Thursday, July 05, 2007

Doctors As Evil Psychopaths--UPDATED, UPDATED AGAIN

Not a stretch, says Dr. Pat Santy and I agree. Here's what she says:

But have you ever considered the reality that in order to do good; or to help people in physical pain, that you must sometimes (actually often) cause them even greater pain for a time? That, if you are a surgeon, you must find some enjoyment (or at least be able not to get sick) slicig people open or debriding wounds and mucking around in them? Even those of us who are psychiatrists must often lead the unsuspecting patient to experience (and hopefully to resolve) all the unbearable psychological pain that his psychological defenses have been mobilized to ward off.
My husband disagrees with Dr. Santy about this, and he has a good point: When people fear causing someone else pain, don't like to cut, or are otherwise freaked out about doctorly tasks, that person is thinking of his own comfort not the ultimate well-being of a person in need. It could be argued then, that narcissistic tendencies and transference account for the majority of people in the world who avoid pain-causing, but healing, professions.

Conversely, loving, caring people seek the healing professions. And I believe that is true, in part. But some other traits contribute to the personality make-up of a good doctor:
  1. Intelligence--A doctor must be at least slightly above average intellectually. If he has pushy parents, like a friend of mine did, who were going to get their doctor no matter what the cost, he is told he his smart, smarter than everyone else, from the time he was a wee lad.
  2. Empathy--A doctor usually has an ability to feel someone else's pain.
  3. Independence--A doctor has the ability to make unpopular decisions and endure all sorts of protest.
  4. Authority--A doctor doesn't mind being in charge. He likes it.
  5. Patience--A doctor must endure years of training and often, but not always, years of humiliation while making it up the ranks.
Many doctors go into the profession not just to help a person but because of the prestige and inherent respect. This phenomenon is revealed by the shock and horror people express at the notion a doctor, doctors!, conspired to kill via terrorism. A rogue cop isn't so unthinkable--a rogue doctor is terrifying.

But is it so strange? I've wondered about the unconscious drives that might lead an obstetrician to routinely give episiotomies with no thought to the woman's future sex life. Or the surgeon who specializes in orchiectomies even when it's a needed procedure. One doctor acquaintance, an orthapedic surgeon, compared notes with us. Our hours were better, quality of life issues were in no doubt. Chiropractors aren't on call, they manage their schedules, etc. The orthopedic's response? "Yeah, but I get to cut." I get to cut. Not, "I get the pleasure of extending the quality of life for my elderly patients."

Being a doctor is powerful, but it can also be psychologically difficult. For self-protection, doctors often distance themselves to treat patients. I've found myself unsympathetic to a patient's minor complaints because other people are suffering far worse fates. The patient's pain is his only concern, however. So doctors can be calloused when they might have started tender-hearted.

Perhaps the trait most ripe for morphing into something evil: idealism. Doctors tend to be idealistic folks. They have a world they're trying to make better, to perfect in some way. Doctors Without Borders, mission trips for church, and nearly every hospital in America was started by idealistic doctors who are often infused with religious beliefs giving their work even more meaning.

Idealism coupled with perfectionism are the traits that can create a Joseph Mengele--no doubt, he just wanted to make the world into a better place--a place of his creation, or at least his manipulation. Many people would love to make the world into their own version of perfection, but don't have the means. Doctors have the means.

This whole episode could have been far scarier. And if the doctors weren't so stupid, far more effective. Odyessus at Red State imagines more dire possibilities:
Men with the knowledge of the causes of diseases and illnesses, and access to the means to treat as well as cause them. Could you imagine an innoculation program with tainted vaccine that could have infected hundreds or thousand of people or an AIDS epidemic linked to one set of syringes, used over and over with no suspicion until it was far too late? Any blood borne disease could be spread with impunity by similar means. Think malaria, yellow fever, even bubonic plague.
Doctors work to keep perspective. The best humbly acknowledge their limitations. The very best I know, realize they're not God and serve God and humanity well. It would be naive, though, to believe that doctors don't fight their weaknesses, too. And when doctors go bad, they go really bad because their profession puts life and death within their power.

UPDATE: More on one of the doctors here.

Gina Cobb has an excellent wrap-up. She also talks about Nigeria where a three year old girl has been kidnapped by Islamofascists. What base and loathsome creatures. This is VERY important and is a must read!

UPDATE II: Please note that I said that most doctors are "at least slightly above average". I didn't say they were geniuses. That would be a ridiculous assertion. Out of my class at school, I'd say that I would safely trust about 25%, probably less, of them. Same goes for doctor friends. A dentist friend was probably solidly average, maybe a bit less-so intellectually, but a fantastic technician. Many medical jobs are "blue collar jobs in a white collar". They are essentially doing the same mechanical procedure over and over. And it doesn't take the knowledge of a rocket scientist to prescribe antibiotics over and over and over. All that said, some of the smartest people I know are doctors. Some are so gifted, it provokes tremendous gratitude to know they're in the healing business.

While the auto-mechanic analogy might be apt, two things differ: the doctor has more on the line if there's a mistake and the parts are rarely in the exact same place in every body. An auto mechanic knows, with certainty, where parts will be.

All this preamble to this:
That's how I've always viewed doctors--as mechanics, except for the human body, rather than inanimate objects.

Not saying, of course, that there aren't smart doctors, or doctors capable of rigging and detonating explosives via cell phone (but as I've noted in the past, fortunately, people competent at doing such things are generally less likely to want to). But there's certainly no reason to automatically infer high intelligence, or even competence, just because someone is a doctor. Or a lawyer, for that matter.

We continue to deny moral agency to Muslims, and act as though we really are responsible for all bad things in the world, and they have no responsibility for their own behavior. If we don't understand what we are at war with, and chase after solutions to problems that don't really exist, and continue to foolishly ask questions like "why do they hate us?", we can never win
Muslims, especially those born and raised in the Western world, are quite aware of the concept of the value of life. Osama bin Laden knows the value--he has yet to commit suicide himself. Clearly, he values his own life.

The problem, of course, is the dehumanization inherent in Islam. There is a name for non-believers--Kafir. Kafir are second class citizens who should defer and pay tribute to true believers. Loving their neighbor isn't part of the equation. Loving their enemies or praying for those who spitefully use them isn't part of the picture, either.

To most of the Muslim world, it is very desirable to live under Muslim law, lead by Muslims. In theory, anyway, that's what even American Muslims desire, too. With a significant minority actually supportive of al Qaeda, even here in the U.S., it's ridiculous to keep pretending that the religion itself is benign. Islam has never been a benign world influence. Its primary tenet is forcing submission and until the world submits, Islam will continue its march.

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