Bioethics Discussion Blog: More Satire of Doctors and Medicine:"So What's Wrong with a Little Fun?"

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More Satire of Doctors and Medicine:"So What's Wrong with a Little Fun?"

A 2004 talk at Notre Dame by William J. Cashore, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Brown
University about satire of the professions including medicine is available as a pdf file entitled "So What's Wrong with a Little
Fun?" at the Ethics Center of Notre Dame University. Dr.Cashore had visited my blog when I first started the satire thread on Friday May 6, 2005 and made some worth noting comments to that posting about other satirical writings directed at medicine. Here is an excerpt he selected from his Notre Dame talk to post here. ..Maurice.

Mel Brooks said recently that, "Laughter is a scream of protest against
death. When the truth is too grim to face, we turn to comedy." (NPR
interview, August, 2004)

What's it all for? As we read satire and comedy for pleasure, we also
use humor to display cleverness, expose folly, challenge authority,
sublimate envy, and express truth too painful to face. Humor can
function as non-violent subversion when our direct criticism of someone
more powerful threatens both parties. Successful satire on the
professions also depends on shared ideals between writer and reader as
to what these professions ought to represent and how their practitioners
should act.

In today's medicine, materialism, others' perceptions of success, and
various unacknowledged conflicts of interest can subtly undermine the
altruism and high professional ideals which we try to uphold. Humor can
be a very good way to highlight inconsistencies between what we think of
ourselves and what we actually do.

1 Comments:

At Saturday, October 28, 2006 6:26:00 AM, Anonymous Richard D. Smith, MD said...

From: The Circus of Medicine. Richard Dean Smith, MD


Managed care, an irrational, value-oriented mass medical movement, arose on false and erroneous assumptions by bureaucrats at Dept. of HEW during the 1960s and 1970s, that greed and cutthroat, marketplace competition through managed care would magically solve all problems of providing medical services. Zealots at HEW were followed by faultfinding men-of-words with a grievance who gave the movement its rhetoric. Resistance to the movement was swept away by endless repetition of meaningless clichés, satisfying need of a mass movement for slogans that must be as erroneous as possible directed towards a vague, glorious future. The movement need not profess truth, but it must have a devil, a devil with much good to its credit: its devil was the individual practicing physician. Once common sense and resistance were eliminated, salesmen produced meteoric growth of managed care during the mid-1990s. As managed care gained the upper hand and its promises of future glory faded, the movement was kept alive by fear and coercion: the work of practical men-of-action who are of law, not concerned with ideas of the movement but to preserve their power and wealth. Managed care was perpetuated by a technicality in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which Congress refused to amend, claiming ERISA was the result of ten years of planning by Congress and that Government had supported managed care in HMO development for over thirty years. The Court acknowledged that inaction of both Court and Congress followed a ‘trail of error’ supporting the ‘gaping wound’ of managed care. The Court realized managed care could not exist without ERISA’s obstruction of justice and fairness, and took the Fifth. Physicians and other providers of medical services tried to make sense of managed care when it was nonsense, a street hustle based on a hoax that went wild. Error piled upon error in woodenheadedness. Attacking such mass madness, a mass hysteria, is the place of satire when common sense, the press, academia, judiciary, legislative bodies, insurance industrial complex and regulatory agencies fail.

 

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