Under My Skin



We all see many Borises. There are plenty of Stellas, too, though we don’t often see them. People who think as she does, who put their trust in strange treatments and sundry healers, don’t often show up in our offices. How they can think the way they do passes my understanding. But then much that I read or hear in the news about what people think passes my understanding. They are not my responsibility, though; Stella is, or at least she was.

Dr. Alan Rockoff, a dermatologist in Brookline, Mass.

Dr. Alan Rockoff

Stella’s faith in her remote healer seems like one way of abetting denial and addressing fear, one step beyond just pretending the symptom or sign simply isn’t there. How much more obvious can a problem be than a black spot on your forehead?

Fear can be annoying, confounding, insulting. It can present as whining, as interrogation, as aggression. Dealing with it may be wearying, or impossible. But it’s part of our job, because it’s always there.

Besides, we should be able to relate. Doctors know fear too, don’t we?

Dr. Rockoff practices dermatology in Brookline, Mass., and is a longtime contributor to Dermatology News. He serves on the clinical faculty at Tufts University, Boston, and has taught senior medical students and other trainees for 30 years. His second book, “Act Like a Doctor, Think Like a Patient,” is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Write to him at dermnews@mdedge.com.


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