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LETTER: Cape Breton doctor gets vote of support

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

When I woke up on April 7, I felt so good that I started singing “Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!” to myself. Then I saw the top headline in the Cape Breton Post (“Hefty penalties proposed for Sydney gynecologist,” April 7) and that shattered that mood. Now I’m fighting back tears.

Last Thursday, Dr. Manivasan Moodley performed a hysterectomy on me, due to a condition that required the most invasive type of that procedure. His care has been excellent. He explains things clearly, is patient and open to questions. From the pre-admissions nurse’s briefing and the pamphlet on hysterectomy, I expected that I would see some blood after the surgery and would have staples or stitches closing my incision. Neither was the case; my incision is glued.

After decades of training and work in cognitive psychology, I have come to the conclusion that the single most important thing to understand about human behaviour is how enormously complex it is. When people interact, the complexity increases exponentially.

I think that all individuals involved in this case are accurately reporting their recollections. Memory processes are a good example of how complex our behaviour is – no two people can have exactly the same recollection of anything.

Before memory storage even begins, people differ in which aspects of the information they most notice and pay attention to. Things we don’t focus on never get into memory. As an individual processes information that will be stored, the form it takes is influenced by their unique perception of it. A host of factors affect that perception, including previous experiences, attitudes, prior memories, current emotional state and others that escape me now, due to my own emotional state.

Once memories are stored, that is far from the end of the process. Memories are modified over time and then we have to recall them. I won’t go into the intricacies of how we retrieve memories from the widespread, multi-dimensional, interwoven network of connections that make up that system.

Please forgive the cognitive psychology lesson, but I hope it might help people understand why a situation like this is anything but simple. Other factors, like gender and issues of authority and control, only add to the complexity. Besides, we all know that people are imperfect. I will always remember something I read long ago: “Never forget that no matter how long you live and no matter how hard you try, you will never stop making mistakes.” (source unknown)

As the panel works to make a decision that would challenge Solomon, I hope that they consider the potential impacts on women in this area who require ob/gyn care. Selfishly, I want my follow-up to be done by Dr. Moodley. I have complete confidence in his skills.

Joanne Gallivan

Sydney

(CBU Professor Emeritus of Psychology)

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