A Conversation about Judith Orloff’s book Emotional Freedom with Dr. Judith Orloff

By Karen M. Rider, M.A.

Karen:  Dr. Orloff, was there specific event that made you realize you could no longer separate your intuitive skills from psychiatry practice and patient care.

Dr. Orloff: There are 25 physicians in my family, including my mother and father. I grew-up in an environment that valued linear thinking, fact and evidence over intuition and emotion. As a child, I was not aware that my mother and grandmother had intuitive ‘gifts.’ This created a split; I played with intuition in my personal life but, beginning in medical school, I kept intuition out of my professional life at all costs. In the elite field of psychiatry, scientific method was religion and intuitive skills were unfit for making decisions affecting other people’s lives. The event that changed how I viewed the relationship between intuition and medicine took place in my private practice. I had a premonition about a patient—I felt very strongly that this patient might harm herself even though all work we’d accomplished together indicated otherwise. I ignored my intuitive intelligence. That night, the patient attempted suicide. Had I responded to my premonition, this patient might have been on the phone with me or in my office working through the triggering event instead of lying in a hospital bed recovering from a botched attempt to end her life. From that point on, I immersed myself in understanding the symbiosis between intuition and ethical, responsible medical practice.

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