The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Guest Column

April 12, 2014

Not the 'most perfect village' for the mentally ill


There is a medical practice in Oneonta, a group of doctors (whom I will not name) whose office bears a small and unassuming plaque awarded to them by an international organization of physicians, for their “unselfish service to humanity.” Merely to read those words is inspiring.

Apparently a critical mass of psychiatrists do not want to practice in a rural region with widespread, generational poverty. I see this as a sign of diminishment _ not shortage of capital, but a shortage of the spirit of service and concern. Without a greater reserve of these intangibles, we are a poor society indeed.

Mentally ill persons do not acquire their affliction through bad attitudes or moral weakness or any other fault of their own. Most often, it is a mysterious interplay of biology and personal history. Helping such persons could be the most rewarding work a physician can undertake. The time when those training to be doctors, and those seeking employment, choose to serve some of society’s most vulnerable cannot come soon enough.

And I wish to point out something that has confounded me over the years _ how can any place be “most perfect”? Either you are perfect, or you are not.

Shirley O’Shea is a contributor to The Daily Star.

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