In India, there is an old saying that doctors are the second god in this world.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, describes a God complex as a narcissistic personality disorder. Let’s know why we say doctors are the second god.
“This who are occupied in the restoration of health to others, by the joint exertion of skill and humanity, are above all the great of the earth. They even partake of divinity, since to preserve and renew is almost as noble as to create.”
The 11th-century Greek physician Galen had a huge influence on the medical knowledge of his time, and for several hundred years afterward. He wrote some 500 medical treatises and lectured widely on topics as diverse as anatomy, physiology, pathology, and diagnosis, as well as psychology and ethics. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius called him the best physician in the world — an accolade that Galen would surely have agreed with, describing his medical colleagues as ignorant and money-grubbing.
Hardly any wonder, then, that Galen’s autobiography focused on his brilliant works and opinions, or that in an article in The Spectator titled “The cult of the prima doctor,” Peter Jones wrote, using his subject’s expertise in both analgesia and anatomy:
“Galen was a pain in the backside, staggeringly arrogant and high-handed, disdainful of any doctor (let alone patient) who did not believe every word he said. If ever there was a doctor with a ‘God complex,’ it was Galen.”
In India, there is an old saying that doctors are second to god on this earth. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, describes a God complex as a narcissistic personality disorder.
Effective medicine is about more than science. It also requires doctors to understand people — most importantly, their patients. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality campaigned to get patients to take a more active role in their care by asking more questions of doctors. The other side of that is for doctors to give better, more understandable answers. However, with studies showing that physicians will interrupt a patient after a mere 18 seconds in the room, this might be a tall order.