While universal health coverage for all Americans regardless of age, infirmity, or economic status would be a critical step in the right direction, it would still only provide access to the same flawed and dangerous practices that make medical care the third leading cause of death in the U.S. annually (1). Real health care reform must address the actual substance of medical practice and its approach to patients and their illnesses. True reform will not be possible until we begin to question all aspects of Western medicine including its erroneous philosophical beliefs concerning the nature of health and illness, in addition to the more obvious and less than altruistic economic and political motives that have made it such a powerful corporate enterprise.
As is typical of most long-entrenched societal institutions, the medical-industrial complex lags far behind the general consensus of alternative medical innovators and healers when it comes to an understanding of what methods actually lead to greater health and wellness. For reasons of institutional inertia, economic self interest, academic arrogance, and political expediency, it remains almost irretrievably locked into the notion that health can only be achieved by means of synthetic chemicals mass marketed by a handful of giant pharmaceutical corporations, and/or the extraordinarily inflated costs of the services of an elite professional caste of surgeons.
I have the greatest respect for my conventional medical colleagues most of whom are clearly dedicated to the best interests of their patients. But let’s face it; medical education and the delivery of care have become stale, outmoded, self-serving clubs that are virtually impervious to new ideas and innovation. It is time to remove the barriers that enable the continuance of medical apartheid (2) so that we can begin to institute effective reforms.
A limited medical perspective gives us limited medical choices:
The first thing that must change is the severely limited worldview that informs the practice of Western medicine. The materialistic belief in the strict physicality of human illness is a serious error in judgment that leads to ineffective and oftentimes harmful therapeutic decisions. A medical perspective that leaves little room for emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic, and environmental factors in its approach to illness is not capable of facilitating genuine long-term healing. Furthermore, a shortsighted methodology that simply aims to eliminate physical symptoms without regard for its impact upon the greater whole tends to yield short-term results and long-term complications.
If I keep prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs to the angry lion with a thorn in his paw, it is not reasonable to expect a satisfactory outcome. Likewise, if I order a CAT scan and prescribe painkillers for the child with chronic headaches but fail to address the issues surrounding his parents’ pending divorce, it is likely that the child’s problems will persist. The tendency of medicine to value only that which can be measured and quantified with its instruments of technology, while ignoring the first-hand experiences of real people and the messages and meaning that commonly lie at the source of their suffering can no longer be tolerated. The disrespect conveyed by the medical practitioner who dismisses a patient’s subjective experience of his or her own illness as “anecdotal” is in no way conducive to healing.