The Myth of Medical Opinion
The power of medical opinion is so strong that the market within which it operates as special rules which only apply to allopathic medicine. In selling any product or service in the free market, suppliers must communicate benefits to consumers and invite them to act on their choices. The market is therefore an attempt to inform and influence consumers to purchase. There is not an assumption that they will; it is their choice and the extent to which an individual buys is a function of their belief that the product or service will meet their needs.
The medical profession and its products and services are unique in the market since invariably when a person seeks advice, the doctor advises them of the problem and the solution, often without them asking the patient if they want to purchase the solution. Purchase in this instance means spending time, effort or money. A doctor might say ‘I am sending you to this kidney specialist; here is the information. Please pay on the way out’. They do not say ‘I believe the kidney specialist will solve your problem; let me appraise you of the benefit so you can choose whether to invest in this opportunity’.
Doctors are of course bounded by the protocol of their profession and seldom suggest solutions or investigations outside of the allopathic model. Variations do exist and of course a desire exists on the part of many patients for the doctor to take responsibility for a patient’s choice since it assumed that the doctor knows more about an individual’s health than they know themselves. There is also an assumption by many patients that the doctor knows best and does not need to be questioned so we might surmise that many patients would reject the opportunity of being asked for their own opinions.
This argument does not mean that a doctor’s advice is not sound, helpful or potentially life-saving. The issue serves to highlight the power of cultural and social myths in our life choices. Myths are unquestioned assumptions that influence and limit our choices. They are so pervasive that often we do not question the assumptions they dictate. The power of myth is shown in this example, namely the power and sequence of operating under medical opinion. Myths hoodwink us into believing that there are set ways of doing or believing things. It assumes a fixed reality within which there are preferable ways to think, feel and act. Existentially, this is a myth, a denial of our co-creation and the unfixed nature of our phenomenal existence. Myths result in us relinquishing responsibility for our choice of how to be in the world. By examining their power and ubiquitous nature, we have the opportunity to chose a life based on freedom and responsibility rather than conformity, consensus and possibility indifference.
Clare Mann, is an existential psychotherapist and psychologist and the author of the “The Myths of Life and The Choices We Have”, an Existential Philosophy-based self-help book . She runs an existential counselling practice in Sydney Australia: Counseling and Therapy Using Existential Principles
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