Thursday, May 16, 2013

Challenges of Psychiatry Blogging: Why Start? Why a Pseudonym?

This is part 4 of my series on the challenges of psychiatry blogging. Previous posts covered content, audience, and design.

Why Start?

I'm sure everyone who blogs does so for intensely personal reasons; thus, I will not speculate on anyone's motivations but my own here. I've always enjoyed writing but have not done much of it since college. I enjoy reading other psychiatry and neuroscience-related blogs, and I've long wished that there were more blogs focused on the many important issues related to child psychiatry. Eventually, I decided to start a blog myself for that niche. I hope to be critical in the sense of "involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc.; judicial," rather than being "inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily." Though I've focused a lot on the DSM thus far, it is no accident that my first post was a movie review, and I hope to write about a broad range of topics, including vignettes from my own clinical experiences.

Why Now?

Why did I choose to start the blog last month, instead of at some other time? This question is harder to answer, and so let me examine it as I would any complex human behavior. Could it be that some life change increased the free time I have? Could I have been inspired by reading other blogs and being caught up in the zeitgeist with the DSM-5 about to be released? Is it that I finished writing a self-reflective piece offline, and encouraged by how rewarding it felt, managed to overcome previous inertia? Does it have anything to do with the fact that, after having knee pain for the last few years, I finally found a way to deal with the pain in April, thus allowing me to run again (and I'm getting good ideas while running)? Could it be the increased daylight and seasonal change helped me be more alert and focused? Is it that I've been drinking stronger coffee? I can't give you a simple explanation for why now, except to say it's likely a combination of several of those factors.

The Name Thing

Why am I using a pseudonym instead of my real name? Well, first let me say it's not so that I can vent my frustrations or write mean things. I'm more likely to use profanity in real life than on this blog. I'm fully aware that there is no true anonymity on the Internet, so I write everything as if it were under my actual name. I treat a blog post like I would an essay, refining each one until I am somewhat satisfied with the result.

Neuroskeptic has actually written a paper on the topic of anonymity in science, and how it can "facilitate the free expression of interpretations and ideas, and can help to ensure that suggestions and criticisms are evaluated dispassionately, regardless of their source." I'd like to think that's one of the main reasons why I use a pseudonym. Another reason is simply convenience. It's much easier for someone to Google "psycritic" to look up my blog (as well as my comments on other blogs), than to search for a name that belongs to many people. It helps me compartmentalize; though my patients are unlikely to bring up this obscure blog, I would still prefer to not have to chat about the blog during our sessions, and instead focus on what is going on in their lives.

Lastly, we come to the name itself. Why Psycritic? Well, as I said on Twitter:
What can I say? It's certainly not original, but the domain name was available. Now, we just need a psychskeptic who blogs, and we'll have a complete tetrarchy!