The Parable of the Painful Patient


There once was a man who developed severe abdominal pain. He tried the normal remedies but nothing seemed to help. So he got on the Internet and began to look up information about his symptoms. Based on his reading he decided that his pain was being caused by appendicitis.

He went to the doctor and told her that he had appendicitis and needed an immediate appendectomy. The doctor performed some standard tests. “Appendicitis can sometimes be very difficult to diagnose until it becomes severe,” she said. So the doctor had the man undergo an ultrasound. But the results were inconclusive. The doctor hypothesized that the pain might be caused by an intestinal virus and sent the man home with some pain medication.

But the pain didn’t stop.

The man was convinced that it must be appendicitis. He posted some messages in online forums and several people who had suffered appendicitis said that his pain sounded exactly like what they had experienced.

The man returned to the doctor and demanded an appendectomy.

“We will perform some more tests,” said the doctor.

When the test results came back, the doctor called the man, who was still in terrible pain. “Our tests show that you have a Streptococcus bacterial infection– more commonly called Strep Throat.”

The man was incredulous. “That’s ridiculous,” he replied. “My throat doesn’t hurt! It’s my appendix! I’m going to die unless I get an appendectomy!”

“Sometimes strep causes abdominal pain. An appendectomy won’t solve the problem,” said the doctor. “What you need is antibiotics.”

“Antibiotics?!” screamed the man. ‘You told me earlier that it was a viral infection and the pills you gave me didn’t do anything! You were wrong then, why should I trust you now?! You’re just one of those doctors that over-prescribes antibiotics for everything and helps ruin their effectiveness by creating superbugs. I’ve read all about it on science news websites and on television!”

The man stormed out in a huff.

The doctor took out her notebook and wrote, “Even though the pain is authentic, it doesn’t qualify the one in pain to correctly diagnose its cause nor does it mean that the remedy he demands is correct.”

See also:

The Parable of the Offensive Remedy



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2 Responses to The Parable of the Painful Patient

  1. richalger

    Update your post with a link to the Offensive Remedy post.

  2. Metatron

    This post makes me think of teenagers who often accuse their parents of ruining their lives when rules are expected to be obeyed. They sometimes will accuse their parents of inflicting all sorts of “harm” upon them. I find this same accusation being used by progressive LDS who advocate for same-gender marriage, women’s rights, and other egalitarian ideals. Invariably they will accuse the church or the apostles of causing them (or those whom they love) some sort of “harm”.

    However, whether or not restricting a teenager to an early curfew or restricting priesthood keys to men is truly causing harm requires more than a subjective outcry of pain or unfairness on the part of those who are being restricted in some manner. Like the patient, we all are susceptible to misdiagnosing the cause of our own spiritual or emotional sorrow.

    As Nephi explained, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:2). It might be appropriately interpreted as “the guilty perceive the truth to cause them “harm”. I’m sure Laman and Lemuel could make quite the list of grievances against their younger brother and accuse him of causing them all sorts of harm. But we see from the very beginning that Nephi didn’t usurp their authority; it was the Lord who called him to be a ruler and a teacher over them. I suspect most of their feelings of indignation, hurt, or betrayal were not caused by Nephi. Rather they inflicted it upon themselves by believing Satan’s lies. They caused themselves “harm” because they would not yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.

    The Natural Man always accuses the Spiritual Man of causing him “harm”. I suppose this was the outcry against God the Father from the very beginning. Lucifer probably argued something to the effect: “Look what he is asking us to do! Look how unfair his plan is. Look how much sorrow and pain he is asking us to undergo. Look how much “harm” he is planning to inflict upon us.”

    I believe the only trustworthy diagnosis of “harm” can be given by the Spirit of Christ. He is the ultimate physician and he delivers his remedies through his living prophets and apostles. We would do well to heed their words.

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