Healing Arts with Patrick Moore

The Myth of Physical Illness (book excerpt)
December 21, 2016, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Education, hands-on healing, healthcare, Sociology, Spinoza | Tags: , , , ,

The following is a new preface I have just written to my book-in-progress, The Myth of Physical Illness. I have been working on this book about five years, extending almost two hundred pages, and then starting over from scratch several times. I hope to seek publishers in the coming year. I thought it would be nice to share this experiment I composed this morning, for those who know I am a writer but don’t know what I write. I also work on fiction, novels, short stories and poetry but 95% of my writing over the last ten years is nonfiction like this.. Warmly, Patrick.

© 2016 by Patrick Moore. Do not copy without permission, but you may link back to this page at http://healingbrain.blogspot.com  


My book title, The Myth of Physical Illness, alludes to the 1960 book The Myth of Mental Illness, by the late Thomas Szasz M.D.. Dr. Szasz said, “there is no such thing as mental illness.” Without saying he was right or wrong, this book asks if his ideas also apply to physical illness.


For now, I define disease and illness as the same thing. I define it the way people commonly think of it: something that happens to a person, some damage done, something that can be caught. Our culture teaches that a person either has or doesn’t have a disease. There are ways of checking, of being certain that a person does, or does not have a disease, ways that are standardized so that a doctor trained at one medical school will give the same diagnosis as a doctor trained in a different school, even on different continents, we believe. For example a person throwing up may have the flu, salmonella or a hangover. A doctor has ways to determine whether the sufferer has one disease, a different disease, or no disease, we believe.

I define malady as bad feelings, pain, discomfort, stiffness, reduction in energy level, reduction in ability and activity, unwanted change to the body, behavior and unwanted personal challenge of all kinds. A disease (if disease exists) is also a malady because a disease presents unwanted challenges. But there are maladies that are not diseases, like painful joints for a week after pruning trees, or a hangover. Nobody considers these to be diseases. Often a person with a malady doesn’t believe he has a disease, and won’t form a strong belief until he consults a doctor who can tell him, yes he definitely has a disease, or no it’s only a malady.

A sufferer, I define as someone feeling the uncomfortable effects of a malady (or a disease if disease exists).


An Open Question

I leave open the question, does disease exist? This book won’t tell you an answer, for a number of reasons:

  • I trust you are smart enough to decide for yourself, once you have been offered a number of perspectives and ideas.
  • Is the answer to this question really knowable at this time in the history of human knowledge? I don’t think so.
  • I am not very interested in whether disease exists or not.
  • I don’t care to advocate any changes in healthcare policy, therapist education or any thing like that, so it won’t be important for me to prove anything to support my advocacy.

I don’t see myself as an advocate. If you were one of my friends or family you’d know I don’t push for issues. When I see a policy going in a direction that does not please me, (after perhaps an initial reaction) I don’t raise my voice in attempt to sway the momentum. Instead I offer ideas. I want people to have more adequate ideas as the foundations of their choices and behaviors. I trust that people with more adequate ideas will balance themselves in time.

The Effects of our Perspectives

I am far more interested in the effects of how we think of disease. In this sense, the book is only sociology. I only want to offer you different perspectives you can digest into understanding how and why we humans think and do the things we do. I will feel my book achieved its purpose if even a few people ask more questions like these:

  • Is our cultural concept of disease helping sufferers? Would alternative perspectives serve sufferers better?
  • Is our cultural concept of disease helping therapists and doctors to be more effective? Would alternative perspectives increase therapist effectiveness?
  • Is the concept of disease reducing the quality of life of healthy people? Would an alternative belief help healthy people more?
  • If people might be more harmed than helped by our culture’s belief in disease, what secondary gain outweighs this harm, so that instead of naturally shifting, we double-down in our beliefs about disease?

The Important Questions Revolve around Responsibility

I think people have jumped to answering these questions too quickly. All of these questions have a commonality. They all require a concept of responsibility. As I read the scholarly articles about this topic, it seems to me the writers are not all using the same understanding of responsibility, and so they misunderstand one another and draw inaccurate conclusions about each others’ ideas.

I will pose more questions now, using the word responsibility, and you begin to see what I mean:

  • Is the sufferer responsible for the condition he finds himself in?
    • If it is a physical condition that a doctor has measured or seen on a scan, is the sufferer responsible for the condition he finds himself in?
    • If it is a mental condition, where no physical condition can be measured by a medical doctor, now is the sufferer responsible for the condition he finds himself in?
    • What else shifts the person’s responsibility for the condition he finds himself in?
  • Who is responsible for reversing the malady?
    • The therapist?
    • The sufferer?
    • The insurer?
    • Some split of responsibility among these three?
  • What is the responsibility of a healthy person?
    • Would a responsible citizen tolerate diseased persons among us?
    • Or would a responsible person advocate to have diseased persons kept apart from healthy persons?
  • What is the responsibility of a person who begins to experience troubles?
    • Is it irresponsible to hide the troubles from society (since society will shun and stigmatize him if he reveals it)?
    • Is it irresponsible to avoid treatment for fear of being stigmatized?

If you feel you know the answers to any of these questions already, I urge caution. I don’t know the answers already. I think the answers all depend upon our understanding of what responsibility means.

Good News

This book brings good news. This book claims:

All of the issues our culture has regarding ill people, revolve around our concept of responsibility. I think you’ll be surprised, relieved and hopeful, after learning a different perspective of what responsibility is.

©2016 by Patrick Moore, do not copy without permission. But you may link back to this page at http://healingbrain.blogspot.com

End of book excerpt…

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