Free-Response 3: The Struggle for Definition Over time, the relationship between doctor and patient has been defined by a doctor’s role to act as a fiduciary in the interest of their patients. Now, a physician’s role is being redefined as partly acting as a distributer of resources, and diagnoses; definition. In The Second Sin, Thomas Szasz proposes that “the struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. ” He uses the example of two western men desperately fighting for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground.
Whoever reaches the gun first and shoots survives. He who survives, defines the situation for the other. Szasz then poses the question, in a dispute between two individuals, specifically child and Mom, who defines the other as troublesome or mentally ill? Human beings are competing creatures, a victor is the one who defines a situation for himself and his victim, the definition of the world is decided by the higher person. Not too far from where Szasz attended school, stood a statue of Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian obstetrician who became known as a 19th century martyr of science and research.
He discovered that an often fatal ‘childbed fever’, very ommon among new mothers in hospitals, could very easily be eliminated and prevented if doctors washed their hands before assisting in childbirth. Especially if they had been performing autopsies prior to assisting with the deliveries. After his findings, Semmelweis demanded revolution in hospital hygiene, and when it didn’t come, he grew hostile towards doctors who ignored his research.
His opponents lured him to a mental hospital where his incarceration was arranged. The obstetrician was brutally beaten and put into a straitjacket, within two weeks he died in that mental hospital. Semmelweis had grabbed the gun first aiming at hospital ygiene. He attempted to define the situation by holding up the truth that doctor’s were not doing enough to protect their patients from harmful bacteria. However, instead of finding change, he was outnumbered by opponents, the gun taken from him, subjugated and killed.
From a martyr’s tragic end, a lesson can be learned, according to Szasz, that it can be dangerous to be wrong, but to be right when society regards falsehood as truth, could be fatal, especially when those falsehoods define an important part of a society’s belief system. Growing up, I would watch my parents struggle for the gun through screaming matches. They fought so hard for definition of each other. When I was eleven, I had been lying in bed with my mum, and she began to tell me things about my Dad I wouldn’t have thought much about.
She told me that my dad chose his friends and partying over me, that he hit her, that he was in denial over my sister when she was still inside my mum’s belly and wasn’t there when she was born. She told me he wasn’t there for us. My mum began to redefine my whole grasp on what my world was, untll tne tnlngs I tnougnt I Knew Olan’t make sense anymore. How could I n believe her? I knew there was falsehood in her statements, for example the bit about y dad not being there the day Alexis was born, we were there, I remember standing outside the hospital door with him because they weren’t together anymore.
Even so, I had to call my dad and ask him if it was true. He addressed all of my questions, telling me he never chose anyone over my sister and l, and after much discussion, he told me that he was not going to tell me all the things my Mum had done wrong in their relationship. Then he asked me to think back and tell him if I had remembered any of those things, because I was there. In one night, I found the gun in my lap, and oth parents hovering over each shoulder reaching for it. Not too long after, I had been losing sleep, and my grades began slipping. My teachers would tell my mum that I was spacey most of the time.
Once again, my mother tried to define the situation, with concluding that I must have ADHD if I was losing interest in schoolwork. So the following week, I found myself sitting in between my parents in the office of a psychiatrist for evaluation, only now not me or my parents were in possession of the gun, it was being casually pointed at me from behind the desk of a man with a diagnosis already in mind before even speaking to e. Every question he asked me, I responded typically, but by the end of the session, I was sent out of the room, and my parents would argue over whether I would be put on medication.
My dad was extremely furious and against it. The following weekend, my mum would get a prescription without my dad’s signature while he was out of town, and begin sneaking it into my food. My mother had gained the upper hand, taken hold of the gun, the last word, and my situation was defined. I do not have ADHD. From The Second Sin, to martyrs of science, to two very loving parents who had a id too young, the inevitable struggle for words and definition over each other will always be overwhelming.
Most of what my mother had said to me held a lot of falsehood, but to her, it will always be the truth. My dad did have a temper, and he did go out a lot, but he has always loved us like a father should. This world will is made up of victors and victims, and my situation was always defined by my parents because they were above me. I like to think I have become a victor; the life that has been defined me so far has shaped my idea of who I want to be. I will not allow myself to become a victim.