There seems to be quite a buzz in chiropractic about confrontation. As in confrontational tolerance; specifically the ability, willingness or emotional fortitude to volitionally elevate the tension in the doctor/patient relationship. When you Google “confront” you get synonyms such as to “oppose,” “accuse” or to “criticize.”
And this is somehow a desirable trait?
I’m guessing that people who advance the notion that practice success is the result of confronting patients are good at it. In fact, they are so good at it they can fill hotel ballrooms with those who lack it and apparently want it. It’s easy to look down one’s nose at those who lack certain gifts, whether it be organizational skills, intellectual prowess or the ability to bully patients into doing something for their own good.
And isn’t that really what confronting patients is all about? If you believe that the “ends justify the means” you can embrace all kinds of tactics that use your social authority or personal power to overrun the doubt, reluctance or financial resources of a patient. This is such an unattractive, reprehensible behavior I’m not sure where to begin. This is what it takes to be successful in chiropractic? Yuck.
Besides being the ultimate expression of mistrusting patients, using your power as a doctor to compel patients to act in a particular way is as pathetic as the comb-over neighbor for whom winning at tennis is so important he arranges to play the seven year-old next door who is unable to even return his serves. In short, you make the interaction about you, instead of the patient. So much for humble servanthood.
But that’s not all. When you have such a fundamental mistrust of patients and the decisions they make, I’m sure you reveal your misgivings in other ways. The most profound is probably a sense of isolation that comes from your healthier-than-thou mindset. You feel unappreciated. Misunderstood. Like the haranguing parent, the unreasonable taskmaster or the demanding boss, you tend to push others away with a self-righteousness that chills the air. You win the battle, but lose the war.
If the ability to confront is the key to practice, then how do you explain what the little man in India did that brought down the British empire? Or the effectiveness of Martin Luther King?
Turns out, what you resist, persists. Your resistance to the sovereignty of each patient and his or her free will choices actually serves to create more resistance. And resentment. When you insist on being the boss, you tend to attract people who want to be bossed. Which is a high stress practice whose size is limited by your ability to meddle in the lives of those who show up. It’s not exactly the stuff that prompts enthusiastic referrals or a celebratory return of inactives.
Confront evil. Confront a defiant teenager who lies. Confront your fears. But confronting patients is a luxury few chiropractors can afford.