Ever wondered what motivates doctors to write? The answers may surprise you. Welcome to Medika’s author interviews with some of our more prolific authors. These professionals have been kind enough to allow us a glimpse into their lives as they share what motivates them, why medicine is important to them and how they view the writing process.
Dr. Patricia Farrell is a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and has been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, she is concentrating on writing articles and books and Medika is very fortunate to enjoy the benefits of her experience as editor of Medika’s articles on mental health.
Tell us a little about yourself Patricia. Where were you born and do you still live in your birth country? Tell us a little about your family and what made you choose your current field.
Life has been a series of interesting events for me. Allow me to lay out some of them, so you will be better able to understand where I came from, where I’ve been, and where I see myself going.
The youngest of five children, I grew up in a poor, integrated neighborhood in a cold-water flat that had neither heat nor hot water.
When things improved a bit, my father moved us to 100-year-old farmhouse that stood one block away from the main shopping area of our town. We even had a dry well off the kitchen and a barn in the back yard.
It was here that I began to realize that my life was a bit out of the ordinary. The Mafia ran the area and my father worked at a parking lot they owned. As a child, I was friendly with the “runners,” these are the men who take the bookies and betters’ money to their Mafia bosses. Primarily, they had been sparring partners for middleweight boxers and I was friendly with all of them.
At age 12, my mother, two sisters and I were witnesses in a murder trial. The man in the apartment next door had murdered his toddler son. The child’s mother asked my mother to come over because “the baby fell out of his crib.” Almost every bone in his body was broken by virtue of having been swung around and hitting all the fixtures in the bathroom.
Oh, I should mention, that by the age of six, I had almost died from pneumonia three times, but I did survive and at six I had a leg operation where they didn’t know if I would lose my leg up to the hip.
I had an accident where the injury was misdiagnosed by the intern in the emergency room. Then my parents were accused of child abuse because they followed the intern’s instructions to take me home and apply hot compresses to the wound on my leg which only exacerbated the problem.
Although there were five of us, I’m the only one in my family who graduated from high school. My grandparents were immigrant servants on both sides and my mother had to quit elementary school and work in a factory to support her mother and three younger sisters at age 12; my grandfather was in jail for horse theft.
Education was something that I knew very little about and I never had any aspirations in that area. You went to school until you didn’t have to any longer and then you went out and got a job. That was it.
After high school, I was fortunate to get a secretarial job where two men for whom I worked at a trade magazine encouraged me to go to college at night. College was the farthest thing from my mind. All I wanted was a convertible and a trip to Florida.
But I did decide I would go to college and successfully obtained all three of my degrees at night while working full-time during the day, sometimes with three jobs at one time.
Psychology was my third career choice. First, medicine (life threw a few curves there), second, oceanography (I get seasick) and psychology so I could direct my own life.
I’ve appeared on many national TV shows (Today, AC360, GMA, Court TV, VOA), and I did once interview John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their hotel room in Toronto. I was working for a trade publishing magazine at the time.
My work background, after I got my doctorate, includes being the national clinical monitor for the first medications for Alzheimer’s disease, Cognex. While traveling all across the country to 17 clinical sites, I was fortunate enough to meet some of the powerhouse researchers in the area, including Lissy Jarvik, whose nephew invented the Javik heart.
I’ve worked in mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals with forensic patients, many of whom had committed murder, I have been involved in writing CE’s (one for the USMLE), I am a Web MD consultant for psychology and I’ve published two brick-and-mortar house books plus a few self-published on Amazon.
I enjoy photography, films and writing and one day I hope to learn how to code in Python.
I believe that’s a good start on getting to know me and I hope you found it interesting.
I’ve worked in almost all areas of psychology for over 30 years and have taught on the graduate and postgraduate levels. Now, I plan to devote my time to writing non-fiction, short stories, flash fiction and one, yes only one, novel and don’t expect it will be “the great American novel.” If it interests people, that’s enough for me.
I’m driven by incessant curiosity and want to work toward addressing human rights transgressions.
Writing provides the opportunity to focus my passion on topics that I find interesting and where I feel I can provide information for improving people’s lives.
Let me answer this the only way I can. I hope to be alive in 10 years and that’s not being sarcastic or joking nor does it have to do with the political situation. My goals are set year by year and always flexible in nature.
I’ve written on this on Medium and I do believe telehealth provides access where there would have been none. We have large swathes of states in the US where there are no mental health professionals. It also relieves people from having to travel and may even make it easier to relate on a computer screen. Research has to be done in that area.
I’m a writer for about eight Medium publications on health, mental illness, films, and technology (AI is a favorite subject of mine).