A bitter pill to swallow
August 24, 2016 § 2 Comments
Other people’s words about … cures
We feel sick even if we are physically well. We are organically diseased by lack or excess. Most of our healers — mainstream and alternative — now act and are treated like shopkeepers, and have become entrepreneurs (or the pawns of entrepreneurs). If they don’t give us the goods — the diagnosis and pill — we’ll shop elsewhere. We seek passive means of attaining health and longevity, which is what medicine (both conventional and alternative) promotes. We want diagnoses. We want solutions we can browse, buy and swallow, be they pharmaceuticals, tinctures or vitamins. It’s convenient for politicians, suits industry very nicely. Pills are our tiny white black holes: absorbing all our hope, agency and energy. They divert attention from prevention, population health and inequity; they promote consumption.
I like Hitchcock’s thinking. A doctor who works on the acute medical ward of a big city hospital, she pulls no punches when it comes to discussing health in our society.
Health, she says, is more than just a physical issue. It is an issue of combined mental, physical, environmental, interpersonal, social and political factors.
I can’t do justice to her argument here. It is complex and passionate, encompassing the need for both personal action (at the individual level) and social action (at the socio-political level). And it is about considering the idea of a cure not as something we can buy but rather as something we should do.
And, oh, these are words well worth reading.