Dokter Blog: from the desk of Rahajeng Tunjungputri

Medicine et cetera by @ajengmd

“The real world of medicine”

A discussion about teaching and learning medicine was brought up in doc2doc, and this is quoted from Odysseus, in

If your students were your soldiers in boot camp and you were the drill sergeant you are responsible for their success or failure as a soldier up to a point and thus responsible for their death or survival. But no matter how hard you ride the recruit, whether or not he or she takes on board all you have told them, is still their own responsibility.

Indeed it is your responsibility as an examiner (teacher) to ensure they jump as high as the bar you set and if they fail, they will not stand the pressure of the real world and must repeat or drop out.

The real world of medicine is life and death and coronial inquests and court cases and even jail if you get it badly wrong, so raising the bar to a high level and exhorting them to jump is essential.

"The real world of medicine is life and death and coronial inquests and court cases and even jail if you get it badly wrong"

I just thought that this is a good piece to start a lecture with.

I’d also like to introduce the professional values for medical students from the General Medical Council UK, . I’d expect all my students to read this during their preclinical years.

-Rahajeng, Semarang 30 October 2010


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The Lisbeth Salander Trilogy: The girl with the dragon tattoo who played with fire and kicked the hornet’s nest (A review on doc2doc blog)

This article is previously published in

Stieg Larssson’s trilogy were sold over 12 million copies worldwide, when the sales of the first novel was initially expected to reach only at least 10.000 copies.

The trilogy was never meant to be read separately, as Larsson himself completed the three books before handing them to his publisher. This is a trilogy, which I assure you, must be read back to back whenever our busy schedule in medicine permits us.

The first novel, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, started up the trilogy with the story of Henrik Vanger, a corporate mogul who asked an investigative reporter, Mikael Blomkvist, to find out about the disappearance of his great-nice. In the process, Mikael Blomkvist ran into, and decided to work together, with the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander. She’s a computer genius with piercings and tattoos and an avoidant personality.  

The first novel was endlessly going through the intricate crime and business plots, interrupted by striking descriptions of abuse and rape, and only hurriedly showing the characters who they really are. Lisbeth Salander felt distant, distrustful, foreign, and barely human (although she still had romantic involvement with Blomkvist); but then again maybe that’s how Larsson wanted her perceived in the first novel.


Lisbeth Salander portrayed by Noomi Rapace in the swedish movie version.


The novel definitely showed characters that are impressive in their integrity, individuality and imperfections.  Instead of succumbing to the terror of her rapist, she came back for revenge and left a souvenir for him, a tattoo marked on his chest that says “I’m a pervert, a sadistic pig, and a rapist.”

Interestingly, as a female reader, I found Larsson’s overboard fantasy of a womanizer-Blomkvist (a man who could seduce any women to sleep with him) is unrealistic and disturbing. And I can inform you here that Blomkvist character is an alter ego of Larsson (as described by his colleagues), where his sexual and romantic charm are perhaps the projection of Larsson’s own wish. I still appreciate however, Blomkvist’s admiration towards women with strong characters.

The second novel, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” tells the story of three murders interlinked with sex trade and how Lisbeth tries finding a person from her past. Separate investigations run parallel with one another, with different sets of investigators each with their own motives. This time Lisbeth is more determined than ever to pursue her own agenda of personal revenge.

“The Girl Who Played With Fire” is definitely showing so much more of Lisbeth Salander. While in the first novel she was mostly depicted through her hacking skills, odd look, and lack of connection with other people, the second novel showed more of her real personality. Larsson took the time to describe Lisbeth. Yes she’s highly intelligent, skilful, sexual, independent and powerful. To her friend and occasional lover, she said “I am what I am. … I ran away from everything and everybody”. But this time, she’s also shown as a real person, with real feelings and raw emotions. In her alone time she’s as fragile and frustrated as any other human being.

The novel also introduced another strong female character, Sonja Modig,inspector with the Stockholm police force. An interesting dialogue happened between Sonja and her superior, after she slapped Faste, a male colleague, who had falsely and degradingly accused her of unprofessional conduct towards a female witness:

“I slapped his face. That was enough.”

