by Jack Campitelli | September 17th, 2011
September 16, 2011
Keywords: Legitimacy, health care, medical doctors, homeopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors, doctors of oriental medicine, acupuncturists, Great Influenza Pandemic of 1917 – 1918, aspirin, theories of wellness, theories of illness, how unfounded “legitimacy” can kill us.
The word “legitimate” carries a lot of implications. But the basic one is that ‘it works.’ Whether it’s a new technology or a new type of medical intervention, it has to struggle against the established legitimacy. This is not a bad thing if the struggle is “fair” – that is that the most legitimate does not use its position to suppress the challengers. In another words that the meaning of “legitimate” is dynamic – it is always in flux. The moment it solidifies its position by force, it technically has lost its legitimacy and has now just become another thug.
Legitimacy cannot be truly made “by fiat” – neither by a directive from “on high” or by a legislative act. Legitimacy, if it is real, cannot be “bestowed” – it must be earned.
For example, in the world of health care we have a lot of players: physicians, drug companies, hospitals, insurance companies. We take it for granted that they are all “legitimate.” Why, because they are “licensed”? They have the blessing of government? It does not mean that any of the players, be they corporate or individual, have earned “legitimacy”. It is not as if hospitals don’t have to meet “standards” or physicians don’t have to get diplomas and licensing. They do. But all these “steps” are to give the impression that “they work” – that they are legitimate. Supremely legitimate. But, in truth, a young medical doctor who has worked herself to death getting her diploma does not mean that what she was taught or what she think she knows anything about has anything to do with “what works.” Granted everyone believes it but that doesn’t make it so. You can think for yourself of many legitimate beliefs that were so wrong. The earth as the center of the universe. The earth being round and not flat. Of what matter is or is not. Or, to get to the matter at hand, what drugs truly work and why.
The sad fact is that all too often they do not work. And as a general rule, the “legitimacy” that someone works hard to get, sometimes doesn’t deliver the goods, but by that time, it’s “common knowledge.”
M.D.s are at the top of the food chain as “legitimate” physicians and surgeons. There are “lesser” physicians: osteopaths, homeopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, doctors of oriental medicine, acupuncture. Then start the questionable: herbalists, shamans, medicine men, and healers without names or addresses.
This is your life we’re talking about. Our bodies are suppose to keep us healthy but our lives and our behaviors and our environment, as well as inherent genetic problems, can overwhelm our natural ability to keep us well. Or an accident. It’s then that we seek medical help. And we turn to legitimacy.
Very few of us ever challenge or even understand the theory behind healing arts. We may assume that all physician are playing with the same deck. May I assure that they are not. Each healing art has a theory of disease and wellness and a tool kit of interventions to get us back on track when we get off track. And they are not at all compatible. For the most part they don’t even speak the same language. And they certainly don’t have a commonality of explanations for how the body functions. Imagine an Amazonian shaman talking to an M.D. and looking for common ground. There is none. A doctor of oriental medicine and an M.D. can agree that a particular “organ” is a liver. But what it ultimately does? And what forces keep it working well? They have little if anything in common to say to one another.
Few people know that the worst record of deaths (while undergoing treatment) in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 that killed 500,000 Americans and untold millions around the globe was had by M.D.s – who lost upwards of 30% – 50% of their patients. Whereas chiropractic and homeopaths lost less than 1%. Hugh epidemiological studies. Real facts. Why? Because M.D.s have a belief that suppressing things like fever is important whereas the others believe in letting the disease express itself “out” is essential.
Can you see that from this one simple example that two types of physicians look at disease differently and one type, with none of the tools of the modern age, had cure rates thousands of times better than medical doctors? Do you know what the single most miracle drug that was prescribed by medical doctors? Do you know what same drug is thought by the other groups of physicians to have caused the death of hundreds of thousands? Aspirin. A drug that suppressed the fever of the inflicted, where as the other group allowed the fever to kill the pathogens and their patients recovered.
Today, antibiotics are the miracle drug of choice. In various strengths. They are for bacterial infections though they are often used as a palliative for patients with viral issues – which have no easy fixes yet in M.D. medicine. Yet chiropractic, homeopaths, naturopaths, osteopaths can still treat disease without them.
What this means is that the “health care system” that is designed around M.D.s (with lesser physicians tolerated like a red-hair step-child) just doesn’t cure as much stuff as they’d like us to believe. They have “science” and the massive pharmaceutical industry on their side and peer reviewed studies. What they don’t have is an explanation for why other healing modalities work – sometimes better than theirs. And since they have the most legitimacy, due to legislative acts and a grand strangle-hold on healthcare, no one really cares. It’s presumed that they know best.
