Some of Gregory House's life lessons regarding people throughout the TV show House M.D. are, from memory:

  • Everyone lies.
  • Everyone is an idiot.
  • Parents mess up their kids, regardless of being a good or bad parent.
  • Relationships usually don't work.
  • People have to lie to make people happy.
  • Gregory House is mentally insane?
  • The best patients are the ones who can't respond.

There are so many more from each of the episodes, where he tests his friendship, to making people mad, and catching all of the lies which people make. But, are some of these actually accurate to our daily lives?

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    This entirely depends on your individual view on life. With a viewpoint as cynical as Dr. House's there is probably much truth in those statements, yet with a different approach you can probably turn all those lessons into the opposite. Are they accurate to House's life and how he sees it based on his past experiences? Most probably. Are they accurate to the majority of our daily lives and how we see them? Entirely unanswerable. So given that you can more or less intepret some truth into any kind of life lesson, I'd rather deem the whole premise of the question quite opinion-based. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 0:40
  • Yet it would be interresting if the question could be turned into a more specific direction, concentrating more on House's experiences and character in particular (though I have now idea how to aproach this at the moment). – Napoleon Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 0:43
  • Ok, I tried an answer concentrating more on House alone. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 1:13
  • There was one house statement : "Treating diseases is why we became doctors. Treating patients is what makes most doctors miserable". And from watching house, it is evident that patient satisfaction is not something house values. This aspect of House is being proved correct by some research facility (couldn't find a link). They found out that mortality is more in satisfied patients! – Rana Prathap Jul 12 '14 at 18:21

Well, this entirely depends on your individual view on life. With a viewpoint as cynical as Dr. House's there is probably much truth in those statements, yet with a different approach you can probably turn all those lessons into the opposite. So above all, they are accurate to House's individual view of his life based on his past experiences and his character. But I doubt them to be universal truths believed by a "general" majority of the people.

So given that you can more or less intepret some truth into any kind of life lesson, I'd rather deem the whole premise of the question quite opinion-based. But let's concentrate a bit more on Greg's character in particular and the truth of those statements in relation to that:

Everyone lies.

Well, Ok, everyone lies and who says he doesn't is, well, a liar. Taken out of context this seems like quite a pessimistic lesson, but it's as is just an objective truth and a natural part of human self-awareness and ability for understanding other people's positions. Yet while as it stands not wrong, more often than lying people actually tell the truth, so this is quite a half-truth. But yeah, indeed everyone lies. Especially if he doesn't want to discolse some embarassing secret to his doctor, even if it could clear up some mysteries, something that repeatedly annoys House in his patients.

Everyone is an idiot.

Seeing that House is a very intelligent and equally arrogant person, this makes quite some sense from his point of view. Objectively seen, the majority of the people he meets are probably less intelligent than him. Add to this, that he is also an extremely rationally thinking person, with a disdain for people acting irrationally or sacrificing their intelligence to their emotions and this adds to a large part to him calling them "idiots".

Parents mess up their kids, regardless of being a good or bad parent.

Again a bit of a half-truth, given that parents are to a large degree responsible for the character of their children and everybody could be seen as messed up in some way. Add to this that House sees enough people who act with the best intentions for their children yet with not always the best results, especially in his medical context. And he probably is self-aware enough to realize that he is quite messed up himself, too, and maybe doesn't have too kind feelings for his parents, especially his father, if I remember correctly.

Relationships usually don't work.

Again a half-truth, given that indeed many relationships don't work in the end (probably even most) and again porobably much more true regarding the "socially difficult" Gregory House and his past and present relationships. In the same way it could be seen quite cynically that most relationships require some lies and deception here and there to keep working and "People have to lie to make people happy". Add to this that Greg in his job usually sees other people and their relationships in a quite special context, which more often than not puts their relationships to test.

The best patients are the ones who can't respond.

This is again due to House's rather low "social competence" and his above mentioned views of his patients (especially their reluctance to tell the truth) together with the fact that he is a diagnostic expert and can give very accurate diagnoses from mere facts when not being "distracted" by the patients' supposed lies. Yet, I bet any real serious diagnostic doctor would tell you that the conversation with the patients is one of the most important factors of their work.

Gregory House is mentally insane?

Whenever House actually shares this viewpoint, this is probably part of the rather few instances of him realizing that he has quite some problems with his life and his relaitionships and is often not content with it himself. But I for myself would not call him insane right away.

These are just some small thoughts about the individual bullet points (and I admit that I haven't seen much of House M.D. lately), but to sum up, those lessons are to some degree accurate when assuming a view of life as cynical as House's and first and foremost pertain to his individual character and experiences alone. Given that you can interpret some truth into any kind of life lesson there is absolutely no way to tell if they are accurate to the daily life of the general public. This is just completely subjective, I think.

  • I see what you are saying with comparing it to House with his life views. I strongly, now, do believe that the first three are life lessons. They are very logical, common sense answers to life, in my and House's eyes. – user8719 Mar 24 '14 at 2:54
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    I would call them observations more than lessons, and they are "cup half empty" kinds of observations. Yes, everyone lies at some time or other, but most people tell the truth most of the time, most people value honesty, and many lies are told for fair reasons. House has a negative, myopic view of the world through which he sees his truths. – MJ6 Mar 24 '14 at 3:36
  • @MaryJoFinch Agreed and adapted accordingly. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 8:03

I'm going to offer an alternative, completely opinionated answer to this question. Like @Napoleon Wilson I'll focus on the life lessons you brought up. However, I'm not going to focus solely on House, but also the context in which he said them and the show revealed them.

