Ethics Rap Up


I know what you are thinking, and no, this isn’t a lyrical mash up of ethical dilemmas; this is my final wrap up of the past 5 weeks. We have covered morality, equality, torture, euthanasia and empathy and I will cover some areas that have opened my eyes and made an impact on my thoughts and feelings in this degree that is physiotherapy. Where to even start with this one?? I will discuss certain views of mine that have been changed during this module and if I have gotten what I thought I would out of this blog.

Although not life changing, this module has had a rather significant effect on my feelings towards certain aspects of how I look at and treat other people. Maybe the most important and vital aspect which I will definitely take from this cyber lecture is, if you don’t come with an open mind you won’t learn anything. You have to, have to, have to listen to others and take time to value their opinions. Whether this is a doctor, family member or a patient you are seeing. You aren’t in this profession for yourself; you’re there for other people. Being narrow or closed minded will be like being a stock broker who doesn’t look at the changing values of shares.

Out of the topics we spoke about, I connected most with equality. It is something that I find is extremely close to home when it comes to seeing patients. While seeing patients in this current block I have found myself reflecting on what I said in my blog. That fact that everyone deserves to be treated equally comes to mind. It has stuck with me and I feel it will for a long time. To always have it in your head means you will always be asking yourself if you are treating patients as equally as possible. This small post hits home. It brings you down to earth and makes you really appreciate how every human is that same, nothing more and nothing less.

The third aspect this module has allowed me to do that is not normally accounted for is the interaction that I have had with classmates and actual physiotherapists. To have had feedback and interactions with these people has kept me in check, allowed myself to view other angles of certain scenarios, learn more about the people I am spending 4 years with and a really big one which is the opinion of people in whose foot steps we are trying to follow. It has not only made it this module that much more real, but reminded me that this is the only profession for me.

Has this module met my expectations? I was very unsure at the start of this course about what I would really be able to get from it. I can easily say it has given me far more than I ever would have thought. Teaching myself, teaching others who are sometimes older than myself, learning from my fellow classmates and from doing general readings around the topics has been an amazing experience. I once thought to just be a free Wednesday to sleep in but being able to receive and give comments allows for an environment that helps people to learn, even if they don’t want to. It showed to me how easy learning can be outside the classroom or hospital.

To give my final thoughts, this module was highly educational. It opened my eyes to areas that did not really cross my mind in my normal day to day life. Call me boring but they never came to me as an issue to sit and dwell on, or have opinions and questions on. I look forward to continuing with this module in the future.




You’re probably thinking why I spelt euthanasia in such a weird way. With most of the topics we are given I jump to conclusions and have preconceived ideas of what it is actually about. With this week’s topic of euthanasia, I immediately jumped to the thought of an old individual lying in hospital motionless but still alive. I feel it gives a bit of a contradictory angle as it looks at youth and choosing to die. Well there is a morbid start to a blog if I have ever read on.

This topic is so diverse in terms of how different kinds of people see it. You can look at it from the point of view of the family that is going to lose their father, the religious follower who believes in God taking his course, the health professional with conflicting life views or the freedom fighter who believes that everyone should have the right to do as they please with their bodies. Where do I fall into this scheme of things? I think I am in two of the personalities there. The health professional who gets told all this pro life information, but at the same time believe that everyone has the right to live the life they want. Whether this means taking it or not then so be it.

To me, happiness in life is number one. Without happiness there is no point to life. Without happiness you will not have goals, ambitions or a want to even breathe. What would you want to live for? One answer could be the fact that you should want to live to find happiness.  While this is true in some situations such a matric student committing suicide because of stress and still having his whole life ahead, is it really true for someone who is stuck in their own body with no hope of ever being able to move? In the latter situation I believe that if the individual wants to take their lives they have the full right to. There is an organization in Switzerland called DIGNITAS. This organization helps people to die through assisted suicide. It is not as simple as it may seem and there are prerequisites to be eligible for this form of moving on. The point I am try to bring up with this is that in some places it is seen as acceptable to have euthanasia.

