#2. The Shining -- The Children's Doctor Who Ignores Obvious Child Abuse
In The Shining, Jack Nicholson is Jack Torrance, a would-be novelist who slowly loses his mind while working as the caretaker in a haunted hotel and ends up chasing his wife and psychic-powered son with an axe -- all of which could have been avoided if the doctor who examined the kid at the beginning of the movie hadn't dropped the ball.
This is what happens when you hire a pediatrician through Craigslist.
Before the family moves to the hotel, there's a scene where the kid, Danny, is brushing his teeth when he gets a psychic vision of a hotel lobby being flooded with blood (which is a metaphor for what's about to happen, or maybe he's flossing way too hard). Danny blacks out after his vision, and in the next scene we see him being examined by a doctor, who assures his mother, Wendy, that there's nothing physically wrong with him.
One of the movie's many mysteries: Why exactly did she make him drop his pants?
However, the doctor also finds out that, before passing out, Danny was talking to his imaginary friend, Tony. When she asks him if Tony ever "tells him to do things," Danny says he doesn't want to talk about it (which usually means "Yes, all the time").
OK, so the kid just blacked out and hears voices that may or may not tell him to do stuff: That's gotta be in a book somewhere, right? Still, the doctor seems satisfied with Danny's refusal to elaborate and tells Wendy that the whole thing is perfectly normal.
"He's just traumatized because we only buy teddy bears with rape eyes."
At this point, the doctor stumbles upon an important piece of information that she proceeds to completely ignore: When they're talking, Wendy nervously admits that Danny started talking to his imaginary friend after her husband came home drunk and dislocated the kid's arm. She's quick to point out that he doesn't drink anymore, but why isn't the doctor more concerned by the revelation that child abuse has been going on in this household? Colorado state law demands that physicians report that sort of thing as fast as possible, but apparently she never got around to it.
"Little shits have it coming."
Combine this with the fact that Danny mysteriously passed out right after learning that he would be spending the next few months stranded in an isolated hotel with an abusive alcoholic father and a mother who makes excuses for him. How does that not warrant at least a quick call to Child Protective Services? Is there any chance that she heard about what happened later and didn't think "Yeah, totally saw that coming"?
By the way, if this scene sounds unfamiliar, that's because it was cut from international versions of the movie ... presumably because Stanley Kubrick figured it was more realistic if Wendy simply didn't call a doctor after her kid passed out.
Yet, she is not the worst medical professional on this list ...
#1. Shutter Island -- The Psychiatrist Who Tries to Cure a Patient ... by Making Him Crazier
At the end of Shutter Island, Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Teddy Daniels, finds out he's not really a U.S. marshal sent to investigate a crime in a mental hospital, but a patient at said hospital being allowed to live out his delusion as a form of therapy. This was the brilliant idea of Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), a respected professional who clearly has no clue what he's doing.
"But I have a bow tie! How ... how could I have a bow tie and be wrong?"
Cawley's plan is to let Teddy, a mental patient so dangerous that the other doctors are recommending a lobotomy, roam freely around an island filled with other mental patients while pretending to be a government agent -- which shockingly turns out to have its downsides. For example, Cawley lets him interrogate other patients as part of his mock investigation, and at least one of those interrogations ends with a patient having a nervous breakdown.
And we already know how they deal with problem patients in this hospital.
Add this to the mental stress that the patients had to go through when they were told by their own doctors to lie by pretending to not recognize Teddy and memorize a series of answers for his questions. The plan also involves having all the guards and orderlies stop their jobs for extended periods of time in order to play along with Teddy, leaving even more patients unattended.
"We're getting this as overtime, right?"
Everything Teddy does comes at the detriment of the other patients (from going into a restricted area and abusing isolated patients to forcibly sedating one of their doctors), but what exactly makes him more important than them? Even if it worked, was this highly unlikely plan to cure one guy really worth causing regressions in dozens of others?
Even worse, at one point Teddy knocks out a guard on the coast (which could have killed him if he had hit his head on the rocks) and takes his gun, which turns out to be empty of bullets in anticipation of the attack. This means that at some point, Cawley or someone had to say to the guard, "Hey, can you stand by these rocks holding an empty gun so that a dangerous patient coming down from an antipsychotic drug can attack you?"
"Of course, I mean, what else are you paying me for?"
And we're not kidding about the antipsychotic part: At the end, Cawley reveals that the headaches, shaking and hallucinations Teddy has been experiencing throughout the movie are the result of him being off his meds. So in order to cure him, they were actually making him crazier. But of course it was all worth it, because in the end the elaborate, dangerous ruse completely failed to cure him in any way.
If you want to you can follow Daniel on Twitter.
For more heroes who should've picked a different career, check out 6 Video Game Heroes Made Useless By Supporting Characters and 6 Movie Heroes Who Actually Made Things Worse.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Sad Twist Ending of the Most Heroic Video of the Week.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see what Swaim's psychiatrist is doing to his mind.
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