There is a world of difference, in my view, between medical people who mainly look after the welfare of others, and medical people whose primary concern is themselves – their career, wealth, influence and status. The same goes for therapists, which is exactly why clients should avoid any therapist who charges hundreds of pounds for a hypnotherapy session. They are clearly more interested in your money than your outcome, which isn’t guaranteed however much you pay.
In the world of medicine, the go-getting, ambitious types who aim to become important and influencial work their way towards the top of the institutions not by being brilliant with patients – that’s rather incidental – but by knowing all the right people, understanding how the institution works, signalling that this is the direction they wish to go, and hoping somebody important notices.
No Change, Doctor
When it comes to running an institution of the sort that governs the medical profession, you don’t really want open-minded free-thinkers because they might want to change things. Freedom of thought leads to dissent. That can lead to division and weaken the power of the institution, maybe even threaten its survival. Survival is what the medical authorities are all about. Not survival of the patients – that’s rather incidental too – but the preservation of the status quo, the collective power and influence of the medical profession.
Nil by Mouth
So the open-minded, progressive free-thinkers in that profession are free to think what they like, because they never get into positions of power and influence. Or if they do, they are still free to think what they like, as long as they don’t say anything, particularly in public. This code would be very difficult to maintain if those with influence cared more about what was morally right than their own self-interest – but then that sort of troublemaker is bound to slip up somewhere early on, and effectively halt their own advancement within the institution, which mainly exists to make sure nothing changes, unless it is to advance the power and influence of the medical profession.
I have nothing but admiration for the medical people who mainly look after the welfare of others. Generally speaking, they are not responsible for the terrible mess the medical profession and the NHS currently find themselves in. No, it’s the people running the institutions and their cosy, cosy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry which are mainly to blame. In fact, the issues are entirely pharmaceutical in nature.
The Myth of the Magic Pill
How did the medical profession gain power and influence in the first place? Well, mainly through the development of drugs. Ether and choloform allowed surgery to gain more popular approval, whilst the accidental discovery of penicillin and the development of early antibiotics wiped out common killers like smallpox and tuberculosis in a way that seemed almost magical. This gave birth to a modern myth: that of the Magic Pill. This myth has distorted western medical thinking ever since.
So the first magic medicine was the anaesthetic that brought magic sleep, so that you could saw off a gangrenous foot without needing three strong men to hold the patient down. This was followed by the first antibiotics, which really made doctors go up in everyone’s estimation, for obvious reasons. An assumption of medical ‘progress’ was built on this, and the quest was on, for more magic pills that effected miraculous cures. Then, astonishingly, a British government with leanings that now seem almost communist in ideology created a medical service for the whole population that was free at the point of use.
Such was the world I grew up in, not knowing how lucky I was. So what went wrong? How did we go from that happy, confident and beneficial state of affairs to the current series of disasters? How did the Nation Health Service become the National Medication Service? Well, largely because of the myth of the Magic Pill. What no-one expected, back in the glory-days of penicillin, was that the bugs would stage a pretty dramatic comeback.
Not All They’re Quacked Up to Be
No-one wants to believe it, but the magic medicine isn’t really magic. Superbugs are the direct consequence of the use of antibiotics – it just didn’t happen overnight. They seemed safe, but they are not.
Likewise, barbiturates seemed like excellent sleeping tablets, until it became obvious that too many users didn’t wake up at all. These were replaced by the new, ’safe’ version: benzodiazepines like Valium, which were powerful but not so easy to fatally overdose on. Doctors were so excited by this ‘wonder drug’ that they handed them out like smarties, rather like they’ve been doing with Prozac lately. It wasn’t just the public that swallowed the myth of the magic pill – doctors wanted to believe in it too. Of course, we all did. So when thousands of people’s lives were ruined by drugs like Valium, it came as a bit of a nasty shock. In fact, it appears that some general practitioners are actually in denial, because they don’t seem to have learned that lesson yet:
Profits of Doom
Commenting on a report from The Health Select Committee, The Alternative magazine said the nation’s £27 million-a-day pill-popping habit “means the pharmaceutical industry is now the third most profitable in the UK but the committee warned it had come with a cost, with adverse drug reactions responsible for five per cent of all hospital admissions.”So not only are the medicines not magic, they can kill you.
Despite growing concerns, the nation clung to the myth of the magic pill. Finally it arrived, and it had a very promising, positive name: Prozac. Here at last was a pill that made sad people happy. Isn’t that what the world had been waiting for? Who could not be pro-Prozac? After all, unhappiness is all about brain chemicals, isn’t it?
