Moral Obfuscation

I said below in the Cat Scratch Fever post that I would return to the act of moral 'obfuscation' when a patient didn't have a complicated, Zebra-like diagnosis but rather a common one.

Obfuscation isn't the right word. More like moral ambiguity. As famously defined in the movie Girl, Interrupted, ambivalence means being pulled in two directions. This happens more with dramatic cases and sick patients than with routine visits.

As medical students we're all pulled in two directions when people are really sick. On the one hand, I feel bad for them and hope they are well. On the other hand, which is not exactly the opposite direction, I am often excited with dramatic cases because I get to do something exciting. Then I feel bad. Then I realize that this curiosity leads to learning which benefits patients. Then I feel bad again.

It's the ambiguity of feeling you are in the right place at the right time and have a purpose in life, and that time and place is not a happy place. At least for others.

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