As a physiotherapist would I back euthanasia? This is a tough decision. As a health professional I would not promote it as a choice of “treatment”. As an individual though, situation depending, I would support it. I think that as long as it is done in a humane way and for the right reasons it is the only answer for a few individuals in the world. Is it an ideal choice? No, death is never going to be an ideal choice for someone, but it will be a choice that will give someone out there that last bit of independence as they get to choose what they wanted. The last bit of life they get to live for themselves, because living life is about making decisions. It will give them a small bit of happiness as it shows how people still have some respect for their wants and choices, and if in their situation, wouldn’t you want it to end that way?

This topic is very touchy due to people’s feelings about death. To make my view a clear one, I would only say euthanasia is acceptable when life for the individual is unliveable, when there is no point of taking that next breathe or when their life is just painful.

Here is a video from DIGNITAS. It shows the process of assisted suicide. It seems so simple for something that portrays itself as so complex.

Torture is so Last Century


Just to start off I thought I would like to give a bit of experience from my side. Being the youngest of 4 boys in my family, the first 10 years of my life were fuelled by torture. Tickling, wedgies, wet willies and the all time great sensation of nipple twisters were just an everyday occurrence. I am not sure if I had some kind of secret information, but my brothers definitely tried their best to get it out of me. If the CIA got their hands on me they would have their jobs cut out for them.
All jokes aside, what really defines something to be torture? Do you remember sitting in maths class on a Friday morning and thinking, “This is torture”?  I felt like that on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well.

When I let my brain marinade on the term of torture, I go straight back to the middle ages.  I think about people being stretched and drops of water being dropped onto their foreheads every 5seconds. Call me naive but the thought of torture in this day and age seems so out dated to me. Or is it the fact that you hear and see so much of it on the news and in the movies that it really doesn’t even register?

Is there ever a situation that will deem torture acceptable? Looking at the readings for this subject, it looked at the movie Zero Dark Thirty and the torture that was portrayed in the movie. In that situation it was the American military or CIA torturing a Middle Eastern individual for information. In that sort of situation, if you look back at what we spoke about with equality, it is not acceptable. If everyone is to be treated equally surely torture is unaccepted. But what if you look at a different situation that involves you and your family where your mother has been kidnapped and you have the kidnapper. Is it okay to torture this person to find the where about of your mother? If we are being honest, I wouldn’t think for a second before starting to torture the kidnapper. Does that make me someone that cares for his family or just another person who doesn’t treat people equally?

Although a big issue, I feel that torture is not something I am directly confronted with. It is something I see at a much higher level than just my individual life. To me, it’s in the army, the police force or amongst gangs. I don’t see myself having to decide whether torturing this person or not is a morally correct or not. It will always be there as long as there are secrets and middle men. To just have some clarity, I find torture unacceptable (even if I said I would do it) but somewhat an insignificant matter in my life. Am I being too narrow minded?


The Biggest Misconception to Hit Civilization

The biggest misconception to hit civilization is that everyone is treated equally. Make no mistake that I believe that everyone is equal. They are just not treated like this. This has been a topic that has always been around through the ages. Call me biased from growing up in a post apartheid South Africa, but I don’t see it leaving.

From women being treated as second best and only used for household chores, to blacks being sold as slaves, to gays not being able to be married, to Hitler and the Jews, I have never sat in a history class without hearing about discrimination. I’ve learnt about the concentration camps, about the ideal race and about the old South Africa. Has it really changed that much? In my eyes not enough.

The main experience I have had with discrimination is not even 2 months out of high school in the big wide world. No Mr. Emery, you may not attend this university because someone of a different race with worse marks than you must be accepted first. Cool. Good start don’t you think? I bring up this example now because it still comes up when I receive the question why didn’t you choose that university? Why the one you attend now? I have given many answers to those questions. Before I was born, South Africa was a hurricane of racial discrimination. These days I feel that the storm has passed, but the racial discrimination still lives. I speak mainly about SA because this is what I know and experience most days of my life.

I am a sporting person, I enter many events through the year and in every entry they ask me what race I am. Surely that doesn’t matter at all. I find a lack of equality around me all the time and so I have learnt to just live with it. I don’t even give it a second thought while when I experience something that is not like this I actually find it weird. I support equality 100% and consciously try and treat everyone I interact with the same because I don’t like being treated differently for something I don’t have control over. People need to look into their own actions and start to treat everyone equally before countries can start to think about moving towards a better and more equal world.Image

Would You Like a Cup of Morali Tea?

