Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is It Just Me?

When I read this post on the Cheerful Oncologist's blog this morning it annoyed the holy heck out of me. There's something that's just way too sappy and preachy and smugly patronizing about it. He says:



The Enemy Within

Category: Lyrical

A brief message to all those who are living with a serious disease:

When you awakened today something was in the room with you. It sat patiently by the window, waiting for you to arise. It dearly wants to harm you. Are you aware of the danger?

If it sees you smile it slaps you in the face, to persuade you that happiness is no longer a part of your life.

If it hears you talking to a friend it poisons your words, to drive away those who love you.

If it finds out you're on the way to the doctor it chokes you, to weaken your spirit at the time it most needs boosting.

If it sees you sitting quietly it drills into your mind, to infect it with foul thoughts.

If you let it into your heart it will slowly corrode it, leaving you wandering alone and frightened.

There is only one defense against this enemy, and that is this: it cannot defeat you by itself. It must feed off of you in order to thrive. Like the parasite it is, it cannot harm those who refuse to nurture it. Fight the urge to give in to its siren song. Fight it hard. Refuse to give it any shelter. Start today, and soon you will be rid of it for the rest of your life, and the rest of your life will be a celebration of, as the poet e.e. cummings said, "everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes."

What is this baneful something that lives to watch you suffer? What is this obstacle to steadfast tranquility that can be defeated by refusing to accept its authority? Click below for the answer, and may you all sleep peacefully tonight - and every night.

It is despair.


Oh please. It's like he's saying--and not just to people like me, but to people like brainhell too, "Ok, so you've lost your health, lost your strength, lost your ability to do a lot of important and necessary things, lost your income, lost your savings, lost your home, lost your independence, lost your dignity, lost your autonomy, lost too many friendships and love and family. So you've even lost your very sense of self, and now you're worried and frightened about how much worse it's probably going to get. If you feel a touch of despair after all this, well, you know what? It's really your own damn fault for giving in and wallowing in it, for just not trying hard enough, not fighting hard enough, not making a big enough effort to butch up and get over it."

Bleagh. Is Dr. Hildreth angling for a lucrative book deal these days or something? Because it seems to me that he's gotten a whole lot sappier and smarmier and more chicken-soupy "inspirational" lately, and less authentic and informative than he used to be.

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14 Comments:

Blogger unalmas said...

Ewwwww. My grandparents gave my uncle a similar inspirational speech after he was in a car accident and broke his neck - they told him that if he had a positive attitude, that he would learn to walk. They also offered the "helpful" analogy of drowning in a molasses barrel unless you turn that frown upside down and PULL YOUR ASS OUT BY THE BOOTSTRAPS!

He later reflected that perhaps the analogy would have been more helpful had he been in an actual barrel of molasses rather than in a wheelchair with a broken neck. Hm. He has a point.

I agree with you. Flippant smarm (is that a word?) is much more bothersome to me than despair, and trivializing the intense suffering that comes with serious illness makes me incredibly angry.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I liked the part where he said "fight hard", that's fine. But, to later say, you'll be RID of it for the rest of your life if you have a positive attitude, is simplistic at best and judgmental at worst, and that's not even the worst.

My guess, and I'm not dealing with a serious illness, is that, to do that, to rid oneself of despair, is unrealistic and EVEN anyone with real awareness, most likely cannot achieve that. Just my guess. I think you shoot for being positive, knowing if you can reach it now and then, that's a bonus. But, again, I'm not in your shoes.

3:31 PM  
Blogger jennhi said...

It always reminds me of Colbert's line:
"I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible. I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical!"

4:13 PM  
Blogger Bogart said...

Hey, if a perpetual 'glass is half full' kind of thinking works for some people, more power to them.

For a doctor to be preaching that EVERYONE with a life threatening disease should constantly have such an attitude is a bit insulting and more than a bit patronizing. I personally find it a tad annoying when my doctor, the only perosn I would ever dream of whining to, turns a deaf ear.

Some days, I need to despair, if only for a few moments.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Lene Andersen said...

Oh, barf!

Sure, I've lately figured that despair is absolutely the enemy, that without hope, there is no fight left in you, but the fight for hope is ongoing, there is no getting rid of it forever. OK, I have no actual evidence of "forever", just 40 years (so far) of trying to control my life, instead of the arthrtis controlling it. Clearly, I must be letting the despair win.