Brace yourself - a long and completely subjective post is ahead.

Everyone lies.

At first glance, this seems a simplistic statement to understand. Everybody lies about something. I would agree with this. Whether the lies be great or small, everyone tells them.

But the show never implies the lies are small. This line is frequently used to describe some huge secret that characters on the show have. In fact, I found this to be one of the disappointing things about the world of House. It's almost guaranteed that if a man comes into the hospital with his wife and refuses to leave her bedside because he cares so much, it's really because he is responsible for her illness, or he cheated on her, or he embezzled money, or something other than genuine sorrow and support.

This is one of the life lessons from the show that I think is unfair and not true. As I said, I understand the basic sentiment is correct, but the show uses it to imply that everyone has a life changing secret which affects the treatment options available, which I think is categorically untrue.

Whilst it was fun to watch House, and whilst this statement is in general true, given the context in which this statement was used on the show, I disagree with it and don't think it can be called a life lesson.

Everyone is an idiot.

@Napoleon Wilson made excellent points about this statement, discussing how everyone appears inferior to House and their emotional sacrifices offer themselves up to his scorn.

But it's also worth pointing out that the majority of House's treatments are extremely unusual and dangerous. Is it idiotic for patients to opt against treatment suggesting by him, when other doctors strongly advise against it?

Not to mention how often in the series House and his team require multiple diagnoses before reaching the correct solution (think how many episodes begin with multiple wrong treatments before the correct one).

Obviously no doctor can be right every time and given the unusual nature of his team's cases, it's only logical that multiple approaches are required to successfully diagnose patients - but often all of these treatments are highly dangerous and thus it seems unfair to label all patients on the show as an idiot if they don't immediately follow his advice.

So, to him they may well appear that way, but it seems wrong to consider this a life lesson.

In fact, if one references Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences it can be seen that in general people have intelligence in a range of areas. Again, it seems harsh to label everyone as idiots simply because they don't have intelligence in the medical sector.

Parents mess up their kids, regardless of being a good or bad parent.

This is very subjective and extremely difficult to accurately judge. Define mess up their kids? Does it mean they give them life long phobias over things (such as my own father telling me to never ride a motorcycle and that lifelong lesson still holding today, for no logical reason?). Does it imply that every child has severe trauma due to their parenting?

I would argue that a simple look around the world should show that there are plenty of perfectly healthy, rational, happy adults who love their parents and had a happy upbringing.

That's not to say they haven't had life lessons imparted on them or had sanctions placed against them - but rather that they are not simply messed up.

Relationships usually don't work.

Again, it's hard to know where to draw the line with this. Does it refer to only serious relationships? If so, what is serious? Does it refer to marriages? Simple searches online show that slightly more than 50% of marriages are happy and last for life, suggesting relationships of that caliber usually (but not always) do work.

But if this statement refers to all relationships, then it seems very likely it's true. After all, not many fifteen year olds who date for two weeks expect their relationship to last.

People have to lie to make people happy.

This seems unlikely for reasons similar to the first question. I'm not implying people never lie, but it appears unfair to label everyone as requiring to lie for the sake of happiness. I've told lies in my own life, but I've never felt the need to lie to someone's face to make them happy.

But even if I did, where do you draw the line? If you tell someone they look good, despite the fact you don't think they do, does that meet the criteria? Does it matter who you say it to? If I meet someone and tell them it's nice to meet them, despite my feelings to the contrary, does that count?

If so, then again, like the previous statement, it appears logical that this could be true. But given the context the show implies it in, that serious lies are required frequently for anyone to be happy, I disagree with it.

Gregory House is mentally insane?

I would definitely disagree with this. Medical insanity is about an unsoundness of mind and an inability to rationally act in a way a reasonable person would. Whilst House may appear to frequently act in a manner not consistent with a reasonable person, he is most certainly of sound mind as any observation of him and his work uncovers.

The best patients are the ones who can't respond.

There are some cases even on House which shows this isn't the case (such as where if a patient could utter a single word about what happened to them, or where they got ill, the case could be solved immediately.

Probably a better phrase would be "the quietest patients are the ones who can't respond"!

Final comments:

Okay, okay, I know I took this way too seriously, but I wanted to simply comment that in the context of the show, whilst these lines are frequently shown to be true, in real life it seems unfair to assume they would be.

Remember, House is the ultimate, bitter, lonely cynic and these comments all shape his own views of the world. As we see the show through his eyes and we see mostly his successes, it appears like his life lessons hold true. But it's just a show - a show in which everything is designing to enhance his intelligence.

How often do we watch a show or movie where our hero goes on a vendetta against the bad guy? Often with no evidence or proof, but he's vindicated in the end as some scrap of evidence shows up and he gets his bad guy... Except what if he didn't get him? What if he was actually innocent and all we've watched is harassment? This would completely betray all the motives and beliefs and ideas of the supposed hero and make a mockery out of his goals - except we rarely see that side of events occurring.

What I'm effectively saying is, House's lessons look brilliant and true because the show frequently shows them that way. In real life, is it likely that almost every couple who end up in hospital are lying to each other over serious issues? Perhaps. But, like many of the other life lessons, I just don't believe it.

  • Meh, much better than my answer, here take your mandatory +1. ;-) – Napoleon Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 11:04
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    Nah, just a different point of view. To be honest, it's an entirely subjective question, but it was kinda fun to answer :) – Andrew Martin Mar 24 '14 at 11:45