What is at the origin of the divergence between wellness theories is a differing opinion as to what are the basic building blocks of wellness and how the body basically works. New modalities are almost all leaning toward an electrical explanation. After all, physics says that all of “what is” (including us and rocks) is a combination of energy and an organizational principle. At the heart of matter, there is nothing. As small as we can cut it up, it disappears and there is nothing except energy. When the well-patterns of energy are disrupted and become sick-patterns of energy, then a healing intervention should be something that causes the well-patterns to return. That is the direction of medicine. It has nothing to do with M.D.s but it has everything to do with other healing modalities. Most non-M.D. physicians try to use medicine to influence energy believing that if they push it into alignment, the body will do the rest.
As an adult, we are in charge of our own healthcare decisions. We are not limited to what is forced upon us by legitimacy. Go back in history. Do you know why some religions have massive churches and others don’t? Because big and organized and pageantry always reek of legitimacy – whether of church or government. You need the trappings of legitimacy to cause people to easily believe you have it. Can you see that courtrooms and courthouses reek of legitimacy even if the law is corrupt? How the pomp and décor of palace cloaks it in ostensible legitimacy?
So too are modern hospitals and massively impressive diagnostic equipment all designed to overwhelm the individual’s sense of his own self-worth and surrender to the legitimacy.
If you add media (TV/cable) into the mix, to be on the winning side, media must back legitimacy and avoid the illegitimate that might come under fire from government (or even media) at any moment as a challenge to and effrontery toward the legitimate.
However, what is legitimate is always in the past. The new must strive to assume the cloak of legitimacy or else it will always be a backroom or home-based healthcare system or religion. As soon as the new becomes legitimate, it is destined to become the enemy.
Only YOU can give something legitimacy no matter how many trapping it puts on itself to trap you into believing it is “legitimate.”
The “take-away” from this monologue is that as soon as something becomes legitimate, is has, more likely than not, already abused power and assumed the throne and all you hear and see is designed to make you kow-tow to the throne. Whereas, you should, as soon as something takes on the mantle of legitimacy, know its true legitimacy is suspect. Use it while it still has efficacy. Its legitimacy will long outlive its efficacy. Lord knows it’s earned it. But also look for signs of abuse of its position. Once enthroned, if the legitimate becomes closed-minded, close-door-ed, monopolistic, unavailable to new thought, then it has signed its death warrant. You job is to find out who or what will succeed it and form new alliances.
But know that the legitimate media is always in bed with the legitimate anything else. Finding the “new” is always going to be difficult. It never hurts to learn how to learn, how to question, how to ask questions. And how to successfully maneuver the politics of legitimacy. And “new” is not always good. The difference between cutting edge and crackpot is a very narrow margin. And most of us are not equipped to know the difference.
In an article that came at this legitimacy issue from less philosophical direction, Michal Glueck, MD in an article called “Peer Review vs Timeliness: A Delicate Balancing Act,” said, “As a resident and instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital in the early ’70s and a part of the patina of the old Boston medical scene, I soon learned their motto regarding innovation: “Be neither the first to adapt the new nor the last to cast the old aside.”
Dr. Glueck goes on “That battle is crucial today, since more patients watch, listen to, and read the latest in medical advances, hoping to find some miracle cure. In my opinion, the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of information delay, not because of peer review itself, but because the review process is too long, cumbersome, and obstinately resistant to modern advances. Tradition and the methods of the good old days seem to outweigh the benefits of recent technology. I, too, wax poetically for the good old days but now must accept that being up-to-date means communicating as well as other skilled professions in the new millennium.”
He argues that peer-review that takes years to bring crucial information available to healthcare patients is of little use in an electronic age. Put in my words, innovation is at an ever-accelerating pace. New theories are promulgated daily it seems on the human body and how best to keep it well. It takes time to discover the nuggets in the morass of soggy thinking. Unfortunately, this is the human condition. It takes lifetimes to know what really works. And we have only this lifetime. We need a vetting system that works as fast as information comes of age. This would be an honorable mission for the FDA but instead it acts as a thug to repress all new thought and imprison its promulgators and outlaw treatment that could form the basis of studies that could honestly help discover “what works” – the meaning behind “legitimacy.”
There are no easy answers. But the bottom line is that we should always question what is most legitimate. The U.S. FDA and its associated monopolies are raging a ceaseless battle to suppress innovated health care information and treatment. It has always been so in its inglorious history. What the real battle is about, make no mistake, is the right of the individual to decide his own modality of wellness and to select whatever person he chooses to deliver that – irrespective of their licensure.