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Complicitous over-specialization?

April 15, 2009

My sister’s eyes are raining. She has had some kind of virus for six weeks; now her symptoms are down to raining eyes, which she dutifully presents to her ophthalmologist.

“Why do you have an ophthalmologist?” I interject. Her eyes have always been perfect, but, “at her age,” in her medically concentrated region, one sees specialists just because.

Her ophthalmologist is bemused at her self-diagnosis of raining eyes, but he affirms it. Her eyes are indeed tearing excessively. But this is not her final destination in her quest to stop her eyes from raining. Her ophthalmologist is a retina man. He refers her to another ophthalmologist, one who specializes in tears.

“Wow,” I said, “The tear doc must have been waiting all her life for someone to show up with raining eyes.”

But no, my sister is on a two-week waiting list to see the tear specialist.

In this I see the anathematizing of the of the generally useful in favor of the exaltation of the very peculiar. And so the general becomes useless, and the peculiar becomes general.


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