Public Defender 101 – Rule 28: Take it easy on the Mental Anesthesia

One of the classic episodes of M*A*S*H* is the entitled “The Interview.” The premise of the episode is a journalist interviewing the various members of the 4077th for a news story. When the journalist asked Hawkeye how he could stay sane when surrounded by so much misery, Hawkeye used the term, “mental anesthesia.” He said that “if you get caught up in their misery too much, you can get into a hole you can’t get out of.”

Mental Anesthesia is a necessary evil in the realm of public criminal defense. Without it, you will lose hope, you will become bitter, and you will go mad. However, too much mental anesthesia will put you past the point of caring at all for your clients, and they will become nothing more than widgets on the assembly line to be processed.

So, how do you find that balance? I don’t know. I feel that I have partaking so much of the ether that I am and that I have been in a state of permanent conscious sedation. When you find the answer, please let me know.


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