Question: I have suffered from low self-esteem for years, so I sought help from a psychiatrist during a particularly depressed period of my life. Rather than building my self-worth, however, he was cold and aloof with me. I had the feeling he was merely doing a job and never really cared about me. How would you approach a patient with my kind of problem?
Dr. Dobson: It has been discouraging for me to see how often my professional colleagues (psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors) have overlooked the feelings you described as a most obvious root cause for emotional distress. Lack of self-esteem produces more symptoms of psychiatric disorders than any other factor yet identified.
Time and time again in my casework as a psychologist, I sat talking to a person with deep longings to be respected and accepted. How badly he needed human affection and kindness, as well as emotional support and suggestions for change. Yet if that same needy patient had gone to Dr. Sigmund Freud in his day, the immortal grandfather of psychoanalysis would have sat back in detached professionalism, analyzing the patient's sexual repressions.