The Sickness of the Sick Care System

“Today medical schools in the United States offer, on average, only about nineteen hours of nutrition education over four years of medical school. Only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer the recommended twenty-five hours of nutrition education. A study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutrition and health knowledge of medical school graduates entering a pediatric residency program and found that, on average, they answered only 52 percent of eighteen questions correctly. In short, most mainstream doctors would fail nutrition.
~Dr. Will Cole, Ketotarian (quoted here), 2018

Burnout has become an increasing problem among physicians. A recent Medscape survey found high rates of burnout among medical practitioners, including 42% of psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Depression is also extremely common in physicians, who have a suicide rate higher than that of the general population, and even higher than that of other academics. There is also a high suicide rate in psychologists, with some studies suggesting that close to 30% have felt suicidal and nearly 4% have made a suicide attempt. One study of more than 1000 randomly sampled counseling psychologists found that 62% of respondents self-identified as depressed, and of those with depressive symptoms, 42% reported experiencing some form of suicidal ideation or behavior.
~Batya Swift Yasgur, Challenging Stigma: Should Psychiatrists Disclose Their Own Mental Illness?, 2019

“Researchers Rubén Díaz and Carlos Rodríguez, explored the burnout prevalence of mental health professionals in Panama (where I live and work) and found that about 36 percent of its community has suffered from burnout syndrome at one point or another of their careers… While it’s not shocking to learn that mental health professionals also struggle with mental health issues—given that we’re human and all—it’s disconcerting to see research show that mental health care professional are hesitant to seek help. In the aforementioned study, about 43 percent of psychologists “struggle to see the presentation of mental illness and psychological distress within themselves,” and one in five psychologists withholds information about their emotional difficulties.
~Mariana Plata, Therapists Need Therapy, Too, 2018

Probably no single fact illustrates the frequency of this disease [neurasthenia] more impressively than this, that at all times while on duty, I have a number of physicians, who are themselves sufferers in this way, under my care. Many of these medical patients have been affiicted for years, without ever reaching the true diagnosis of the condition, and in not a few instances, the real debility and distress are heightened and intensified by fear of impending disablement. Overworked and overworried physicians are quite apt to develop this disease, and for reasons elsewhere stated… are also more likely to develop at the same time hypochondria or pathophobia. At least one of every ten of those who consult me for neurasthenia are physicians.
~Dr. George Miller Beard, A Practical Treatise On Nervous Exhaustion (Neurasthenia), 1884

“Perhaps he is best known for the establishment of his rest cure, a method of treatment for patients, especially women, who suffered from hysteria and neurasthenia. The cure became the standard treatment for many decades, particularly in England… On a visit to Paris, Mitchell sought out the great Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) for help without revealing his name. Where was he from? “Philadelphia?” Then said Charcot: “You should consult Weir Mitchell; he is the best man in America for your kind of trouble.”
~Whonamedit? Biographical Dictionary, Silas Weir Mitchell

“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”
~Alan Moore, Watchmen, 1987

6 thoughts on “The Sickness of the Sick Care System

  1. The average monthly expenses of insulin shots are around 450$, something diabetics can’t live without. Keep in mind a vial of insulin costs roughly 4$ to make. This is one of the most prime examples of corruption and extortion in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, and specifically in the United States which is a top contender for countries with the worst healthcare systems despite nearly having the highest spending on it.

    Mental healthcare is another issue that’s more stigmatized, a pandemic even more world wide than general poor healthcare.

    • Diabetes treatment is the single largest cost in health/sick-care. If we don’t reverse the crisis of hyperinsulinemia (AKA syndrome x, metabolic syndrome, metabolic derangement), it will bankrupt and cripple us as a society. Diabetes is just one aspect of this. Besides type 1 and type 2, there is also Alzheimer’s which is called type 3 diabetes. Also related is obesity, fatty liver disease, heart disease, etc.

      All of these are preventable diseases and yet most doctors remain almost entirely ignorant of known methods of prevention. Some of the conventional advice many doctors and other health experts give is almost guaranteed to make such conditions worse. Part of the problem is that the problem itself is rarely recognized. Doctors diagnose diabetes by testing for high blood sugar, but the real cause is high insulin levels that they don’t test for, and those high insulin levels can show up years or even decades earlier. A disease can’t be prevented that is not acknowledged or tested for.

      Mental illness is inseparable from the rest. We now know how diet and lifestyle are central factors in neurocognitive and mental health. For example, inflammation is seen in multiple psychiatric disorders from, depression to schizophrenia, and we know that various foods and eating patterns increase or decrease inflammation. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, whereas omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.

      The industrial seed oils, high in omega-6s, are also oxidative and mutagenic which relates to the de novo mutations found in autistics, as Dr. Catherine Shanahan writes about. I have a post about that around here, if you’re interested (do a search for that doctor and it will come up in the results). On a related topic, there is another post about the “Agricultural Mind” where, besides ketosis and addiction, I look into other factors such as gluten, casein, propionate, glutamate, exorphins, dopaminergic peptides, etc.

      Ketosis is also anti-inflammatory. That is what I’ve been focusing a lot on lately, in my studies and personal experimentation. A keto diet helped me lose 60 lbs, increased my energy, and eliminated my decades of depression. I generally feel better and more motivated, such that I more regularly exercise and having improved my health overall. This is typical on the keto diet, as you can find thousands of anecdotes like mine online. One doctor talked about going on a keto diet and his depression went away, but the odd part was that prior to the dietary change he didn’t realize he was depressed since it had been his ‘normal’ state for so long he didn’t remember being any other way.

