I love my readers for so many reasons, but one of them is that they leave intelligent and interesting comments on my posts. This one caught my eye:
. . . in my experience anytime you challenge a p-doc they try to attribute it to a symptom such as paranoia or delusions of grandeur. So my question is how to talk back to a doctor when you don’t agree with him if you are as knowledgeable as you obviously are without that happening or is it a lost cause?
(Ever think a doctor has delusions of grandeur? Just saying…)
I do not think it’s a lost cause. I talk to my doctor like a colleague all the time, but it is tricky.
When You’re Smarter Than Your Doctor
Well, OK, I don’t know whether I’m “smarter” than most doctors but I am more informed. Recently I asked about a supplement that has promising study behind it and no one in the psychiatry department had ever heard of it.
Consequently, the doctor rather wrote it off. Which wasn’t acceptable to me. So I brought in the study information and we discussed it. I can’t say she jumped onboard, but she did find some information for me which allowed me to make a decision about it.
I Bring the Evidence
So I think there are two keys to what happened:
- I approached the subject softly, deferring to the doctor’s authority
- When I wasn’t happy, I brought in hard science
So first off, I think it’s important to let the doctor know you respect him (or her) and respect his education. He did go to a lot of trouble to get it, after all, and no matter what you do, you are never going to have the background knowledge of a psychiatrist (unless, you know, you are one).
And this means being kind to their ego. No matter how right you think you are, you might not be, so it’s about engaging the doctor in conversation and not about convincing him you’re right. If you’re right, the conversation will bear that out.
Secondly, if you’re not happy with the outcome, don’t get mad, get even. Has he facts? You get some facts too. Bring in printed material to discuss. If you disagree, there must be a reason why you disagree so you have to explore that. Get the doctor to fully explain his reasoning. He may know something that overrides your research. That’s OK. That’s what talking to him is all about.
Why or Why Not? That is the Question
Because I think differing opinions come down to fully expressing why they are held. Why do you think the way you do? Why does he think the way he does? Can you come to an understanding? Can you compromise? Should you defer to his knowledge?
Now it’s true, the doctor may not want to fully explain why they feel the way they do.
As long as you’re paying them, that’s their job. It’s their job to explain themselves. It’s their job to answer your questions. They work for you.
Understanding that, it is your job to be professional about it. You can’t throw a fit just because they disagree. You have to work with them, not against them. Try what they want and evaluate the outcome. Don’t disagree just because you can. This is a relationship you’re building. Treat it with care. And over time it will become easier as the doctor comes to trust you and your opinion more.