Purging the Inner Critic
by Akira Shishido
I recently conversed with a friend of a friend at a bakery specializing in diabetes-inducing pastries. In the course of our conversation, she transitioned from talking about how she hates exercise to how she hates the democratic administration and doesn't want to pay for other people's health problems. I felt my debate receptors flare.
I suffer from a familial form of Hyperactive Battle Response (HBR) that is often triggered by hypocritical statements and poorly-reasoned opinions. Her position reminded me of a quote from John Knowles; that "one man's freedom in health is another man's shackle in taxes." Now that health care is a communal responsibility, she is waging a personal war of defiance.
I took a moment to rein in my body's physiologic response. I did this because I realized that I had once again succumbed to my own hypercritical tendencies (something I am trying to purge in my journey towards becoming a doctor). I figured that anything I said indicating my point of view would not contribute to any real change in her behavior or perspective and that it could potentially make the interaction unpleasant. Additionally it is often hard for me to tell when my thoughts are judgmental versus objectively observational. I exited the conversation to go to the gym, leaving the issue untouched.
I have made an effort to quell the inner-critic that, as a dominant alpha male, I've acquired from years of competition and conflict. But in some cases, maybe my HBR could be a good thing. I support the mindset that everyone should take responsibility for his or her own health. However, if America expects to see true improvements in health, not just health care, we must make a serious effort to adopt preventative health measures and address the root causes of bad health in America: poverty and poor education. When addressing the health of the nation, one ultimately addresses the well-being and security of the nation. If you disagree, you're a terrorist.
Therefore, in the meantime, I'll treat this argument as a doctor's request for me to speak my mind in the name of personal health. Next time my debate receptors flare, I'll be ready. I won't consider it tactless criticism; I'll consider it Health Justice.
 Knowles, John. "The Responsibility of The Individual." Doing Better and Feeling Worse: Health in the United States. Journal of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, March 1978.
 Or Perhaps my HBR is acting up
 The CORRECT point of view
 Again HBR
 Keep Reading.
 You're not a terrorist are you?
 Yes I'm serious.