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image of Shaun Murphy in his scrubs

Murphy Learns a Lesson in Discrimination

Rockville, Md., Jan 29 – The title of the 13th episode, “Seven Reasons,” is in reference to why Dr. Shaun Murphy thinks people lie. Themes include intellectual disability, ethics and religion.

Freddie Highmore, the actor who plays Murphy, portrays a person with autism, a developmental disability that affects 1 in 68 children. Many people with autism experience social and communication issues. Throughout the episode, Murphy talks in a robotic tone, talks about a subject obsessively, misunderstands social cues and avoids eye contact.

The episode opens with a man being rushed into the ER due to a ruptured aneurism. The scene shifts to Murphy and his colleagues Drs. Andrews and Kalu being rushed to care for a burn patient who burned her hand on the stove while she was cooking, and the patient thinks she’s having a heart attack, but her vitals are stable. The doctors are baffled by her condition.

Discussing the patient’s prognosis in the hallway, Murphy tells Andrews he does not believe the patient’s story and questions her motives about the grease fire. “She told us she forgot the stove was hot. How can you forget something’s hot when it is on fire?”

While assisting Melendez and Kalu with the bronchoscopy, Murphy abruptly says, “Is breaking up with your fiancé traumatic?” referring to Melendez’ break-up with his fiancé. “When I saw a woman get shot, everyone told me it was traumatic and that I should be going home. Should you be going home?”

Melendez ignores him and continues to operate on the patient, rupturing her bronchial wall.

Murphy blurts out, “How long does it take to get over a break up with the woman you love?”

He later accuses the patient of lying about inhaling smoke, and the patient tells him she was confused because she was in a lot of pain. When he discovers that the patient has methanol in her system, which is causing her abdominal pain, he suggests that she could be a schoolteacher and a terrorist because she identifies as Muslim.

“I think she’s a terrorist because it’s the easiest way to explain her symptoms and her lie. Do you have a way?”

Later, Murphy confronts the patient and tells her that her symptoms are fading. When he informs her that methanol is used to make chemical weapons, the patient is shocked by his behavior. He apologizes for his unfounded accusations and the patient asks him if he’s experienced discrimination like she has because she’s Muslim.

“You’re different,” she says, to which Murphy replies. “I have autism.”

“Have people refused to serve you? Have you seen people change their flight because of you? Have people cursed you out before you opened your mouth?” she questions Murphy. “Maybe you are not so different.”

Murphy notices she’s sweating and accuses her of lying and having anxiety. She clutches her chest and gets a sudden shortness of breath and experiences a heart attack when the heart monitor begins to beep loudly, and Murphy runs to get help. The doctors later find out that the patient got the burn from trying to make perfume and it is revealed that her brother gave her the chemical.

Murphy and the patient both have experienced discrimination – one for his disability and one for her religion. Yet the stigma both face is unfounded, a lesson Murphy learns.

Murphy also learns what it means to be more independent, as his mentor honors Murphy’s desire for more freedom.

“You should make this decision for yourself,” Dr. Aaron Glassman tells Murphy when being asked about what he should do regarding his supervisor. “In fact, you should make all your decisions yourself form here on out. That’s what we agreed on, right?”

The Good Doctor airs on ABC Monday at 10:00 pm.

 

Meet the Author

Ryan Knight
Ryan Knight

Ryan Knight has spastic cerebral palsy. He wants to create a magazine for people with disabilities by people with disabilities and increase awareness of the disability community through motivational speaking.

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