Health Care Paradigm: Man vs. Nature


For most of the history of mankind, men and women have striven to survive by killing, cutting, plowing, and taming their environment.  In the beginning, the world was a very hostile place, and mankind needed every survival skill he had to adapt.

The current, modern world view, i.e., love and cooperation, did not wifely take root until mankind had sufficiently subdued natural forces such that they were no longer an immediate threat.  Even so, mankind still rails against nature and makes war on other men. Regardless of the modern-day consequences, we are still trying to “fix” ourselves and the world around us to fit our view of what we consider to be “safe” and “good.”   

In the field of health care, for example, there are two opposing paradigms – or world views – that are each vying for attention:  medical versus holistic.  Each have their advantages and their disadvantages.

Can we win this battle?

Can we win this battle?

The first paradigm we will consider is the Medical Model. This world view was born from the Newtonian-Cartesian idea (from Sir Isaac Newton and Renee Descartes) that each individual is like a “clock” that is, essentially, a machine that operates  as a closed system, i.e., the body and its “parts,” or functioning organs.

The Medical Model dictates that, when something goes wrong, we “fix” it.  This paradigm attracts some of the best and brightest minds in the world – those who know how to really fix things quickly with skill and determination. This model, therefore, works best for emergencies, i.e., things like broken bones, bullet wounds, sudden poisoning and  other first aid crises.

The Medical Model does not, however, work so well (long term) for chronic illnesses or emotion-based disorders, i.e., cancer, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and anxiety-related disorders.  Doctors are still taught to treat all disease as an invader, and to make war on the bugs, viruses, bad cells, and other soldiers of this “invading army.”

But all war has casualties . . . AND very expensive!

If an organ malfunctions and we can’t fix it, we operate to remove it.  If cancer is detected we either cut it out, poison the body with chemo toxins, or blast the body with deadly radiation.  Once that’s done, the doctor will continue to observe the presence of the “enemy” cancer cells in the patient, and try to kill them over and over again, whenever they appear.

If the patient doesn’t die in 5 years after all this destruction, he or she is considered “cured.”

With other chronic diseases, such as arthritis,  medical doctors can only teach people how to “cope” with the symptoms, while “research” looks for more efficient ways to “tell the body how to stop fighting itself.”

The problem is, disease may be a product of faulty internal wiring more than an “army” of invaders . . . but we’ll cover that alternate paradigm in my next installment.

The other problem is that there is no incentive to find a valid cure, even if it could be found using this paradigm.  The “research” will continue as long as it remains funded, and alternative approaches are never considered – regardless of clinical effectiveness – so long as they don’t fit the medical paradigm.

Is this the fault of the medical doctors?  No.  They are overworked, and only doing what they learned the best they can.

When presented with these types of a illnesses, most medical doctors are instructed to follow “the protocol” for each specific disease, mostly to avoid any claims that they didn’t “do their best.”  Even if they know this protocol will eventually lead to the patient’s death, they must follow the “rules” or risk a malpractice suit and/or loss of their license!

Robert Mendelssohn, MD, laid out this dilemma and more in his ground-Confessions_Medical_Hereticbreaking book Confessions of a Medical Heretic, first published in 1978.  In the book, he blasts his associates for “benign neglect” and called for doctors to reconsider and change their current paradigm for the benefit of the patients, themselves, and the world at large.

Dr. Mendelssohn has since passed on, but his banner has been taken up by others, and change seems to be coming slowly but surely to the increasingly-outdated Medical Model.

The SECOND health care paradigm is the Holistic Model. I’ll cover that in the next installment.


  1. […] all my criticism of medical failings, there is one area in which medical doctors excel:   EMERGENCIES. These professionals are very […]