Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Covert Misogyny 2.

Right, now back to this huge subject.... Let`s see if we can shed some more light on it:

We have looked at some reasons why some doctors practice covert misogyny and now I want to think about why such a profession permits this to happen. You might say "permits it by default", since the profession as a whole would be loath to admit that it occurs at all. I think that this denial has parallels with any individual or group that pretends that abuse isn`t really happening. For example, where there was abuse of children in the Catholic Church, denial was the biggest factor in the whole saga.

When we talk about an individual denying their guilt we see that they do so to protect themselves from punishment. Somehow "denial", they hope, protects their innocence. But why do members of a group protect each other? After all, why protect someone who might be guilty? The person protecting someone else isn`t guilty, so why trouble to shelter someone who is? How do they square this with their conscience?

Well, part of this may be to do with feeling that they cannot be sure that the person is guilty, maybe they want to believe that they are not guilty, and part of it this has to do with the connection and loyalty they feel for their colleagues.
Let`s look at this in regard to a priest: The priest may be a nice man, long serving in the church, he has many close friends...he may have done kindnesses for other clergy... This creates a loyalty and a feeling in others that they do not want to believe that he is guilty. In anycase, if they report him for suspected abuse, they may be impugning him by mistake and turn his life into a nightmare, not forgetting that to report him to the police will bring trouble for themselves: they may not be believed, their colleagues may turn against them, etc. In short, keeping shtum is the preferable option. The most important dynamic here though, is reciprocal loyalty within the group: If you protect a colleague, they will certainly protect you! Because of this,cases are rare where someone is brave enough to betray a colleague in the name of right.

This is broadly what happens in groups, it is all about group cohesion and group function and group survival. This very same mechanism will be in play in the medical profession when a doctor medically abuses a patient. Doctors simply don`t want to believe that some of their colleagues are misogynists and if they half see it, they turn a blind eye.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, where someone is guilty in regard to someone else, the compartmental conscience kicks in and there is activated a demonisation of the wounded party.(In cases of sexual abuse, this would involve making the child look guilty). The function of demonisation is to shift guilt from the abuser/ perpetrator onto the victim. This facilitates a concealment of guilt. When we observe this in regard to one-to -one relationships, the power of the guilt-shift is played out depending upon the power of the individuals concerned. That is, which one is weak, which one is strong; which one has endurance and which one doesn`t; which one is more forgiving,etc. The game-play ratchets up when one uses their own social or family group as an endorsement of their demonisation strategy. The person in this one-to-one battle, who has greater social skills, greater prowess at manipulating, will doubtless win the war when they recruit a group around them to support their position. It`s simple:a group has more power.

The same is true of doctors who medically abuse women: The surest way to hide what has happened is to demonise the woman, find concrete ways of showing that she is "mad" or "bad" and that therefore the doctor hasn`t done anything wrong at all!!! The simplest way to do this is with psychiatric diagnosis. When there is a psychiatric diagnosis attached to a female patient it becomes almost impossible for the medical abuse to be revealed. Of course, this is gross misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, but who would ever find out?

You might wonder how doctors manage their consciences, both to themselves and in regard to their colleagues.. Well, it`s our old friend the compartmental conscience !!! When a woman is medically abused and she is then demonised in order to hide what has occurred, the demonisation is the salve to the conscience. The doctor thinks, "well, this woman is an attention-seeker, or at least neurotic, and my colleague certainly has, therefore, done nothing wrong. It`s the woman`s fault." This way he shuts out the truth and carries on ethically with his other patients, with this woman-victim safely shut away in a bad box in his mind.

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