“First, Do No Harm”


Doctors everywhere uphold the Hippocratic Oath:

Primum non nocere: “First, do no harm.”

And when you’re offering up your body into someone else’s hands, and trusting them to treat it with great tenderness and care, then “First, do no harm” makes perfect, rational sense.

For you’re making yourself vulnerable, and taking a great risk. Their actions and decisions can have life-changing effects.

Of course, doctors are just human, and they can’t fix everything.

But saying “they won’t harm us” is a crucial starting place.

How else can we feel safe, and freely trust ourselves to them?

What About Other Relationships?

Perhaps we should adhere to this in all relationships. It’s easy to do harm, and wound – quite unintentionally.  

And where this matters most is in our close relationships, especially with our spouses, or with those who share our lives.

We’re trusting them with everything – all aspects of our health, our reputation, self-esteem and, yes, our peace of mind.

This isn’t a small matter; we are taking a huge risk.

But we believe they’re safe, and they would never injure us.

The Impact of Betrayal

And that is why betrayal feels like twisting in the knife. We offered them ourselves; we offered everything we were.

How could they be so cruel; how could they trash this sacred trust?

We thought they would be faithful; that they’d love and care for us.

Primum Non Nocere

If only – like physicians – they had taken seriously the fact that we had trusted them when we had tied the knot.

If only they had cared enough to put our welfare first.

If only they’d been guided by the the Hippocratic Oath, and acted on the principle: “First, do no harm.”

9 thoughts on ““First, Do No Harm”

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