Innocence revisited

Lessons from surprising quarters

John Scott

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Abstract

The strong action of another person is often needed to bring to our attention the potentially damaging effects on others of our ‘innocent’ behaviour, this author explains.

Article Extract

A number of major adjustments occur in our behaviour as we enter medicine and progress through our professional years. I suspect that for most of us, many of our early attitudes are determined by childhood, the guidance of parents and similar influences. Certainly among one’s classmates, attitudes betrayed towards individual people within the community bear a relationship to one’s own background, early education and experience generally. Some of us, despite conscious attempts to behave otherwise, portray a certain aloofness amounting to disdain when one of ‘the great unwashed’ or ‘those of lesser breed’ become our patients for varying periods. The term ‘innocence’ is largely a misnomer for categorising these deficiencies in our behaviour. In particular, it often requires the strong action of another person, and not always someone we expect, to bring to our attention the potentially damaging effects on others of our ‘innocent’ behaviour.

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