The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"I Can Be Wrong!"

Susan Howatch's character Lewis Hall: "Now just reflect on that sentence for a moment. Say to yourself quietly, calmly, intelligently: 'I CAN BE WRONG'"

I am reminded of my late grandfather, whose medical condition went undiagnosed, because his GP assumed that his memory lapses and befuddlement had to be Alzheimer's Disease. It wasn't; it was the result of a lifetime's work with asbestos and brick. But the doctor--no doubt well-meaning--assumed that what seemed true at the surface must be--that the easy answer was the right one.

The lesson I took from that, and which I have tried to take with me in every professional capacity, from public defender in criminal appeals to the present, is to look in the mirror every morning and say to myself, as Howatch's Lewis Hall advises, "I CAN BE WRONG." And to review every case from scratch.

Every professional whose work impacts the lives of others owes that to them, to try to resist complacency and self-regard smothering our doubts, and treating any case--any person--as routine. No case is routine for the client, the patient. They only have the one life, and we owe them our best work, and a healthy dose of self-doubt in our assessment. And as Trevor Howard almost ends Ryan's Daughter, "That's my gift to you--dat doubt!"

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