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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Of sadistic dentists and doctors

I brush my teeth twice a day, and floss after every meal. The flossing began about eight years ago after what we used to call a “SABENA! Situation” at the dentist’s. SABENA! was an anagram we used at school for Such A Bloody Experience ¬– Never Again!

My wisdom tooth wanted out and the dentist had a field day. He yanked and sweated and pumped the pliers up and down for nearly 20 minutes, then told me with a satisfied smile, that on a scale of 1 to 10 my tooth extraction was an 8. I had a purple bruise at the corner of my mouth for a fortnight. The pain inside my mouth spread to my brain and settled there for four days. SABENA! you would agree. And the irony was that I went to him because my editor (may his nerve endings twang forever) told me that my previous dentist, who I was mortally afraid of, was a known sadist. He urged me to go to the pliers plyer.

I do yoga breathing exercises and clean my house myself to keep fit. I scour the Internet for herbal remedies and foods that prevent nightmare health situations. The garlic in my house would scare any self-respecting vampire into retirement. All this because added to my fear of dentists, I have an aversion to doctors. They have this detached look while they poke and prod and when you are screaming for mercy, they ask you ah, does it hurt when I do this? And then they go and do it again, while your voice reaches a two-octave rise you didn’t know you had.

As with most people with time on their hands, I sit and mull over the whys and wherefores of Life. I look for answers. I look for reasons. And the news gives it to me. Look at the people who get into dental and medical colleges. The newspapers are full of stories of ragging which are hair-raising in the extreme. These are the ones that got caught because: a) the ragged victim would not take it any more or b) the ragged victim died. What about the thousands of medical college bullies who were not caught? The physician down the road could have been one of them. The dentist definitely was.

They say ragging is a harmless tradition, silly antics which are really fun and games. It’s a friendly initiation of freshers into an institution. Fun? Yes it can be for the ragger. Those who died or committed suicide were not around to share the fun experience with the rest of us.

All cruelty springs from weakness. I am not saying this, Seneca the Roman philosopher said it. And we have too many weak people around otherwise known as bullies. It’s a human production defect. Others call it the natural order of things where the strong prey on the weak. Older siblings bully their juniors, parents bully their children, seniors bully new entrants into the institution, whether it is academic, professional or prison, there’s spousal bullying with the stronger keeping the weaker in a constant state of nervous tension.

In the workplace too ¬ – every workplace has an embedded bully. Tim Fields author of Bully in Sight discusses how to predict, resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying and overcoming the silence and denial by which abuse thrives. He says: “Most organizations have a serial bully. It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s divisive, disordered, dysfunctional behaviour can permeate the entire organization like a cancer.”

If you just take the time to stand back and observe dispassionately, they are everywhere. I did some reading up on this and learned certain things about the serial bully who is innocent and charming in front of witnesses, only the target of his/her aggression sees both sides. Yet to the trained eye all bullies exhibit tell-tale signs. And it’s not just men, women are bullies too.

The bully shows a deep-seated contempt for most people. They need to be in control of their victims’ thoughts, words and actions. They have a compulsive need to criticize while at the same time refusing to value, praise or acknowledge others achievements. They cannot hold a proper conversation flitting from topic to topic to enforce their point of view. They are spiritually dead even though they follow rituals of religious belief and affiliation. They are unbelievably petty.

There is a lot more but this is enough to give me the willies when it comes to putting my teeth and body into the hands of those who have come out of institutions known for inflicting unnecessary pain on the vulnerable. Until I’m dragged kicking and screaming to one of these, flossing, yoga and herbal remedies are good enough for me thank you.

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