At the age of 14 when asked what I wanted to do in life I said “I want to be a Psychiatrist”. This got peals of laughter from adults, followed by a “But why?”.
“…because i’m intrigued by the human mind” (exact words). But to get to the psychiatric ward I would’ve had to spend 7 years in Med school. and I also realised that the human mind outside of a psychiatric facility was just as intriguing.
So instead I turned to the other great thing besides the human mind. Television.
Medical dramas have oft cast a spell on people. There was ER, Grey’s Anatomy, General Hospital etcetra. I never watched ER. Did catch a bit of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, enough to learn about the characters and wait for Patrick Dempsey to show up. I liked ‘Scrubs’, taking Laughter is the best medicine to its logical conclusion.
But there was a phase when I was addicted to the medical drama ‘House M.D.’ Whether it was because of the sardonic diagnostic medicine messiah Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) or that there were too few main leads for it to turn into yet another Docs in love story (Olivia Wilde did her bit to heat it up), I’m not sure.
The difference with ‘House’ was that it was not about nicey-nice doctors playing God. It was about a quirky doctor and his team, neither of whom are cardboard characters. And showing how they diagnosed patients took precedence over scenes of people making out in the medicine cabinet.
I’m sure doctors who catch any of these shows probably find a thousand inaccuracies. The thing about ‘House’ was that it was all about solving the puzzle (since its diagnostic medicine). Every episode had a trend. First Dr. House had to be convinced enough to take up a case. He had to find it ‘intriguing’ (to use my word). Then began a series of brainstorming sessions with his team which always led to them being wrong initially. And as the patient’s condition deteriorated they tried this and that and finally put the pieces together and saved his/her life. I think only 1 patient died per season.
We always see doctors as extremely healthy people. On this show Dr. House has a limp and walks with a cane (in one of his legs the muscles died due to wrong diagnosis by those treating him. Catch the irony?). He’s always shown to be popping pain medication. Certainly not the picture of a perfect guy to treat anyone. And he usually doesn’t talk to patients or if he does says to their face “You’re dying” without emotion. He doesn’t wear a lab coat and is always proved right on the theory that everybody lies (especially patients about medical history). The moral of the whole thing being that this guy is whatever he may be but he saves lives all right.
Bottomline being I like this show. Whether watching ‘House’ makes up for my not having been to Med school is debatable. But the Psychiatry dream hasn’t died. Of course I’m not authorised to prescribe medicines. But there are enough wayward minds around me that whet my appetite for engaging with and finding a cure for insanity.