22 January 2012

Thoughts on a Pastoral Visit

I wonder:

Do you think it's still possible - even in a rigorously perfectionist, profit- and results-driven Age like our own* - to have too much faith in a given medical or other clinical expertise?

* At least compared to that ignorant Old World of pre-1995. 

I don't just mean the kind of faith that optimistically misjudges the skill of a single practitioner, clinic or hospital. I mean the kind of faith that grossly overestimates the degree of progress - or even  worse, capacity for progress - of an entire industry. What is it about these Particular Times anyway, that makes us think we've got all sorts of perennially complex problems so unprecedentedly figured out? So comprehensively "in the bag"? Such that if, in spite of our most brilliant efforts, your condition - what? still isn't responding properly to treatment, the problem must lie with you and not with the solution?

Again, just what is it, that seems to have elevated Today's particular solutions into a kind of provisionally almightygod-like Program? Until, of course, we come up with a better god? The kind of Program that more and more folks, however dire the nature of their condition or concern, are expected simply to get with OR ELSE? Have we hypermoderns really become so wise, or so technically perfect (in which case, I suppose, who needs even moral competence, much less excellence?), that our demands must needs become only more Draconian, "fear-factored" and intimidating? And not just of workers and volunteers - at least of the really good, conscientious ones I know - but of beneficiaries and clients? Right on up to and including cancer patients?

And why do I sense that, in the case of so many people I know who are "up against it" - and no matter how serious the ailment or other problem they're up against - the response of the person trained to help is something just teetering on the edge of "Dammit! You're not trying hard enough!"?

Anyhow, at the rate we're going, I imagine it's only a matter of time before the labels on our drug-bottles include the following message:

WARNING: Product disclaimers are intended ONLY to limit patient's expectations of drug performance, NOT to lower clinician's expectations of patient responsiveness. 

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