Readers respond to Marie-Eileen Onieal's editorial "Who's Responsible?" from the April issue.
FIVE CHEERS FOR MARIE-EILEEN!
Thank you to Marie-Eileen Onieal for publicly verbalizing what a lot of us (most of whom are older than 55, I suspect!) have been feeling for years. To me, what she describes in her most recent editorial (Who’s Responsible? Clinician Reviews. 2012;22:cover, 4-5) is lack of accountability.
If you choose to believe the stories in the Bible, this little issue started with Adam saying, “She gave me the apple,” and Eve responding, “The snake made me do it.”
We all need to stand up and accept that we messed up ... but more importantly, to say how we are going to fix it.
Diane Ernst, ARNP, Decorah, IA
I am writing to applaud Marie-Eileen Onieal’s editorial on personal responsibility. I could not agree more!
I would add that many of these “addictions” or “disorders” are being treated with medication, thereby creating a society of overmedicated and irresponsible beings.
Many great people have overcome incredible circumstances to become remarkable contributors to society. I cannot accept that anything that you have been through is an excuse for how you behave. Thank you for an honest, thoughtful piece.
Jacqueline Angotti, ANP, Somerville, NJ
My chain-smoking father never once told me not to smoke. I never smoked (anything), because at a young age I decided I wanted a different life than his. Observing a friend’s alcoholic father, in a similar fashion, convinced me that I could and would live without that curse.
In my limited experience of more than 35 years of nursing, I would say clinical obesity comes to the top of the chart in examples of a “disease” being used to excuse behavior. Most individuals with a BMI in the “normal” range will readily acknowledge that they too have to make choices to keep themselves within a desirable range.
Teaching young people—and adults—the connection between choices and consequences is to a great degree the essence of patient education.
Jan M. Broad, RN, CNP, Duluth, MN
I agree wholeheartedly with Marie-Eileen Onieal: We need to hold people accountable for their actions. The idea of personal responsibility extends to patients with universally recognized conditions. Diabetic patients have a disease and must choose over and over again if they will “give in” to their desires.
I believe this learning process starts in childhood. Children have to be taught that there are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. I work in a public health department and frequently hear mothers “excuse” temper tantrums and other misbehaviors because the child is “tired.” I often ask the mother, “Aren’t you tired too? I’m tired, and I have to behave.”
Self-control does not come automatically. It has to be painfully molded.
Juanita Melko, RN, Camden, NC
I have felt for a long time that we are using improper terminology: Evil and sick are two different things. We need to start “calling as we see them.”
Evil people cannot blame their upbringing, or a TV show they watched, for their horrible actions. And we cannot go on blaming society for our poor health habits!
All too often we find excuses for everything, including our self-induced conditions. It is the government’s fault if there is not enough food-stamp money to buy healthy foods. It is the neighborhoods’ fault if our children cannot go out and play. It is the weather’s fault if we don’t go for a walk. We hear these excuses every day in our practice.
Marie-Eileen Onieal is absolutely right when she says we need to step up and take responsibility for our actions. In today’s society, we seem to be unable to tell the truth for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Thank you, Marie-Eileen, for being willing to speak the truth.
Kathleen Lauzon, FNP, Massena, NY