      There was a fascinating case I came across involving a different neurocognitive condition. A lady had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was a teenager and the anti-psychotics made her overweight. In her 70s, she decided to lose weight and went to the well known low-carb doctor Eric Westman who trained under Dr. Robert Atkins. Dr. Westman put her on a keto diet and she predictably lost weight, but unpredictably her schizophrenic symptoms went away to the degree that she went off of her anti-psychotic medications and stayed off of them.

      Anyway, the reason I posted the above piece was because of the quote by Beard in talking about neurasthenia. That is another topic that has interested me. Beard was writing in the 1800s and it was a period of immense change: industrializtion, urbanization, and increasing carb intake. Many doctors, scientists, missionaries, etc noticed the changes happening, especially in comparison to traditional societies that hadn’t experienced these changes. What interested me with that Beard quote was that all the way back then doctors maybe were already disproportionately suffering from mental illness. The story about Mitchell, an expert on neurasthenia, was amusing in relationship to that quote.

      One of my recurring themes is how much has remained the same over the centuries. Or if not exactly remaining the same, getting worse in predictable ways that indicate a trend. Each era of crisis seems worse than the last.

    • The average cost of Ibrance oral capsules is around $12,388 for a one month supply of 21 capsules today, but how did Pfizer set its cost in the first place? Via an “arcane art,” which others call “a racket“.

      Metastatic breast cancer is a terminal diagnosis in 100% of cases. The promise of Ibrance is, in actuality, a prognosis of “survivability” approximately ten months longer than a patient taking an aromatose inhibitor alone.

      • Metastatic breast cancer is a terminal diagnosis. But what causes it in the first place? And what would prevent it? The evidence shows such things as the Warburg effect, keto diet, and autophagy could help treat or prevent certain kinds of cancer. What is the cost of this? Approximately nothing. But it’s complex. Autophagy, for example, can help the body remove cancerous cells. But once cancer is established, autophagy can in some cases make cancer cells more aggressive. We need more and better research. The problem is there is no profit to be made by drug companies in finding non-drug treatments, much less prevention.

        One thing is clear. Using the body’s natural mechanisms is better than using drugs with numerous side effects. And preventing something in the first place is better than trying to treat it once the disease is already diagnosed. That certainly is true with cancer, but there are many other examples. Consider what used to be called syndrome X and now is commonly called metabolic syndrome/derangement with the essential component being hyperinsulinemia. This involves many things: insulin resistance, obesity, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s (type 3 diabetes), etc. The main part, in terms of costs, is diabetes.

        Diabetes is diagnosed by high levels of blood sugar. But the body compensates for high blood sugar with producing more insulin and so the damage is hidden. Diabetes is simply the diagnosis given after all of the damage has been done. The high insulin levels, however, can be measured years or even decades before the problem can be seen in blood sugar changes. If caught at an early stage, diabetes and the broader metabolic syndrome can be prevented. Instead, we wait until the person is already sick and then give them insulin shots, but the fact of the matter is giving insulin shots actually worsens the condition by increasing insulin resistance which leads to a death spiral of greater need of insulin shots until it finally kills the person.

        We do need to get drug costs down. But we also need to remove the power of these drug pushers in the first place. As long as we are dependent on drugs as the primary treatment in a sick-care system, these drug companies control the entire medical-industrial complex and so have us by the balls. We need to change the paradigm and the dynamic. Even with cheaper drugs, we still might end up bankrupt and crippled as a society, if we don’t deal with the underlying causes of what is making us so sick. Simply put, we need healthcare to replace sick-care.

        • We need more and better research.

          Beginning with the extent to which we’ve soiled our own nest via industrial agriculture, biotechnology and industrial food processing techniques, apparently thinking this wouldn’t affect our own biochemical and genetic makeup in the least. As the conventional wisdom obviously goes, however, only tobacco crops have been so affected.

          A random, elderly stranger just today expressed astonishment at this organic food movement we’ve got going on. “When we were kids, all we ever ate was organic food,” he said.

          The problem is there is no profit to be made by drug companies in finding non-drug treatments, much less prevention.

          And no other real incentive to transform the system itself on the part of any of the companies profiting from it aside from, as you say, for the worse. The real problem is this technologically-intensive way of doing things has become the new common sense and, until and unless that paradigm changes, neither will anything else.

          Perhaps we’ll turn that around in the next few centuries, but of course that won’t help those of us dying in droves now.

          • When we were kids, all we ever ate was organic food,”

            That is amusing. I’ve thought about that before. There are many older Americans who would never buy organic because it never occurs to them that they should. They don’t even realize that their greater health, compared to the younger generations, is partly because they ate organic food by default.

            Farming practices from earlier last century were also more regenerative with much of the soil health still retained, including the mineral availability that plants draw on to produce their own nutrients. We sometimes talk about organic, regenerative, etc as if these are new inventions. There could be nothing further from the truth.

            “Perhaps we’ll turn that around in the next few centuries, but of course that won’t help those of us dying in droves now.”

            Change to the food system is inevitable. That is because it presently isn’t sustainable. So, either our food system collapses and with it civilization or we find a better way. It will be easier the quicker we make these changes, as the costs could be high and horrific if we weight until total crisis overtakes us. But that is most likely what we will do, coming close to collapse or maybe getting too close to that edge that we go over no matter how much we scramble for solutions at the last minute.

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