Western medicine has overstepped its boundaries. Since the advent of the anatomical perspective some 450 years ago but escalating much more rapidly in the 20th century, medicine made startling advances in worldwide disease/plague prevention and in refining methods of anesthesia and surgical procedures for physical trauma. There have been far-reaching consequences, however, in viewing bodies as an assemblage of parts, beginning with the devaluation of the human being, the human spirit (lobotomies, unnecessary excision of organs to relieve psychological conditions, mostly on women considered hysterical – that is, in possession of a uterus).
The more medicine evolved, the greater grew the distance between doctor and patient. In little over a hundred years, medicine morphed from a disrespected and often uncompensated profession to one enshrined in virtual awe and reverence. Like the mythical Dr. Frankenstein, many medical scientists refused to acknowledge limitations. Ensconced in ivory towers of concrete and steel they labored, certain of their omniscience when it came to healing (which old time black bag doctors freely admitted could only happen within the patient, from the patient, by the patient).
The following short list demonstrates a very few concerns arising from our accepted medical model:
- People don’t like sitting endlessly in waiting rooms when they have rushed to make it to their appointment on time. It only gives their anxiety more time to percolate. Further, it is then distasteful to be spoken to condescendingly as one is poked and prodded like a side of beef. Being diagnosed in under ten minutes, then handed a prescription and urged back out the door does not engender a healing response in the patient, nor does being ordered to book yet another doomed-to-be frustrating appointment. (And let’s not forget the follow-up phone call, giving a person dubious test results while impatiently telling them they must wait for clarification until said appointment, as the doctor is out of town.)
As long as we continue streaming into these kinds of medical practices for non-emergency health concerns, as long as we insist on using insurance-mandated providers versus choosing to participate in our own health care by exploring our options and occasionally paying out of pocket if necessary (meanwhile advocating for desired alternatives), this kind of approach will continue. Why should it change? The masses like instant. They like their pills and sometimes the effects, despite the long-term consequences of taking them. (How often do you read the fine print? But more anon …) They don’t want to relinquish junk food, cigarettes, substances. An unhealthy lifestyle seems preferable to making precious time for cooking, proper exercise, meditation, and so on.
- Why don’t we Just Say No to drugs? Medicine doesn’t care if you’re a kid with an ear infection who would be cured by a gentle homeopathic remedy. Or if you can’t sit still in a boring classroom because you need more of a challenge. Even if you’re 90 and going to die soon anyway, they’re happy to give you a new hip and plenty of follow-up painkillers (thank you, Medicare).
There are literally thousands of reasons for which drugs are prescribed. The word polypharmacy describes what transpires when any two drugs or more are given to any one person: the results are unpredictable. Unpredictable means nobody knows how they will react inside your body or mine. Now I don’t know about you, but I shrink away from anything that places me into the category of the hapless guinea pig. (And The Man thinks that smoking a joint is going to wreak havoc on my soul and cause me to become a drug addict. I don’t smoke, nor do I drink, but I have inhaled in the past. And it didn’t do anywhere near the damage that a doctor’s shot of Demerol caused me at nineteen. I keeled forward and hit the floor. Hard enough to have caused further injury.)
- What many to most people don’t seem to like very much is the stress of having to figure out bodies that are no longer cooperating – that are aging, demanding attention, breaking down. They don’t want to take time to advocate for better healthcare, for cleaner soils and skies. Many don’t want to spend yet more money to guarantee foods without pesticide residue. If we don’t care to learn how to restructure our diets to ensure our food is also our medicine, if we are so enamored of taste to the exclusion of temperance, we are bound to pay a price for our indulgence. Listening to the body can seem daunting, but it is possible – and can be empowering in the process.
It’s frustrating trying to navigate healing alternatives, so why bother? Journey – destination – it’s all just too complicated (… and does my insurance cover that? Might as well remain with a broken system – it’s at least what is familiar). Until we acknowledge that chronic illness is best approached through lifestyle and dietary changes as well as through other, more self respectful and supportive modalities than the western medical model currently espouses, we remain handcuffed to that system. It’s time to take back the power to heal ourselves. Changes are afoot, but a fear-based healing model remains the elephant in the room. One thing is certain, the body doesn’t get better by being intimidated into healing. Western medicine still has a long way to go in practicing some badly-needed humility.