It’s taken me awhile to think of how I wanted to present my take on episode 6. There are so many psychological issues broached that I had a hard time figuring out what angle I should take. I am NOT an expert on feral children although my psych studies did tell me that the case in this show was mishandled. Along with that, Si-on’s behavior is becoming less “autistic”. It’s all the result of artistic license.
There are also a few very, very big medical faux pas that would result in losing a medical license here in the states. I want to assume the same is true in Korea.
The political crap that happens in this episode interests me NOT in the slightest save for how it affects the doctors’ interactions with the patients. I will rail on one doctor in a little while. There are some personal reveals about Do-han, which explain his aversion to Si-on. I have a few issues with that story, too. I suppose it’s safe to say I have issues with almost everything in the show save for the acting. The actors are doing ok.
Let’s break this down into four sections: feral children, Si-on and his autism, Do-han’s back story, and doctor behavior.
1) Addressing the feral child
My knowledge of feral children was limited to psychology texts. I had a few discussions and did a little research. I’m by no means an expert now, but I have something to go on. Based on the information I found, I will make a few assumptions.
I am going to use two modern case studies:
I distrust any historical accounts because they’re not necessarily accurate or true.
My sister also found an article written by a neuroscientist addressing feral children and their role in cinema.
Feral children are such a rarity that to use them in the show is basically an invite for the writer to have free reign. Historically, most cases of feral children have been falsified. They are not well understood. There is one point that the neuroscientist addresses that is important to Good Doctor: the condition that the feral child suffers from is NOT autism. Autism is a developmental disorder. It’s internal. The feral child suffers from external deprivation of socialization: external factors.
The story equates Si-on’s autism with the patient’s complete lack of human socialization. While Si-on and the girl do have similarities in their inability to understand social processes, they are not of the same ilk. Si-on may feel the same social isolation as the girl, but for him to realize that is a bit of a stretch for him. I’ll touch on that in section two.
Based on the case studies I read in college and the ones I have links for above, feral children are not capable of some of the behavior shown by the girl in this episode. She would be incapable of receiving affection or any kind of touch. After time, both cases I read showed that the girls were able to accept human kindnesses. Before that, they had no idea how to and actually rejected it. It was unfamiliar.
I just can’t see the wisdom in Si-on letting the other kids in the ward come in and “pet” the feral child. She is too unpredictable and COMPLETELY unsocialized. There is no “common sense” or prior knowledge. If she gets scared, she will react using basic instincts.
As for her taking on the traits of the dogs she was raised with, I’m not sure how that works in real life. It SEEMS like a logical thing and that she’d communicate as the dogs did. It SEEMS logical based on current scientific models so I won’t argue with it. Here is where the writer is truly free to do whatever. All science really has to go on are stories and falsified accounts. The neuroscientist thinks that it’s possible and I’m inclined to believe her. You guys should really read the article. So interesting.
2) Si-on’s behavior
My biggest issue with Si-on’s behavior this episode is the kind of insight that he had. It required him to put himself into someone else’s shoes. One of the basic traits of autism is the INABILITY to do that. So, you see where my qualm is.
At the same time, the fact that the feral girl’s pain bothered him is something that would happen. Si-on’s autism would make him highly aware of the powerful emotions radiating off of the girl. It is possible for him to have the compassion.
I do see the connection with animals. Temple Grandin, the famous, brilliant woman with autism, has a special connection with cows. I do like the attempt to bring that aspect of autism into things: the understanding of basic instincts, the raw perception of the simplest emotions. It’s just Si-on is more severe in the social realm than she is. AND he works in a much different field. He needs to communicate with people, patients, parents. The writer picked a very difficult disability to work with in terms of writing and dealing with ALL of the other issues thrown into the show.
For those of you who are having trouble picturing the romance, I do think it’s realistic that he’d crush on Yoon-seo. She’s pretty and generally nice to him and he IS a man. It’s his ability to be IN a relationship that would be the issue. But he’s perfectly functional as far as being a human male is concerned. If his lover/wife/girlfriend is willing to really, really, really work with him and be a guardian as well, then it would work. But that is extremely difficult on the woman. So…how will this work in the drama? I have no idea.
Let’s touch on the ending. Si-on would do something like that without thinking of social consequences, jumping into the fray and accidentally hurting someone. It was one of the things I worried about at the start of the show. As for whether he’d actually do that or not if he was a real case of autism…well, he wouldn’t have done a lot of the other stuff in the episode.
3) Do-han’s backstory
Do-han’s younger brother had what is today called “intellectual disability”. It used to be known as “mental retardation” or “MR”. Intellectual disability is NOT autism. It can share traits, but intellectual disability basically means that the person has a reduced function to perform activities of daily living (day-to-day tasks like getting ready in the morning and all that entails called ADLs) and then reduced social and communication skills. It’s associated with a low IQ – around 70.