Not happy in your marriage? Fed up with your job? Grieving? No problem, we can fix that! Take these magic pills, and you will feel alright again, despite having good reasons not to. You don’t need to sort your life out, get over anything yourself or call a therapist. We just need to adjust the chemical balance of your brain – don’t worry, it has all been properly tested and everything. This one is the magic pill for sure, forget the other ones, this is the real thing..
That was May 2007, the same month a new magic pill to cure smoking was announced in the UK. Again, it had a very positive-sounding name: Champix. 44% success rate, said the papers. Of course they didn’t cotton-on that this was only the short-term success rate of the scientific trials, which says nothing about long-term outcomes. It also said nothing about adverse reactions, which were already a cause for concern in the United States, where the drug had been approved over a year previously, under the alias ‘Chantix’.
Not a Fair Trial
The Health Select Committee had already warned, however, that negative clinical trial results were being suppressed, and there was a risk trials which produced positive results were not adequately designed. Committee Chairman David Hinchcliffe commented: “The pharmaceutical industry is extremely powerful and influences healthcare at every level. Like any industry, drug companies need effective discipline and regulation, and these have been lacking.”
These words were prophetic, for the next twist was this:
No Wonder Drugs
New laws? Well that might be a good idea, but what we really need is a whole new outlook. Because the drugs don’t work, but the medical profession cannot accept that it’s true. After all, where will they be if we stop believing there’s a magic pill? If we stop believing in the medical trials, and the ‘scientific’ endorsements purchased by the drug companies, which effectively give them a licence to print money until it finally dawns on everyone that that pill wasn’t magic either?
But it isn’t just that the drugs don’t work. Read the following article by leading psychiatrist Professor David Healey, which should be required reading for all GPs each and every morning, before they see their first patient of the day.
A Poison Posing as Medication
So when my book was first published, and an article appeared in my local newspaper about it, a local medical bigwig was asked to comment upon it, although he had never read any of it. He was Dr Stephen Watkins, Director of Public Health at Stockport Primary Care Trust. What he said was:
“Smoking is both an addiction and a habit, not one or the other. In saying that tobacco is not an addictive product this book is just wrong. The two thirds of smokers who want to give up, and can’t, will know that.”
Who says they can’t? Smokers come to me virtually every day because they have not managed to get rid of the habit using willpower, gum, patches or pills. The majority of them are free of the habit by the end of the first session, with no cravings, no willpower needed, no weight-gain and no bad moods. They are usually astonished by this, but only because they’ve been brainwashed about nicotine by the medical authorities and those stupid adverts on the telly going on and on about ‘nicotine receptors’ in the brain which “go crazy” because the supply of nicotine has stopped.
That’s not science, it is pure bullshit. I know this for sure, because if it was true, all of my smoking clients would be driven to distraction by their nicotine receptors “going crazy” after their smoking session. But they are not troubled by any such thing, because the urge to light up has nothing to do with nicotine or nicotine receptors. It is not an urge to take nicotine, but to light up a cigarette – and it goes away the moment you light up (see Section Three of the book, Cravings Are Not Withdrawal Symptoms). In saying that I am “just wrong”, Dr Watkins is… well, just wrong. But at least I can prove that by logical argument, whereas he’s just trotting out the usual official line, when he assures readers:
“There is unequivocal evidence for the effectiveness of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) as an aid to smoking cessation from a hundred different research trials with over 28,000 participants. That’s why NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, recommend this aid to assist people to stop smoking.”
Oh yes, that would be the same NICE that approved and recommended Prozac. And when Dr Watkins talks of ‘evidence’, he doesn’t mention (doesn’t know?) that NRT was originally approved entirely on the basis of its short-term results, just like Champix. The real results are a different story altogether – the one you haven’t been told, by these lackeys of the pharmaceutical industry.
By the way, it looks like we’re not going to get a new generation of antibiotics. The drug companies have lost interest in that, which proves that this is business, not healthcare. They’ve lost interest in cures of any sort, because they cure you, so you then stop taking the medicine. No, they’ve collectively realised that the new generation of magic pills need to be ones which manage a condition, preferably one for which there is no cure, but which doesn’t actually kill you. That way they can sell lots more pills, which is what this is really all about. This is a business model which has mass-dependency as its goal.
If that doesn’t give you the creeps, my guess is that you’re already taking something that stops you getting the creeps. It’s probably called Trustus, or something like that. In clinical trials, fewer people felt deeply uneasy than the ones given a placebo…