“You were provoked beyond enduring.”

“I was.”

“Faste has problems with strong women.”

“I’ve noticed that.”

“You’re a strong woman and a very good police officer.”


“But I’d appreciate it if you don’t beat up other staff.”

The title is literal as it is metaphoric of Lisbeth’s experience. And another point is just how seductive and perfect-fitting the titles of each of the novels are. The honest portrayal of emotions: disappointments, hurt, anger, sadness and loneliness of most of the characters is pleasantly realistic.

The first novel shows what Lisbeth did best, the second shows how she felt, and the third novel, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” shows where she came from and how she ended up where she was and how she finally had her closure. This time she’s involved with the Sweden’s Security Police, and had to face the people and institution which had systematically criminalized and abused her since her childhood.

The real protagonists of the trilogy are the women that Larsson created. They’re strong, ambitious, professional, competent, not asking for permission from the men around them, and realistically flawed. Consistently in the trilogy, we’re introduced to these women: an ambitious magazine editor, an internationally successful businesswoman, a PhD candidate investigating sex trade, a student/kick-boxer/performance artist, a talented police inspector,  a women’s-rights-activist-turned-criminal-lawyer and an operative of security police.

Indeed Lisbeth Salander is the most memorable and original, if not epic, female character in a crime thriller (or in any kind of fiction I’ve read in the past few years). And instead of making women simply as victims rescued by men (or merely as romantic extension of men), Larsson showed the world as it is today, where many women are also the bad-ass heroes.


Rahajeng. Semarang, 9 October 2010. As published in


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Beyond Borders with “doc2doc”


I enjoy writing, especially when I can interact with readers through my writings. While my writings here are only the ones more or less academically related, I know that my contemplative/narrative writing style is better appreciated at

I had problems before with some objections against my post in my old blog, thus the idea to build this blog, was born out of my desire to focus on academic medicine. But I miss writing critical and contemplative pieces, and “doc2doc” has been the perfect media for me. It’s a privilege to be able to blog there, I must say. And doc2doc has offered me the opportunity to interact with doctors from around the world.

It’s been amazing to get responses, ask questions, explore different answers and build friendship and networks because of my writing. And what astonishes me the most is to see that now my blog is being read by so many people in UK, Europe, US, Africa, and all across the world! My writings have gone beyond borders.

“A traffic report showing some of my doc2doc blog readers and their countries (for my latest post, “Empathy, or tea and sympathy?”)”

So, thank you for enabling me to get more response, interaction and most of all, international readers.

For my fellow Indonesian medical bloggers, keep writing, be critical, and be true to yourself.

– Rahajeng, a.k.a. “AjengMD”

*Special thanks for David Isaacson,, your an amazing community manager!

Thanks also to Prof. Cuello @CharlieNeck, Colleen Young @sharingstrength, and Zahid Raja @torydoc.

You can find doc2doc on, and the website at

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Empathy, or tea and sympathy?


Have you ever wondered about the difference between empathy and sympathy?

Jerome Groopman, MD put it in his book, “How Doctors Think”: “Patients and their loved ones swim together with physicians in a sea of feelings. Each need to keep an eye on a neutral shore where flags are planted to warn of perilous emotional currents”. We’re human, we feel. We just need to still be able to do our job with meticulous discipline in spite of our feelings.
Would you stop yourself and think whether it’s time for you to empathise or sympathise? Would it make any difference whether you’re in one mode or the other?

Check out my new blog post on, “Empathy, or tea and sympathy”, click here

Image from



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Latest post on

If smoking is bad, why do people still smoke? What does it take to successfully overcome the tobacco epidemic in Indonesia? Indonesia has been in the spotlight for not signing The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), but is it really just a matter of not having a political commitment and a failure of implementing health policy on tobacco?

Read more about “The Cure of Tobacco Epidemic” on my latest writing at (or click here)

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Medicine is a growing field, and information presented here is reflective of the time of posting. Please refer to your physician for direct medical consultation. My views do not reflect those of my employers. --
Regards, Rahajeng

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