Biography of the Author
Sumter M. Carmichael, M.D. is a board certified psychiatrist living in Birmingham, Alabama. Before pursuing her psychiatric career, Dr. Carmichael graduated from Stanford University with honors in mathematics and attended Cornell University Medical College in New York City. Following a medical internship with Tinsley Harrison in Birmingham, Alabama, she did research at the Cardiovascular Research Center in Birmingham and the Virginia Heart Lab in Charlottesville, Va. Following a residency in psychiatry in Birmingham, she studied for seven years with a Freudian Analyst and seven years with a Jungian Analyst, both in Alabama.
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she went into private practice where she worked closely with the Pastoral Counseling Center at the Baptist Medical Center at Montclair. There she did individual, family and group therapy while continuing to teach medical students in Pharmacology and then Medicine.
In 1990, she began working with medical patients at the local county hospital, Cooper Green where she taught medical students and young doctors on their rotation in Medicine. This culminated in founding a multi-disciplinary pain clinic for the poor, called the Endorphin Clinic, to reflect the importance of the healing that comes from within. Observing the disconnect between what is known about pain, depression, anxiety, opiates, and addiction, and what is expected by patients but meted out by doctors, she retired in 2006 to work on her book about chronic pain and its relationship to anxiety and depression.
Dr. Carmichael grew up as a member of the Episcopal Church and worked for many years with ministers from different religious traditions. This gave her a unique perspective on the wisdom of Jesus and the role of anxiety in the distortion of religious and other beliefs.
Dr. Carmichael’s book “HEAL” underscores the importance of giving patients a story they can use to make sense of their lives, not just a diagnosis and medication. Diagnoses help doctors organize their thinking, but they are constructs that may not fit what the patient needs to make the changes to do better.