Carter's co-workers and change of heart... : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

This is a little long and somewhat rambling, so be forewarned.

I have just watched May Day again and have done a 180 in my thinking on the way Carter's co-workers handled the entire situation. Since the attack on Carter and his subsequent deterioration, I have been thinking that these are colleagues of Carters, co-workers, and not responsible for Carter and what damage he may be doing to himself. After all, I work with an office full of people that I interact with every week day, and I seriously doubt that I would know if one of them were an addict if they remained as outwardly functional as Carter was for most of the time.

We don't normally see these characters interacting socially away from work, and even though we get the feeling that they care about each other, I sometimes think that it is the same kind of out of sight, out of mind caring that often occurs between co-workers. (The same kind that allows a central character to leave the series and never be mentioned again, except in an offhand throw away line a couple of episodes after they're gone.)

Anyway, because of this "they were co-workers and not true 'friends'" attitude, I initially accepted Mark's line to Karrie about not thinking about drugs in relation to Carter because he was indeed Carter.

BUNK! I now have decided that I don't buy it. For the simple reason that these people, even if they were ONLY co-workers and not life long till death do us part friends, are medical professionals. They see drug abuse and its resulting behavior every day. Why couldn't they spot it in someone they saw and worked with on a daily basis? If they didn't or couldn't see it, maybe it's because they did not want to see it.

As long as they could see Carter doing his job, seeming to get better physically, and telling them he was doing "fine" over and over, (if they thought he was really doing OK, why did they keep asking and then do nothing about it?) they did not have to assume any of the responsibility for what happened. And to some extent they were all responsible.

1) Mark, for not having Carter and Lucy present the patient to him before he left early.

2) Luka, for not having Mark do rounds with him when he took over the "board", and then compounding the error by not having Carter and Lucy present the patient to him.

3) Carrie, for not doing rounds with Luka when she came on. (Although this would have been after the fact, they would have been found a few minutes earlier.)

4) Everyone who was partying while Carter and Lucy were lying there bleeding on the floor.

Ultimately, of course, Carter was responsible for his own actions. He acted out of fear and guilt and pain, and his choices caused his own eventual downfall into addiction. But, somewhere along the downward slide, at least one of his co-workers should have guessed. We did.

-- Nancy Wilson (, May 29, 2000


I agree that Carter's coworkers should have paid a little more attention to him, even if he was blowing everyone off by saying he's fine. I was just thinking that doesn't it ring a few bells that someone who's been stabbed, who's seen his coworker bleeding on the floor, who comes back to work showing signs of pain, keeps saying he's fine? No one would be "fine" if that happened to them-- it would take more than just a few weeks to be okay. Even if they didn't want to see it, because they're so close to Carter and they couldn't picture him doing something so "ugly' as taking drugs, they should see it as his supervisors, and in the light that he was jeopardising patient care (which he was beginning to do). I just thought that the whole way they reacted to Carter coming back was haphazard at the most. They just wanted to sweep this incident under the rug, and obviously Carter sensed that and did it as well. When the other people didn't want to talk about it, obviously Carter wasn't encouraged to let loose his feelings as well. I think his coworkers forgot that while they had a day to grieve for Lucy (memorial service), he didn't have that closure. While I think it's also very much Carter's fault, I don't think he felt he had anywhere else to turn to deal with his problems.( And I'm not too sure Dr. DeRaad was helpful either, because I sensed that somewhere inside Carter felt angry at him for not coming down sooner. )As others have mentioned in other threads, Carter's very much a person who tries to live up to other's beliefs/standards, and when everyone seemed to buy the lie that he was doing okay, I think it just put every bit of more pressure on him to actually act out on it.

-- samira (, May 29, 2000.

