The Different View

Whatever Happened to MYOB in Health?

Believe it or not, there was a time when MYOB was a more ubiquitous acronym than WTF. But it seems that we are presently more apt to express dismay at the behavior of others than to advise someone to mind their own business. Especially in health, MYOB seems to have disappeared from our vocabulary.

Oddly enough, the virtue of tolerance doesn’t have such a solid place in popular culture when it comes to health-related behaviors. Perhaps the value we place on diversity is not so uniform or we presume that it doesn’t apply in all circumstances.

Tolerance was once extolled as a moral virtue, but it seems to have fallen out of favor since the early 1990s.

Frequency of Tolerance in English Language Books

The Essential Value of Medical Autonomy

In particular, we see people having difficulty with a core concept of medical ethics. Medical autonomy calls for people to respect a person’s fundamental right to make decisions about their own health. Yet we more often see concern trolling with respect to health than we see respect for medical autonomy. It’s especially common with respect to perceptions about obesity.

It also works in perverse ways. Some people who purport to promote ideas about health regardless of body size want to tell others that they are wrong to think obesity is affecting their health. Some of them even say that no form of treatment for obesity should ever be an option. Respect for medical autonomy? Not much.

Diseases Undermine Autonomy

Having a disease often undermines a person’s autonomy. We value the advice of health professionals and the support of loved ones whom we trust to genuinely care about us. In the Journal of Medical Ethics, Bjørn Hofmann offers us a very uncomfortable conclusion:

“Disease involves transformative experiences in ways that can reduce people’s rational decision-making ability and undermine the basic principle of respect for autonomy and the moral rule of informed consent. While such cases are limited, they are crucial for medical ethics and health policy and deserve more attention and further scrutiny.”

In short, if we know that obesity is a disease, all of us have a duty to understand the impact this has on a person’s dignity and autonomy. Whatever we might each feel about this or any other condition, MYOB is a good rule of thumb when it comes to someone else’s health

Click here for Hofmann’s paper.

The Different View, portrait of David Bowie by Ines Zgonc, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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June 6, 2023