When does “eliciting a response using pain” turn into sadism? While working in the Emergency Department in the ’90s, I would sometimes perceive an apparent vindictiveness in the actions of colleagues—and occasionally recognized within myself—born of tiredness, frustration, or a sense of being manipulated by a patient. At these times I suppose I had a feeling that the patient deserved some form of “payback” for acting the way they did. Some health care workers are saints—I am not, and clearly my colleagues were not either.
As professionals, I feel it is our duty to acknowledge our less than noble instincts and motivations—the better to modify and monitor our own behavior. I like Sol Stein’s dictum: Writers write about the things that others only think about. I would extend that to alternative or underground comics, which has a radical history of tackling issues rarely dealt with in other media.
DR. THOM FERRIER is a British comics artist and a former general practitioner, now working in sexual health.