Experts

Imagine this scenario.

You are a university student and your professor, in the middle of a lecture, suddenly gets weak in the knees. Clutching his chest in pain, he sinks into his chair. The professor has a history of heart problems and have endured multiple cardiac arrests in the past. Knowing this, you try to get him to a cardiologist as quickly as possible. It is then that you meet the following people.

A graceful elderly woman walks in and asks you what happened. She smiles and starts airily, “Don’t worry. I’m a doctor,” which isn’t untrue — she is a practicing dermatologist. “I’ve survived cardiac arrests before. A couple of my relatives had heart problems too. I can help, let me talk to the patient.”

An aerobics trainer comes by. “It’s just a matter of having a healthy body and a healthy heart. Here, let me talk to him, maybe we can start a fitness program from tomorrow which will get him to good health in no time.”

A well-dressed, gentleman says, with a genial expression, “I know a really good Ayurveda practitioner nearby. He is well-known for heart and lung diseases.”

The professor’s wife comes running. She’s panicky at first, but quickly regains composure and says, “No, he’s all right, really. Let me take him home. A couple of days with me will do him good. There’s a doctor whom we’ve been seeing; maybe we will go see him a couple of days later.”

By this time, someone has contacted and dragged in another doctor — a crisp, stern faced, middle-aged man who specializes in liver and kidney disorders. He takes one look at the patient and says, “You should take him to a cardiologist immediately. There’s little I can do here. Be quick, do not waste time.” Saying this, he walks away without a second glance.

Which of these advices do you think makes sense? Whom are you likely to take seriously and whom are you likely to judge as an idiot? Remember that every second may be making the patient’s condition more and more critical.

Now reimagine the same situation with cardiac arrest replaced by a severe depressive episode, and the cardiologist replaced by a psychiatrist. Would we react differently to each of these individuals?

Should we?