Sunday, April 15, 2012

What happens when doctors are so c*cksure of themselves?

Let me share with you a story of a Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher who practised medicine circa 190 CE.  He concluded that all human beings have 4 temperament of personality that are strongly linked to the four major fluids contained in the body (blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm).  Now yes, that's really kinda gross but he was convinced that our personality type is dominated by the most dominant presence of one of the 4 fluids.  So if you have too much blood, you could be warm-hearted, cheerful, optimistic and confident with the occasional potential to be too selfish.  The general belief is that if you're too selfish, you could be treated by either cutting down on red meat or... making small cuts into the veins to release some blood.  Yup.  Not funny, but that's how they rolled before.  The aforementioned physician/surgeon is known as Claudius Galenus.  Fastforward a thousand years in the 1500s, an Italian physician found more than 200 errors in Galen's practice.

You know where I'm getting at right?

When you read the last few sentences, did the word 'ridiculous' come to your mind?  Why in our time, right here right now, we almost automatically question the treatment of 'punctuating our veins' to help us become less selfish?  So how can we be so confident with current treatments?  That we might ridicule ourselves a century later?

If Darwin's theory was true, then our bodies are constantly still fighting and adapting against current elements to survive.  While there are many discoveries that have been made and proven true (for example, the exact location of everyone's heart) but a lot of diseases or new illnesses (physical or mental) are surfacing  now that we cannot be too sure if we've made the right diagnosis.  What is really definitive then?  Well, the general truth is that we stop learning when things are definitive anyway.  So... with all due respect to our medical team - doctors, nurses, medic assistants, psychiatrists, therapists, etc - I think the idea is to never stop learning, never stop being critical of our own experiences and findings.  If debunking a myth 1500 years later is possible, then let's keep our options open.  And I salute you who never gave up questioning :)

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