That thing? That... erm... whatever that was? Piece of patronizing pap. I might accept it from someone with a chroninc/serious disease. Wouldn't necessarily like it much, but accept that it's their perspective and whatever gets you through to the next day is awesome. However, I'm pretty sure he only has experience with chronic/serious illness from watching other people go through it and it shows. It's bloody condescending. Next, he'll be offering to pray for me and I'll have to mow him down with my electric wheelchair. It's heavy. It'll hurt. But I'm sure he'll get through it like a trooper, seeing as he's found The Key to Everlasting Equanimity.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Janae said...

This reminds me a bit of, staring at a male doctor telling me how to "push a little harder" or "come on just push that baby out"! Well, until he has pushed a head the size of really large fruit out of his body I don't want to hear how easy it is to "just push that baby out". Like wise, optimistic doctor man needs to hush until he is experiencing serious illness himself. Not just through the eyes of others.

2:44 AM  
Blogger dajamama said...

Yeah, I stopped reading the excerpt about halfway through, and skipped to the end. The Beatitudes it ain't. It kinda reminded me of the Phoenix in Mystery Men, who would say stupid inspirational "mysterious" things like "If you don't control your fear, your fear will control you."

I'm sorry he's lost his touch. I remember back when you wanted to marry him. :)

7:57 AM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

Argh! Double argh! "Chicken-soupy inspirational," indeed. Also, very close to blame the victim, which I have a VERY LOW tolerance for.

As a counterpoint, here's my post from yesterday on meltdowns.

The Meltdown Report

http://www.assertivepatient.com/2007/04/the_meltdown_re.html

Jeanne
blogging as The Assertive Cancer Patient
www.assertivepatient.com

2:37 PM  
Blogger brainhell said...

this brainhell guy probably offended god

1:15 PM  
Blogger Zoey said...

Ha! This reminded me of that scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian...at the end where the 3 guys are all nailed to the cross, and are singing "always look on the bright side of life (whistle here)"...

6:08 PM  
Blogger B. Dagger said...

It's primitive, magical thinking. It's Louise Hayes, it's Mary Baker Eddy, it's that fucking book The Secret, it's the worst part of Protestant theology, it's grandiose, it's narcissistic, and it's got a facade of tarted up, faux-wise bullshit sentimentality slapped on its stupid, silly face.

I hate that kind of shit.

But I love you.

yrs, B. Dagger Lee

9:55 AM  
Blogger pocketina said...

I...oh, ugh. Just ugh. I'm not sure which was worse, his post or his response to the comments.

I don't think doctors ever come to understand how little they really understand about their patients, other than what's printed in their test results.

11:46 PM  
Blogger RC said...

Devil's advocate position. Not my favorite sexual one, but what the hell . . . :
I didn't like the way he expressed it, but I know what he is saying: Giving your power away to a condition (a person, a substance, an ideology, a thing) inferiorizes the donor. Keeping the inner self intact even in the face of overwhelming opposition is the act of claiming that power that will otherwise be lost.
It's definitely sounding medically arrogant coming from someone who is not circumstantially diminished, and there is no way the doctor can say this without first disclaiming his personal exclusion from those entitled to such opinion.

But more egregious to me is his use of the the exact same sentiment that Victor Frankl used in his book "Man's Search For Meaning" in which the author survived his stay in Auschwitz death camp:
"I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore felt responsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair."

Walking the walk and talking the talk are two completely different events.

3:06 PM  
Blogger RC said...

Devil's advocate position. Not my favorite sexual one, but what the hell . . . :
I didn't like the way he expressed it, but I know what he is saying: Giving your power away to a condition (a person, a substance, an ideology, a thing) inferiorizes the donor. Keeping the inner self intact even in the face of overwhelming opposition is the act of claiming that power that will otherwise be lost.
It's definitely sounding medically arrogant coming from someone who is not circumstantially diminished, and there is no way the doctor can say this without first disclaiming his personal exclusion from those entitled to such opinion.

But more egregious to me is his use of the the exact same sentiment that Victor Frankl used in his book "Man's Search For Meaning" in which the author survived his stay in Auschwitz death camp:
"I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore felt responsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair."

But walking the walk and talking the talk are two completely different events.

3:06 PM  

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