhere.
Later I contacted the Danish Veteran Centre and fixed an interview for the next issue of Nordic Psychiatrist on virtual reality treatment.
In the evening I finished the book “The children act” that we shall discuss in my English Reading Group – a thought-provoking book about the ethical dilemma judges (and doctors) face vis-à-vis blood transfusion to Jehovah’s witnesses.
In the morning I took my usual ride enjoying the spring sun stopping at my favorite coffee shop – I have become a kind of mentor to two of the young baristas. Later, I received a bundle of material on Google Drive related to “Fair citizenship” about Danish legislation in preparation for the first Board meeting. I am looking forward to discussing how I may contribute to the work.
Later I participated in my monthly literary group – where we take turns in debating a book that has had an impact on our life. This gives rise to lively discussions about all aspects of our lives.
The morning spent walking with my neighbor a tradition that has been established during the Covid-lockdown period.
Later I participated in Lectio Divina – a study group established by the local priest where we discuss selected passages from the New Testament. Having grown up in an a-religious family and not a very devoted Christian the discussions and the input from the other participants are very inspiring and open new doors. Never too late.
In the evening I finalized paperwork related to a research project on IPSS (International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia). I have had several contacts with an international research team of medical anthropologists and historians who are analyzing transcultural projects and they approached me as I seem to be one of the few (Sic) who were part of the IPSS still alive.
Spent the morning reviewing a draft of a project I together with 2 friends and colleagues are planning to start. Denmark had in the 1970’ies and 1980’ies a prominent position with respect to awareness raising and documenting in particular medical aspects of human rights violations, work that resulted in the establishment of organizations treating traumatized refugees. I have for decades worked with refugees and asylum seekers and the three of us want to write about the thoughts and ideas that led to this work.
The afternoon I spent in a Zoom meeting with a Board member from “Fair Citizenship” introducing me to the communication system SLACK and the extensive material about the organization and its present tasks.
I participated in the regular editorial meeting of the Oxford University Press book on Social Psychiatry. We are 5 editors 3 from the US, one from India, and me who for 2 years have spent lots of hours on Zoom discussing the 41 chapters. The book is now in production and the number of Zoom meetings still to come limited. Unfortunately, as we over time have become curious about each other lives and share all kinds of experiences.
Subsequently I had my weekly meeting with an Indonesian woman that I via “Elderlearn” (a voluntary organization where senior Danes help foreigners to improve their language skills) have established contact with – over time it has developed into psycho-social counselling as well as language training.
With an aperitif I sat with my husband in the evening reflecting. This was not how I had anticipated my retirement, but everything else being equal – not bad at all. □