I agree that his co-workers wanted to believe that Carter was OK, because it kept them from having to deal with his feelings/his recovery, or from having to deal with any consequences that went along with him not being of sound mind and yet still treating patients. However, these people do know Carter, and they know that drug use/abuse would be so out of character for him. My first response to the spoiler about him abusing drugs was "NO! Carter would never do that!" So I think it's only natural that his co-workers wouldn't entertain the idea of him over-medicating.

I do wonder why no one thought about him suffering from PTSD. Why would Deb, with her medical knowledge, go straight to bipolar disorder when he was displaying textbook signs of post traumatic stress disorder? Heck, I looked it up on the Internet and immediately made the diagnosis! You would think, given Mark's experience, that he and Kerry (and Carol, and everyone who saw what happened to Mark) would have been looking for signs of PTSD in Carter from the moment he came back.

I guess as co-workers it's easy to sweep those obvious signs under the rug, because you have your own job to do and it's easier not to get involved. I'm not saying they weren't wrong to ignore the signs, just that I can understand where they were coming from. Carter kept insisting he was fine, and seemed to be functioning normally, which just made it easier to believe he really was coping well.

Carter always has been one to tow the line and do what's expected of him. And he didn't want to deal with it, anyway. I don't think he would have been interested in talking or sharing his feelings had they all sat around in a circle his first day back and demanded to know what was going on inside of him. He's a private person, he's closed off, as Lucy said. He wanted to work because it was an escape from having to deal with what happened, and when it got tough to work he did what he had to do to be able to function there. He was ultimately responsible for the decision to abuse drugs, but the others do bear some responsibility for not paying more attention.

When Carter talked to DeRaad, I got the impression that it never occurred to him that DeRaad could be somewhat responsible. He seemed to blow off the idea that anyone else bore the kind of responsibility for what happened that he did. Once you get stuck in that cycle of guilt and self-hatred, it's hard to get out. And I think that by blaming himself for Lucy's death, it made it easier for him to abuse the drugs. "I caused a person's death, so what does it matter if I shoot up some fentayl?"

PS: I finally gave in and used my real e-mail address!

-- Avan (, May 29, 2000.

i am still wondering why some people have to be so ignorant, saying it was carter's choice to abuse drugs? like, he just said to himself one day..." gee, i think i will beme a drug addict" ya right!

-- ALexis Springer (, May 30, 2000.

Samira's words exactly! Actually, I agree with most of what everyone said, except I think that overall, everyone is pretty good friends with everyone else, at least in terms of Carter, because mostly everyone likes him. The thing that makes this easiest to believe is Mark's "it's carter, your mind just doesn't go there" I would think the same thing, if I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Carter! However, it did seem like there was not much concern upon his return...and like Samira said, HELLO, he was stabbed, Lucy died, and they have stated that they know he blames himself for it, so they need to get over their insecurities over it and talk to him. Although I guess if the writers used the "Hey Carter are you alright/want to talk?" line too much, it would be redundant. I REALLY hope that there is a time next season when they sit down and decide that they need to discuss the attack with him...the day it happened and his feelings about Lucy. I don't care if it drags the storyline out too much, it's a good storyline for ER and Lucy deserves a little more closure than what she got (though at least it wasn't nothing).

-- Elaine (, May 30, 2000.

And to Alexis: I don't really blame Carter much either. Not that it is not at all his fault, but I think that he was so deep into his insomnia and guilt that taking a few extra pain killers did not seem too bad to him. He didn't know how to talk about everything, he didn't know how to function (as he said), so he unintentionally went too far, because he panicked. Mark and Kerry stopped it before he got worse. Honestly, it is so hard for me to picture him in rehab. I know he needs it, but I think he can recover okay and quickly.

* Last thing...does anyone think that they would have predicted the outcome of Carter, had it not been discovered and spoilers hadn't come out because of the Rosie show? Maybe we would have been just as clueless, maybe not, just something to think about.

-- Elaine (, May 30, 2000.

