Personal Views

What have I achieved?

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 13 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1628
  1. Hugh Watson, former general practitioner
  1. London

    Although the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman Dixon was published 20 years ago the tenet remains true today. I took this book, among others, to a Caribbean island where we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. An unwise choice. Those who suffer from chronic low self esteem will understand the insidious depression that overcame me under the warm blue Caribbean sky. The cheerful, indigenous population was no match for the gloom that to some extent spoilt our holiday.

    While I could not honestly say that I had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of brave soldiers as a result of incompetent planning or intelligence, it did occur to me that I had been brought up in a rigid hierarchy of “them and us.” A dismal lack of lateral thinking, an inability to see the other chap's point of view. Decisions of narrow, thoughtless, ponderous conceit.

    The further I got into the book, the more I realised that every chapter described my lamentable personality. As an only child I was thoroughly spoilt, damaged from an early age for a successful …

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