This second topic is a pretty big one. Morality, talk about getting heavy quickly. It took me sometime to try wrap my head around this topic and how I was really going to approach this blog post. The video this week was a lot to take in. Some points good old Teddy made were really interesting such as the different cultures and how they view women, but some sections of his speech went straight over my head. I think this shows the depth of a subject such as this and how far I still have to go to try understand it.  After some research and browsing through others posts this is where I find myself.

While trying to really touch base with the whole concept of morality in ethics I came across this quote, “The philosophy of morality is ethics”. Okay, I found this quote in wiki but I found it to be really interesting and it allowed me to get a base off which to work.

When thinking about morality and the parameters that surround it, or lack thereof, it allows you to see how subjective and individualistic it really is. Every person has different experiences and thoughts which mould their image of right and wrong. Every person lives in a different environment and is subject to random outcomes. This is why it is so hard to have a common set of morals. People who grow up in the same family will even have different sets of morals and they live together, never mind people from different cultures or countries.

Seeing patients alone for the first time this year has made this topic real life for a lot of us. I have had a few experiences where I found myself asking if what I was thinking about doing was right or wrong. What was compelling me to this decision? And how will it impact the patient? It becomes hard at times when what you think is right is not what is right for the patient. I would find it tough if to tell someone they are wrong when they only did what they knew because they were brought up that way. At the end of the day I believe everyone has the right to their own decision, but they must have the confidence in their decisions to allow others to criticize and lay out their point of view.

To end off, Umr said, “behaviour can only be understood within the context in takes place in”. I fully agree with this; but even when looking at the context, discrepancies will arise between different people. If we face the facts, there will never be a common set of morals, there will never be an ultimate global right or wrong, only what the individual find acceptable to him or herself at the time of the action. Image

Empathy in Health Care

I find this to be a very interesting and relevant topic as I see myself as a very empathetic person. I started studying this profession from an interest in helping others get better. I will try to explain my personal views on the role I think empathy plays within physiotherapy and experiences I have had in my very small amount of practical time in the following post.

“Empathy, on the other hand, is a learned skill or attitude of being, which can be used in the attempt to relate to, communicate with and understand others, the situations in which they live and the experiences and feelings they have”, SCIPS

“an individual may be more or less successful in empathising with another or others, and may be more or less inclined to use her ability to do so – depending, for example, on whether they feel responsibility for the other person”, SCIPS

ImageI feel that every physiotherapist should be showing some degree of empathy towards their patients. This is because without the understanding of a person’s discomfort you can’t give a service that will be adequate to their needs. Saying this is all fine and well but what if you become too attached to the patient? When does it stop becoming a professional service and start crossing the boundaries in pure emotional connections?
I think that these lines that one must start to draw with patients is not something that can be taught, but rather something that only starts to appear with time and experience. It will vary from every physio and every patient they see.

I was lucky enough to treat a patient in Tygerberg who had a very positive and motivated attitude. He had a fun loving personality and enjoyed a good laugh so we got on pretty well. I saw him every day for around 4 weeks and he worked hard and I was able to see great improvement from day to day. He didn’t have a lot of visitors so I spent extra time with him having a chat after a session and popping by to say hello when seeing a patient in the same ward. It showed me how good it was to have a solid relationship with a patient as it lead to him trusting me with everything we did. It also showed me just how easy it is to go beyond the professional relationship to something that could be deemed as crossing the boundaries. These “boundaries” still need to be explored by myself in order to know where I really stand.

To close off I think that empathy is a necessity but it has to be kept in short dosages to prevent it from causing a negative effect. Like too much sugar causing diabetes, like too much morphine causing addiction, like too much sun causing cancer or like too much blogging causing a headache.

Who am I?

Hi,my name is Adam Emery and I am a blogging virgin.

I am 21 years of age and am currently in my 3rd year of studying physiotherapy at the Univeristy of the Western Cape. I have set this blog up for an ethics module we will be completing in the next year.

A little about me. I am a very sporty person. I enjoy cycling and running and have done a few triathlons. I went to SACS from grade 1 to 12 and then straight into university. I am the youngest out of 4 boys and I have lived in Cape Town my whole life.

I will be adding weekly posts on ethical problems that may be faced in our future as physiotherapists.