Doctor Diaries- How do I handle the bias?


There are people whom we like and then there are those we do not. Knowing somebody up close and personal sometimes magnifies their faults and personality quirks. Now, when we handle such issues in our personal life, there is not much of a problem. There are thousands of quotes on the social media which advice us to stay away from negative influences, so that we can be sunny and positive always. Just stay away and your problems vanish. Clap, clap!

But when you are a doctor, and a psychiatrist at that, a lot of people coming to you are not only distressed but also not “nice”, to put it mildly. Within the first few visits, we know their personalities, their decision making skills and their life choices very closely. As a matter of rule, we need to be at our non judgmental best in our counseling. Allow the person to make his/her own life decisions. At best, we can steer them towards a choice, but that too, very unobtrusively.

Unfortunately, this seems utopian on paper, not reality. How can one remain unaffected when he/she hears of a man boasting of knowing how to keep his unruly wife in place by resorting to violent means? How do you react when a lady comes depressed because she is worried about her daughter in law being snubbed by her own daughters? Such a concerned woman, you think. The concern emerges from the fact that the girl’s father has paid a fat dowry and is asking uncomfortable questions about the same! How do you console a father when he cries, that we should convince his daughter to go back to her alcoholic husband’s home, because they have already depleted their life savings on the marriage? How do you convince an utterly melancholic woman (melancholic because, her parents had no male progeny, and hence died uncared for and now the daughter in law has produced two healthy bonny girl babies), who obviously will leave her uncared for too?

These are situations which arise frequently. On a particular level, I understand that these are people who have a different value system and a way of thinking alien to mine. They may have a genuinely good side to them and maybe just discussing their miseries. Atleast they are honestly bad! But these are also times which make me want to quit my “non judgmental” high horse and tick them off like a very strict school marm.

I keep squirming in my seat trying to calm the feminist in me. Most times, I am successful. Occasionally, my unobtrusive push becomes slightly more forceful. And rarely, I do scold. I do fervently hope, that  this happens to anyone who handles human emotions as a part of their profession.

We do not understand the decisions that others make and their reasons for it. Over the years and with some maturity comes the discovery that we cannot change the world so easily. Change is for most part slow, a lot of hard work and painstaking. Once the abusive husband, after 6 months of counseling, finally stops abusing his wife physically (though a wee bit of verbal abuse remains), I should consider it my victory!

Unfortunately, this victory is not all sweet! There is an itch to do something more, push a little more and dream a little. And go back to listening all over again. Maybe, this is more like the bevu bella (an offering of neem and sugar eaten during ugadi, the traditional new year), which symbolically signifies that you should swallow the good and the bad with equanimity. Probably, I should start everyday with a small bite of the same:)

Does this happen to you?



7 thoughts on “Doctor Diaries- How do I handle the bias?

  1. Srujan April 2, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I don’t encounter it in the manner you do, but in a milder form, I do face the conflict. I try not to be quick to judge, but haven’t been successful is eliminating premature judgement entirely. Probably because like most of us, I think it’s okay to judgemental for me, because that doesn’t harm someone else like it may if it was integral to my professional work. It should be though, no matter what the profession. And sometimes it does come out and an outburst. But sometimes, it often leads to questions to self like, is this what people might be thinking of me when I don’t explain myself to every one.


    • preethishanbhag April 9, 2017 / 10:28 am

      You are so right. I think we are always in conflict about what we want and wahat the society expects us to be. But there are some gross injustices which have no explainations. They are just sick minds, in my opinion and those who definitely need treatment. Thanks for reading and approving:)


  2. vishalbheeroo April 3, 2017 / 9:10 am

    The society we live in where a man boasts on how he keeps his wife in check…I shudder to look how we claim to be educated but fettered by so called social norms. No! We are prisoners but not educated. And, the one who take pride in the fact that they belong to a superior caste. It happens in my family. The reason why I am trying to keep a distance as much as I can.


    • preethishanbhag April 9, 2017 / 10:31 am

      The bias exists every which way you look. As you said, an inclusive system of acceptance is not at all acceptable to a lot of people.And in case of your family, you can keep a distance, but it is difficult to disown them. it puts you in a position of wanting to hate and love at the same time!Isnt that cruel? To us, I mean

      Liked by 1 person

  3. parwatisingari April 4, 2017 / 10:48 am

    It does Preethi, I used to see a lot in sleep apnoea and bruxism patients, these days what I do is william glassner technique that is I set the goal of the treatment, I ask my patient what do you want to achieve from this treatment and then work from there they are able to make their own choices, without us getting stressed out. Of course sometimes it does hit.


  4. Jean April 23, 2017 / 11:43 pm

    I don’t have to face that type of psychological stress from kudos to you for trying to help.

    Even though “help” doesn’t totally align with your personal values.

    At this time, at work, there’s some micromanaging and even people saying stuff to make themselves look/feel better than others.


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