Thursday, January 2, 2014

Knowing Better ≠ Doing Better

The Big Bang Theory, "The Rhinitis Revelation":

Sheldon, the big brains of the outfit, has his mother coming for a visit. Sheldon expects her to fuss over him as she did when he was a child; cook for him, sing to him, watch him eviscerate other physicists. But she came to California to see the sights, and his friends take her about. Sheldon, moping, goes instead to his girlfriend Amy's apartment. She asks if he is in a bad mood because his mother isn't mothering him.

Amy: Sheldon, we’re all animals. And granted, there are aspects of you that are extraordinary, but when it comes to emotions and relationships, you’re just like everybody else.
Sheldon: Are you trying to suggest that my emotional problems are no different than those of a stupid person?
Amy: Actually, some research indicates that by not over-thinking, the less intelligent handle emotions better. 

Offended that he could possibly be like the rest of humanity, Sheldon leaves, and waits for the bus. Another man joins him on the bench. 


Sheldon: Look at the two of us. Me, a highly regarded physicist. The kind of mind that comes along once, maybe twice in a generation. You, the common man, tired from your labours as a stockbroker, or vacuum cleaner salesman, or bootblack. But deep down inside, apparently we’re just two peas in a pod. A regular pea, and the kind of pea that comes along once, maybe twice in a generation. Rain. Another great equalizer. Falling on the head of the brilliant and the unremarkable alike. (The stranger puts up an umbrella) Smarty-pants.
Danielle Ofri, MD, confesses doctors' weaknesses in "Doctor's Bad Habits." Doctors try, often fruitlessly, to get their patients to do better. Yet, Ofri realized, doctors are regularly apprised of new studies that disprove established practice, but they don't necessarily change their methods. 
The problem is, most of us are just like our patients — we often ignore good advice when it conflicts with what we’ve always done.
The example she gives is the concept of the annual physical; apparently, the cons outnumber the pros. But she admits she tells her patients to come every year.
Humans are creatures of habit. Our default is to continue on the path we’ve always trod. If we doctors can recognize that impulse in ourselves, it will give us a dose of empathy for our patients, who are struggling with the same challenges when it comes to changing behavior. 
Doctors, with all their knowledge, are just as human and susceptible as their patients of knowing better, but not doing better. We may all vary when it comes to brains department, but that gives us no leave to be smug. "E.Q. vs. I.Q." Ta often says. One doesn't have to be brilliant to do better, or to be understanding of others.     


sporadicintelligence said...

And like my mother always says "smart people are so stupid"

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Darlin', if we doctors ever gave up on hoping to fix people's approaches to health the world would definitely suffer.

Princess Lea said...

SI: It's amazing how often that is the case.

MGI: Sweetpea, that wasn't her point. Her point was that doctors shouldn't be so intolerant of patients that don't make changes when they themselves don't change.