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The High Cost of Medical Bullshit Part IV: False Hope, Shame, and Regret

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Read the other blogs in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III

“There is no such thing as an incurable disease, only incurable people.”

Bernie Siegel, MD, Love, Medicine and Miracles

It is one thing to see the statistics of medical bullshit: the billions of dollars wasted by people desperate for better health who often can’t afford it, the billions of dollars made by unscrupulous individuals and corporations off of the suffering of others, the thousands of people harmed or killed by side effects of products they were told were 100% safe and effective. It is another thing to open your eyes and heart to the personal suffering that is involved.

Myth 1: All illnesses can be cured.

Truth: Only an asshole would claim that all diseases are curable. If you buy into this line of thinking, then when you or your loved one fails to cure their Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, depression or _____ (fill in with awful illness that no one would have if they could avoid it), the conclusion is that there must be something wrong with you. You also waste a lot of time (and money) on false cures that could be spent doing things that are really important to you with people you love.

Myth 2: Aging can be reversed.

Truth: Whether we will ever reach a stage of scientific advancement where at least some aspects of aging could be slowed or stopped is an open question—there are great strides being made in understanding cellular aging and addressing age-related illness—but we aren’t there yet. In the meantime, our obsession with eternal youth contributes to a loss of reverence for the elderly, desperate efforts to look young including plastic surgery, and a loss of the spiritual growth and wisdom that typically comes with the acceptance of time and change.

Myth 3: Death is optional.

Truth: Spoiler alert – one way or another your life will end; death is inevitable. When you have a medical system that pretends death is optional, or simply fails to acknowledge it, you end up with a lot of people getting unnecessary care in the last few weeks, days, and even hours of their lives. This “care,” often consisting of tubes connecting people to various machines, is uncomfortable and causes suffering not only to the person dying but to the family members who watch it, and who often feel responsible for pulling a plug that possibly shouldn’t have been offered. By denying death, we also deny ourselves the opportunity to connect deeply to death and the dying and to say those things that need to be said (I love you, thank you, I forgive you, forgive me) while we still can.

Myth 4: Perfect people live perfectly healthy lives.

Truth: Bad things happen to good people, no matter how you measure goodness. This myth allows, perhaps even encourages, people who haven’t yet gotten a serious illness to judge people who have. My first wife, a Deadhead with young onset rheumatoid arthritis, was told by people at parties that she had a “dis-ease” because she wasn’t groovy enough or some such shit. By making her disease her fault, it allowed them to persist in the illusion that they would never get sick because they did yoga, took natural drugs, cleansed toxins from their aura, and the list goes on.

There is a difference between living and surviving. I am all for exercise, watching one’s diet, not smoking, and wearing bike helmets to try to improve one’s chances of living a long and healthy life. But I also know there are no guarantees. If we take these things as matters of survival, we let health dogma control our lives. One can also do these same activities with an awareness of the precious and fragile gift of life and connect it to freedom, gratitude, and joy.

Thank you for reading. Are there any costs to medical bullshit that you think are missing? How has medical bullshit affected you? Please send me some ideas in the comments.


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