health & ignorance

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health & ignorance

Post  jordenwiggins on Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:45 pm

So, I'm watching this movie about Muslim-Canadians, and in the first scene, the grown son is arguing with his mother about taking her medicines. He said, "I know, in the old country, if the doctor found out you had a life-threatening illness, he wouldn't tell you so as to not hurt your feelings. Now take your medicine."

Given the fact that Ivan Ilych basically drove himself to death worrying about his illness, would you rather this (ignorance is bliss) be the approach to health care implemented in your life, or would you rather be told that you have an incurable form of cancer? What if it would make the difference between life and death for you? What if, say, you're kind of a high-strung person, and finding out that you have cancer, even a mild form of cancer like skin or breast, that is treated all the time and has a very high rate of survival, but you find out that you have cancer (or even, that you might have cancer), don't you think that you might just heal a little better if the doctor lied to you and told you it wasn't that bad? Is the mistruth not a 'lie' if it benefits you? If so, then there are all these questions about who does get told--just the doctors, or your husband maybe, or your parents? But then the stress of your death lies on them, you might say. But I don't think this is a question of whether or not we should be given the stress of death in our lives, but rather, if we should be hidden from some truths in order to remain hopeful.
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Re: health & ignorance

Post  Kyndra S. on Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:21 pm

In the case of Ivan Ilyich, though, his doctors were telling him that he would get better and that it wasn't so serious after all. Sometimes, he even believed them, but the physical discomfort he was suffering told him otherwise... His truest suffering, in fact, seemed to come from the very fact that no one else would believe him when he said he was dying and that he had no true support system as he suffered. His greatest problems, it seems, came from the denial of truth in order to hold on to some form of hope, be that truth about his illness or truth about the life he had lived and the value it held. So, I would say no. Hiding the truth just means it may take us longer to discover it, not that we never will, and it may result in that truth being all the harsher when it finally does come to light.

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re: re: health & ignorance

Post  jordenwiggins on Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:34 pm

But at first, he was looking for the doctor to tell him it was no big deal. It wasn't until later on in his illness that he wouldn't believe the doctors telling him he was getting better, right? Originally, maybe, if he just believed he wasn't dying he would have gotten better.

I agree with you that it was largely the lack of support that killed him, now that you point it out. He only had two people who showed him any kind of sympathy. What is the story saying then? Is it trying to show how people are unsympathetic to suffering? In the very first chapter, it even showed how other people just kept saying things like, "at least it isn't us".

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Re: health & ignorance

Post  rhodakaye124 on Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:50 pm

Well I've read a lot of things about how a person's attitude toward their illness can either positively or negatively affect their recovery to a certain extent. So I don't think it's at all a stretch to say that Ivan contributed to his health's rapid decline... But the question is WHY was he so negative when most of the doctors had positive reports? I think he just chose to accept all of the doctors' words as lies, maybe because they didn't agree with each other or because the pain he felt didn't seem to agree with their synopsis of the situation. But the crazy thing is that the two people who supported him both seemed to know he was dying...his son and his servant. Everyone else who thinks they're so "educated" and "know better" about the situation, they don't understand him.

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I love this story so much

Post  Dr. Rees on Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:43 pm

Remember when we had that class where we read some books? No? Me either. sigh

But Ivan I. is awesome. I love the absurdity of the accident, that he hurts himself hanging curtains in his bourgeois apartment for his bourgeois non-friends. Mostly I love it because it portrays our intense discomfort with death so accurately, from the side of the dying AND the side of the not-yet-dying. All the trappings and show and hanging with the right crowd and following the Rules can't keep you from it in the end, but Ivan tries SO HARD, fighting with that defiant 3-day scream. And sweet, kind Gerasim who helps because that's what you do when people are dying, not because he's trying to impress anyone, because at that point what does impressing other people have to do with anything? Death is the most real thing going on, at any time here.

Similar contrast in Metamorphosis, the living vs. the inconveniently dying, though Gregor's dying is a bit different, of course.

Maybe someday we can all get together and talk about it...
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