Benevolent deception: Send me no flowers

Catherine Belling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses the issue of benevolent deception as seen in the film Send Me No Flowers (1964). The film focuses on George (Rock Hudson), who lives in mid-1960s American suburbia with his wife, Judy (Doris Day). George, a hypochondriac, suffers from a comic stereotype of anxiety about illness and depends on a vast cabinet full of medications. The chapter focuses on a scene where George overhears his doctor talking about a dying patient, and his intention to hide this fact from the patient; George mistakenly thinks that patient is him. The scene illustrates benevolent deception, when a physician actively withholds information about diagnosis or treatment from a patient, or even provides misinformation, with the intention of protecting the patient. It also reveals the danger of deception, even in the guise of benevolent medical paternalism, and vividly demonstrates the effects of such deceptions: the patient can no longer trust his physician and is left isolated in his fear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Picture of Health
Subtitle of host publicationMedical Ethics and the Movies
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780190267520
ISBN (Print)9780199735365
StatePublished - May 27 2015


  • Benevolent deception
  • Hypochondriac
  • Medical paternalism
  • Patient care
  • Patients
  • Physicians
  • Send me no flowers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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