One’s identity is unarguably a product of one's history and life experience. We are also the product of our parents, grandparents, and the distant branches of our family tree. Beyond the obvious genetics—thank you for the 6’2’’ genes, Grandpa Frank and not-so-much-thank-you-for male pattern-baldness, Grandpa Tudrus—our elders serve as our role models for adulthood, parenthood, career aspirations, and everything else one could possibly think of. You don’t need to be a psychoanalyst to see how one’s understanding of one's mother and father shapes a person's hopes and dreams. As our sages of blessed memory taught—מעשה אבות סימן לבנים: “The acts of the forefathers are symbolic for their children.”
In Holly Schechter’s Genealogy, we read of a young woman who recalls her roots as she prepares to bring a child of her own into this world. She considers how her own parents and grandparents will experience the coming of a new generation and ponders their experience of her own birth many years before. This is a critical exercise and one that any sensible parent should engage in.
For me, the decision to become a doctor was easy and I wrote a bit about it in the two pieces in the Spring 2015 edition of Intima. I wanted to do something that wasn’t boring, that allowed me to help people, and something that wouldn’t have me relying on scratch tickets to gas the car. Because Calvin was already Dictator-For-Life and Hobbes was First-Tiger, the only thing left was to be a doctor. Oh yeah, and also my Dad was a doctor and pretty much the best person in the entire world, so it was a no-brainer. Only Charles Barkley can say, “I am not a role model.” Dads and Moms can’t say that and it’s amazing when they do their job right. Love you Dad (and Mom too)!
Jacob L. Freedman, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist in Boston and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. He is a graduate of William and Mary, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program, where he was Chief Resident of Inpatient Psychiatry and the recipient of the Henry G. Altman award for Excellence in Medical Education. As a leader in his hospital's integrated mental health team, Dr. Freedman's focus is on the development of strategies for providing evidence-based healthcare to psychiatric patients and other high-risk individuals. His non-academic interests include suburban-mountain biking and Middle Eastern cuisine. His poem, "My Favorite Piece," and story, "Maybe That's Why I Became a Psychiatrist" appeared in the Spring 2015 Intima.
© 2015 Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine