Do we excuse Carter for too much? : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

I would like your thoughts on this. It is apparent that just about everyone on this board adores Carter (possibly more than any character). We have been making an awful lot of excuses for his behavior lately based on his heinous attack. We have forgiven his shortness with the staff, his outright lying to just about everyone, and endangering his patient(s). He caused that severe allergic reaction last week because of his injections, yet his behavior seems to be forgiven by us because he "may not have been in his right mind" at that particular moment. My observation is, wasn't Paul Sobricki also "not in his right mind"? Okay, okay, granted he did perpetuate a murder, whereas if Carter had killed that woman it would have been an accident. BUT-it would have been an accident that could have been easily prevented. So my question is, should we have excused Carter for almost accidently killing that woman? Is Paul forgivable because his mind was clouded too?

I know in the past after Mark's beating some people were getting tired and wanted him to "get over it", yet, we do not seem to "order" Carter to do the same. Is our bias (of liking Carter) overshadowing his faults, (i.e. can Carter "do no wrong" because we can forgive him for anything, even accidently killing a woman because he was consciously under the influence?) Is it being unfair to the other characters who seemed to be judged more harshly? If Abby were under the influence because of an attack and she almost killed someone, would we defend her too? Just wondering.

P.S. I am a big Carter fan, so don't think I'm bashing him, just getting out food for thought. Thanks.)

-- Jane (, May 19, 2000


I don't think anyone is "excusing" Carter for anything. You could go crazy assigning blame for Lucy's death, though. I haven't read a single fan comment saying "It's not fair that Carter was confronted that way and has to go into rehab." As far as being called on the carpet goes... having a staff intervention is about as "called on the carpet" as you can get. Of course, Carter still owes Abby an apology, but that's for next season.

-- debbie (, May 19, 2000.

i dont think he is being excused just because he was attacked, when you are on pain messes with you. i know thats not a medically correct term, but there it is.

-- ALexis Springer (, May 19, 2000.

I would hope that, for whatever it's worth, we could indeed "forgive" Paul Sobricki.

He may always be a danger to others, and therefore he may never be someone you want walking the street. But it is an illness that drives him to be like that -- if he ever has lucid moments, he's probably tortured by the memory of what he did.

-- Elizabeth (, May 19, 2000.

Carter has often had a problem with a lack of self-control and lack of committment - look at how many temporary girlfriends he has had, and remember Liz from Season 1? The one who gave him a VD? Anyway, he seems to have this boyish streak, and coupled with the fact that he came from an emotionally distant family and has trouble asking for help & expressing his emotions, AND the fact that he has been through a major trauma and still has physical pain, all these things make it very believable that he would develop a problem with abusing pain killers. I think these things make it more understandable, but I don't think we are excusing his behavior because he is still an adult and must help himself if he wants to recover.

It's possible that we are biased because right from Season 1, Carter was an adorable, likeable character and so that probably helps to make us more forgiving of him now. Also that Carter's trauma was worse than Mark's. I mean, it was bad for Mark, too, but Carter could have died from this one, and Lucy *did* die from it!!

-- Melanie (, May 19, 2000.

I admit, Carter's behavior of late has gotten out of control, and that's the reason the final episode was so successful. Several posters have noted the profound nature of Mark's line "But it's Carter. Your mind just doesn't go there." Certainly mine didn't. We all saw John's behavior changing since he returned from the attack. We all knew something was wrong, and we all knew that Mark and Carol weren't getting at it. Peter was the only one who could reach him, and I was extremely grateful that the writers noted that. I still find myself sympathizing with Carter; I felt the things he said during the group intervention, while not so nice, were all true. He has continued to function. He has saved most of their asses at one time or another from one mistake or another. Now it was time for them to save him. I was touched with the discretion and the caring they showed when they did it, but especially when Peter went after him. "You wanna fight, Carter...that's cool. But your ass is getting in that van." That took a real friend, and I'm glad John had them around.

-- Don (, May 19, 2000.

I agree... a lot of people have been excusing his behaviour due to his traumatic experience and Lucy's death. Besides being morally wrong, his attitude and running around trying to save his own rear is really going to hurt him sometime. He can't lie to get out of stuff forever! Carter is my favorite character, but that doesn't mean I'd excuse his immoral behavior with excuses. As for the ER staff; they also seem to be dancing around him. I'm glad they finally confronted him part-way and I really hope that not only does rehab help him medically and physically and emotionally, but I hope it helps him realize what's wrong with his lying lately.

-- Kim (, May 19, 2000.

you guys, are acting like carter purposely got hooked on pain pills because he is some kind of asshole or something!! he took pain pills because he was IN PAIN, ok? people do not get "hooked" on purpose!!! it happens to lots of really nice people. the guy who plays chandler on friends was hooked on pain killers also, in REAL life. so, does that make him a bad guy?

-- ALexis Springer (, May 19, 2000.

Actually, for me, I know I never implied Carter was anything. Like I said, I am a Carter fan. And I'm not judging him, I was asking do we excuse Carter for things that we wouldn't excuse other characters? My main question was,actually, if we forgive Carter because his mind was not coherent, then should we forgive Paul Sobricki because he was also in a fragile mental state? That was really the point of my original post.

-- Jane (, May 19, 2000.

I forgot to ask, who thought Carter was an *******? I didn't read that anyone thought that of him, or that they thought he was really acting like one.

-- Jane (, May 19, 2000.

I think a lot of us excuse Carter and sympathize with him because his actions are the direct result of a vert traumatic experience for him. Just a few months ago he was brutally knifed and colleagie was killed by the same person. He sufferd severe painful injuries from the knifing that almost killed him. He feel partially guilty over Lucy's death. He was prescribed pain killers legally and he took them. Besides the major physical pain he is in , he has major emotional pain as well. These pains have caused a physical and mental toll on Carter. He has not slep in a few months. He has developed PTSD, survivor's guilt which has in turm caused such problems, as insomnia, nightmares, flashbacke , irritabilty, agitation etc. these emotions alonr have caused his to show wide mood swings. The drugss worsened it. On top of that,he has to go back to work at the same place he was brutally knifed. He has to treat patients in the exact same spot. Carter is struggling to regain his identity. He is confused and no longer knows who he is. Deep down he still cares and his trying regain control and be a good dr. He did not know who to turned to . He felt alone.He is scares and dissapointed and upset with himself when things are not right All of these things contributed to him not being able to control the amount of pain killers he took. I suffer from chronic pain. I've had to struggle sometimes when I'm in severe pain not to go overboard. This happens to me infrequently that I have such severe problems. I do know when I am more stress I struggle more not to take pain meds I normally wouldn't. However, I am not going through such a harrowing experience from a traumatic event. I'm not going through all the emotional physical and emotional rollercoaster Carter is. So yes. I feel sympathy for Carter and understand why he is acting the way he is and I feel for him. I'm glad he is getting help for the drug use, chronic pain, PTSD, and survivors guilt.

-- Brenda (, May 19, 2000.

why do we not excuse other character? because they didnt suffer through the traumatic experience that carter did, and they are not on mind altering narcotics, thats why.

-- ALexis Springer (, May 19, 2000.

It's pretty simple--We excuse Carter because we know him. I think it was Melanie who said above, that we have known Carter since Season One to be a sweet young man, and as Mark said "It's Carter, your mind doesn't go there." We don't know Paul, we only saw two episodes worth of him, we haven't been through all that he's been through, we haven't spent YEARS growing with him, coming to love him and care about his character. We know Carter and so we feel more compassion for him. Who knows what Paul has been through? Who knows what made him do what he did? We watched Carter through the past six years and through his entire horrifying ordeal. We know him, so we tend to "excuse" him, that's all.

-- Cecelia (, May 19, 2000.

Yeah, Alexis! Your posts above are right on target. I have a lot of friends who are recovering and I truly believe (as does the AMA, BTW) that addiction is a disease. Someone above used the word "moral." Addiction is, in recovery terms, a spiritual issue but it is certainly not a moral one (I apologize if I misread the comment). To consider it a moral issue is not only old-fashioned, it is judgemental and wrong. Carter did not choose to become addicted, and neither does anyone else. There is actually such a thing as an addictive personality and it has been known for a very long time that addiction is genetic and certain people have a higher chance of it than others. As for him getting off easy, he won't. His recovery program will require him to make a list of all persons he has harmed and eventually to make amends to those where it won't cause further harm. I truly believe Carter will come back a stronger character than ever. I'll add an FYI: Recovering people are some of the most caring I've ever been privileged to know.

-- Diana (, May 19, 2000.

If anything else, I kind of think that I sympathise with Carter more than I excuse him. I mean, he has his flaws, even now. But considering what he's been through, I have this desire to cut him some slack and give him a break. I am glad though that Kerry, Mark, Anspaugh, etc. were not that lenient. I really wouldn't want him to work if he kept on sending patients in to analyphatic (sp?) shock, and there really is no perfect excuse for that. So their ultimatim was perfect-- and combined with Benton's help, exactly what he needed. As for excusing Carter, in the past I don't really think I have. I truly believe that Carter is a bad teacher; yes Lucy was annoying, but Carter wasn't the best of teachers. And yeah, he was irresponsible as a med student; drinking on the job, etc. And I thought it was really tactless when he dumped Roxanne. But what I liked about the way the writers have written him, is that it makes him so much more realistic than if there was always a valid reason for "excusing" him.

-- samira (, May 19, 2000.

I will admit, I excuse him more than if it were anyone else in this place. I cringed after he lied to Deb in front of his patient last week, but then he went and broke down and I realized he didn't understand why he was acting like this. The looks on his face repeatedly shows that he doesn't know how to stop the way he's acting. And I didn't enjoy his getting mad at Abby, or cheap shot at Deb's mistake, but that is a human way to respond. He is frustrated and scared and not even realizing that he's ruining his life. And we know this because he broke down with Benton just moments later.

