Silence in Black Man in a White Coat

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  • #1044
    groc
    Participant

    What I found interesting in our final lecture was the tentative drawing or a distinction of being ‘silent’ and being ‘silenced’. Especially as the focus of our course throughout the semester has been on illness narratives and the sharing of personal experiences, I think it’s important to acknowledge circumstances in which this is not possible or when it doesn’t occur. In discussing the scene where 19-year-old Leslie loses her baby, the silence shared by the medical professionals was emphasized. I think it’s also important to remember what she couldn’t articulate: that her illness experience was a culmination of her existence in each sphere of the social ecological model of health. While Tweedy does acknowledge and elaborate on this perspective, what’s most interesting in my opinion is that Leslie is mostly silent. She isn’t the one to talk about her incredibly heartbreaking upbringing, she isn’t the one to talk about interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships affect her health. Was this because she was being silent, or being silenced? In reading this passage, I came to the conclusion that she was silenced, but maybe not on purpose. It’s possible that Leslie felt or even expected judgement from the healthcare professionals treating her, and therefore thought her comments would be regarded as petty excuses for her and her baby’s condition. It’s even possible that Leslie thought her care team wouldn’t understand, as they likely come from much different backgrounds. Although Tweedy did later reflect on his personal biases and assumptions about the woman, as well as those of healthcare professionals, I think the story lacks how these assumptions affected Leslie’s illness experience.

    #1048
    wshuford
    Participant

    I think the way you applied the difference between being ‘silent’ and ‘silenced’ here was excellent. This reading of the clinical situation reveals how it is not only important to understand what is said, but also what is not said. I agree with your verdict of Leslie having been silenced. This reading displays the incredible nuance of navigating the clinical environment especially when considering the ways in which implicit bias may inform what we do or do not perceive.

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