Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

All arguments are not created equal

Not all arguments are worth having. My daughter had a bad night’s sleep last night, and a late-night tantrum. I was reminded that you can’t have an argument with a preschooler. Here’s how it works if you try:

Adult: It’s the middle of the night. Hop into bed, please.

Child: Go away. You leave me alone!

Adult: C’mon. Hop into bed. It’s all dark outside. It’s really late

Child (running around the room): Leave me alone! Leave me alone! You go! I don’t like you! You get out!

The child always wins because they don’t argue by the same rules. They see no value in proving a point, or rebutting, or even offering different arguments.

This all made me think about medical work. Just because we want to discuss, inform, enable or advise, doesn’t mean we can. Relationships are two-sided. In order to “achieve” an adequate discussion, you need the other person to have the emotional and intellectual ability to participate. Achieving “informed consent” requires that the patient be logical, and able to understand risks and probabilities, and emotionally able to consider their health in a balanced way. For elective surgery, that is achievable. For emergency, or even elective cancer surgery, it is close to a dream.

I would never advocate that we shouldn’t try, or that it is pointless. But midnight tantrums just taught me how much I am kidding myself.

4 responses to “All arguments are not created equal”

  1. Ann O'Dyne says:

    Big Mistake!: “it’s dark outside” might better be “all the birds are asleep, and all the other kids are asleep”; but never mind toddlers – one cannot argue with dumb adults either.

    I am sure you never watch All Saints, but I hope you got a laugh out of Grey’s Anatomy.

    peace and love

  2. Cris says:

    @Ann O’Dyne: Totally. At least I have come to this realisation before summer starts. Now dealing with the incredible-toddler-30-min-before-dawn-wakeup-alarm.

    Maybe if I concentrate on my non-arguments with my toddlers, I will get better at dealing with non-arguments with adults!

  3. Angelica says:

    And there is what some alternative? 😉

  4. Cris says:

    @Angelica: I guess that is a good point. Sometimes you have to deal with discussions the best you can. But it is worth remembering that some arguments can’t be logical.

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