Now that Peter Dorsen is a septuagenarian, he’s ready to impart wisdom to men 60 and older.
His book “Men Over 60: Don’t Quit Now!” is in the final editing stage. It follows his “Dr. D’s Handbook for Men Over 40,” published in 1999. “The sequel is very near completion. I am 74. My vitality is [apparent] in this attached picture at the TC’s Loppet two years ago (#1 overall in my age group),” he said via e-mail. He noted that he recently published “Up From the Ashes: One Doc’s Struggle with Drugs and Mental Illness” in paperback and as an e-book, calling it a “better upgrade” of another previous book, “Crazy Doctor: Mixing Drugs and Mental Illness.”
In 2005, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice suspended Dorsen’s license for two years after he admitted prescribing “massive amounts” of narcotics, and when the board rejected his request for reinstatement in 2007, he surrendered his license.
“When people have emotional issues we become codependent. It’s called caretaking. That’s what I was doing,” Dorsen said in an interview Monday. “I couldn’t tell the white hats from the black hats, the people who were having genuine pain and those who were addicted and abusing drugs. I’ve been clean and sober for 12 years. I worked the program hard. My partner has 38 years of sobriety.”
Q: Why do men over 60 need a handbook?
A: Men in many ways are unenlightened about their health, wellness. This [book] can help handle the challenges they are going to have.
Q: Am I to understand that men have a harder time feeling useful when they retire?
A: The constellation of changes both hormonally and societal have a great deal to do with being shoved aside. We’re no longer invincible; we are invisible.
Q: Is the path to retirement relevancy deciding your interests, then finding where you can volunteer in those areas?
A: I think a big thing is finding our passion. In many ways, men identify themselves with what they do, and women too, but where does that passion go when suddenly we’re not important? My mother, who was a physician, told me once, when she retired to Florida, ‘Peter, nobody knows me anymore.’
Q: That’s interesting because women have a tendency to feel invisible before they retire.
A: Women generally lose their partners because men die earlier. Then perhaps they have lost friends and double-dating with other couples. Men on the other hand have more problems [when] body parts fall apart.
Q: Have you ever used one of those male muscle-building supplements?
A: I personally have not done that. I happen to have experienced anemia in the ’80s when I was skiing and more recently. The only thing I take is iron and B12 because I’m a vegetarian.
Q: Are you a better grandfather than father?
A: I can’t remember too much of my parenting because of some challenges in my life [and] stresses of being a solo practitioner. I also don’t have too much opportunity to be a grandfather because my two oldest girls live in L.A. [and don’t have kids] and my youngest daughter lives in Austin, Texas, with my grandchild. I had the opportunity to be a surrogate grandfather for a daughter of my last wife. So I really was good at it and I loved it.
Q: Let’s talk about those aforementioned challenges, since they made the news.
A: With all the stressors that I had and some of my underlying challenges, which finally have been adequately treated, I self-medicated mostly with marijuana. I’m sure some of the stressors in my life … complicated me, but I’m doing great now. Very happily involved [romantically] and have a passion for writing and cross-country ski racing.
Q: Thirteen years ago, you became one of the first Minnesota doctors punished for overprescribing narcotics. How do you view what has become recognized as the opioid epidemic?
A: With horror.
Q: Have opioids been an epidemic for longer than we’ve known?
A: Yeah. The deal is no one gave a [expletive] about black folks in the inner city dying and shooting up and selling it to white people from the suburbs. The point is, it’s turned the whole thing upside down now that whites are dying.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”