Bioethics Discussion Blog: The Ethics of Making Fun of an Illness

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Ethics of Making Fun of an Illness

The DSM-IV classification of mental illness is, I suppose, an important tool that the psychiatrist uses as a help to make a diagnosis. I suspect that the pages of the document are well turned in every psychiatrist’s office. Well.. as a change of pace in contrast to the rather serious mood of my recent postings, I decided to offer another way of defining the various mental illnesses. I found the following humorous interpretation of psychiatric behaviors at Aha! Jokes


Psychiatrist phone
Hello. Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline
If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.
If you are anxious, just start pressing numbers at random.
If you are phobic, don't press anything.
If you are anal retentive, please hold.


You may wonder what this all has to do with bioethics. There are many jokes around about illness. Do you think it’s ethical to make fun of an illness and thus the anonymous ill patient? Do you see any benefit for the ill patient to hear the joke?
Do you think that joking about illness is the human way of dealing with something perhaps over which we have no control.. and it's OK?

Oops! I’m getting serious again! ..Maurice.

6 Comments:

At Wednesday, February 02, 2005 7:37:00 AM, Blogger Dave Schuler said...

Venial sin rather than mortal. Say five "Our Father"s and three "Hail, Mary"s and your sins are forgiven. Good one, by the way.

 
At Wednesday, February 02, 2005 8:49:00 AM, Blogger Chris Rangel said...

In my case, press "1" four times then flip on and off the light switch 7 times then hit "1" four more times then wash hands two times then repeat. By this time hopefully someone will answer (Internists are usually OCD).

 
At Wednesday, February 02, 2005 9:18:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

And, Chris, from what I have observed on the Internet, bloggers suffer from OCD too. A blogger may worry that someone who has bookmarked the blog will be watching every day for a new post. I read somewhere that bloggers have "burned out" after the compulsion to write had overturned their normal "healthy" life. Do you know if psychiatrists or the DSM-IV has a special category for for this? ..Maurice.

 
At Thursday, February 03, 2005 5:54:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

I can't let this psychiatry joke from a UK website http://www.awordinyoureye.com/jokes41stset.html go without posting it. This one is funny and yet not ethically worrisome.

"Sadie took her husband Bernie to see a psychiatrist for a check up. After examining him, the doctor took Sadie to one side and said, 'I have some very bad news for you. There is nothing I can do to help your husband. His mind has completely gone.'
'I’m not really surprised,' Sadie replied, 'Bernie’s been giving me a piece of it every day for the last 50 years.'"

See what I mean? ..Maurice.
COMMENT PUBLISHED 2-3-05

 
At Sunday, March 05, 2006 5:45:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Those were both good. :-)

Regarding joking about illness, I've found that it's helped me not only cope with my own, but it's also helped keep things light when the well meaning acquaintances begin with their inevitable questions.

The only time I would think of it as inappropriate would be if the jokes were about a terminal illness. I'd be cautious with that. Some terminal patients may welcome that sort of thing ... but it could cause some acute emotional distress in others.

 
At Sunday, January 22, 2012 9:12:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

I put this same topic on Medpedia, a medical discussion website. You might want to visit there and read the responses. ..Maurice.

 

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