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A Piece of My Mind
May 28, 2008

In Defense of Phobias

JAMA. 2008;299(20):2368. doi:10.1001/jama.299.20.2368

Growing up in a family filled with physicians, I was often tested with the following question: What do you call a Jewish boy who does not like the sight of blood? The answer: a lawyer. While I hope that I have not been too adversely impacted by both the gender and ethnic stereotypes that the joke relies on, like many jokes it touches on a sensitive topic: phobias and medical care. Poking needles into body cavities and threading tubing up or down or into a body part: these are not “normal” behaviors. And they carry with them attendant risks. Why shouldn't they be accompanied by some degree of fear, for both the “perpetrator” and the recipient?