Doctors’ dark side

Doctors are in a position of great power, controlling the health of their patients. We’ve all met medics who regard themselves as demi-gods, their opinions never to be questioned, their decisions to be instantly implemented by their juniors. My mother used to work in a hospital where the consultants would not even acknowledge the existence of secretaries and suchlike when they met in the lift.

The vast majority of doctors, of course, go good. But what happens when that desire to heal turns dark? Two of those arrested over the weekend terror attacks are doctors and recent reports say as many as seven of those involved work in the medical profession.

The news that educated professionals are involved in terror seems to have caused surprise among media commentators. But there has always been a dark side to doctors. Doctors were disproportionately represented in the Nazi party, and carried out hideous experiments in the camps.

During the Yugoslav wars some of the worst warlords were doctors. Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader wanted for genocide, was a psychiatrist. (Practicing in Sarajevo before the war he advised one man having trouble with his wife to beat her more). Milan Babic, the leader of the Croatian Serbs, who committed suicide in his cell at The Hague, was a dentist. Klara Mandic, the founder of the Serb-Jewish friendship society and a close associate of Karadzic and Milosevic was also a dentist.

Islamic radical doctors seek to ‘heal’ society as a whole. Dr Abdel al-Rantissi (who succeeded Sheikh Yassin as leader of Hamas) studied medicine at Alexandria University. Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of Al-Qaeda is a qualified surgeon. George Habash, founder of the PFLP, was also a doctor (although as ‘get it right’ points out in the comments Habash was not an Islamic radical) .

Anyway, physicians, heal thyselves.

Hat tip: Tom Gross