by Dr. Nick Stevens, MD, PhD, DDS, DMD, Esquire
Finding out that a loved one has decided to remove large portions of brain tissue from their head using a plastic spork can bring up a broad spectrum of emotions. Conversations can be particularly painful because many of our cultural traditions, identities, and societal conventions are predicated on the idea that cutting out critical parts of themselves with flimsy utensils is unwise.
Personal agency is a foundational principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As members, we should respect the personal agency of other adults, even if it is not what we would choose for them or for ourselves.
Here are 25 things to avoid saying to your loved one who has decided to perform brain surgery on themselves with a plastic spork: (even if you believe they are true)
- Are you reading medical texts or other material to help you understand brain surgery?
- You are destroying your body.
- You are under the influence.
- If you cut chunks of your brain out, you won’t be able to interact with your family members.
- How could you do this to me?
- Your children will suffer and your marriage will fall apart if you do this.
- I’m so worried about you.
- I weep for you.
- I don’t feel good about what you’re saying.
- Just don’t think about your desire to perform surgery on yourself, and everything will work out.
- I have faith that it’ll all work out if you don’t perform surgery on yourself. You should too.
- Is there a reason you’re trying to kill yourself?
- Oh, I’ve been through that phase. You’ll come back.
- I’ll come to visit you in the hospital after you recover.
- So you’re anti-medicine now?
- You’re just choosing self-operation because it’s trendy. Everyone’s cutting themselves.
- I never thought you would become “totally insane.”
- You would be able to have another child if you were to keep living a normal life.
- You will never be truly happy in a lobotomized state.
- I’ve studied a little about the human body too, and I wouldn’t consider brain surgery on anyone, let alone myself, with a plastic spork.
- Are you trolling me?
- I hope it doesn’t take a horrible tragedy to get you to come back to reason.
- I wonder if you were ever truly sane…
- I fear for your physical and mental well-being.
- I would rather slit my wrists and do push-ups in lemon juice than to operate on my own brain with a plastic spork.
The most important thing we, as believers, can do to support loved ones who are ruining their lives is to show our love for them by pretending all of their decisions are rational, healthy, and probably correct.
It might even be a good idea to lie to them by saying things like:
- I trust you to do what is best for you.
- I know you didn’t make this decision lightly.
- I respect your integrity and your strength.
- You have legitimate concerns.
- The world needs more people like you.
- I’m not worried about you.
- We all have our own unique paths.
Stay tuned for more lists about how to ensure our interactions with others are only positive and loving such as: “Do you love your serial killer friends if you don’t help them hide bodies and conceal evidence? No, because that’s what it means to show selfless love. Also agency.”