The best thing that any concerned co-workers could do, to get someone to open up about a traumatic experience, is for them to talk about their OWN feelings with the traumatized person... saying "Are you OK?" or "Do you need to talk?" generally doesn't bring a noncommunicative person out of their shell.

-- debbie (, May 30, 2000.

The whole thing is, Carter's coworkers care about him. That's obvious, and they always have cared about him. One scene from season two that sticks out in my mind is after Doug slept with Harper and one of Mark's questions to Doug is "What about Carter? He and Harper are going out, or didn't you know?" Some coworkers wouldn't give anything about who slept with who, but Mark cared about Carter then and didn't want to see him hurt.

I think this always showed. Sure, they didn't talk to Carter as much as they should have after the attack, I've said that before and I'm saying it now. But it's hard to put blame on anyone in a situation like this. Yeah, it could be Mark because he didn't tell Luka, or it could be Luka for not checking. It could be Kerry for not trying hard enough to get to Carter, it could be Carter for looking to drugs. But no one can really be blamed. At this point, I'm thinking that the last thing Carter wanted was to become reliant on drugs to get him through such a hard time and I think that's why his denials were also so strong. Being a doctor is a busy life and each person who should have cared more for Carter was tied down with other life- altering business. Maybe it was inevitable, and maybe that's the point. Sometimes it just can't be avoided. Just my $1.37.

-- Joanne (, May 30, 2000.

Joanne, I just saw that scene too, with Mark asking Doug if he knew about Carter and Harper and he asks "Do you care about Carter? No it's always about you Doug." I loved that Mark thought of Carter, and he watched in the next trauma to see that Carter obviously knew about the little incident by the way he was dismissing Harper. I remember a few epis before that, Mark watched Carter ask her out and then said, "are things getting extra curricular?" and Carter just smiled and said "m'hmmmm!" Anyways, after Doug and Harper, Carter was playing basketball and Doug went up to him and said he didn't know (*what do others think...did he know? He IS the hospital gossip, according to Susan) and they played a rather forceful game of basketball then. I liked that Doug bothered to talk to him. I am keeping my opinion...I think these coworkers are pretty close.

-- Elaine (, May 30, 2000.

I don't think Doug knew about Harper and Carter because they were being fairly discreet and it was early in their relationship. The Doug of that time, though, would probably have gone ahead anyway and then had another excuse...they're not serious, it wasn't important, etc. I loved Carter's response to Doug on the b'ball court too...something like, I'm glad everyone else has made their peace with this but I'm going to need some more time if that's okay with you. Then he shoved the ball into Doug's hands and walked back to the hospital.

-- Diana (, May 30, 2000.

Even how sometimes the whole crew would go over to Doc Magoo's after work (like in Luck of the Draw and Baby Shower) or how they would worry together instead of going home to worry alone (The Healers and All in the Family). Even the little parties held in Chairs (Let the Games Begin) prove the closeness of this staff. I think it's pretty cool. They are close. Doctors, nurses, receptionists, everyone. It's probably one of my favorite parts of the show.

-- Joanne (, May 30, 2000.

One thing to keep in mind is that most of Carter's coworker's have had their own problems over the past few months. Mark' father was dying and Kerry was suspended. The reality is that it's human nature to focus on our own problems before other people's. I think that Mark or Kerry might have noticed something sooner if not for that.

-- Patricia (, May 31, 2000.

Why is it so important to have someone to blame. Even though he was ill blame Paul Sorbicky. I agree with the person who said "people get caught up in their own lives." It doesn't make it right, just real. Carter was a victum of something awful. I don't think he chose to become addicted to drugs, he just wanted to keep on living up to everyones idea of him, and I guess he leaned to much on the drugs to try to do that. Pain is a really tricky thing. People tend to think if they could just be "tougher" they can be what they a supossed to be, but that is really hard when pain takes all the joy out of your life. I am rambling, but my point is easise up on everybody. Sometimes things happen and they are nobodys fault.

-- Cara Noblitt (, May 31, 2000.

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