The hallmark of professionals is trust. We should be able to trust professionals to do their duty on our behalf despite their personal feelings. Lawyers often dislike or even fear their clients, for example: a defendant charged with murder who has stabbed his previous three attorneys with pencils is now back in court with a fourth, though certain precautions have been taken. When a professional finds that his or her personal feelings are so intense that they jeopardize the professional’s ability to fulfill their duties objectively, fairly and well, then that’s a conflict of interest, and it must be dealt with, usually by stepping aside.
A professional who doesn’t step aside despite an evident conflict has determined that he or she has the detachment and self-control to overcome it. A recent news story from Poland, however, suggests that it is not a good idea to risk too much trust on a professional’s determination that she can remain objective.
Marek Olszewski had been dating lovely Anna Mackowiak, a young dentist, when he callously threw her over for another love. Then, in the throes of a toothache, he decided to continue a purely platonic business relationship with Mackowiak, and sought the aid of her dentistry skills just a few days after he broke her heart. “I didn’t have any reason to doubt her, I mean I thought she was a professional,” Marek said. For her part, Mackowiak was sure she could measure up to his trust, too—but then, after she had sedated him, “I saw him lying there and I just thought, “What a bastard.”
Yes, she pulled all his teeth out.
She’s probably on the way to jail, and he’s on the way to another dentist. For professionals, the lesson is not to overestimate the power of anger and emotion to overcome those professional ethics alarms. For the rest of us, the lesson is be wary of trusting those whom we know have to cope with a lot of biases and competing interests to do their best job on our behalf. The risks of being too trusting in the face of strong conflicts of interest are considerable. Just ask Marek Olszewski.
Facts: The Daily Mail
Graphics: Fark, again. The photo is from the harrowing dentist scene from the film “Marathon Man,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Sir Lawrence Olivier.
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