Category Archives: ethics

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. Arrives in Bookstores Sept. 1

Someone told me that holding your book in your hands for the first time is a bit like becoming a mother. The work of more than a year, nurturing, massaging, editing, sleepless nights of writing on deadline and then finally it arrives. Writing a book is, in many respects, like having a baby. My baby has a pretty blue cover and is adorned with a marvelous portrait of Hugh Laurie! What could be better?

Yesterday I received my advance copy of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. It’s a big book–430 pages! Part of the reason it’s so big is that is contains a six-season episode guide. Every single episode in six seasons of House is summarized with callouts for episode highlights including:

  • Zebra of the Week
  • Epiphany Moment
  • House is a Jerk Moment
  • A Fine Bromance (Wilson moment)
  • Shipper Alerts
  • Musical Notes
  • Housian Ethics
  • Patients Know Best
  • Metaphorically Thinking
  • Iconic Moment in House History
  • and many, many more.

There are chapters long and short. The longe

st is “Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know”–it is the chapter on Dr. Gregory House, M.D. Anyone out there know where that quote comes from? (Hint: it’s not from House, M.D.)

There are chapters on the music of House, Ethics, a chapter on “God Religion and Hypocrisy.” There’s an interview with a clinical psychologist in which he diagnoses our troubled doctor in the aftermath of season five and the start of season two. There’s an interview with a Holmes loving House fan. There are closer looks at several episodes to highlight series themes and story arcs. There are chapters on every character–and so much more.

So take a look at the preview nicely provided on The book comes out September 1 and should be in most major bookstores. It’s on in every country, it’s a Barnes and Noble’s site and Borders as well.

ECW Posts First 25 pages of Chasing Zebras

ECW Press has posted the galleys from the firt 25 pages of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. Included are a very detailed Table of Contents and the first chapter and a half. The book, which will be released September 1st is more than 400 pages, and includes and extensive six-season episode guide! Please pass the word and if you like what you see, feel free to comment on the book’s page

ECW Press Books on TV interview

ECW has posted an interview with me talking about Chasing Zebras. Hope you like it and pass the word. Thanks for your support!

The Ethics of House, Part II

The question posed at the end of part I of this series was whether Dr. Gregory House, central character in House, MD, practices medicine within any sort of ethical framework. Often accused of being unethical, and certainly uncaring, House claims to eschew the Hippocratic Oath, medicine’s sacred ethical charge. Much of what we see of House “caring” about patients, or anyone else for that matter, is played out in the subtext, most often revealed in the brilliant non-verbal acting of series star Hugh Laurie — through his expressive eyes and body language.

Although House seems to possess little regard for conventional ethics, I have come to the conclusion that he actually does operate from a reasonably well-defined set of ethical principles. Leading me to wonder further if the well-read House is familiar with the medieval philosopher Maimonides.

Maimonides is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of all time. A Spanish Jew who migrated to Egypt, he is revered as perhaps the greatest of the post-Biblical rabbis. His works include not only religious texts and commentaries, but treatises on logic (he was a rationalist), ethics, and medicine (he was also a renowned physician).

Maimonides is credited with a physician’s oath (actually the attribution is disputed by some), which presents several guiding medical principles. The ethical framework suggested by the oath is one that might resonate with our good, but grouchy, doctor:

May the love for my art actuate me at all time. If nothing else, House is passionate about the medicine; it certainly “actuates” him — it’s what keeps him going and what he lives for. It is, in essence, House’s lifeblood.

In season one, when Foreman has the opportunity to go back to work for his old mentor, “Dr. Marty” (as he is called by House), he notices a “difference in their styles.” Dr. Marty is a laid back, but eminent, LA physician. Foreman sees him as forgiving and reasonable, two things that he clearly does not see in House. Admitting that Dr. Marty is a good doctor, House illuminates the real difference between them: “He thinks you do your job, and what will be, will be. I think that what I do and what you do matters. He sleeps better at night. He shouldn’t.” It’s a defining moment early in the series, revealing House’s passion for medicine — and what he sees as the importance of dedication to its practice.

Medicine seems to haunt House in his every waking moment; he can seldom turn it off (except when watching monster trucks or General Hospital, that is!). And, despite the fact that he claims chronic laziness, eschewing work (especially in the clinic) as if allergic to it, the medicine and his love for it probably is the only thing that motivates him to get out of bed on those days (as he told Detective Michael Tritter in “Words and Deeds”) when the pain is so bad it “sucks the soul right out of you.”

Complete article

Ethics and House, MD

I’ve been laying low lately and working on a long piece about the Ethics of Dr. Gregory House.  It’s become one of the most complex projects I’ve undertaken, but enlightening and quite fun.

Part One is up at Blogcritics, here

Here’s the beginning….

In the House, MD season three episode “Son of Coma Guy,” House’s patient, Gabe Wozniak, ask him what last words he’d like to hear from his own father. House hesitates, but answers honestly, “I’d like him to tell me that I was right; that I did the right thing.” What does it mean, to do the “right thing?” It sounds lofty and idealistic — and completely unlike what most people (think they) know of Dr. House.

Within the universe of House, MD, Dr. Gregory House (portrayed by Hugh Laurie in a consistently complex, and often brave, performance) is widely perceived by most of his colleagues (even those who respect him) to lack any sense of ethics. He’s bigoted, he doesn’t care about patients — often, he doesn’t even know their names! He’s blunt and overly harsh, refusing to suffer fools (or idiots or morons) gladly (or at all). On more than one occasion, both dean of medicine Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and House’s best friend James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) have wondered aloud if House has “even read an ethical guideline.” He’s been called many things, from “lucky” to “reckless,” “arrogant” and “preening” to “smug” and “needy.”

But House also has a reputation for integrity, according to one of his archest enemies, Edward Vogler (season one). He’s renowned as a physician and people come from far and wide (and even Cuba) to tap into his medical expertise.

Admittedly, House has done some things to warrant the less celebrated aspects of his reputation. His colleagues, hospital lawyers, and even some patients must sometimes wonder if House operates under any sort of ethical framework at all. After all, House has afflicted a coma patient with a migraine to test the efficacy of an anti-migraine drug; he has ventured into the morgue and shot a dead person in the head to perform an MRI (performing it on a live patient would have been quite deadly — and the dead guy had, explained House, donated his body to science). He has performed one physician-assisted suicide (but refused to do another, even though everyone from Wilson to his team were pushing him to do it). He has lied to the transplant committee to avoid condemning a patient to certain death, and he provoked any number of patients into physically attacking him (albeit all for a greater medical good).

“You are aware of the Hippocratic oath, right?” asks Dr. Eric Foreman in the first season episode “Damned if you Do.”