Know Thyself

The Ancient Greek aphorism “Know Thyself” is one of the Delphic Maxims inscribed on the ancient Temple of Apollo. Dr. Pankey referenced this aphorism because self-awareness is key to our ability to stand apart from our patients and form healthy and effective interpersonal boundaries. This ability to “stand apart” greatly influences how we see our patients and the world that surrounds THEM. It not only affects our attitudes. It also affects our behaviors.

Lack of Self-Awareness Leads to Misinterpretation of Patient Behavior

Until we take into account how we see ourselves, we will be unable to understand how our patients see and feel about themselves and what the dental issues they are experiencing mean to them. This is because a lack of self-awareness causes us to function more on assumption than reality, and this in turn causes us to project our prospective onto our patient’s behavior and then fool ourselves into thinking that we are being objective. These assumption-laden relationships significantly limit our potential to positively influence and relate effectively with our patients. And this limited ability to relate to our patients on a deeper level easily leads to misunderstandings, the devaluing of recommendations, deferral to insurance companies, and even to open conflict.

Knowing Yourself Leads to Knowing Your Patient

Bob Barkley’s co-discovery method is the pathway to “knowing our patients” as well as allowing our patients, over time, to know us on a philosophical level. And it is the practice philosophy which moves people toward health or keeps them stalemated in dependency. Knowing yourself leads to knowing your patient which allows you to optimally apply your knowledge. And isn’t that your mission?

Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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