Welcome to my blog, a place to explore and learn about the experience of running a psychiatric practice. I post about things that I find useful to know or think about. So, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 8, 2015


You may have noticed my logo on the blog or twitter:

I drew this on a doodling app about 6 years ago. It's basically a caricature of my analyst's couch. I also think it looks like a cartoon nose. I submitted it, with wording, as part of a logo competition for my analytic institute's centennial celebration. It looked like this:

It didn't win, but people thought it was funny. I thought it would make a good t-shirt.

The couch drawing is kind of a joke, but I'm proud of it, so I use it. Also, it's a way of keeping my analysis, and my analyst, with me, although she's since gotten a new couch that looks nothing like this one.

And it's sort of a brand. I'm not sure what it "says" about me. Maybe that psychoanalysis is important to me, but I try not to take it, or myself, too seriously.

I think branding matters. Images, tag lines, they do make an impression. And perhaps more significantly, for large companies or institutions, a lot of thought goes into deciding on a look. A lot of thinking about what values they want to convey. And they pay consultants large sums of money to help develop that look.

Nike. Apple. Coke. Disney. You immediately picture the swoosh, the apple, the red and white, the castle. And they conjure feelings, and ideas, and memories.

That's what they're supposed to do.

The APA has a new logo. I read about it in the June 5, 2015 edition of Psychiatric News. And here it is:

From the article:

"[The] new APA logo signifi(es) the leadership of the modern psychiatrist as a physician of mind, brain, and body...The new logo graphically updates the image of psychiatry to express its expertise in biopsychosocial and integrated care..."

Well, I see a snake around a stick. That's the staff of Asclepius, signifying medicine. Or a way to remove the dracunculus parasite.

I see a brain, signifying, a brain.

The word, "mind", is there, but no accompanying image. Not really an image of a body, either, except that the brain is part of the body. Or it's the body of the snake.

If you consider only the image, it could be a logo for the American Neurological Association. Or the new movie, "Snakes on a Brain."

It's kind of perfect, really. There's a mention of mind, but the focus is on brain and medicine.

The APA's Office of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs also produced a document, "APA Brand Guidelines." I couldn't find it online. According to the article, its purpose is, "To help the APA administration, district branches, and state associations adopt the new logo and the related material that support it (such as a color palette and type fonts)..."

The article goes on, "This guide contains everything you need to understand and use our brand system. By consistently adhering to our brand architecture, you will strengthen our collective presence and thus the cause." This reminds me, eerily, of another successful branding system.

And there's a video, "...that reflects the values of modern psychiatry and their translation into the new logo..." Notice the number of doctors in white coats. And scrubs. Outside of residency, when do you see a psychiatrist in scrubs? Wait. I wear scrubs when I'm doing a lot of cooking.

I don't really understand what it's saying. There are images of happy people, a teenager in a car with his father, learning to drive. Some kind of team being coached, a kid riding on his father's back. There are shots of brain imaging, a guy trying on a jacket, another guy from the military with a little kid. It could easily be a commercial for an insurance company. It's that slick:

Remember, "logos" means word. Or reason.