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Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Created: 07/22/15

Replies: 30

Posted Jul. 22, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

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Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Marc is a trusted family practitioner with an intense distaste for his patients and their bodies. Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Most certainly I hope not! His attitude scares me, causing me wonder if I might be judged as I perhaps languish on a doctor's exam table!

I believe his detachment creates a "better-than-thou" with anyone he associates with, including his wife.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cameronr

Join Date: 06/02/15

Posts: 12

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I have a friend who is a doctor and she says that doctors do have to learn to compartmentalize their work from their home. I've heard her talking about patients who die and she is bummed but not completely torn up. She says that in order to be objective / effective in her profession, she must keep patients at an arm's length.
That said, I absolutely do not think this is what was going on with Marc. He is just a terrible person, as well as a terrible doctor. Marc is the worst.


Posted Jul. 26, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
robinn

Join Date: 12/06/14

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Yes I do think that many doctors are worn down by the system. They see so many patients that they have to become indifferent. And they isolate themselves from the pain they see. And this indifference bleeds over to his personal life that is obvious.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I think it takes a very distinct personality to be a medical professional. You have to be able to shut off immediate personal empathy to be able to think dispassionately about what needs to be done for the patient in an emergency. However, I do think the best doctors are those who are able to be empathetic, yet hold back some of themselves so as to not let their judgment be swayed to the detriment of the patient's best needs.
I can't help but think I'd like to know my medical providers well enough so that they have a personal interest in my care, but that's probably being silly to think they think differently about any of their patients. A patient should be a patient, no matter the relationship.

In Marc's case, he's just got some sort of personality disorder. As they say in the South, "that boy ain't right".


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
wendyf

Join Date: 05/11/11

Posts: 20

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I hope not. I understand that doctor's need to detach in some way. But there still needs to be some empathy. Marc seems detached from just about everyone and everything. I would not like that type of life myself.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Having seen many doctors in the last few years, I have seen detached doctors and very involved doctors. I was surprised at Marc's indifference as he is a Primary Care doctor. They usually know their patients. I have found detachment in specialists that see the same illnesses day after day. There are definitely more caring physicians than not.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Marc is able to compartmentalize. The office is left behind and home is family. This is probably why he resents his patients social demands.


Posted Jul. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyz

Join Date: 05/12/15

Posts: 7

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Yes, I believe Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession. I think doctors have too many patients and they do see the same problems over and over. Even though Marc tried to keep 20 minutes for every patient, he said he didn't need that much time to make the diagnosis. He is a cold person and someone who lacks empathy. I am not sure based on his personality that he could be any other way.


Posted Jul. 29, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I don't know if the level of detachment expressed by Marc is necessary in all aspects of the medical profession. He certainly wouldn't be much of a primary care physician but maybe could function as an oncologist. He transfers his detachment to family and friends and it keeps him unlikable and cold.


Posted Jul. 29, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Like another reader, my first response to this question was: I hope not. However, the majority of doctors and physicians assistants I've encountered in the past decade seem mostly uncaring. I think a lot of that could stem from being pushed to see too many patients than is reasonable. One doctor who seemed very caring in my city was arrested for false medical billing, and a "great guy" doctor that he referred me to for a routine checkup outside his area was arrested as well. So maybe a caring appearance does not equal competent care.


Posted Jul. 30, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elizabethabby

Join Date: 07/30/15

Posts: 9

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I agree with the comments that doctors have to compartmentalize their jobs. In a sense, you could call it a lack of empathy - or say that they need sympathy, not empathy for their patients. I have a friend who is an oncologist. She told me recently when another friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, "it reminds me of how much my patients are going through and I can't forget how hard it is on them". Seeing it in her personal life reminded her of how she has become detached from it in her professional life. But she also could not truly empathize with every patient, or she would be a mess, and not a physician. A good physician will understand what his/her patient needs at every moment, even if not feeling their pain the way that they would if it was their spouse/son/daughter/friend etc. SO on the outside of Marc's situation I can see how he came across as a strong physician - he knew what to say and when to say it. Knowing what was really going on inside his head was truly horrifying though - I had to skim chunks of his fantasies because they disgusted me so. I am willing to bet that there is A doctor out there like that - and probably a couple of them; but because I believe in humanity and I believe people who put themselves through the rigors of medical school, residency and potentially fellowship training would not do it if their heart was not in it for healing. Marc shows himself to be truly immature and pathetic but I think that is the exception not the rule.


