A Critique Of Modern Medicine
There are many in the medical community who are so set in their ways that they cannot possibly acknowledge that there is anything at all in medicine beyond their view of the human body as strictly a mechanical cause-and-effect automaton. Everything in their world has to be immediately and fully quantifiable, or it doesn’t exist. If there is anything that can possibly exist outside of the realm of their Deus-level comprehension, then it is to be rejected as addled faith-healing for the desperately naive. These people look at the body as a biochemical Meccano set, nothing more than a complex assemblage of spare parts designed to be mixed and matched as if we were shadetree mechanics doing a carburetor swap behind the garage on a balmy Saturday afternoon. For them to consider the wholeness of the entity and the pervasive effects of their insult to the body would be to ask them to reject everything that they have been trained to believe and hold sacred.
The training, perhaps more than the individual is to blame in this dark comedy. It is drilled into their heads at an impressionable age to believe that no matter what happens, you can administer some chemical or slice out some chunk and everything will be alright. Is something diverging? Then just bend it back! Is there a disbalance? Then just add some more fluid! Is there a malfunction? Then replace the part!
This healing by way of the NAPA Auto Parts School of Medicine damages not only the prospects of the patients, but of the healers as well. It blinds them to the essence of disease. It forces them to interpret everything they see through a mesh so fine that they can only view what is directly in front of them. They are so accustomed to this linear perception that they have come to believe that it is the only mode of perception possible to a medical professional. They have come to believe that disease is nothing more than a disruption of bio-chemical processes and thus can be eliminated by the judicious administration of a series of counterbalancing bio-chemical processes.
In keeping with their Master Mechanic philosophy, everything is fixable. Everything is repairable. Everything is reconditionable.
There is a curious aspect about medical science. From the layman’s standpoint, it seems impenetrable and unconquerable. To walk into a medical library and gaze upon the endless shelves of books that seem to disappear into the horizon, football fields stacked with books dealing in incomprehensible detail about the most minute aspects of the human body, is enough to leave a person reeling. In any respectable university medical library, you can go for a two minute stroll and not leave cardiology. All that information, all that data, all that reference material. Hundreds of years of the work of millions of doctors. The accumulated information which would put the Library at Alexandria to shame.
Medical libraries are not just repositories of knowledge. They are places of worship. They are the sites where we go to pay homage to the tireless efforts of the brave doctors and researchers who have taken such risks with their own health and safety to bring their healing arts to the world. The altar of Hippocrates. The chapel of Salk. The church of Barnard.
There’s only one problem with all that. The stack of unanswered questions dwarfs the stack of answered ones. What we don’t know is so much greater than what we do know, that if we use that ratio as the determining factor, we might as well just give up and go home.
Medical science is a very broad lake, but in some places it is incredibly shallow. So shallow that you can see right through it.
If the general public only knew how much time, effort, resources and money are spent in the examination of subjects not only so irrelevant to be laughable, but so unlikely to yield anything of any medical value to anyone at all, there would be rioting outside the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Don’t get me wrong. Medical scientists are great mechanics. They can spend entire careers figuring out an exact biochemical or anatomical structure. They can compile great works while dissecting carcasses or decoding the human genome. They can observe, study, test, dismantle, and reassemble ad infinitum.
They are mechanics nonetheless. They are in the position of the alien civilization presented with an automobile. They can take it apart, determine the exact carburetor jetting, the compression ratio, the cam timing, the gear ratios, the tire pressures. However, nobody can drive the damn thing! Indeed, they can’t even figure out that the thing is meant to be driven!
But, boy, can they write volumes about auto mechanics!
