Views & Reviews Between the lines

Resistance to good sense

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39289.539340.59 (Published 23 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:403
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    When I was young I thought that people always acted in their own best interests (it didn't occur to me to examine my own behaviour in this respect to see whether it was true). Tell them what was good for them, and they would do it. When they didn't do it I assumed they were deaf and hadn't heard properly; I repeated myself, only a little louder and more emphatically.

    Dostoyevsky was under no such misapprehension about his fellow beings. The anonymous narrator of his Notes from the Underground starts by telling us that he is sick, although he does not know from what illness. He has the greatest respect for the medical profession, he says (adding that …

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