Evaluating psychiatric patients in the ER, with Dr. Rob Tarzwell

On this episode, I talk with Dr. Rob Tarzwell, a psychiatrist and psych researcher. This is the second time I’ve talked to Dr. Tarzwell: the first was this talk about SPECT brain imaging and his research correlating brain images with conditions affecting mental health.

In this episode, I talk with Canadian doctor Rob Tarzwell about his 15 years as a psychiatric doctor in emergency room (ER) settings. We talk about some of the strategies and processes involved in trying to distinguish psych conditions from other types of conditions in the ER, and Tarzwell talks about some interesting cases that posed evaluation challenges. And we talk generally about the nature of mental illness and personality disorders.

We also talk about a topic that I talked about in my recent interview with Dr. Timothy Jay: how there can be psychological or brain-disorder factors behind some instances of widely-shared/viral bad behavior, including racist behavior. We talk about a specific case involving a woman who was caught in three separate videos saying racist things to people of Asian descent, and what conditions might help explain her behavior. We also talk about a poker YouTube personality who had had some clear mental health struggles and who died earlier in 2020, and what could help explain his behavior.

Links to this episode:

Other topics discussed include:

  • How delusions (and beliefs in general) are influenced by the surrounding environment and culture.
  • How exact and precise the categories and mental illness names the industry uses are
  • How the language we use to describe mental illness can impact perceptions and feelings about mental struggles.

Related content or stuff we mentioned: