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Superstitions in Relations

  1. Jan 11, 2015 #1
    Hi everyone. I tried searching this up, but I could not come with anything conclusive. I was reading a medical ethics book that leaves this question as "food for thought":

    You live with your stepmother. You study medicine. You work very hard in the library, go to your classes and take air medicine classes that end at 11 PM. When you come back home, your stepmother wants to have a discussion with you. She recognizes that you work very hard and she is proud of you. But, she says, in her house, no one can enter the house after the sun sets. It lets bad spirits get inside the house and that it is bad. You try to find solutions, but she says "you can enter through the window," which is weird and might be dangerous.

    I am wondering: what do I do here? In medical ethics, we try to abide to the beliefs of others. This is especially important to not undermine patient-doctor relationship. But, in this case, you are kind of stuck. What should be said to the mother? After all, it is her house.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2015 #2


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    Interesting question and tangentially relevant to some of the debates arising out of the events in France (balancing respect for religious believe against freedom of the press).

    In this specific situation I would probably go with: "her house her rules" because ultimately, unless you (the student) are paying rent, you have little to no authority to dictate how things should be done in the house. You have the option of leaving and finding accommodations elsewhere and so on a personal level you have to figure out how that balances against the inconvenience of complying with this person's belief. For the record, I doubt I'd skip straight to an ultimatum though. In dealing with this kind of conflict, it's important to open up a dialogue and understand the specific concerns that this step-mother has. What specifically is bad about "evil spirits" entering the house, for example.

    In a more general sense, in the patient-doctor relationship there is a slight difference to consider that would change my answer. In a patient-doctor relationship that patient has come to you as a doctor seeking professional advice and you have a responsibility to give it. You have a responsibility for presenting the evidence for a given action, and perhaps identifying a lack of evidence behind superstitious practices. A person not opening doors in their own house at night, while perhaps eccentric, has minimal consequence on that person's well-being. A person denying a blood transfusion in a situation where one is medically warranted, for example, could have severe consequences. By voluntarily coming to you as a patient, the patient is necessarily extending you a warrant to present your professional opinion. Your stepmother in contrast may not be extending any such courtesy.
  4. Jan 12, 2015 #3


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    Any chance of getting that door replaced by a glass door ..... with curtains .....?

    ..... and call it a window! :)
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  5. Jan 12, 2015 #4


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    And... you are not her doctor...
    There you go... you got it... :oldwink:
  6. Jan 12, 2015 #5


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    This isn't a medical issue as the doctor has no professional relationship with the superstitious person. On the subject of doctors abiding by patients beliefs that is not always true, especially in the case of minors where parents are making decisions on behalf of children. If a doctor thinks that a parent/guardian's personal beliefs are a danger to the child they can seek legal means to mandate treatments they deem necessary.

    Thread moved to GD as this is a question about relationships, not medicine.
  7. Jan 12, 2015 #6


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    Well, you should find some superstition way to make the bad spirits leave the house!
  8. Jan 12, 2015 #7


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    Well, yes but ..... that may involve animal sacrifice, or something.
  9. Jan 13, 2015 #8


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    Opening the windows (to let the bad spirits out) would be less problematic.
    Unfortunately, this advice will have to come from someone she trusts in terms of her spiritual beliefs. You cannot test and prove it, after all...
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