Do-han’s brother received therapy and after some time, could perform his ADLs and go to school. Do-han believed that because of his improvement, his brother was ready to go to school alone on the bus instead of being driven by his parents. But he wasn’t. Such a huge change in routine needed guidance and step-by-step explanation. The parents should’ve walked him and taken him on the bus to show him how it was done and before that explain, step-by-step, what and why they were going to be going on the bus instead of driving the car. That would’ve greatly reduced the brother’s anxiety.
The day the brother died, he was thrust into this brand new situation and expected to do well. The social pressure plus the difficulty of putting together all the minute directions of the task was too much for him. It overwhelmed him and he panicked crossing the street. A car killed him.
I cannot believe that the therapists did not explain to the parents that suddenly introducing new things to a person with an intellectual disability is NOT A GOOD IDEA. Even if Do-han thought it was a good idea and was kindly intentioned, the parents should’ve known from the therapy. What were the therapists doing?
Imagine going to a new place that’s difficult to find. A typical person would get frustrated and lost. Now imagine that you don’t have the mental capability to problem-solve and deal with daily variables. Wouldn’t you be utterly terrified?
Anyway, that’s the brother’s story. Do-han hates on Si-on because Si-on reminds Do-han of his mistaken suggestion for his brother to travel to school on his own. Do-han wishes that he had coddled his brother his whole life rather than force him into the world. Why couldn’t there be a happy medium? So many people with disabilities live wonderful lives with a little help from family, friends or aides. They have some wonderful homes and facilities that do JUST that.
I do understand Do-han’s extreme reaction. Losing a loved one affects a person in a way no other tragedy can. But at the same time, after his intial reactions to Si-on, there should really be some rational thinking or at least turning to Woo-seok for guidance. Or something. Not yelling at Si-on. Do-han should know from his brother that yelling only increases stress and makes it difficult for the person with the disability.
I highly disagree with yelling as a form of education in general. Sure, it’s great on a football field, but not in a hospital where a doctor is holding a SCALPEL.
4) Doctor behavior
I am from the US. My knowledge comes from US systems. I’m going to speak from that point of view. Korea will have it’s own structures, and if you are familiar with them, please take the time to comment and let me know! But there are a few basic things that medical care should address in my opinion. According to this show, Koreans take the Hippocratic oath, so I’m guessing medical knowledge and functioning is shared. Again, assumptions. I need them to write this post that serves as a RANT!
Let’s start with the fact that not ONE doctor knows how to restrain and seclude a physically difficult patient. How is that possible? Patients in pain, who are drunk, who have mental issues, these patients can be very physically difficult to deal with. Hospitals should have training in how to deal with these patients. I find it hard to believe that not ONE person has that training and that not ONE person called for someone who WOULD have the knowledge of how to safely subdue the feral child. Sending a host of doctors randomly at her is NOT the way to do it. She can hurt them AND herself.
The Plant city feral child turned a lot of her aggression against herself and it took years to train her not to do that. Imagine what happens if a group of people flung themselves at her?
I also dislike how the show makes the psychiatric wards suggestions of sedating and restraining the girl a BAD thing. If she needed to be sedated to be bathed and cared for, then she needed to be sedated. IF she needs to be tied down so she doesn’t hurt herself and others, then she should. Safety first. Also, why WASN’T a psychiatrist there if the girl wasn’t kept in the psychiatric ward? I don’t understand. Wouldn’t that be the logical assumption? Have a psychiatrist/psychologist help out with the case? Have a person trained in restraint nearby? They only had the social worker there.
Why did it take half an episode to get the child bathed? She has an infection. She could possibly have more ailments. Being that filthy is not healthy. Why wasn’t that the first thing on the plan after the initial check-up? If there are doctors reading this, please let me know what you think. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine that all that filth is good for her compromised medical condition.
Lastly, using patients for political gain. How is the head of the pediatric department, I call him Dr. Evil, (He’s listed as Dr. Go Choong-man, if you’re curious) even capable of considering patient harm to further his political standing? He tells his resident minion to do “whatever it takes” to make Si-on look bad. I find political meddling repulsive, but when you put the lives of patients, not to mention that those patients are CHILDREN, on the line, that is more than enough to make me utterly furious. The resident minion (Dr. Woo Il-kyu) lets the feral child out of the room.
Take a moment and consider all the implications of letting this child out. She can hurt herself. She can hurt others. She can cause havoc. And she does! Dr. Woo should lose his license for that. He would lose it here! That is in direct conflict with the best interests of the patient AND the hospital. How can he not consider that? I know it’s a story, but this is so awful to me. I hate seeing people abused for personal gain. This child is terrified and doesn’t understand the world. She’s been poked and prodded and drugged. She is scared and unhappy.
And that’s that. I can’t write anymore. My head hurts. I’m not going to talk about mom appearing. To me it’s just makjang.
What do you guys think about all the stuff I said?
Episode 6: The side effects of artistic license