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Medicine is a healing and societal profession

January 4, 2014
By C. Paul Martin, M.D. , Marshall Independent

Our personal and interactional history is often a platform for growth and improvement in ourselves and our society. Often these esoteric thoughts are difficult to appreciate and present to ourselves and others.

While the popular media, especially television, can perform this role, it often fails to execute its objectives save for some recent notable examples.

Last Sunday featured a Christmas Special to introduce and promote the continuing PBS series Call the Midwife. This third series of stories from Jennifer Worth's three books describes her experiences as a nurse-midwife in war-torn London's East End slum of Popular.

Although the books are enjoyable, well written, factual, personal, and engrossing, the television depictions are perhaps a bit dramatic, but one can certainly empathize with the situations and experience their emotional aspects.

The stories will undoubtedly significantly involve you and fellow adult viewers. Optimally, the earlier two series should be viewed for background information, but plan to enjoy each new episode this winter. You will appreciate the vocations of the healing professions and yourself as never before.

Call the Midwife has now exceeded Downton Abbey in popularity in the United Kingdom. Thus, a previous column about the programs follows for your review

Senior citizens are often unduly characterized with the phenomenon of nostalgia, the "emotional longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy associations," (New Oxford American Dictionary). However, all of us should realize that nostalgia and nostalgic stories often play a significant depictive role in our lives, even in the entertainment media, especially as seen in recent months.

Movies of the 40s and 50s are frequently featured on PBS and TCM. Newly produced films and programs feature celebrities and stories of that era such as Liberace, Jackie Robinson, the Dust Bowl and Prohibition. And who doesn't have an interest in a new or historical World War II classic?

These entertainment aspects of nostalgia may reflect more historical interest that a "wistful affection." Many times the events portrayed are not associated with a happy occasion but one of personal involvement or crisis. Psychologists believe we have happy and pleasant thoughts about nostalgic events because we have repressed or forgotten the negative aspects of the incident. In other words, we remember and enjoy the positive aspects while we push the negative thoughts into our subconscious memory.

Although I spend a few hours weekly enjoying television, I have noticed how much medical nostalgia has occurred during some shows, whether they be dramatic, historical, cultural, or socially oriented. The periods of pre-World War I Britain (Downton Abbey), the Golden Age (Agatha Christie), World War II Britain (Foyle's War), and 1950s London (Call the Midwife) have features in varying degrees, depicting the contemporary medical care present during these times. While I notice considerable use of "poetic license" taken with these medical events (Elementary is notable), I certainly could identify with aspects of medical care shown on several of the programs. Many of the procedures and occurrences of these periods were the ordinary and routine care when I entered the medical profession in the 1960s.

It is nostalgic, enlightening, and pleasant to see how much the modus operandi of medical care has improved in 50 years!

Thus, one can "sit back" and enjoy the shows, in some ways knowing the end results of some of the actions cited. Of course, often it is fun to constructively criticize the development of the plots of these programs with the benefit of hindsight, knowing full well that the practice of medicine 50 years in the future will evaluate our contemporary efforts with a nostalgic and critical eye.

Television is often criticized as having a lack of substance, an avoidance of the real world, an escapeUse your television time to stimulate learning experiences and educationaland nostalgic opportunities for yourself and your children.



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