Week 4: The Dual Perception of Doctors by Ricky Irwin

As I’m sure many people in these blogs have discussed, it is easy, in the same vein as the discussion of art and science, to analogize the craftsmanship of an artist on a canvas to a doctor on a human body. The rapid-fire problems that often show up in emergency rooms can require the same patterns of creative and unusal thinking that artists strive on. The body has been the main subject of art through the ages, in all of its complexity and beauty, and so naturally the doctor who focuses on it may be seen as a variant of artists like DaVinci. This is especially evident on the rise of plastic surgeons, who can reach unusual levels of fame and whose work on celebrity nose jobs can be analyzed and critiqued on media outlets in the same pattern as art media.
However, while this class has, through multiple videos, pictures and essays, made apparent the connection, I do not think that the public at large views doctors in any sense similar to artists, except perhaps the gloss and glamour of the Hollywood plastic surgeon. In both the original and modern versions of the Hippocratic Oath, a sense of grave importance and responsibility is conveyed. Since the finished result of a doctors practice is a matter of life and death, rather than achieved greatness or failure in the art world, doctors are treated with much more esteem and respect than the artist in society. When I applied to UCLA as a film major, my parents spent many nights attempting to sway my interests into the sphere of medicine and science, as they said it was a more “stable and respectable” profession. Many students at this university as well as others dismiss degrees in the arts as a waste of time, while commending the focus of practicing doctors.
In the line “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug” in the modern Hippocratic Oath, the main connection between the artist of paint and the artist of surgery is described. Even moreso than simply the basis of working on the human body, the doctor is an artist because he interprets and analyzes human interest in the same way. The doctor must decide, upon the results of a diagnosis, how exactly to frame problems or situations with human compassion in mind. He can give the diagnostics an optimistic bias, to convey a sense of hope to the patient or family, or choose to follow the cold, brutally honest approach and deliver results to patients as if they were a family pet. This is seen in the show Lost, where M.D. Jack Shepard follows the latter appoach until his father recommends he adopts a new hopeful bias, one of “warmth, sympathy, and understanding” as stated in the Hippocratic Oath. This is the same as the artist, who can choose to approach his subject in mind with either optimistic or pessimistic frames of mind, hopeful or practical, always with human interest in mind.
In these ways, it is apparent the ways in which the doctor fits neatly into the larger bubble of the artist. Perhaps the doctor is the profession precisely split in the middle of the artistic and scientific spheres, bound by the Hippocratic Oath to incorporate elements of both worlds into his work.

One Response to “Week 4: The Dual Perception of Doctors by Ricky Irwin”

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