Health Care Delivery? It All Starts with Your Philosophy

We chiropractors get frustrated when we start talking about chiropractic philosophy and our patients’ eyes glaze over. They’re probably thinking, well, my medical doctor is a good guy. These days he’s encouraging me to eat right, exercise, and, hey, at my last visit—I couldn’t believe it—he even said it would be OK to take vitamins!  Don’t medical doctors and chiropractors really all want better patient health?

Well, I for one want to think so, but the crying need here is to understand that one’s philosophical view of the human body has extraordinary implications for how health care is delivered. The right philosophy contributes to success; the wrong philosophy, sooner or later, can lead to disaster.

I was reminded of that by a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Susanna Rodell wrote an eloquent plea for women to exercise caution before being herded down the path toward hormone replacement therapy. The hook for her article was a jury’s awarding an Illinois woman $75 million in punitive damages and $3.75 million in compensatory damages after taking the drug Prempro for five years until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor had persuaded her the hormones would help prevent dementia and heart disease. Her lawyer convinced the jury the hormones caused cancer.

I can’t say it any better than Ms. Rodell: “Ever since doctors have figured out how to manipulate hormones, with their power to switch whole bodily systems on and off, it seems they have felt obliged to use that power…. Well, some of us may have had the motivation to read up on the dangers of chemical intervention in our reproductive systems, but in a consumer economy, marketing still rules. Big pharma does a great job of pushing the view of natural female functions as pathology … The docs and the drug companies aren’t interested in the simple, the inexpensive and the noninvasive, and too few women question their prescriptions. The ability to manipulate our hormones has become knowledge as dangerous to us as that original revelation in the Garden of Eden. Eve is as vulnerable as ever.”

So here’s where chiropractic philosophy sends us down an entirely different path from medical philosophy. Chiropractors are taught to have profound respect, even reverence, for the ability of the human body to heal itself, regulate itself and adapt itself to a changing environment. Natural female functions are not pathology. Medical philosophy, at least in practice, contends that almost any discomfort is symptomatology of bodily malfunction and that to deal with it the body can be manipulated with impunity. Throw in the seductive appeal of huge profits from the drugs, and you have a serpent on a staff holding out a poison apple.

It all starts with our philosophy. We need to be cautious about assuming we can choose what is good and bad for ourselves better than the body does on its own.



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