Bioethics Discussion Blog: Making Fun of Illness? Think Again

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Making Fun of Illness? Think Again

Yesterday, I ended my posting with "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?" Dr. James Baker of Mental Notes thoughtfully found an answer to my questions after reading my posting. He wrote:
"When I read this, and ponder its ending query,
what comes to mind is this;
and this...
and this...
and this and this and this..
And I think to myself,
is not the answer to the query so darn obvious?"

Go to Dr. Baker's blog for the links to the blogs of this and this and this and this and this and this. I think you will see his obvious answer. ..Maurice.

5 Comments:

At Thursday, February 03, 2005 8:11:00 AM, Blogger shrinkette said...

I'm still thinking this one over. I think humor is one of the greatest coping skills we have...I think that some patients in certain stages of their illness would enjoy these jokes very much. But there are times when jokes aren't appropriate. It depends on who is doing the laughing, and when, and at whose expense. (A certain teddy bear on the market unwittingly portrays a moment of huge suffering, which seems lost on its makers.) I would defer to patients on this one...what do they think of these jokes?

 
At Thursday, February 03, 2005 1:39:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

The following is my theory about a patient reacting to a joke about their illness.
I would think that a patient who has learned how to cope with his or her chronic illness could more readily tolerate listening to a joke made about their illness. They might separate the illness in the joke from their own. They might say "this isn't about me or my illness". Whereas it might be that those who are unable to manage or worried about the outcome of their illness would identify the illness in the joke with their own and might be angry about the joke and with the person telling it. These folks might say "They don't understand my illness. It is no laughing matter." Is there anyone out there that who might provide their own theory of how the individual patient might react? ..Maurice.

 
At Thursday, February 03, 2005 1:47:00 PM, Blogger neko_san said...

As a patient: Yesterday, when I read the joke, I was in a good mood; I thought it was funny and I wasn't offended.
Then again, I like making jokes about myself, because I figure if someone is going to laugh at me, it might as well be me. =P
Then again, if I weren't doing so well when I heard it, I wouldn't think it was funny. Then again, I wouldn't find anything amusing, so it would hardly be different from any other outside stimulus.

So, um, it depends on the patient. =P

 
At Thursday, February 03, 2005 3:00:00 PM, Blogger Doc said...

Excellent comments, all.
Last one proves Shrinkette's point...good!

 
At Thursday, February 03, 2005 3:40:00 PM, Blogger neko_san said...

As a further comment: when I first heard about the teddy bear that Shrinkette mentions, I thought that people were being too high-strung and overreacting. But then I found a picture of it, and it made me feel nauseous and disoriented; I walked around my building for 5-10 minutes to calm down and gather myself together again. I'm not sure why I find the one joke funny and the other upsetting, but there you go.

 

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