The Issue of Abuse of Power


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The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls, the darkness present in the deepest corners of our mind, but to be truly evil is when you’ve given in without knowing. The use of force is the worst solution for any problem and is usually only used by corrupt nations and young children. The doctor in The Use of Force is a negative example of an empowered authority figure in society because he broke his oath as a doctor to not do any harm.

Just because there is an opportunity to abuse power, it does not mean it should be taken. Not to mention, to physically and verbally abuse a child when under the trust of her parents is something that should not occur in any situation. The doctor himself admits, “I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her”. When someone attacks someone and enjoys it, that alone should raise suspicion about their mental health. There are some cases that force is a necessary action, but only if it will serve to minimize the force applied otherwise, which is clearly not the case in this instance. But to enjoy the assault of a child, in any situation is beyond wrong. It is sick and twisted, stooping to the level of a young bully, still unaware of how to properly behave. The doctor in this situation is the adult, it is up to him to diffuse the situation instead of escalating it. He is not the little girl ruled by fear and failed to maintain his composure. Abuse comes in many different forms. It can range from physical, to mental, and much more. Blackmail is a clear example of abuse of power. In the short story, the doctor proceeds to threaten the child, “Will you open it now by yourself or shall we have to open it for you?”. The doctor had the audacity to threaten an already frightened girl into a corner full of fear, just because things were not progressing as quickly as he had wanted them to. He let his impatience influence his decisions, resulting in him verbally abusing the girl in a way that might affect her for the rest of her life.

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Good intentions do not always result in good outcomes. The opposing side will argue that because of everything the doctor went through, the doctor had only wanted what was best for his patient. The doctor personally admits, “I had seen at least two children lying dead in bed of neglect in such cases”. In most cases, this would spur the doctor to take action, to prevent this from ever happening again. But when this positive motivation becomes a selfish motive that influences actions and causes unwanted reactions, those previously good intentions become tainted by an unprofessional and unacceptable emotional instability that should not be present when interacting with patients of any kind. The opposing side may argue that because the doctor had good intentions, it justified his means to achieve a result. The doctor did end up accomplishing his goal when he saw “both tonsils covered with a membrane”. And the fact that he did save the girl’s life does support their argument when the other side says that his good intentions paid off, but his means were unethical, immoral, and all types of wrong. There are many ways he could have achieved the same result without harming the young, and impressionable, little girl. A bribe could have been attempted, like a sweet or an extra privilege or two, but even taking a step back to personally calm down and reassess the situation would give way to more peaceful and ethical solutions.

The managing of emotions just means that no one gets hurt, and it does not limit self-expression. Once someone loses control of their emotions, the only right choice in the situation is to take a step back. The doctor reveals, “But a blind fury, a feeling of adult shame, bred of a longing for muscular release are the operatives”. The doctor had so many opportunities to step back for even just a little bit to calm down. If not for the sake of the little girl, then at least for his own sake. He knew his emotions were getting out of hand, by did absolutely nothing to stop it from happening. To let it get to this state, was not just an involuntary reaction, but a choice, one that led him to abuse his power. Losing control of your emotions is what leads to a breakdown in behavior. He says “I too had got beyond reason”. From there everything went downhill. Instead of calm, there was rage, instead of motivation, there was an obsession, instead of professionalism, there was chaos. He had finally lost control of his emotions and allowed all of his frustration and anger to affect his treatment of the little girl, who mind you, was not driven by anger, but fear, which would only intensify as more violence was used against her. If what she heard at school didn’t scare her enough, she now thinks that this is how all doctors act and that in its own right is a whole new can of worms. This one terrible instance, though resolved, will cause serious damage. All because he let go of his own emotional state.

Once a person’s emotional state is in shambles, it does not matter what their intentions originally were., what matters is how the situation was approached and dealt with. In today’s society, it is not a huge surprise to see an abuse of power, though it might be less obvious to the public than in the past, it still occurs quite often. For example, if a manager uses their position over an intern to force opinions onto them, people will not even bat an eyelash. There might be some lingering disappointment in the actions of others, but no one will move to stop this abuse and expect it to solve itself. This is a major problem in our society as a whole, and it should be alarming that we are so used to seeing the abuse that we no longer react to it and move on with our lives. It has reached a pivotal point in history, where most people are accepting of others, much more than before, but for this to truly work, we must all work as a team to prevent the abuse of others and be there to support the people who need it. Ultimately, the doctor in The Use of Force abused his power as the girl’s trusted physician no matter how you look at it.

Just in Case: “In a final unreasoning assault, I overpowered the child’s neck and jaws. I forced the heavy silver spoon back of her teeth and down her throat till she gagged” 

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