Posted Jul. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gdlenehan

Join Date: 06/22/11

Posts: 19

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I think that the author is exagerating Marc's lack of empathy for his patients to be humorous and to make a point of accentuating Marc's personality flaws. Obviously he demonstrates later how serious Marc's flaws are when Marc so maliciously sets up Ralph's murder.
Marc's arrogance and lack of respect for women is also evident when he actively pursues Ralph's wife. He
has no empathy for anyone!


Ladyonthelake
Posted Jul. 31, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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donnac

Join Date: 03/26/14

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I have read numerous nonfiction books written by physicians and I find Marc's attitude more in line with those of surgeons. They are frequently absolutely removed from the personhood of their patients. They also are well known for having a whopping, giant sized ego, similar to Marc. Indeed, there was just a viral account of medical professionals mocking a patient as he lay unconscious on an operating table. Appalling. I think the patient -- who had secretly recorded their conversation -- was awarded some kind of financial settlement. In general, though, GP's relate better with people as humans. In general.


Posted Aug. 02, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CarolynSC

Join Date: 12/02/13

Posts: 8

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I am rather surprised that so many responders seem to feel that Marc's lack of empathy is not very unusual. Physicians cannot become emotionally involved with their patients or they would be ineffective. This does not mean that they do not care for or about those patients. Marc, on the other hand, is an over-the-top sicko. And the suggestion above that perhaps he could be an oncologist rather than a GP is horrifying to me. As an RN with many years of experience, I've known doctors who run the gamut of all levels of sensitivity, and oncologists often are shown to be extremely empathetic and kind to their patients.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judithj

Join Date: 04/15/15

Posts: 45

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I sure hope that Marc's lack of empathy is NOT common in the medical profession! He doesn't really pay attention to what his patients are telling him. How can he be an effective physician?!


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Savanna

Join Date: 08/04/15

Posts: 8

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I think it is burn out - common in professions where you are always giving of yourself and sometimes need to distance your emotions. That in no way excuses him. He has no self awareness in his personal life either - witness how he feels no remorse or guilt in trying to seduce Judith.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 36

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Unfortunately, I've encountered more than my share of doctors without empathy.

But reading Marc's thoughts gave me some possible insights on what doctors' reasons for such coldness might be. I actually enjoyed reading those sections.

But I don't think medical students should look up to Marc as mentor!


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sharlene

Join Date: 04/10/13

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I agree with an earlier poster that Marc has a definite personality disorder. I also found myself wondering if this is more common with doctors in countries that have socialized medicine. I have a number of doctors, starting with my primary care doctor and several specialists and by and large I feel that most of them care about me.


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

To respond to Sharlene - considering that every first world country, to the best of my knowledge, other than the US has universal medical cover irrespective of ability to pay - which I suppose equates to socialized medicine - I'd say it's got nothing to do with it!

In fact, from my experience of medicine in various parts of Europe, including living in the UK for the first 30 years of my life. And, more recently, seeing the UK system up very close and personal during the illness and death of both my parents, I'd say that a socialized system allows everyone in the medical system, including the doctors, to see their patients as people first much more easily than medical professionals in the US, because they do not have to worry about a person's ability to pay, or for that matter have to spend their days embroiled in payment issues with insurance companies.

I am sure there are bad eggs anywhere but I would heartily dispute any link between socialized medicine and uncaring doctors!


Posted Aug. 04, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alissac

Join Date: 05/14/15

Posts: 34

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I would guess that Marc's apathy would be common to anyone in any profession who viewed their job as simply as "job." I'd hope that a doctor would have more at stake, if only a vested interest, but still, from a doctor you expect more. Their yr's of schooling demand more, no? Marc's disinterested role as doctor frightened me, made me rethink every doctor visit I've ever had...was I the gross one? The annoying one? Gah, again, I see how any job can become mundane, but i on,u hope that when one is dealing with another human being, mundane goes out the window and finds some empathy.


Posted Aug. 05, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Marc talks about his job as a GP. He is supposed to be the front line against too much use of the socialized medical system. I think it has everything to do with it. Not only is he supposed to keep patients from seeing specialists but he is also supposed to keep them out of hospitals - and assure them it is safe to deliver babies at home. He says the system would collapse if GPs did not serve this gatekeeper function. I don't think it is just Marc's idea - I think he is really expected to do this job. I remember when HMOs were new and they operated just this way. The front line was supposed to let very few patients through. And perhaps this screening system encourages doctors who have a tendency toward indifference to become truly indifferent. Why care if the system will squash you for good work that sends patients on to specialists?


