In Janaury 2015, Dr. Charles Sophy, the psychiatrist who makes various TV appearances and is also the medical director of the County of Los Angeles Dept. of Children and Family Services, was deposed. He answered questions regarding a Munchausen syndrome by proxy case. Because of how bizarre the deposition was, and Dr. Sophy’s interesting physical reactions to the deposition, the author of this column made the decision to cover the nearly fifty five minute video of the deposition. This first article on the subject will cover somewhere around the first two minutes of the video. It was expected to be more, but enough happens in those first two minutes to make an article about it.
At first, everything appears to be going normally in the video. Dr. Sophy is sworn in, introduces himself, spells his last name, reveals his middle name, and is keeping his poker face intact at this point.
Once Dr. Sophy is done with the basic formalities, he starts drinking from a bottle of water. The bags under his eyes are very noticeable. He looks like he wishes he could be drinking a cup of coffee instead of water. But he continues on after having his unsatisfying drink of water, identifying himself as medical director of DCFS.
He reveals how long he has had that position and discomfort begins to take hold. His body begins to speak to the camera. He looks downcast at the table for a bit; then he lifts his gaze towards the lawyer. Next, he’s glancing off to the side, and he appears to be wishing he could be anywhere but the deposition.
The proceeding questions from the lawyer are completely bizarre, even to the point of coming off as intentionally stupid. The lawyer asks: “Now when you say medical school, what are you talking about?” This makes Dr. Sophy shifty eyed, like he isn’t sure whether or not this question really happened. He looks a little freaked out by it, but he answers the lawyer’s dumb question with: “Four years of education between 1982 to 1986.” He adds “post-graduate” and starts sipping at his water like he wishes it were alcohol, because the question was a complete waste of time.
Next, Dr. Sophy is asked what degree he obtained and he replies, “Doctor of Osteopathy.” The lawyer asks if that’s a DO, and Dr. Sophy confirms. The lawyer says “okay” while Dr. Sophy looks to the side with a grimace. It’s like he can’t believe he’s being asked such inane questions.
The lawyer then asks Dr. Sophy what osteopathy is, and Dr Sophy gets a big smile on his face. The lawyer admits that he may have a “big misconception,” but he thinks of osteopathy as “massages and acupuncture, and stuff like that, and it’s hocus pocus.” Dr. Sophy explains with a smile and direct eye contact that it’s basically a regular medical doctor combined with a chiropractor. Essentially, Dr. Sophy tries to reassure the lawyer that he’s not just some New Age fad. At that point, Dr. Sophy looks downcast again. The lawyer’s questions about osteopathy seem to depress him. From a viewer’s perspective, it’s surreal to watch a lawyer admit he has no clue what a DO is, even though he’s interviewing one.
At the end of the last couple of minutes, Dr. Sophy looks up shyly when the lawyer asks how he would explain osteopathy to a concerned patient that doesn’t know what a DO is and thinks a DO isn’t as good as a medical doctor. Dr. Sophy smiles, looks to the side, and then responds in all seriousness: “I explain to them that it is a medical doctor.”