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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

In Practice

Why patients don’t always follow doctor’s orders

Medicine, as physician and literary scholar Abraham Fuks has pointed out, often borrows language from the military. Patients “battle” cancer, which “invades” bodily tissues, hoping for a “magic bullet.” Similarly, doctors, unlike lawyers, architects, and accountants, give “orders.” The implication seems to be that while a person who rejects advice from any other sort of professional is a discriminating consumer, someone who fails to follow a doctor’s orders is foolish, self-destructive, or even insubordinate.

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