Posted Aug. 05, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 35

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

In response to judithj, I don't think Marc IS an effective physician. More generally, he tunes his patients out so that he doesn't hear what they say. I imagine that there might be a tiny fraction of physicians who are so detached, but by no means is it the standard. As to how his detachment affects his relationships with family and friends, that detachment seems to be something that affects his interactions with everybody. It's just the way he interacts with all people.


Posted Aug. 05, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sharlene

Join Date: 04/10/13

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Davina and Frances, I appreciate both of your input. Perhaps Marc is just in the wrong profession. Or perhaps he has a personality disorder to the degree that he would be apathetic in whatever profession he was in.


Posted Aug. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jane raimondi

Join Date: 07/30/15

Posts: 2

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

No, I don't think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession. I don't think it is detachment. I think it is disdain. He doesn't even listen to his patients. He takes a look at them, diagnoses them, treats them and if they die, oh well. I believe that most doctors are detached but not without empathy for their patients.


Posted Aug. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Maybe Marc feels disdain because the system treats him with such disdain. He is expected to keep patients out of hospitals and away from specialists. His job is not to do good medical work but to keep the system afloat by minimizing referrals. I have seen this up close with HMOs. They penalize doctors who do good medical work. They reward doctors who do the gatekeeper job really well. This has gotten better but in the beginning, the HMOs were brutal with doctors. The doctors knew that good work was not valued. Quick work, low billing, few referrals - those were the valued choices. No wonder doctors detached. This is in the USA. I have seen one socialized country up close and it was not good. Same thing. Placate the patient and keep costs down. I don't think we can judge Marc without judging the context of medicine in a socialized country.


Posted Aug. 08, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amberb

Join Date: 07/28/11

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Reading this book definitely made me think about how doctors view me when they see me! (Especially dentists/orthodontists/oral surgeons, since that has been a big part of my life lately!) I now wonder what they are really thinking when they are examining me! Are they grossed out by me? Am I just another mouth? Another problem to be solved? Am I human to them?

I too, wonder about the difference between men & women as practitioners. My sister is a nurse, and I know that the welfare of her patients certainly impacts her.

I was a newspaper reporter for a few years. I was with people during times of crises. Sometimes it affects you as an observer in different ways - there are cases that get to you and cases that don't.


Posted Aug. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bookbutterfly

Join Date: 04/16/14

Posts: 9

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

Some doctors are caring and some are not. This is true for many professions and businesses today. Just like anything else, you can't make an over all assumption about any one profession. The problem with health care today is that doctor's don't have the time to spend with you due to our health care system. I recently changed primary care physicians and he is on the younger side but seemed very caring and love that with the online system I have access to all of my test results, appointments, etc. and when completed he sends me a message regarding these results, etc. Easy to look up and no misunderstandings of what was said or not. Marc is just the worst example of this profession. He should never be able to practice medicine and probably go to jail!!


Posted Aug. 19, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I would hope not but unfortunately we see it more and more. As long as a medical schools criteria is getting the top students in the country it will be an issue because there isn't a factor in for empathy. More focus needs to be placed on bed side manner


Posted Sep. 03, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I am not sure of the extent to which doctors empathize with their patients, but at the same time I do not believe that empathy is an essential quality for the delivery of good medical care. For physicians who have significant patient and family interaction, gentleness, sensitivity and compassion are all important as are good communication skills, technical expertise and sound judgement. Empathy is not a precondition to any of these qualities. My view is that most phycisians do have the necessary skills for good doctoring, but a problematic minority do not, and they sully the public's perception of the profession.

As for Marc, his issues went far deeper than an absence of empathy and compassion. Marc was at a place where he actually loathed his patients. He had no respect, or tolerance or concern for their well being. Had he not perpetrated the death of Ralph, I wonder if it was inevitable that at some point he would have killed another patient.


Posted Sep. 28, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyf

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 31

RE: Do you think Marc's lack of empathy is common in the medical profession? How does this detachment affect the way he relates to his family and friends?

I worked in health care for 40 yrs and I really cannot say that Marc is like anyone who I've ever met. Sure we have to distance ourselves from our patients but Marc did more than that. He was completely egocentric (self-centered) as well as egotistical (thought only good things about himself). What about the Hippocratic Oath -the foundation of our Western medical practice - do no harm, keep your patients from injustice, do not play God - he completely ignored all of it! In addition, eh acted paternalistic toward his daughter - he restricted her freedom to voice what happened to her and never helped her deal with it - including reporting the incident (which in the US is mandatory). So he took out his own brand of justice on Ralph - and did nothing positive for his daughter. Lack of empathy is the least of his problems - this man is sick.


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