On Brainsuckers and Googlers

I read this article some time ago but there is something about it that keeps bugging me:

When the Patient Is a Googler

A woman walks into a doctor’s office with a knee problem. She is looking for a specialist to help sort it out. She dominates the conversation, she is distrustful and she has clearly done a lot of research on the topic. She’s also Googled him personally. The whole while she’s in the doctor’s office, her 4 year old son makes a huge mess and acts up providing an unpleasant backdrop to what he finds an already stressful scenario.

The doctor refers to her as a “brainsucker” and “queen of Googlers.” He feels a bit invaded by her Googling his personal life. He is clearly offended by the distrust he senses from her because, after all, he’s there to help. He also has little time for anything but the obvious medical diagnosis and cure which involves one to two surgeries and many months of recovery. The thought of going through this with her is more than he can bear.

So he lets her carry on for a while until he finds the right moment to get a word in then recommends another doctor. Bye Bye Mrs. Smarty-Pants.


It’s absolutely right that people should, when they have the option, choose to avoid people they know will cause them stress. She’s part of the 20% of the world that will cause him 80% of his work. She’s intense and he’s looking for an easier doctor-patient relationship. He wants someone who will let him get on with the job. And off course, he wants someone who will defer to his expertise.

But I can also empathise with this woman’s distrust. Perhaps she has suffered doctors who, as a first option, want to get their patients under the knife for some quality billable hours instead of exploring non-invasive and less expensive options. Maybe being the “brainsucker” that she is, she’s found that some physicians don’t keep up with the latest developments and technology and are unaware of some new alternative treatments. How would the likes of Jimmy Moore and co have fared only following the gospel of the experts?

About a year back I saw a great video by one such “brainsucker” by the name of Jerry Brunetti who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Jerry did his homework then went to see the specialist. The specialist said the only route to health was an expensive course of chemo therapy which would have lots of debilitating side effects and only a 60% chance of surviving 2 years. Jerry tried to discuss his research but was told in no uncertain terms that he was foolish to question the established truth with its appointed guardians.

Jerry walked out on the experts and proceeded to cure himself using his own application of the info he had gathered.

OK an anecdote is not statistical proof. But I guess when a doctor finds the distrustful brainsuckers walking into his office, he could do better than to write them off as a new-age pain in the ass.

Because if he does, then perhaps the distrust isn’t misplaced after all. Perhaps the very refusal to listen is what ultimately causes the divide.


3 thoughts on “On Brainsuckers and Googlers

  1. Oh! Maybe that’s what my primary physician thinks of me.

    I still don’t know what to do about her – I don’t love her, but I don’t hate her. What to do, what to do?

  2. I love how the anecdote has the doctor as male and the uppity patient as female. No sexism there, I’m sure. Western medicine is very patriarchal and damaging, and everyone knows boatloads of incompetent but unjustly arrogant doctors.

  3. Rienhoff bristled at Milewicz’s dismissive tone. “I remember thinking, ‘Who the fuck is this person?’ I have never been in a situation where it was so obvious that a doctor had contempt for the curiosity of her patients. It was striking how insensitive she was to their dilemma.”

    Such a prickly reaction is out of character for Rienhoff, a soft-spoken man who normally exudes an easy calm. But he has developed a cynical streak about doctors, especially those who are quick to dismiss inquisitive parents as nuisances. “Medicine in general is a slightly paternalistic activity,” he says. “You hear these stories about patients bringing in all sorts of information from the Internet and doctors being exasperated. And part of that is because there is so much they don’t know, and they’re supposed to be omniscient.”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s