Fatal Attraction -1



When I was a Resident Medical Officer in ENT-OPD (Outpatients Department) a young lady was brought to me for examination for pain in the throat'. She was accompanied by her old father and a friend. After a thorough examination I did not find anything grossly wrong and I told the old man that she needed vitamins as she was frail. To my surprise the same old man came to my hostel room and said that the whole ‘drama' was performed to show me the girl, as I was an eligible bachelor! Needless to say I refused the proposal, but felt pity for the young girl who had to submit herself to such coercion by her parents.

This, I learnt later, was a regular ploy and many parents indulged in it to the embarrassment of the young doctors concerned. I know of an instance where a young girl kept attending the ENT-OPD, complaining of excruciating pain in the ear. She also used to attend the casualty in the evening. As a normal practice, the Casualty Officer on duty used to send a call to my House Surgeon. This was repeated every day for about four or five days. The Casualty Officer who was an elderly doctor began to get suspicious and one day, instead of calling my House Surgeon, sent for me and briefed me about the matter. The patient seemed somewhat taken aback on seeing me. I examined her and realised that she had no apparent ENT problem but she kept insisting on being treated only by the junior doctor. When I told her that the junior doctor was not available, she walked away, never again to return!

Junior resident doctors often receive anonymous love letters from members of the fair sex who attend our OPD. No one would take the trouble to trace the source of the letters as the doctors had enough on their plate to go on wild goose chases. However, on one occasion, a handsome doctor received a letter which said that the writer would love to meet him at a certain place and time. The letter caused quite a flutter. A couple of my junior doctors sought my permission to go and find out who the lady could be. Permission was granted. The two youngsters thereupon went to the place named. It turned out to be a school!-and stood at a respectable distance from the rendezvous. At the appointed time, a lady, very much in her forties, came on the scene and started looking around. My young friends having taken a good look at her, took to their heels and later reported the event to me in, I must add, great detail.

Next day we kept a watch at the OPD and sure enough the the lady, a teacher, made her appearance. She was discreetly pointed out to me. She had no specific complaints and we had to let her go. I could certainly take no action against my juniors who thought it was all a lark. Well all is fair in love and war!

Doctors have to beware of pity and of getting emotionally entangled with their patients. Let me cite a case.


A young girl was admitted to the OPD with severe burns. She tried to commit suicide. Normally burns patients are alert in their mind even though they are seriously ill. This patient was good-looking and intelligent. She told me that she had no desire to live. My job, however was to make her live and I would talk to her gently and affectionately to keep her morale up. This was misconstrued by her and she refused to be treated by any other doctor except me.

She came to be emotionally attached to me. At the end of the month I was shifted to another ward and the task of taking care of her fell to the lot of another doctor. When she realised that I would no longer be attending on her, she refused to take any food and started going downhill very fast. Not long afterwards I learnt that her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was dead.

Persons with 80 per cent burns don't often survive and so it was in this particular case. It reminded me of that excellent book written by Stephen Zweig entitled Beware of Pity. Zweig wrote about how a young Army Officer became the object of unrequited love from a girl affected by polio, who could only move in a wheelchair, because, he used to visit her often as she lived in the neighbourhood. A case, surely, of fatal attraction.