CHAPTER THREE: BEYOND A THROBBING THUMB (extract)
The lexicon is the same, and the lexicon is flawed. Orthodox medicine can be improved, and so too can orthodox politics. And if there are doubts, just ponder the following critique of the medical paradigm. These are three simple points, each detailing a problem in diagnosis. But they relate to politics as neatly as drugs locking into our brain’s molecular receptors. Graham Bradley:
1. Studies in general practice have shown that the eventual outcome is the same when patients, in whom there was no definite diagnosis, were either given a symptomatic diagnosis and some medicine, or simply told that there was no evidence of any disease and therefore no need for treatment.
2. There is, no doubt, potential for harm in the diagnostic process. A diagnosis categorises a person as a patient, a process which may lead to them adopting a ‘sick role’, but without a diagnostic label it may be difficult to be convincingly ill.
3. We seem to prefer evidence that proves rather than disproves a hypothesis… A negative test should have the converse effect of making the diagnosis less likely, and yet the clinician often ignores this evidence.
When is a political season not littered with these beauties?
1. Outcomes the same, whether systematic diagnosis and medication involved, or not? Our modern societies have been plagued by busybody politicians, by legislation junkies intent on doing us good. How often we want to cry, ‘leave us alone’.
And yet… We ourselves can’t leave legislation alone. We are junkies too: mainlining on the stuff.
2. Adopting a sick role? We are the malingerers. We are the ones who crave this part. Our modern nations play sick. We continually demand legislation, and wallow in our social and political ills. We could hardly contemplate political life without syndromes and pathologies (symptoms), without aetiological (science of causes of diseases) discussions. And it is the business of politicians to convince us we are sick. They need us to need their patent medicine.
3. Preferring evidence that proves rather than disproves a hypothesis? What a beauty! Politicians ignoring clear evidence because that evidence does not fit with their preferred diagnosis and prescribed political treatment? Is that possible? Could politicians really be capable of such travesties? Could politicians ever not be? Ideology, ideology, ideology. How we refuse to let facts get in its way.
‘Disease, Diagnosis and Decisions’, Graham Bradley, pp 50-55