Skating to Where the Puck is Going to Be
David J. Schleich, Ph.D.
President, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, Oregon
Former President, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, Canada
Brad Case is on the frontline of healthcare in America and he has something important to tell us from there. Every day at his Holistic Healing Center in Prunedale, California, his experience with patients reinforces what he wants to teach us about the shifts occurring in primary healthcare. Those shifts are making patient-centered therapies more important than ever. These include, in summary, altered patterns of illness (e.g. more chronic disease; reduced infectious risks), the demographic changes resulting from increased life expectancy, and the inherent challenges of living in a chemical-laden environment, further compounded by industrial farming methods and desperately poor nutritional habits. But there’s more. Dr. Case fearlessly challenges the status quo of orthodox biomedicine and its paradigm of symptom-suppression and disease management, rather than prevention and cure.
Dr. Case bravely declares once again, as if for the first time, what has been rebounding in the current American health debate, that healthcare in America has been co-opted by the richest industry on the planet, “Big Pharma”. He documents with passion and precision that the powerful biomedical locomotive long ago crashed into its limits, and despite its “I think I can” attitude, is now floundering in its efforts to carry an exponentially heavier load of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s up the mountain. Dr. Case tells us, in his dramatically titled book, that the dominant healthcare profession, often called “Western medicine”, “allopathic medicine” or “scientific medicine”, is undergoing a grass-roots level shake up as patients by the millions are discovering that there is another way.
Ironically, Dr. Case predicates his concerns and the values underlying them on principles that an earlier generation of medical doctors knew, even as they systematically took control of healthcare in North America during the early decades of the last century. As recently and as far back as seventy-five years ago, medical academics and teaching hospital clinicians saw what was evolving. As Dr. K. Ludmerer pointed out in his 1999 book Time to Heal, the social contract which gave medical doctors the lead role in healthcare, has long been broken. Over seventy years ago, in something called the “Western Reserve” curriculum, there was already alarm at the distance developing between doctor and patient. Overall, the goal of this curriculum was to repair the dehumanizing effects of the rapidly emerging dominance of scientific specialization, while still retaining the best science had to offer. The modern medical student, heavily invested in the well-beaten pathway of the dominant medical paradigm, will find Dr. Case’s alarm bells jolting as he challenges the failure of a Western Reserve type of curriculum to take root in America’s medical schools.
The detail, the documentation and the delivery in Dr. Case’s book about what the healthcare marketplace really looks like and about who is really pulling the strings is gripping for any student of medicine, patient, health administrator or politician numb and paralyzed with the complexity of the American healthcare landscape. The reader needs to fasten his or her seatbelt and be ready to take on topics such as what happened to homeopathy, how the chiropractic profession took on the American Medical Association and how big business took over medicine. Get ready to move along with him as his argument regarding the brainwashing of the American people accumulates into an expose′ about the utility and safety of drugs, and the collusion between Big Pharma and the FDA. Dr. Case lingers on the topic long enough to put a spotlight on how so much money is being made by so few for so long, for reasons and goals completely unrelated to wellness, longevity and human thrival. He’s not afraid to declare that these relationships and privileges have created “bad medicine” and the arrogance of a guild-like control over the health of individuals. Sprinkled amongst the evidence are shocking details about the dramatic presence of iatrogenic (doctor-caused) death in America and unnecessary, high-cost surgery and treatment. Dr. Case does not pull punches and you can count on him to choreograph more than enough credible data to substantiate all of his conclusions and insights.
Dr. Case is relentless in scouring the biomedical landscape to take on topics and territory which the mainstream medical profession can no longer defend, ethically or historically. Ranging from controversial conversations about pleomorphism to the sinister dangers of antibiotic overuse and the massive invasiveness of vaccinations in the lives of men, women and children, his allegations of healthcare mismanagement by the medical establishment not only gain momentum, but volume, credibility and purpose.
Dr. Case took seven years to generate this first offering in the Why We’re Sick™ series because there is a story that needs to be told. The ennui medical students are experiencing these days, which lead these apprentice healers away from an earlier certitude about how their chosen discipline is secure in its received concepts, is part of what is evolving. The American Medical Association knows that the entire biomedical profession is an applied science. More specifically, as Wyngaarden put it in 1982, “medical science is a branch of applied biology.” * The modern physician is painfully aware that his or her profession is stumbling ahead in the twenty-first century on foundations that belong to an earlier time when Galilean-Cartesian-Baconian-Newtonian science was the best that we had. But with our new, deeper understanding of how the universe functions, especially at the quantum level, these foundations are now crumbling. And while biology has evolved to include the concepts of quantum physics, medical science has not. Meanwhile, the so-called “alternative” branches of medicine have embraced this new model, as have many patients who are eager for a more holistic approach to their wellness. So now, “alternative” practitioners find themselves on firmer scientific ground than the average orthodox medical doctor.
What place in the modern physician’s repertoire of skills is held by the classic intuition of the doctor who respects the healing power of nature? Apart from defining more precisely what comprises the form and content of that intuition, what opportunities are there for modern medical educators to make available the "clinical pearls" of the nature-cure doctor within the dense, intense curriculum of North America’s medical schools? Scary though it may be for proponents of the biomedical paradigm, a curriculum which propels students right into the conflicted claims of biomedicine and more natural approaches to wellness, longevity and balance is precisely where we need to be headed.
Dr. Case’s book is definitely helpful in that continuum of debate. Our modern medical students will not settle for a one-sided academic and clinical journey focused on morbidity and mortality; they want to know more about the causes of health too. Why is it not surprising that nutrition is not studied routinely in medical programs? The modern medical student wants a balance between pathogenesis (the cause of disease) and salutogenesis (the cause of health and well-being). They are fed up with the perspective of physicalism, which dominates and bullies human medical science. They want to know more about psychosocial variables in human ailment. They want to know how the mind, the body and the spirit work together to generate lifelong wellness. At a more specific level, they want to know whether vaccines are at the root of the current autism epidemic in America. Modern medical students know from other disciplines such as cybernetics, biosemiotics, systems theory and chaos theory that the age of reductionism is giving way to the upward and downward mutual causation of a self-organizing universe. The biomedical doctor’s time of dominance is on borrowed time, owing, at least in part to their breaking of the social contract which puts patient focused care ahead of profit. Dr. Case knows that and this is his message to us in the first instalment of Why We’re Sick™.
February 23, 2010
*citation: Wyngaarden J.B., Smith, L.H. (eds). Cecil Textbook of Medicine, vol. 1, 16th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1982.
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