Robert Klitzman

In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist

"Having described his first-year medical residency in A Year-Long Night, Klitzman continues with this account of his three-year psychiatric internship in a New York City university teaching hospital. Assigned rotations in short-term in-patient wards, emergency rooms, and out-patient clinics, Klitzman learned to diagnose mental disorders and administer treatment ranging from psychodynamic therapy to electric shock. He is a deft observer of the interactions between patients, residents, supervisors, and hospital staff, Klitzman makes us equally aware of his personal struggles to deal with the pressures to conform to training that discourages questioning and to understand an institutional system that appears to benefit staff rather than patients."
--Library Journal

"Klitzman, a New York City psychiatrist who described his medical internship in A Year-Long Night, now offers an involving, highly revealing look at the chaotic world of psychiatric practice in this account of his three-year residency at an unnamed psychiatric hospital, part of a sprawling university medical center. Among his patients are Nancy Steele, a suicidal artist; Ronald Bramsky, a homeless drug addict who has endured more than a dozen operations for bone cancer; Blanca Diaz, a woman with dementia who believes she is in "the House of God, the Gateway to Heaven" and numerous schizophrenics, psychotics and depressives. We watch as Klitzman wrestles over whether to use psychological approaches, which frequently disappoint him; biological, drug-based treatments, which have helped many patients more than he expects them to; or a combination of approaches. Hospital politics unfolds in a clash of physicians' personalities and therapeutic styles, to the point where each ward constitutes a different social environment. Too often, observes Klitzman, patients are pigeonholed into narrow categories, given drugs and then blamed for their failure to improve."
--Publishers Weekly

Selected works

Non-fiction book
"This is a detailed first look at a critical aspect of U.S. medicine that may not mesmerize causal readers, but should prove indispensable for reform." - Publishers Weekly
Fresh from medical school, Robert Klitzman began his residency in psychiatry with excitement and a sense of mission. But he was not prepared for what he found inside the city psychiatric center where he was to spend three grueling years. In truth, as Dr. Klitzman's absorbing account of his apprenticeship reveals, he never ceased to be surprised--by his patients, by the senior psychiatrists' conflicting advice on how to help them, and by the unpredictable results of the therapies, both psychoanalytic and biologic, that he and his fellow residents practiced. Nights in the emergency room, professional controversy, the minefield of hospital politics, the stress of his own therapy--everything is here, in a passionate and illuminating analysis of a doctor's struggle against tremendous odds to banish his patients' demons. [AN] INSIGHTFUL MEMOIR . . . RECOMMENDED." --Library Journal
"[Klitzman's] sensitive, humanist approach converts information into knowledge."
--Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
"Klitzman's work is an important contribution to physical training and patient care. The wisdom shared in When Doctors Become Patients holds potential to make all physicians better caregivers."--JAMA
"...a book for anyone desiring to move forward in the fight against the illness, not the people."
--Erica Prigg, Health Communication
New York Times article
Op-Ed essay on the death of Osama Bin Laden
".. a briskly engaging and informative work."
--Publishers Weekly
"There are extraordinary moments...[The book] describe[s] the tension between the endless stress and the fantastic learning curve of his Year-long Night.
--Washington Post