Tuesday, 4 September 2012

What is the modern medicine focused upon? Giving the people what they don't want

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Traditionally, medicine was focused upon a patient asking a doctor for help in alleviating his condition - the doctor's job was first to make the patient feel better as quickly as possible, secondly (if possible) to cure the disease.

Modern medicine has - under government influence - moved well away from this traditional basis.

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The main focus of modern medicine is not to make the patient feel better, and only sometimes to cure a disease; mostly it is about (alleged) prevention.

The patient is told by the doctor that (as a result of their medical history, heredity, examinations or tests) they are at risk of some illness, or covertly have some illness that they did not realise they had - and they are given treatment alleged to improve their future risks - but that treatment will usually make the patient feel worse.

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Blood pressure is an example: most patients who are treated for high blood pressure get drugs not because they went to the doctor complaining of symptoms, but as an attempt by the doctor to reduce the risk of strokes.

In fact, patients treated with blood pressure medication usually feel worse - because most drugs have side effects, and side effects make people feel worse.

(There are exception - high blood pressure may make people feel worse, for instance high BP makes me feel worse! And then the treatment can make people feel better. But this accounts for a small minority of the people taking medication for blood pressure.)

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So much of modern medicine is about making patients feel worse now and for the rest of their lives, on the basis that this will lengthen their lives and prevent severe later pathology.

This may be perfectly rational and justifiable - but it is important to recognise that it represents almost a reversal of traditional medicine.

And it is important to recognise that this transformation of medicine was imposed, top-down, by governments, and especially by Leftist governments (by politicians but even more so by public administration officials).

This is the kind of medicine which government likes, and where government will channel health service resources.

By contrast, governments are not much bothered about the problem of helping patients get what they want from doctors.

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(Note: this reversal is particularly bizarre in psychiatry, where making people feel better is pretty much the whole point of psychiatry outside of the context of compulsory confinement or treatment of dangerous or suicidal lunatics. In the past this kind of psychiatry was dominated by drugs which made people feel better - stimulants like amphetamine and tranquillisers like Miltown or Valium. Nowadays, the drugs used tend to make many people feel worse: the SSRIs, the 'mood stabliziers' and (especially) the 'atypical antipsychotics. Both groups of drugs are about equally likely to lead to drug dependence; but in the first instance the patient is dependent on a drugs that made them feel better, in the second on a drug that always made them feel worse but which is alleged or intended to prevent worse things in the future.)

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