Dottoré! is a weekly column by Mariateresa Fichele, a psychiatrist and writer based in Naples, Italy. Fichele works in a public health facility in the bustling southern city of three million famously teeming with humor and heartache — not to mention unspeakably delicious food. Indeed, Naples has long been the setting for art, cinema and literature, including the celebrated series of novels by the pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante.

Fichele’s work, which she initially shared on Facebook in a mix of Italian and Neapolitan dialect, has the urgency of a professional notebook and the timelessness of city folk tales. Whether listening to patients or talking with neighbors, soaking up her crazy city or aching for her troubled country, hers is a certain truth in a particular place of the world we all now share.

A note on the name of the series

Dottoré! [doh-toh-RAY] comes from the shortened Neapolitan form of the Italian word dottoressa, or female doctor, with both patients and acquaintances often addressing Fichele as dottoré.

Worldcrunch publishes her writings each week in English (with an occasional sprinkling of napulitano), with the help of our own trusted Neapolitan-born translator and journalist Irene Caselli. Illustrations by another talented napulitana, Giulia d’Anna Lupo.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

What A Psychiatrist Leaves To Faith

Stefano keeps Jesus in his wallet. Before getting his monthly shot, he pulls him out and kisses him.

Maria keeps him near her bed. Before turning off the lights, she asks him to make sure that her sleeping pills will work.

Antonietta wears him around her neck. She says that when she has bad thoughts, she holds him tight, and slowly the fear goes away.

Salvatore holds him in his heart and tells the cardiologist that thanks to him, he doesn't get heart attacks anymore.

Pasquale sees him all the time, sometimes even when he's talking to me, having kept him company since entering the psychiatric hospital.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

I’m Being Followed: Between Clinical Paranoia And Chiara Ferragni

Rita suffers from paranoid personality disorder:

"Dottoré, my problem is that as soon as I post a picture on Facebook, someone copies me.

I show off my hair after a shatush coloring? The next day my cousin is off to the hairdresser.

I get myself a poodle? My sister buys one for her daughter.

I share a photo of my nails painted orange? A friend buys a shirt in the same exact color.

Everyone is crazy with envy for everything I do, and if I point it out to them, they say I have 'persecutory delusions!'"

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

A Doctor's Privilege

A rainy day.

On the television, people are talking and talking and talking.

I get ready to go to work.

I'll have to knock on some doors, and people will let me in with a smile.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

No Healing Here, But Maybe A Miracle

In Naples you will often hear people exclaim: “Maronna ro Carmine!"

To understand the meaning of that expression, here's a true story from my childhood.

Although everyone called her Maria, my grandmother's real name was Maria Carmela, taken from the Madonna to whom she was devoted. And if you’re not from Naples, you wouldn’t know that Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Maronna ro Carmine in Neopolitan) has been distributing bonafide miracles since the 1400s.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Whose Healthcare Dictatorship? A Burst Of COVID Madness In Naples

An emergency room in downtown Naples.

The door is closed, no one lets us in because the security guards are all busy dealing with a man who had slapped one of them.

We finally get in and notice a woman in slippers and a robe — and without a mask — screaming between coughing fits : "They’ll let me die because my husband fought with the guards! Help me!"

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Self-Cure In The Kitchen

I pass by the old lady who lives downstairs.

"Dottoré, yesterday I wanted to knock on your door because I wasn't feeling well".

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