Tuesday, July 03, 2007


In a civilized society some things should be taken as a given, and one of those must be that doctors are healers. We have a contract with the society that trained us and pays us to care for them. That contract places huge trust in us.

In no other mainstream occupation is it reasonable to expect and proper to ask clients to undress and expose their most intimate areas for inspection, or to expect them to do the psychological equivalent and bare their souls, thoughts and inner beings for scrutiny. This trust has to be earned by a proper respect for the sanctity of the person and the privacy of the confessional.

Doctors who abuse this trust by violating their patients physically or abusing or manipulating them emotionally do us all a great disservice. They erode faith in the profession, and they place unnecessary barriers between doctor and patient in the consulting room if patients are left in fear that their most private thoughts and feelings will be broadcast to all and sundry, or the doctor is left holding back on potentially life improving remedies because he fears a patient or a relative might misconstrue the intent of the treatment on offer.

How much worse then is the position currently emerging that suggests doctors are implicated in plans to commit mass murder. If this turns out to be the case then their status as doctors must be irrevocably stripped and as much distance as possible placed between their warped ideology and their bogus claim to be healers. Doctoring is not an exercise in academic excellence, as our universities seem determined to try to make it. Neither is it a badge to be picked up and put down, by day white coated healer, by night agent of a misguided holy war in the name of whatever ideology. Real doctors could never find any justification for such courses of action, however oppressed they might feel personally or as a member of a race, caste or creed.

So if the charges against the so called doctors who are alleged to have planned to carry out bombings prove to be correct, it behoves the profession as a whole, as it does in the case of the war that spawned such hatred, to state firmly and on the record, “Not in my name!”.

And as our exemplars we should rather turn to those presently charged with caring for one of the bombers presently hospitalized through his injuries, for though by their actions they might forfeit the right to practice their medical skills, no action can be allowed to stand between a patient in need and the skills and dedication of true healers.


orchidea said...

It is indeed chilling that religious (at least quasi-religious) indoctrination can be a catalyst for violence in practitioners of what is intrinsically a healing and caring profession.

If these allegations prove to be true, let's hope they were better at practicing medicine than building bombs.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Good man, Dr J!

Shinga said...

Taken as read that none of this was in your name, Dr J.

Interesting discussion on a related issue over at Bad Science where Ben Goldacre discusses Ad hom and Fags. I wasn't aware that Nazi scientists had (effectively) beaten Doll and Bradford Hill to their observations about smoking and lung cancer.

"Nazi scientific and medical research was so bound up in the horrors of cold-blooded mass murder, and the strange puritanical ideologies of nazism, that it was almost universally disregarded, and with good reason. Doctors had been active participants in the Nazi project, and joined Hitler’s National Socialist party in greater numbers than any other profession (45% were party members, compared with 20% of teachers)."

orchidea said...

Radovan Karadžić, war criminal at large, is/was a psychiatrist.

Z said...

The fact that people are so shocked to hear that doctors are implicated demonstrates how completely these men have fallen from the values of the profession, as understood by us all.

"Not in your name?" Of course not. No one thought it might be and, in a sense, it didn't need to be said. In another, we know you needed to say it.

steveg said...

Hear hear Dr J!

It wasn't and never could have been in your name, nor in the name of the thousands of dedicated doctors and others in healthcare in the UK.

I strongly support your views in this posting

Best Wishes


stitchwort said...

On the other hand, of course, the only person who has actually been injured is one of the "bombers".

If the intention was, rather than killing, the disruption of airports, the hysteria of the media, and the panic of the new administration, then the objective was pretty well achieved.

Doctors are also human, and broadly similar to the rest of society; every one of us is capable of good and evil actions, and doctors are not infallible, nor intrinsically deserving of greater respect than any other person.

The actions of a few individuals do not reflect on their colleagues. Any more than Dr. Shipman.

Doctor Jest said...

Thanks to all for your responses. Reading it back it was a bit of a rant wasn't it, but I am horrified at how debased a persons ethics can become to turn from healing to attempted mass murder (however incompetent).

There is a whole philosophical debate to be had about medics in totalitarian regimes which I'll admit leaves me a little queasy. If society, of which medics are in the end a part, has a debased morailty, would I have the courage to stand up against it and cling to my personal and professional ethics. I very much hope I would, but having , so far, not been so tested I admit I cannot honestly answer.

Thanks to all again for your kind words and welcome Orchidea.