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The Importance of Truth-Telling

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The Importance of Truth-Telling

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  • November 2012
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TRUTH-TELLING 2
The Importance of Truth-Telling
Telling the truth is something that comes up for the majority of us in childhood. It is considered impolite to lie and when a lie was told, or you were untruthful, it was often considered a reflection of your parents’ moral attitudes. Unfortunately, we all seem to have been taught differently the exact nature of a truth or lie and the right or wrong way to use that information. In To Lie or Not to Lie? – The Doctor’s Dilemma (2007), the topic of truth versus lies by doctors specifically, is discussed. While I believe it is important for doctors to be truthful in their dealings with patients, the 5 W’s need to be explored: what and to whom is truth, how and when are doctors choices for truth-telling determined and why it is important for them to tell the truth to their patients.

Truth: “conformity to fact or reality” according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, does not appear in society to be that concrete. From childhood we were taught about the importance of truth with the consequences of our actions meted out if we were not truthful. Often our understanding of this subject was not the same as ”Johnny’s” next door and we were left with this confusing amalgamation, forced to gage for ourselves on a situational basis how much was lie or truth in any given statement. Society’s opinion on this topic therefore is varied based on our own individual ethics developed over the years. Doctors, held to far higher standards than the rest of us, are forced to play ‘God’ with their patients, although the Uncertainty principle “suggests that there is no certainty in health care, therefore no ‘absolute truth’ to reveal. ‘Truth-telling can never be achieved.” (Tuckett, 2004, p.500). In his determinations a doctor “must be careful to distinguish the notion of ‘truth’ as ‘the way things really are’ (so-called objective truth) from that of ‘truth’ as ‘the way a person believes things to be’.”...

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