Thursday, February 21, 2008

Full Moon

Only Slightly Unbalanced

I feel like Chicken Little--the sky is falling! Is something wrong with the world this month? Is it bad karma, bad weather, the eclipse, the near-total lack of sunshine this month, or as they say on multiple choice tests, A & D, B & C, none of the above or all of the above?
My friends, colleagues and I have all decided that February should have been banned this year. There are those creepy, shivery events like the shootings at a university not far from here, or the therapist who was sliced to death in New York City. Then there is the more close to home feeling that this February is a lousy month to be a psychiatrist. Finally, let's face it, I and millions of other people just want this winter to be over!

After the full eclipse

People the world over have superstitions about the full moon and its effects on behavior. None are more superstitious than doctors. I once nearly got beaten up when I told a medical resident that our call was quiet that night. Saying that your call is quiet is considered tantamount to inviting 20 major disasters on the ward and in the ER. I never used the word quiet professionally again.

An Odd Sense of Humor

The most superstition is regarding the moon. ER doctors insist that there are more and stranger patients in the ER on full moon nights. Psychiatry residents dread those nights too. There is a reason someone who probably spoke Latin coined the term lunatics.
Of course true scientists know better. Take the following study cited as a letter to the editor in Psychiatric Services: Kung and Mrazek analyzed records from a psychiatric emergency room from 1997 to 2001 and found no increase in visits during full moon nights. They weren't the first (nor probably the last) to try to debunk the myth but it is still widely believed. Another tale for Mythbusters perhaps?
Personally I would have rather skipped call on Saturday nights or on the day after welfare checks came out when all the crack addicts had spent their allotment and crashed and turned up in the ER for consolation. But then, I guess I never was too superstitions, knock on wood.


JL said...

I would happily have skipped February this month. However, here we are, stuck with an extra day of it.

Andrée said...

the first photo is shocking that it made it out of the PR department of that place and into the light of day. misogyny is alive and well (and being practiced by those who don't want a woman president). I'm glad you put your moon photo there: it is comforting in all the craziness.

teachers love that myth. i keep telling them there is NO data to support it, and they quickly quip that it doesn't matter: it is true. so much for teachers teaching facts and not fiction.