This article is about the TV show House MD, Season 5, Episode 8 – Titled: Emancipation
This is my favorite episode of House MD for more reasons than I can count and for deeper reasons than I can understand. Why would a minor seek emancipation (divorce from parents)? What’s worse than rape? Does being rational before emotional mean there is no emotion to process? These are very specific topics but, with a step back, one can imagine related resolutions, traumas, and rational in their own life journey. How about resolutions such as actual divorce or even unfriending? What if there is extreme guilt over the terrible harm one has brought upon another? How can anyone justify empathy for another person when they are blinded by their own despair? What does Dr. House say?
Here is a partial plot summary from Wikipedia:
The team takes on the case of a 16-year-old factory manager who fell ill when her lungs suddenly filled with fluid while at work. The teenager informs House and the team that she is an emancipated minor living on her own and supporting herself, and has been doing so ever since her parents died. The team begins treatment for suspected heart problems, but Kutner chooses to sympathize with the patient rather than follow House’s directions and gives her steroids instead of beta-blockers. She has a psychotic break. An MRI shows that the patient lied about her parents’ deaths. She says that she had emancipated herself because her father raped her and mother pretended it didn’t happen.
The first thing I learned from this episode was that there is such a thing as Emancipation of a minor: divorce from parents. I had heard of people wanting to “divorce” their parents but I didn’t know that it was an actual “thing”. I can understand this desire in a fit of anger but going through with it would seem to be more trouble than it would be worth. So, yeah, a teenager that goes through with emancipation is a seriously upset kiddo.
The second thing I learned from this episode was that there are somethings worse than rape. When the girl says she was raped she figured she had sure buy in. A rape accusation is an automatic pass to believing the victim. Logic and scrutiny are usually put aside. But why would someone lie about rape as part of a strategy of avoidance and put life at risk? And how do you get beyond her deception and into the truth? By pure logic and scrutiny. Rules of thumb or thumb screws? Truth serum or lye in the eye? Torture or torch her? No. It’s benevolence stupid. Try to understand her as you understand anyone else. The value in relations is benevolence. To achieve benevolence one must comprehend human nature. That is Dr. House’s greatest talent.
The third thing I learned from this episode was that decisions are always emotional before they are rational. When someone comes to you with an airtight excuse, alibi, or explanation for their behavior, you should call bullshit. The underlying motive and initial reason is emotional. Everything else is window dressing. As the explanation becomes more logical and even accusative of you, that person drifts into repetition and hyperbole. This happens so often when friends don’t show. They are trying to convince you of their lie. Don’t buy it because, if you do, get ready for more of the same. This type of behavior especially happens when you are in crisis and need them. If you don’t buy their lie, they take the position that you are angry. If, indeed, you are in a time of crisis, anger is a luxury you can’t afford in those times. Cut them lose. They are excess baggage. They’ll get heavier with time.