The demise of cultured doctors is bad for everyone

In addition to his usual column, Dalrymple also has in the latest BMJ this piece on what he says is a decline in the prevalence of doctor-writers. He makes therein this argument (which we made ourselves here):

In the past, the connection between medicine and literature was spontaneous or natural, arising from the general education that all doctors had received, combined with their experience of human existence, an experience that was necessarily wider, deeper, and more varied than that of most people. Doctors are privy, after all, to their patients’ deepest secrets, but at the same time retain an attitude of objectivity. No situation could be more propitious for a writer.

But he thinks this correlation is ending, and makes a case for its undesirability:

But if no one is broadly educated or cultivated, that is the end of broad education and cultivation itself. We will be reduced to a society of technocrats, each absorbed in their own narrow specialism. Notwithstanding the horrible example of Hans Frank, this is not a state of society to which I look forward. Apart from anything else, some among us will be specialists in the exercise of power, against whom the rest of us will be defenceless.

22 thoughts on “The demise of cultured doctors is bad for everyone

  1. Jaxon

    Here’s a doctor responding to an article “The Truth About The Porn Industry” about Gail Dines – campaigner against pornography.

    “At last someone speaking out against a subject which has concerned me increasingly in recent years. I am single and far from prudish but I have been horrified by the clear change in expectations regarding woman and sex in the last decade, both as a doctor hearing my colleagues’ stories of increasing numbers of young girls coming into A&E after violent anal rape at parties or other social venues (unheard of a decade ago), and also as a woman at how many (almost exclusively younger) men want you to be “a bit more porn” during sex. To any man thinking that a woman wants or enjoys having her face ejaculated onto, my advice is you try it first and we’ll see how you like it. All power to Gail Dines in the meantime!”

    Far from prudish indeed… the words poetic justice come to mind (ooh, a pun for the puerile)
    Have I got this right? “and also as a woman at how many (almost exclusively younger) men want you to be “a bit more porn” during sex”
    ‘Concerned her in recent years’ “unheard of decade ago” (the good old days?)
    I’ll be blunt, I mean she should look on the bright side, not so long back (the good old days), she would have had a very damaging reputation.
    Not that women of easy virtue have *anything* to do with the disastrous state of affairs.
    My advice to women is: If you get intimately involved with a man, let alone several of them, who watches pornography (surely not so difficult to ascertain) you’re a fool.

  2. Jaxon

    I’ve actually read the article this time, rather than posting something I’d written elsewhere that’s tenuously related, I think perhaps I should try again.

    I did meet a Dutch girl last year who was a medical student. I’d say she was in her early twenties, quite attractive, bit of a chain smoker… she seemed a bit world weary.

    She was in no doubt that her medical studies were much too narrow; she wasn’t familiar with Galen, for instance (maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising, whatever the case, I recommended Truth vs Theory by Dalrymple… oh and How And How Not To Love Mankind, and maybe a couple of others)

    I was rather impressed by her attitude, not once was she defensive about my more challenging views… I think, I hope, she’ll appreciate reading Dalrymple.


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