I sometimes thinkwe don’t really have a “health-care” system; we have a “disease-care” system. For our medical establishment does not teach us how tolive so that we can achieve the maximum health and highest quality of life of which we are capable. Instead, it teaches us to manipulate ourselves from the outside, a process that has left many of us numb to the signals our bodies constantly send.
Many of us do not really know how to take care of ourselves, nor what choices we can make to keep ourselves well. When I was growing up, I believed that eating a balanced diet meant enjoying a wide variety of the 31 flavors my family’s business made available to the world. As far as I was concerned, the basic four food groups were Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Jamoca Almond Fudge. I had no idea that the standard American diet, based as it is on high-fat meat and dairy products, and deriving nearly 40 percent of its calories from sugar, creates problems that even the most expensive medical technology can’t repair.
Because our dominant medical field system has focused on intervention instead of prevention, growing numbers of people are beset by a host of physical problems and difficulties. Meanwhile, there are massive industries profiting enormously from our over-reliance on drugs, and from our following unhealthy lifestyles that lead to an ever increasing demand for their services and products.
Although there is much in modern medicine that is of great value, we need to pick and choose very carefully from among its offerings. Many of its prescriptions and practices, while carrying numerous troubling side effects, merely suppress symptoms, sometimes even causing the disease process to take new and more virulent forms. Some of these treatments are no more truly healing than turning off a fire alarm without attending to the fire.
When we are taught to repress symptoms with no attempt to understand the needs they represent, our experience of ourselves becomes distant. We sense our bodies not as sources of self-awareness and guides to our healing needs, but as enigmas that must be analyzed and explained to us by experts. We easily become bewildered and lose trust in ourselves. If we become ill, we slip all too often into passivity and helplessness, believing ourselves dependant on the doctor to make us well, acting like bystanders to our own healing process, disconnected from the incredible creative powers that always lie within us.
Some people wonder how I can presume to write with authority about these subjects when I am not a doctor. Many of us have been taught that doctors, by virtue of their medical training, constitute a special class of human beings, almost a priesthood. The truth is that if I had been trained as they have been, and if I were subject to the same financial pressures they are, I might be preoccupied with technology and drugs, oblivious to their drawbacks and risks, and dismissive of alternative approaches, just as many physicians today are. If I had spent six or eight years of my life being trained to practice orthodox medicine and had sacrificed greatly in order to do this as most of our doctors have, I would hardly be in a position to consider the subject without personal bias. It is precisely because I am not a doctor that I can more easily stand outside the fray, and hopefully bring a measure of objectivity to the discussion.
We struggle today as a culture to get over the idea that MD stands for “Medical Deity”. It wouldn’t hurt us to remember that in Israel in 1973, doctors went on strike for a month, and the death rate dropped 50 percent. There had not been a month with so few deaths since the previous doctor’s strike 20 years before. A few years later in Bogota, Colombia, a two-month long physician strike resulted in a 35 percent drop in the death rate. And when Los Angeles county doctors went on a work slowdown to protest soaring malpractice insurance premiums, the death rate dropped 18 percent. But when the slowdown ended, the medical industry got back in gear; the death rate jumped right back up to where it had been.
John Robbins is one of our featured speakers in the “Challenge Yourself to Success” Program.
Reprinted by permission of H.J. Kramer, P.O. Box 1082, Tiburon, CA 94920. All rights reserved.Vol 15 Issue 4 page 3