Blaming the messenger?

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 01:10

Sir, – Richard Pine (Letters, July 23rd) appears to believe that because his grandmother was an invalid for most of her life, her doctor, the cricketer WG Grace, should bear responsibility for her ailment.

Shakespeare recognised Mr Pine’s problem and has Kent diagnose it in King Lear: “kill thy physician and the fee bestow upon thy foul disease”. And in Henry IV, Part 2 “the first bringer of unwelcome news hath but a losing office”. This is an increasingly common form of paranoia and one recognised particularly by psychiatrists. It might be called Kent’s syndrome or Lear’s fallacy, but as Mr Pine lives in Greece he might appreciate hermenoia, loosely translated as blaming the messenger. Yours, etc,

PROF HARRY KENNEDY,

Central Mental Hospital,

Dundrum,

Dublin 14