Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Origins Of The Good Patient Syndrome (rerun)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Origins Of The Good Patient Syndrome (rerun)

I have been wondering for a while what it is that makes intelligent people mindless, wordless and powerless in the face of doctors. Once we enter the doctor's office, we seem to be transformed into mindless sheep and it takes a strong will and persuasion, and a lot of self-information, to break that vicious cycle.

As I went on a doctor's visit with my daughter a while back, it became crispy clear. From the moment we are born, we are pricked and prodded by doctors, without our consent, without even someone to explain what is happeninig. And this treatment continues as we grow older. We are touched, padded, stung and all the while our parents tell us it is for our own good, that we just have to lay still for a while, that it will all be over if we just go along with it.
By the time we go to school, we have been transformed into obedient little sheep as soon as we lay sight on a labcoat. We have yearly testing (in Belgium), where little ones have to assume demeaning positions and parade in underwear before their peers.
We have mandatory vaccinations and annual dentist appointments.

All this leaves little freedom for those who do not seek to step out of the main path.

Add to this the 'above them all'-attitude most doctors take when consulting their patients - plus the fact that most of them think all of their patients are ignorant and those who disagree are raving lunatics, braindead hippies or something of the like - and you are in for an extremely disfunctional relationship.
It takes a strong patient and a gentle doctor to make this relation one of exchange and equality.

So don't blame the woman who didn't go against her doctor's decision, she probably didn't know there were other options.
And when someone tells you they didn't breastfeed because their doctor said they shouldn't, get mad at the doctor, not the woman.

Maybe if we understand the origin of these paralyzing feelings, we can act against them.



  1. This is why I have never taken my perfectly healthy child to the doctor.

  2. yes! i loved your observations, this is so true. sometimes wonder what would possess a woman to just do whatever her doctor said, regardless of her preferences or her baby's health, and this is a good reminder that it's probably not her fault. until recently we've lived in a time where doctors were gods. i wonder what steps we could do to combat that in the next generation? (besides what the above commenter has done)

  3. Personally, I think a lot should change in the education doctors get, but sadly, all I see is it changing for the worse

  4. I think our culture, with its emphasis on obedience for children, ends up producing adults who defer to experts and have a hard time facing up to authority figures. School certainly doesn't help in that regard.

  5. I think doctors (and then people) see themselves as authority figures rather than service industry. I try to remind everyone I know in a position to deal with the medical industry: You are the customer.

    Actually, this attitude often carries over to nurses, too.


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