The Doctor Who Made People Sick

from Forty Fables by Adam Acidophilus

A deluded man decided to become a doctor – in spite of the fact that he knew little about the job.

“Nothing to it,” he told himself. “It is all a matter of confidence.”

Medicine, anatomy, physiology – all were mysteries to the man, who had never got further than attempting a superior tone of voice.

“Any fool can sit in an office all day,” he muttered. “Any idiot can say come in!”

“And besides,” he thought, “there is no such thing as disease.”

The deluded man purchased a white coat and a doctor’s bag. He rented a surgery, and nailed a brass plaque to the door. In no time his first patient had arrived.

“Doctor, I’ve got a terrible headache,” said the patient, a clerk.

“Oh no you haven’t,” said the deluded man – who couldn’t think of anything else to say.

The clerk left without receiving any further treatment, but by the evening his headache had gone – which was a total coincidence and nothing to do with the doctor.

“I am cured,” he remarked, nonetheless. “Who would have thought it? I must recommend this practitioner to my all friends and colleagues.”

Soon a second patient, an old soldier, arrived at the surgery.

“My back’s playing up,” he moaned.

“Oh no it isn’t!” said the deluded man – reasoning that if this method had worked once it would work again.

And though the old soldier’s back was indeed playing up, and he left the surgery in agony, he did nothing more about it, for he was stoical and proud – and penniless.

“How you feeling?” the poor old soldier’s old wife asked him when he arrived home a few hours later.

“A little bit better,” he lied.

“Well,” she opined, “that is almost certainly because of your new doctor.”

In the following weeks people flocked to the surgery – only to be told there was nothing wrong with them; and they limped and coughed and staggered their ways back home. For, though many were in pain, they were soothed by the deluded man’s superior tone of voice – and none of them could afford a second opinion.

“No you haven’t,” he would tell them.

“No you’re not,” he would sigh.

“No it isn’t.”

“No you can’t.”

“No such thing!”

He treated no one – he just told them to go away.

“And just how many of your patients get better?” people asked the man.

“All of them,” he quipped – for he was, indeed, terribly deluded.

Then one day a baker arrived at the surgery in an awful condition – trembling and shivering and sweating with a fever. “Doctor, Doctor, I’m terribly sick,” he whispered.

“Oh no you’re not!” said the deluded man – waving him away, without even bothering to look up from his paper.

Unfortunately, the baker had cholera and was dead by the following morning. His family succumbed later the same afternoon. Within a few days half the city was affected, and the mayor had declared an emergency. The deluded man was arrested and called to account.

“Our people are dropping like flies!” the wailed the mayor. “There are shortages of medicine and food. We have an epidemic, mass hysteria, and no outsiders will come close to our walls. And all because you pretended to be a qualified physician!”

“No I didn’t,” said the deluded man.

Moral: Some people always have an answer.

© Adam Acidophilus 1991