Bioethics Discussion Blog: "Physician's Grotesque System"

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"Physician's Grotesque System"

I am wondering if America has the same fascination with “ingesting” medications as Mark Twain described in his Mark Twain's Letters 1886-1900. Do you think whether 2005 America continues the “physician's grotesque system--the emptying of miscellaneous and harmful drugs into a person's stomach”? If it is not anabolic steroids, the topic of the day today, then it is the anti-inflammatories, the proton pump inhibitors (to antagonize the gastric effects of the anti-inflammatories), the mood elevators, the tranquilizers, the erection promoting drugs and so on. Do you think that the majority of those folks who take these drugs and their doctors who write the prescriptions in response to their patient’s requests are being beneficent to themselves or their patients? Are they or we just a bunch of “pudd'nheads” and “jackasses”? Read the excerpt below from the Letters and let me know what you think. ..Maurice.

I cannot help feeling rather inordinately proud of America for the gay and hearty way in which she takes hold of any new thing that comes along and gives it a first rate trial. Many an ass in America, is getting a deal of benefit out of X-Science's new exploitation of an age-old healing principle--faith, combined with the patient's imagination--let it boom along! I have no objection. Let them call it by what name they choose, so long as it does helpful work among the class which is numerically vastly the largest bulk of the human race, i.e. the fools, the idiots, the pudd'nheads.
We do not guess, we know that 9 in 10 of the species are pudd'nheads. We know it by various evidences; and one of them is, that for ages the race has respected (and almost venerated) the physician's grotesque system--the emptying of miscellaneous and harmful drugs into a person's stomach to remove ailments which in many cases the drugs could not reach at all; in many cases could reach and help, but only at cost of damage to some other part of the man; and in the remainder of the cases the drug either retarded the cure, or the disease was cured by nature in spite of the nostrums. The doctor's insane system has not only been permitted to continue its follies for ages, but has been protected by the State and made a close monopoly--an infamous thing, a crime against a free-man's proper right to choose his own assassin or his own method of defending his body against disease and death.
And yet at the same time, with curious and senile inconsistency, the State has allowed the man to choose his own assassin--in one detail--the patent-medicine detail--making itself the protector of that perilous business, collecting money out of it, and appointing no committee of experts to examine the medicines and forbid them when extra dangerous. Really, when a man can prove that he is not a jackass, I think he is in the way to prove that he is no legitimate member of the race.


Additional Comment 3-17-05: The reason for this posting is to bring up the issue of whether the American public has become too enamored with taking medication without regard to their own physical, emotional and financial harm. "Direct to consumer advertising" is particularly disturbing to me since I see this technique of "educating the public" as a stimulus for unnecessary prescription and use of drugs to patients who don't really need the medication or could benefit from a less expensive drug and one which has been longer studied for side-effects and therapeutic value. I am not saying that we should rely mainly on "faith" as prescribed by Mark Twain although realistically applied faith can often be beneficial in treating disease. However, we shouldn't assume, as many do, that there is a "right" pill out there for what ails us and if we can just learn that it's there and take it we will surely be better off. What do you think? ..Maurice.

3 Comments:

At Thursday, March 17, 2005 6:05:00 PM, Anonymous Bioethics Dude said...

I would agree that the public is fascinated w/ medicine -its promise
and simplicity. So much so, alarmingly, that it has become a part of
the everyday experience, one that most folks don't take a second to
wait on. I would feel more comfortable in folks took some brief time
to think about what the drug is doing, what it was designed to do, and
how it's interacting with their body, and most importantly, being
conscious of the fact that it is an outside agent administered to
treat some condition, but not a perfect one. I don't want to sound
like a member of the christian scientist here, but I just want more
awareness on behalf of the patient.

Best,
Bioethics Dude

 
At Friday, March 25, 2005 9:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. The U.S. is an instant gratification society, as evidenced by the level of consumer debt. We don't want to hurt; we don't want to be sad; we don't want to worry; and we certainly don't want to have to work at anything. Heaven forbid we actually work through our grief at losing a spouse-just go get a script for Paxil. It's all vaguely reminescent of Huxley's Soma.
5in9years

 
At Sunday, March 27, 2005 10:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The important thing about pharmacology is that it works. This is both its blessing and its curse. I dunno it is odd to quote Huxley who went on to pen rather postive ideas about the idea of pharmacology in the hands of everyone.

I have mixed feeling about this. But we have had people praying to Mumbo Jumbo good of the Congo and "working through things with difficulty" for quite some time with no avail.

I propose a counter question, why do some of us worship pain and suffering and want life to be mean cruel and hard? Have they watched the movie Zardoz and believed it?

I can see why people want to do the things they want to do. More big worry is they aren't being carfeful or cautious or reasonable rather than that they are doing x i.e. taking a pill as the first sgep rather than as a middle step or a last step. However it is easier to get a Xanax prescription than to quit your well paying high pressure job. There maybe some of that there too. Oh well such is life

Have Fun,
Sends Steve
chromazine@sbcglobal.net

 

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