R.V. Doon

Whistleblowers Don’t Get Enough Respect

Double Blind, my medical thriller, features a nurse whistleblower against a mob-controlled pharmaceutical company. It’s easy to cheer for her success, because she’s made it plain people are going to get sick. But in real life is the danger always crystal clear?

Let’s face it–Whistleblowers just don’t get any respect. Any why? Well, to prove something harmful has happened, they have to steal the data and rat-out colleagues. They also lose their jobs, friends, and sometimes their families, but the bigger question is why do they do it?  Why don’t they turn a blind eye?

My personal opinion is that whistleblowers often are blessed/cursed with a hyperactive sense of compassion. Don’t believe me? What about Christina Maslach? Don’t know her? She’s one of many whistleblower heroes in my book. In Double Blind, a college experiment is mentioned in passing, but it’s known in the “clinical research world” as the Stanford Prison Experiment. This is a must read article but what isn’t mentioned is that many of the prisoner volunteers suffered psychological problems by the “vetted experiment.”

Also rarely mentioned, is the PI (Primary Investigator), Doctor  Phil Zimbardo, totally loses his objectivity and becomes a “character” in his own prison study by becoming the warden. Don’t get me wrong, Doctor Zimbardo becomes famous, and the reason he becomes famous is because his girlfriend, Christina Maslach, slaps the cold, hard truth into him and he stops the study. What if he hadn’t stopped the study? Would he have been reviled? Stopping the study certainly wasn’t on his mind until Christina (the whistleblower) arrived. If he hadn’t stopped the study, I wonder if Christina would’ve married him?

Once a test or experiment goes public, others duplicate them. In Double Blind, this study becomes the basis of a Frankenstudy, which I made up, using elements of real studies.  In real life and fiction worlds, whistleblowers are part of the universal safety net, like it or not. In this interesting article, Shocking Memories Away, the writer describes a clinical trial where subjects are shown disturbing pictures and given electro shock therapy afterward.

The study’s goal is to determine if the shock therapy erases the disturbing pictures from their minds. They’re hoping to erase traumatic memories, just like the Frankenstudy in Double Blind. Guess what, electro shock did reduce memory of the traumatic pictures. But here is just one question not mentioned in the article. Why not give the subjects math questions to work before and after shock therapy? Or an IQ test? Or do they recognize family pictures from those not living in the household? Oh wait…am I starting to sound like a whistleblower?

Tell me what you think of whistleblowers? Come on, don’t be shy.

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