Doctor Who Allied Himself with Cult Had Views that Have Fallen into Disrepute

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A certain doctor allied himself with the Church of Scientology to found a center to promote certain views of an area of medicine. He eventually disassociated himself from that church, but the damage was already done. He admitted that by being a contrarian he was not going to change his chosen profession. He almost was fired from a medical school because of his contrarian and extreme opinions.

The doctor was sued for malpractice of the widow of a patient who died. The patient who had been a colleague was advised by the doctor to stop taking his medicine.

Doctors are in the business of saving lives. While people vary in how they communicate their thoughts and intentions, there are cases when someone could have been disuaded from an irrational act of violence with help. When you are dead, various arguments are specious. Deaths by violence often affect many people other than the victims themselves. The purpose of medicine is not to kill people. Should more emphasis be placed on avoiding mistakes whenever possible and on safety, such as the proper means to prevent or treat blood clots, or prevent infection from, say, the use of a catheter, or accidentally knicking or cutting tissue in surgery? Certainly, the health care system needs improvement, and experts who study quality, safety, and outcomes are in favor of introducing safeguards.

But that is different from deliberately ignoring those potentially dangerous situations when the patient is unable to understand and recognize the danger. Throwing out a human life for the sake of ideology, when research and experience say otherwise, is a case of bad judgment.

There are many things that can go wrong with the human brain, the most complex organ in the body. To deny that brain health is involved with mental functioning puts those such as a "maverick" doctor on the side of religion, of spirits, rather than the medical establishment that was criticized by him. When a distraught person does not find some other way other than violently acting out anger, when someone such as a spouse could become the victim, then tragedy can result. Education for people about emotional upheaval and available services should be explored as a way to possibly reduce some future instances of violence. Promoting the ideas of one crackpot to the exclusion of the vast majority of practitioners and relatives with extensive experience, should not be allowed to go on without some scrutiny and controls. Is the purpose here to go backward in time when certain ineffective and intrusive treatments were all that were available? Knowledge is not opinion alone. There is reason to be concerned when there is empirical experience that some would ignore in the name of selfishness, arrogance, or ignorance.

There is a psychiatrist who I believe was an editor of the most recent edition of the DSM. I can't keep track of exactly what edition it is, numerically, because I do not work in the mental health field. This doctor wrote a book criticizing the expansion of the number of diagnoses for mental health or "behavioral" disorders, saying that there are too many people who are being included under the general heading of mental illness. The doctor who I heard interviewed a while back says that psychiatrists and other physicians write too many prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for people with relatively minor complaints and conditions, while at the same time, those with severe forms of mental illness too often do not receive psychiatric treatment. I'm not sure that he has any solutions as to how to get doctors to stop giving prescriptions to people who don't need them, when many of these patients may believe there is something wrong with their emotional well-being, or how to help more seriously mentally ill people by getting them to see a psychiatrist. He cites ADD, a subject that has been written about by Thom Hartmann, as a condition that is being diagnosed and treated with medication too frequently. I don't remember the doctor's name, but I could look it up if need be. But he does not dispute that people with severe depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia are ill and are in need of medical treatment.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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