It is true, I haven't read a *single* comment from anyone that they don't like Carter, in fact, most praise him. And the way they confronted him, with the theme of "trusted friends" and not "authority" you think if it were anyone else, would they have been so careful in planning how to deal with this? I knew that they woudl never show this, but I would love to see the shock from others: "where did Carter go?"..."Well, we sent him a 1000 miles away (I'm estimating) to get specialized detox for his drug addiction..." Can you imagine the look on Mallucchi's, Haleh's, Chuney's, Luka's, etc. faces?

And about carter dumping Roxanne...I thought that was great! I like her at first, but after awhile, to quote Chuney "she was too pushy, always trying to sell you stuff".

-- Elaine (, May 19, 2000.

I have actually had some experience dealing with issues like Carter's in the hospital where I used to work, and I think that almost anyone would have gotten the same basic consideration as Carter did, i.e., "we will get you help and support you, but if you don't get help we can't let you work here anymore." No one wants to destroy someone's career, especially that of a coworker whom you've known for years. Health care workers in particular are acutely aware that alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness can happen to anyone, and the first approach is almost always to try and help. As far as physicians go, the medical licensing boards of many states recognize that even really good doctors can get into trouble, and they have a procedure for letting an addicted doctor get his/her act together rather than automatically suspending that doctor's license. Still, I wonder if there will be any restrictions on Carter's license to practice when he gets out of rehab (e.g., maybe he won't be able to write prescriptions for narcotics without another doctor's review), and if so whether they would be temporary or permanent.

As far as the rest of the ER staff getting an explanation about Carter's rehab, employer intervention for an employee is usually kept confidential (note how Romano, Malucci and Kovach were left out of the loop). Kerry seems to run a tight ship at County, so I doubt Carter's problem will be talked about in an official capacity -- certainly there would be no announcement that "we sent him to rehab for his drug addiction."

The nurses and other staff know something is up with Carter, but the people "in the know" as to his addiction are all pretty tight with him, and hopefully would not talk about him with other staff in the ER. The staff will probably be left to speculate as to what exactly went wrong with him, just like we've all been speculating for weeks - is he bipolar - is he addicted - is it PTSD?

-- Beth (, May 20, 2000.

Beth, I posted on other comments that I talked to a friend in the field and she said the same thing as you regarding how they handle addiction in this field. I'll have to ask her if she knows about license restrictions after treatment. It's an interesting question.

Jane, I do think Sobriki is "forgiveable". There isn't even a question about this because it was obvious he was psychotic. No one would bring him up on murder charges because of this.

Regarding Carter, I think I empathize with him because of his desparate need to appear perfect. Sometimes he slips up, (can't help it, he's human) and this torments him to no end. (Puking during match day, puking after he got caught drinking on the job. He tends to puke when he's really nervous, I think that is sooo cute!) That's what this is all about. He doesn't like to appear like a flawed human (like all of us are) because he can't stand to have people think less of him. Mark was the same way before his attack. Carter cares deeply (too deeply) about what other people think about him and I hope this gets addressed in rehab and beyond. Do I forgive Carter? That doesn't matter, what matters is that Carter forgives himself.

-- S. Trelles (, May 20, 2000.

Jane: to answer your question (its been lost hasn't it?) I was never angry at Paul because he had not been diagnosed. If he had been one of those who chose not to take their meds, then I would be very angry- an important point the writers knew. I think that Carter is the one who has to forgive him, for his own sake. I know that sounds so goofy, but I know from experience its the only way to go on and still be sane. John has to come back from the "bad place" he's in if he wants to stay clean.

-- May (, May 20, 2000.

The reason that we are more forgiving of Carter in this situation than we may be of any other character is that a)He is one of the series's longest serving characters. We know him the best. b) The role of Carter is different from the other long-lasting characters. His has been a learning process, from the first day when he nearly died trying to insert an IV. We have seen him go from inexperience to 'caring too much' while a student in the er, 'not caring enough' during his surgery internship, and full circle untilhe cared too much to be a surgeon and rejoined the er as an intern. Mark's beating was different as when we met him he was already a good doctor, and for the most part he has been a surce of stability within the er, even persuading Carter not to see anymore patients because of his drug use. Marks problems were a blip on his career, but we never doubted he'd get through them. This however is another part of Carters journey and we are not so confident that he could get by (without the help of Benton). Carter also represents what the er does, helping people. He said it himself in Mayday 'I only wanted to help people but I dont need their job'. Unlike all the other Drs he initially didnt need his job, his father is one of the richest men in Chicago. He didnt even train and the get a small quiet family practice, he works with the poor and needy in an inner-city hospital. Because of all these things we excuse Carter because we know it is partof the learning curve.

-- mags (, June 03, 2000.

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