Thursday, July 02, 2009

Iatrogenic Mike

And, on the subject of dubious medicine, it's pretty clear that poor old Wacko's death was iatrogenic - caused by medical treatment. This is one of the biggest killers in the US, up there with heart disease and cancer. It probably is in most developed countries, but the situation will be worse in America because of the powerful commercial and cultural incentives to over-medicate. The truth is that most drugs are either harmful or ineffective. But the idea that we can be fixed by a pill is one of our age's most entrenched delusions. Doctors should not write, they should talk. This will discourage people from making appointments. This will make them live longer and happier lives.


  1. Someone should carry out an in depth study of the medical professions medicine dispensing tactics against the student population, especially anti depressants.

    Michael has allegedly stated in his will that his children are to be brought up by Diane Ross, well why not, out of the hands of one sad nutter, straight into the arms of another.

  2. it must be international un-pc day!

    medicine. well, you've got to die of something. there was a time when people died of ''old age'' but that doesn't appear to be an option now. A shame, there was a certain dignity in that. Consoling even.

    strange to learn that about drugs when yesterday I learned from Monbiot that herion is neither harmful or ineffective. I don't know why we're all not on it.

    nice word, did you get it from Lovelock's?

  3. The idea that we can be fixed by a pill may well be a delusion, in many cases anyway, but it does not follow that most drugs are either harmful or ineffective. Imho, some drugs are life-savers and modern miracles. The problem comes in thinking that a pill alone is enough, without changes of life style, diet, surroundings, outlook and so forth.

    Doctors are best when they listen and observe, surely. How else can they arrive at a diagnosis? Our problem is that we all want cheap medicine, which is where pills and commercial interests come in. It may be fashionable to decry pills at the moment, but full-on alternatives like psychotherapy are hugely time-consuming and expensive. I can't ever see them being an affordable alternative in the UK unless you are a bankster.

  4. ...evidently we're all dying from chronic capitalism.

  5. Malty, re Diana Ross as guardian: I think the idea was that the kids might not even notice, the physical similarities being so great.

  6. A delightful piece of unconscious irony: after attacking dubious medical statistics, comes an assertion that "most drugs are either harmful or ineffective," without any evidence adduced to support it.

    There's even that unconscious tell-tale for the presence of bluster: the dogmatic assertion in question is prefixed with "The truth is..."

  7. The trouble with prescription drugs (and OTC ones, too, for that matter) is that every human being - each organism - is unique. That obviously complicates matters re dosage, effectiveness, side-effects, etc.
    Own life currently sustained by medication - regime which, luckily for me, is known in the trade as a 'clean' drug. Still, yes: each drug has a 'side-effect profile'.
    But Bryan's right to be raising the matter of iatrogenic disease/mortality - and the related question regarding the huge power of BigPharma. Needs to be discussed.
    PS As for IR's ref to Monbiot on heroin: training for work with homeless usually involves instruction on street drugs; so, based on my brief exp of the work: heroin in street version(s) usually is harmful, whereas pharmaceutical-grade diamorphine [pure heroin] is the most harmless - and effective - painkiller available.
    Alas, poor Michael - but enough already.

  8. Never mind, Gordon. When scientism finally wins and Dawkins and Bjorn rule the world, such blustering will result in the gulag and we can all get on with not worrying and enjoying our lives.

  9. Pills may not fix anything, but they sure can make the pain go away for awhile. OxyContin is one nirvana-esque pill, though of course it's terribly addictive.

    Don't agree with you about anti-depressants either. Although they are overprescribed, the newer versions (SSRIs) have transformed many lives. Made people functional who, in other eras, would be marginal and miserable. Naturally, they are not meant to stand in for talk therapy (which does work, Freud-haters notwithstanding).

    I'm with Mark on this. I think even your stiffest-upper-lipped countrymen would rather be functional than quietly enduring enormous pain.

  10. Interesting, as I have just returned from a visit to the men in white coats regarding an inherited cardiac condition.

    They tried to persuade me to take a daily pill. I asked whether it was really worth it, to which they suggested it "might be in ten to twenty years". When I demurred from following them they said that for, get this, "medico-legal" reasons they were advising me to do so! Upon asking whether, if they dropped the 'legal' reason they would still push it so hard, they said - "probably not".

    These were not cheap or mild drugs we're talking about. I declined. Everyone happy, "see you in a year", etc..

  11. I must say one would have to be up early to catch Gordon out ...!

  12. A psychologist colleague commented that 20 years ago it was people in a 'catatonic' state that filled most of the psychiatric ward she visited. Nowadays everyone has OCD. Well at least they're moving, if a bit repeatedly. Pharmacology might help the heart tick for a bit longer, but I don't think the remedy for the human condition comes in pill form.

  13. toxic and side effects of drugs should be investigated...

  14. " Pharmacology might help the heart tick for a bit longer, but I don't think the remedy for the human condition comes in pill form."

    Well no, but if the heart isn't ticking you won't get far seeking out any other remedy, will you? I think it is 'other peoples drugs' that we tend to consider ineffective (they should shape up and learn true values!) but our own are always in a different category.