Question Authority: The Need for Anti-Authoritarians in the Medical Profession

Hello Michael,

I actually posted a long comment before I reblogged your excellent post but when I clicked ‘Post Comment’ my modem crashed and the comment was lost.

Given the worth and importance of your post I will do that comment again.

A few weeks ago there was a show, ‘At Their Mercy’, on Australia’s ABC Four Corners, on authoritarian abuse in the medical profession in Australia.

Young trainee surgeons spoke about the vicious bullying they had experienced from senior surgeons and of that behaviour being endemic in their profession. One spoke of having been pushed to the brink of suicide.

Another (then) trainee female surgeon told of her supervising surgeon inviting her back to his office and once there, inviting her to go down on him (sic).

She reported him and immediately found herself faced by a wall of authoritarianism. She took action against him and won compensation but she will never be able to work in a public hospital again.

When she spoke on the show (and I think this was now some years after the above events) she was still clearly deeply offended by his betrayal and behaviour and clearly traumatised.

She is also highly respected and valued by her patients, several of whom spoke about her.

A senior female surgeon (a few weeks before the Four Corners show) was reported in the media as having said that if she had been advising the young surgeon, she would have told her for the sake of her career that she should have given him a blow job (sic). Can you believe that?

That senior female vascular surgeon was interviewed on Four Corners and came across as shell-shocked, saintly and hurt by all the criticism she had got for her comments. She was praised by the male head of one of the doctors’ organisations – who gave no praise to the young surgeon for her courage.

All of this exemplifies for me the thinking and behaviour of a band of power-crazed, primarily male authoritarians for whom viciousness is one of the tools in their kit bag and who are, in my view, virtually out of control.

At the cost of her career, that surgeon stood up to these pretentious, cunning primitives and I think if more people on the receiving end of similar behaviour could do so, those thugs might begin to think twice about how they behave towards decent people.

You have an excellent blog,

Best regards,

Phil Stanfield


Disrupted Physician

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Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously.  images-24To evaluate the legitimacy of  an authority it is necessary to:
1. Assess whether they actually know what they are talking about.
2. Assess whether the authorities are honest in their intentions.  When anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority.
There is a paucity of anti-authoritarianism in the medical community concerning groups who have gained tremendous sway in the regulation of the medical profession.    There is an absence of anti-authoritarian questioning  of  what is essentially illegitimate and irrational authority.
images-26In order for these organizations to maintain power it is necessary that their authoritative opinion remain unquestioned and unchallenged.  Consciously manufactured propaganda has persuaded regulatory and public opinion of their value and to maintain power it is necessary that this authority remain insulated from outside evaluation because the entire system is based…

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