Therapists’ comments by Ted Lasso illustrate the growing problem facing women primary care physicians

Ted is usually very polite, but calls Sharon’s work “bullshit” and berates her for expecting him to “spill my heart out on the gory details of my life,” even though he came to her desperate. He accuses her of not knowing him well enough; essentially not mothering him enough. “You scared me, Ted,” she says. He doesn’t answer and smacks her as punishment for not being a willing vessel for his unresolved pain. He expects her to be available to him in a form that is unconditional, non-threatening, and underpaid.

There’s a reason GPs burn out and you can’t get an appointment, especially when GPs consume 6 percent of healthcare spending. Our medical system was designed for a 70-kilogram white man, and GPs need to turn this tool into something they can benefit children, women, black people, and men who weigh more or less than 70 kg.

If you have to decide – at every consultation – whether you’re going to expend your last energies here, whether you can bear to hear about manipulation/poverty/rape/abuse/abandonment/bigotry/chronic pain again, the system will thank you greatly allow little, after a few years you have to choose between reducing your empathy or reducing your hours. Doctors, especially female doctors, die by suicide significantly more often than the general population.

A colleague recently took up a position vacated by an older male doctor. The families are complex, poor, geographically and socially isolated, and deeply traumatized. She is doing what is necessary – addressing the social, emotional, financial and logistical issues that make up most of her suffering, an invaluable action from someone who can put the medical above everything else. “You hear!” they marvel. They’ve never had anyone try to address the reality of their lives.

But the work has been neglected for years. She opened the floodgates and the job collapsed on her. Overwhelmed by the backlog, she will burn out, families will lose again, and her exit will be credited to “not having what it takes.” Of course she has what it takes. She wonders if she can or will feminine GP – that is, meeting the exponentially increasing demands on her expertise and empathy in an environment that accuses her of struggling under the workload that society generates, male doctors are often allowed to ignore and for which no one wants to pay.


When I say GP is women’s medicine, I mean it’s one of the grueling, invisible frontline jobs that hold the country together. If we don’t support GPs, we’ll end up with overcrowded emergency rooms and people decompensating alone in offices at midnight.

One of Lasso’s catchphrases is “I appreciate you”. Apparently he’s an open-minded feminist full of self-confident puns. “I can’t control my emotions!” wails player Roy Kent. “Well, by all means, let your emotions rule you!” teases Ted. Still, he has a “healthy Midwestern skepticism” about therapy — presumably skeptical about therapy where he’s the one who learns and the one who pays.

As we celebrate the wonderful moments of male vulnerability on the show, we also allow ourselves to be billed by the people who make them possible. And if dr Sharon returns in season three, I hope she continues to bill for the 10 minutes.

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Jaclyn Diaz

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