The Truth Hurts
It’s the old Bob Newhart show, (you know, the one where he plays a psychologist, not an innkeeper, and his wife is not a mellifluous blond but a throaty brunette), and Bob has just come home after suffering humiliation on a televised airing of his group therapy session.
“Well, Emily, what did you think of the show?” he asks in that halting monotone that Newhart fans adore.
“Do you want me to answer honestly, or as a loving wife?” she replies.
“Uh, lie Emily,” he deadpans.
Hearing the truth can hurt. We admit it jestingly, but the old axiom has more meaning than most people want to know. When the truth hurts, one must choose either to endure pain or avoid truth—a distressing choice. The result? “The truth is heavy, therefore its bearers are few” (emphasis supplied).1
Two prominent psychiatrists were each asked to articulate their understanding of the meaning of life. Psychiatrist #1, a well-known novelist and Professor-Emeritus of Psychiatry from Stanford University’s School of Medicine, stated, “Life has no meaning. The only meaning it has is what we ourselves give it, and, sadly, we often forget we are the ones who gave it the meaning.” Psychiatrist #2, a former professor of Psychiatry and Religion at Yale, Harvard and Georgetown, and now with an international private practice in Nassau, Bahamas, clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum, responded, “Man has a deep need to worship, and if he doesn’t worship the true and living God, he ends up worshipping false gods that are merely projections of himself.”
Clearly experts can disagree.
The invitation came from my father, a physician with privileges at Cedars Sinai. I was eager to attend the lecture because the speaker, Dr. Michael Fowler, was from Stanford University Hospital. His topic was “Transplantation in 1987,” a topic of utmost interest to me. I sat in the back with my father and watched the room fill with doctors and nurses who also had an interest in this high-tech, life-saving medicine. The first case history presented was referred to as, “Patient Number One.” To me, he was John.
No reporters have visited the prison camps of Soviet Russia, unless they have gone as prisoners. So to this day we have little information about the millions who have lived, suffered, and died there, especially during Stalin’s reign of terror. Most will remain nameless for all time, remembered only in the hearts of those who knew and loved them. But from time to time, scraps of information have filtered out about a few. One of those few was Boris Nicholayevich Kornfeld.