Wounded Workers: Tales from a Working Man’s Shrink by Dr Bob Larsen is a collection of stories detailing Dr Bob’s journey of becoming an occupational psychiatrist and the various patients he has encountered. Dr Larsen runs the Center for Occupational Psychiatry that he started in 1985 in Downtown San Francisco. His patients are mainly referrals from employers, insurance companies or judicial orders to help determine the outcome of a claims compensation after a workplace injury.
The stories are presented in short chapters with a preceding photo before each that captures the tale’s essence. They detail his professional life, parts of his personal life and a myriad of patients. He shows those he ensured got the help they needed, those he could not help due to denial of their issues and those whose options were limited and their compensation couldn’t match their injuries. The book is informational, emotional and enjoyable in equal parts.
Springtime is here bringing us warmer weather, longer days and pleasant thoughts of fast-approaching summer. Summer—that magical, carefree time when we can toss our worries aside, if only for a while, and bask in the glowing sun with a book at our side. No doubt you have already made a list of the books you want to read this summer.
Well, there is one more book to add to that list: Wounded Workers: Tales from A Working Man’s Shrink by Dr. Bob Larsen. It is an engaging, informative and empathetic “must read” especially for those with an interest or experience in occupational medicine and/or work-related injuries. It is also a literal page-turner.
Hon. Susan V. Hamilton, Former Assistant Secretary and Deputy Commissioner, California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
I love books that, besides being well-written and entertaining, help me learn something important. Wounded Workers is one of those!
Dr. Bob Larsen skillfully interweaves the inspiring story of his development from a self-described nerdy kid to a well-regarded psychiatrist and advocate for working people. The text explodes with fascinating stories of clients Dr. Bob has helped and with tales of those who mentored and helped him.
A crusader for making mental health care accessible as a basic human right, Dr. Bob’s advocacy sought to persuade insurance companies and employers to consider the long-term psychological impact of debilitating work-related injuries.
Some of the many moving encounters highlight the amazing resilience of maimed and traumatized workers who, instead of giving up, found value in the life that was left for them. Dr. Bob’s descriptions of how his clients struggled to deal with the psychological effects of loss of limbs, scarring accidents, and other traumatic events testify to the need for major and compassionate change. Many of the stories focus on “essential workers,” people who need the practical and kind advice of a working man’s shrink more than ever. His astute observations on overcoming victimization and the inspiring reality of Post Traumatic Growth resonated deeply with me, especially in the trying times of COVID grief and isolation.
Wounded Workers will resonate with general readers as well as anyone with a special interest in mental health care and making it more accessible as a basic human right.
N. Y. Times’ Best Selling Author
“Wounded Workers” is a wise, entertaining memoir that teaches while it describes Dr. Larsen’s journey at becoming an occupational psychiatrist. From “slap therapy” to “post traumatic growth”, it introduces new ideas that challenge our field. The clinical tales are often gripping and self-revelatory. This is a wonderful read for clinicians, trainees and anyone interested in the richness that is the practice of psychiatry today.
Steven S. Sharfstein, M.D., President Emeritus, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Past President, American Psychiatric Association
In Wounded Workers Dr. Bob Larsen is engaging, entertaining, compassionate and generous about his own journey, as well as about people whom he evaluated and treated. He is a psychiatrist with heart and brains.
I spent 34 years representing injured workers in San Francisco, and I can tell you that every vignette Dr. Bob relates is representative and true. This well-written book is must reading for anyone interested in the price paid daily by many working men and women in America for doing their job. Well done Dr. Bob!
Yale Jones, Esq., retired labor law attorney & Senior Partner, Jones, Clifford, LLP
Although the current COVID-19 pandemic has increased appreciation of first responders, similar to what was seen post 9-11, Dr. Larsen has dedicated this book, and much of his professional career, to American workers and their collective ongoing contribution to our greater good. We can honor them through a thoughtful read of the cases he shares, reminding ourselves to not take what they do for all of us for granted.
David Baron, D.O., Provost - Western University of Health Sciences; Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Southern California.
“Wounded Workers” is an entertaining and insightful deep dive into the world of workers hurt at work and the psychic difficulties they face. Dr. Larsen writes with experience as a forensic psychiatrist at the intersection of medicine and law, and his stories about the workers, written with wit and compassion, make the book sparkle.
Julius Young, Esq., Boxer & Gerson
One will finish this excellent book not only being touched by the compassion and humanity of this dedicated psychiatrist but also being grateful for seeing how necessary psychiatry often is for individuals who have been physically injured.
Gary E. Wise, Ph.D, Professor & Head, Emeritus, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University