There are countless examples of this mechanical predisposition hampering the insight into medical processes. Today it is customary to scoff at the concept of philosophers guiding science. We feel that science has its own inexorable progress and its own inviolable rules. It can be trusted to determine its own path through the rigorous application of the scientific process. To the uninitiated, that basically translates to:
- Get challenged
- Answer your challengers
That system may work beautifully when the goal is to decipher some particularly obscure biochemical detail, but it completely falls apart when we try to consider the essence of medicine, the greater picture. This scenario does not allow for the comprehension of the effect on the interlinking web of life. The most important questions are never asked. Why? Because according to this mentality, they are irrelevant.
They concentrate so much on the proper two-oh silk and the disinfection of the needle and the correct stitching pattern to use to sew up the baby that fell off the balcony that it somehow evades them to ask why the baby fell off the balcony, and to put up a child guard on the railing.
In medical science it often suffices that only the particular requirement of the moment be addressed. All efforts are directed to be focussed on such a pinpoint level that the experts within their own fields become so overspecialized and bogged down in their own minutiae, that they become blind to the momentous development right next door which could lead to a breakthrough if only they had the chance to learn about it.
It is an insidious cycle. So much information is published every month that if a specialist wanted to keep fully current on his field, he would have to spend every waking hour reading, and even then he wouldn’t stand much of a chance.
So the overspecialization continues, driving more and more professionals to take up more and more of their careers learning more and more about less and less.
Then we combine it with the overwhelming, unfathomable financial game of the market-driven insatiability of the pharmaceutical companies. And it becomes a recipe for disaster.
Driven by the staggering costs and profits of the pharmaceutical industry, the call goes out: We need a pharmaceutical factor to counteract the chemical buildup of Stupizone in the brain afflicted with Cretinitis Gravis. So we go into the lab and come out a few years later with Cleveriria, a drug whose molecule fits into the Stanford-Binet receptors in the cerebellum, acting as a Stupizone-uptake inhibitor, and thus preserving the patient’s IQ.
So we go through the barrage of FDA tests, the drug gets approved, is sold by prescription only but a brisk underground trade on the Internet develops at “the bargain price of” $25 a pill, millions of people pop it, and the world is once again safe for cranial activity.
Oh, and by the way, after ten years of Cleveriria intake, the Stanford-Binet receptors get clogged, and your IQ increases rapidly until you become functionally autistic. But nothing in the tests hinted at this, so now we have to put all the people who took the drug into institutions for the rest of their lives.
Of course the Cretinitis Gravis example is fictional, but the rest of the scenario is not. We have seen it many times before. Thalidomide, a relaxing drug given to pregnant women to ease morning sickness in the Sixties which ended up causing horrible birth defects in the children was only one, and fairly mild example. FenPhen, the dual-banger diet drug that wound up causing heart problems was a more recent one. Today, for instance, there seems to be some evidence developing of cellular phone emissions causing brain cancers. How do we know what is going to happen inside the skulls of people who have been talking on cell phones after ten or twenty years? Was anyone talking on cell phones for hours a day two decades ago? How do we know what the long-term effects will be? How do we find out? Who knows?
But do we ban cell phones because the risk exists? Of course not. We just keep on talking and talking and talking, trading off the possibility of dying of a horrible brain tumor with the necessity to keep up with the latest gossip about that bitch Gloria.
All we need to do is visit a night club to see this factor in action. Are we prepared for the epidemic of brain damaged Ecstasy users by the next decade? Of course not. Are we prepared for the provision of hearing aids to an entire generation who will be functionally deaf by the time they turn 40? Of course not. Are we ready for the ravages of sexually transmitted diseases that the laissez-faire attitude to club mating promulgates? Of course not.
Robert Downey Jr., the Oscar-nominated star of “Iron Man,” was being sentenced to three years in prison for repeated drug violations and was telling the court of the difficulties he has had giving up cocaine and heroin. “It's like I've got a shotgun in my mouth, with my finger on the trigger and I like the taste of the gun metal.”
What a perfect metaphor for our attitudes.
Our collective social madness is the shotgun in our mouths. And we vehemently reject any attempts by anyone to bring us back to our senses. We must really like the taste of the gun metal.