The tendency to see medical doctors as no less than gods come to earth is not uncommon. Fortunately, the belief in the immortal infallibility of physicians is being examined more critically. The much-publicized malpractice insurance dilemma has made more of us face the fact that a surgeon's hand may slip or the anesthesiologist can be asleep at the switch.
Unfortunately, the psychiatric segment of the profession has not had such reportage. The popular notion of a psychiatrist is a doctor who talks to people, helping them come to grips with their emotional problems. They are valued for wisdom, empathy, and a helpful knowledge of the meaning of being human. Oh, yes: The psychiatrist is often called in as an arbiter in criminal cases. In the hands of one man rests the right of another to a fair trial by a jury of his peers. Should the doctor say that the defendant (perhaps a purse snatcher) is not fit to stand trial, he is sometimes passing a life sentence on the defendant. If this hypothetical accused is incompetent to stand trial, he will not be released before trial. Whether a jury would have found him guilty is irrelevant; he is punished nonetheless.
In this book, a young girl is coerced into the hands of one of these mystic healers. She does not seek the doctor freely, but is delivered unto him by the decision of school administrators. They seek to control the girl's "excessive" sexual curiosity. Without investigating the qualifications of the doctor, the school feels they have solved the disciplinary problem.
Two questions arise: Have they solved the problem? Whose problem was it?