A reminder of the risks of desensitization through humour, and that as patients we need to understand how doctors and medical teams may react to us. Groopman’s How Doctors Think has some good examples of patients who defused this risk through preventive remarks (‘I know I may sound a bit crazy….’). Quote:
Humor is an important coping mechanism. We all eventually need to find ways to laugh about even the darkest tragedies.
The dark side of dark humor is that it desensitizes us. In hospitals and medical clinics, such desensitization can cause us physicians to lose empathy for our patients. It can cause us to underestimate their suffering. Perhaps even more importantly, when we physicians lose the ability to appreciate our patients’ perspectives, we also become less able to help them make difficult medical choices.
Think about that the next time you ask your doctor for medical advice or come to her for emotional support. Your physician has emotions too, sometimes very strong ones. But just as often, she has found ways to reduce the strength of her feelings, so she can get through her work day with sanity intact.
That means that your job as a patient is to help your doctor understand where you’re coming from. If you hope to get good guidance from your physician, you need to help her see the world through your eyes. She won’t be able to do that if you remain silent, on the other end of that stethoscope.