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When Healing becomes a crimeby Kenney ausubel - Essay Example

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Among topics that assume prominent position in contemporary public discussions devoted to health issues the confrontation between traditional medical establishment and the so-called alternative medicine is especially notable. Indeed, an insightful observer of this conflict,…
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Book Review of “When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies” by Kenny Ausubel
Among topics that assume prominent position in contemporary public discussions devoted to health issues the confrontation between traditional medical establishment and the so-called alternative medicine is especially notable. Indeed, an insightful observer of this conflict, which does not seem to be losing dynamics with time, might wonder how this situation could emerge in the first place, considering the immense importance of the health care segment for which any ambiguity in place of a clear vision of available and reliable methods of treatment, especially on such a fundamental level, can hardly offer any advantage. To better understand the nature of this opposition, it would be useful for all to read the book by Kenny Ausubel titled “When Healing Becomes a Crime ”. This work is centered on the account of the story of Harry Hoxsey, the private practitioner of alternative cancer treatment with the allegedly very high rate of successful healings. During the course of his book, the author manages to demonstrate what factors have influenced the development of the current medical practices, and some of those factors are definitely not very comforting.
One of the specific topics that were of the great interest to me in the book and turned out to be almost a revelation was the fact that despite testimonies of cancer surgeons about numerous accounts of "people who got well when they werent supposed to" (Ausubel, 2000, ch.2), the medical establishment, represented by the American Medical Association (AMA), acted to suppress alternative cancer therapies under such pretences as for example that their proponents in reality had no medical skill, while AMA itself was lead by Dr. Morris Fishbein who “. . . failed anatomy in medical school . . . never completed his internship . . . [and] never practiced a day of medicine or treated a single patient . . .” (Ausubel, 2000, p.117). And especially unpleasant it was to learn that such persecution was initiated after unsuccessful attempts of Fishbein to buy the formula of Hoxsey`s anti-cancer preparations. All this information impressed be because it convincingly shows that medical progress is unfortunately far from being always directed by the principles from the Hippocratic Oath.
Another piece of information that I found interesting was more optimistic, and concerned the description by the author of instances when the protest of general pubic and the larger medical community was able to prevent unethical actions of AMA, like when in a commercially lucrative for them step “the AMA granted the Sunbeam corporation an exclusive product endorsement for the manufacturers medical devices without even testing them” (Ausubel, 2000, p.331). The importance of this example is in the indication that with the organized effort it is possible to determine and block harmful and one-sided policies.
Of course, Ausubel is by far not alone in his position on the merits of the alternative medicine. For example, in her narrowly focused book “Outsmart Your Cancer: Alternative Non-Toxic Treatments That Work” Tanya Harter Pierce lists the Hoxsey therapy as the first such alternative, and at the same time offers some practical advices about the choice of a proper alternative to modern toxic anti-cancer therapies. Still, one should not think that the apology for alternative cancer therapies should be stretched to the extreme. As Bob Park, a professor at the University of Maryland, has noted in relation to alternative medicine as such, this term is oxymoron because “if these alternatives had a basis in science, they would just be medicine” (Park, 2002). Indeed, as even Ausubel readily acknowledges, extensive study and testing are warranted for any new proposition in medicine, and in the process of fighting for the right to offer an alternative treatment no one should forget about the time-tested scientific methodology of verification of the claimed efficacy of a medicine or a therapy.
Finally, I believe that the information that I gained from the reading of this book will affect my views on my own practice and on the general health care delivery system of USA as I now understand that the role of a physician is not that of a passive distribution of recommendations and recipes, but rather demands an acute realization of the responsibility of a doctor to guide patients through the complexities of choosing the best ways to stay healthy.
Ausubel, K. (2000). When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey
Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies. Healing Arts Press.
Park, B. (2002). Alternative Science: Insights From The Harvard Medical School. The
University of Maryland. Retrieved November 05, 2006, from http://bobpark.physics.
Pierce, T., H. (2004). Outsmart Your Cancer: Alternative Non-Toxic Treatments That Work.
Thoughtworks Publishing. Read More
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