I’ve been getting a lot of traffic lately…and a lot of comments. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Overall I see this as a good thing; I write to be read, not to be a voice echoing in the virtual void. I want to share my thoughts and ideas and enjoy my interaction with people, even those who don’t agree (especially with them).
But a few things have happened lately that have saddened me. The first was the reaction of some to the post about Chronic Disease. Most of my readers saw this as it was meant: a look into the not-so-perfect psyche of doctors and some tips on how to handle them successfully. Some, however, accused me of “victim blaming.” They were offended that I would suggest that patients should be aware of how they came across to doctors. They felt that I was being patronizing by assuming a I know how they felt (despite the 1st half of the letter dedicated to the opposite). I have re-read the post several times and am convinced (as are the majority who read this) that my tone was not at all “victim-blaming”
Then came my most recent post on autism. The whole purpose of that post was to lighten up a little and share a joy I have found in my autistic patients. It was meant to be a warm and fuzzy post, but was picked up by an autism activist site who read my intent as calling autism the “new normal.” Again, I re-read the post and see no evidence of that whatsoever. I have seen that patients like those with autism, Down’s syndrome, and other significant mental/social disabilities can teach me things about myself. I am not God (despite what some commenters think of my opinion of myself), and I actually believe in the idea of “the last shall be first” – that our greatest victories in life come from humbling ourselves and listening to those the rest of the world shuns or ignores. I see more of God in the eyes of these people than I do the CEO’s and other “successful” people who come to my office. I see my own pride and self-centeredness, and I am grateful they show it to me.
So why would two posts that are actually positive in nature elicit such a negative response? Why would people unleash the guard dogs on someone who comes as a friend? I can only guess, but I suspect that I somehow reduced their victim-ness by what I wrote. Some people seem to identify themselves by what bad life has dealt them, and any threat to that identity is met with hostility. I think that’s what I saw.
I don’t deny the pain they have in their lives, and I don’t deny their victim-ness. I would not trade places with chronically ill patients or with parents of autistic children. But things are what they are. People do have chronic illness and parents do have autistic kids. That is the pain in life that I know intimately as a doctor. What is sad to me is that in maintaining their status as victims – avidly defending the reality of the pain in their lives – they attack those who wish to help.
That is sad. I am very sorry I can’t help.
But it’s time to call off the dogs.This material, written by me, is free to re-post and share under the Creative Commons agreement. In other words, use it all you want; just give me credit.