Who are the sane?BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c6551 (Published 17 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6551
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Doctors are said to make very bad patients. Two stories are known to me in which psychiatrists become inmates of their own asylum. The first, Ward 6, by Chekhov, is very well known. The second, by the greatest Brazilian writer, Machado de Assis (1839-1908), was written a few years before Ward 6 and is less well known in the English speaking world. It is the novella O Alienista, The Alienist or (as it is usually translated) The Psychiatrist.
A doctor, Simon Bacamarte, returns to Brazil after his studies in Coimbra and Padua and settles in the small town of Itaguai. With a deep passion for …