The Doctor as God

A terrible mistake… maybe it can’t be fixed.

This idea, universal in America, is a bad foundation for building the reciprocal problem solving relationship among health care professionals essential to a good outcome.  The game changes from ‘let’s solve this problem together’ to the dysfunctional game of adults; Parent /Child.

The doctor as god assumption-stereotype is untenable for the doctor and dangerous for everyone else. The doctor is expected to make a god-like judgement immediately or he will be suspect,  he knows it and it terrifies.

How did this happen and why does it continue?  Media stereotyping, commercials, fear of lawsuit demands to: “Consult your physician first.” for normal vitamin advertisment, for exercising, even for walking agrandizes the doctor and mandates the idea of ‘my doctor’ and of dependance.

Patients are complicit also.  Looking for the ideal ‘daddy’, patients and particularly isolated, lonely and frightened elderly women visit too frequently giving too much fine, minute detailed information and leave unsatisfied and adrift.  They are assuming that the doctor is listening to each word, deeply involved in their problem and always interested in only them.  The reality is that while listening, the doctor is thinking with each new bit of information:  “How can I be sued.”

No longer is doctor synonymous with family friend.  The country doctor of my grandfather’s time, the understanding, wise and measured problem solver of my childhood may still be a med student’s dream but the time-money demands of business, insurance carrier interference, malpractice rampages and peer pressures destroy that dream.  The nurse practioner is the old country doctor of today.

A story:

  • I recently had a doctor who (after I had explained that my shake began with Polio at age 19 and that it’s essential tremor, a familial shake, my mother had it and most of my children have it…) told me that it was Parkinson’s, a completely different type of shake, and in fact antithesis to essential tremor.  She took my wrist, bent the arm, percieved a certain movement in the elbow and with a smile on her face and a nod said to me:  “Yep, you have Parkinsons.”  What happened here?  It was not about me, it became an issue of her being right, the smile was smugness on her part for discovering something that she believed made her right, but perceived by a patient to be glee at having delivered a worse-than-death-sentence diagnosis.