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Miranda Bailey's Shadow (Grey's Anatomy)- show me your shadow I'll show you mine



Many medical/health care professionals who have extreme passion for the art and science of medicine, high emotional intelligence and self-respect consider Grey's Anatomy insulting, vapid, dramatic and unrealistic.

This blog is not intended to debate the content and/or validity of this show in relation to how "real" doctors experience daily work. Rather I think it is fascinating to use these doctors, light and dark characteristics, as a tool to illustrate the concept of an individuals shadow side. I will get to why knowing this side of ourselves impacts our personal growth and self expression.

In multiple episodes during the past 15 years Dr. Bailey as been portrayed as multi-faceted, dynamic and having untouchable brilliance, compassion and courage. This same doctor has also had scenes filled with monologues berating interns, questioning the attending's direction, expressing disdain and fear. She is noted to say to Alex Karev, I raised you better than that, I taught you, I groomed you and now you have sloppy, lazy, stupid children running around (paraphrased). Shortly after a series of episodes where she is heard screaming about sloppiness, unpreparedness, etc is the episode where she is linked with 3 deaths related to post-op infections. For any provider/clinician, fictitious or real, this experience is painful, condemning and damaging. After receiving this "death" sentence we see yet another side revealed and Miranda Bailey continues to unravel with her diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

SHADOW ALERT: What makes it a shadow?

We learn in glimpses throughout the show Miranda's earlier childhood experience, family life, obstacles overcome etc. This became her story, how she related to herself and others. She told herself "I am the best, there is no room for mediocre, there is no room for error". Imagine the shock and surprise when the part of herself that she suppressed, repressed, discouraged and denied overpowered and nearly ruined all that she created and endeavored. In the show you do not experience Dr. Bailey eventually acknowledging this other side of her human-ness or becoming more gracious towards interns and residents. This would not be an epic television drama if we see Dr. Bailey learn from this experience. However in life and as human beings we can use this example and any example of all the other Grey's characters to gain self-awareness, self-love, compassion and forgiveness. We would continue to hold the highest standards for ourselves and each other. We would do this with a willingness to admit that part of us that gets angry, relentless, critical, passive-aggressive and impatient needs the same self respect and love as the part of us that is patient, kind, accurate, insightful, timely and gets results. As a culture various specialties are associated with hallmark characteristics. Often surgeons get a reputation for being egotistical, arrogant, unapproachable, callous, demeaning, etc. Many people (colleagues, staff, patient's, families) are willing to overlook these demonstrations if the surgeon as exceptional results, "saves" lives, etc. The responsibility lies within the surgeon/provider who has a shadow side that is more powerful than their light side. The impact of this is loneliness, isolation, health risks and burnout just to identify a short list.

Are you ready to explore and befriend this shadow side of yourself? Are you ready to have people relate to you as exceptional provider, with great results, sensitive, empathic, having integrity and also relateable, approachable and self aware. If so please message me and I look forward to hearing from you.


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