Landscape with double-header, 1975.


Original article at the bottom.

THE THEME, taken up in Marta Wesolowska's reportage, is, to be sure, one of the so-called sensitive ones. It pertains to phenomena generally considered shameful - because they are ostensibly intended to testify to social unenlightenment - and condemned harshly by institutional medicine.

In addition, it is easy to plug it under a susceptible "wave of irrationalism" and servile "pluggers" will probably be found.

After all, lately in the so-called "public tracks" (in our country and around the world) we have been spotting quite a few stories in which the intertwining of truth and deception, science and charlatanry, is so convoluted that it is difficult to get an objective view. As a result, some believe everything uncritically - others disbelieve everything in advance, and both attitudes do not seem commendable.

Taking the position of an "impartial observer" (in quotation marks, because, after all, it is known how difficult it is to achieve full impartiality), I realize that this is not the most comfortable position, it exposes one to attacks from both sides, it can, besides, create the impression that the adopter ascribes to himself the right to judge anything. So I must emphasize that I am the farthest from that. I am only attempting - not for the first time - to point out at least two things: that there are still some facts unexplained, and that they should be interpreted with caution until they are investigated by the methods of science. I would appreciate it if you would stop telling me more.

After this unfortunately necessary digression, I return to the topic. Well, as is known,

n a c h o r s is one of the world's oldest professions. Today, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, at a time of unheard-of development of medicine and widespread, readily available free (at-us) health care - the success of quacks should arouse amazement. It is easy here, of course, to hurl thunderbolts, assume poses of rationalists, fighting superstition and darkness, ridicule people, naively trusting in someone's healing power.

Well, the very word "quack" arouses horror. It contains, in itself, a negative evaluation, is a value-laden term, as if it prejudges the issue.

In the Polish language, however, there is no other term for a man trying to do L u d z i with methods not accepted by science and especially - outside the framework of the institution set up for this purpose. Dr. P. is doing just that - after all, the effects of this work are socially positive and there are a number of people to whom he undeniably saved health and perhaps - life. To call Dr. P, a quack would be unfair and unauthorized. However, this is not just about the individual case of Dr. P. - it is about something more, and that is why it was necessary to take up the "sensitive" topic.

Here, in my opinion, is the general issue and worthy of serious consideration: why, precisely in an era of such spectacular successes of medicine and such wide dissemination of these successes, people are clamoring for quacks. Let's not oversimplify the task: they garner, and in increasing numbers, not only the uneducated, but precisely the highly educated.

In addition to the various reasons (and among them and certain properties, the human psyche in general, and various social conditions, and - however - also this "fashion for psychotronics") it is impossible to exclude one. Modern medicine, institutionalized health care neglects to cultivate certain values. It is increasingly sluggish, complicated, soulless machine for treating diseases, cases. This is the attitude of the organization, teaches not - all, if I may say, the technology of modern medical treatment. God forbid, I do not reprove the environment - it is simply that such mechanisms have been created by civilization t this is the case all over the world.

Doctors, recognized ~by patients as the best, are not only good specialists - they are usually also good people. They are also - sorry - a bit of "quacks" in a certain sense of the word. I submit that the time is coming when the medical community will have to reflect on these issues especially in view of the increasing "technicalization" of medicine t the impersonality of its face. The need to humanize medicine, moreover, is best seen by doctors themselves.

As for the specific case of Dr. P: well, his idea of helping an ailing organism with so-called "m i c r o e l e m e n t s" (i.e. elements found in the environment and in the body itself in trace amounts only) is not absurd. Other studies (conducted in Poland and around the world) have found a correlation between the lack of certain micronutrients (in the soil, food, etc.) and the occurrence and severity of certain diseases. This is a new, perhaps not yet completely justified, look at the etiology of not some diseases - and, as often things that are new, it meets resistance in some traditionally-minded (or perhaps more cautious) - scientific circles. Nevertheless, the issue seems worthy of attention.

It is difficult for me to comment on Dr. P.'s other methods (and their interpretations), although I also would not dismiss them too hastily without checking.

M. Wesolowska gave the reportage the title "Landscape with a two-headed calf" this two-headed calf, whose skull hangs in the Doctor's house, is a symbol of a kind of "two-headedness" and the Doctor himself and the people around him and perhaps many of us all. One head, rational, sensible, "official", cautious - while in the other head, which no one likes to reveal, superstition breeds, the reckless desire to believe in the possibility of "miraculous cures"....

No, there aren't many double-headers here! It is people who are sober and do not pretend to have eaten all their wits, who act in accordance with common sense, if there are patients for whom the Doctor's treatment after could, these are not any "miraculous" healings, but ordinary recoveries. This means that Doctor -P. is not cheating, but healing. It is simply the f a c t s that count. I don't argue about the percentage to which the "placebo principle" (i.e., the patient's belief in the action - of an inert agent), suggestion, trust in recovery is at work here - doctors know very well how positive effects this has in therapy. However, if there are a few certain recoveries from diseases considered incurable or extremely difficult to cure - I think it's high time for Dr. P.'s methods to be clinically tested. When it comes to health, I think one should forget about various resentments, professional pride or the environment's aversion to outsiders, and not at all overlook roads not paved.

It is difficult to prejudge whether the Doctor's medicines are indeed good, perhaps even that they can harm someone in specific cases (this is, in fact, mato probable - if this were the case, I think the prosecutor would intervene immediately).

It is clear that an important duty of the health service is to defend patients from fraudulent practices and to ensure that people's treatment is carried out in absolute accordance with the current state of medical knowledge. However, it's also hard not to notice that aversion to any ideas from outside the community, or from outside medical institutions, sometimes assumes exaggerated proportions. And, after all, it is something else to strictly control quackery, something else to check various ideas, hypotheses, medicines ¿ methods of the so-called "People's Medicine".

Doctors told me - we can't test everything that anyone thinks of, because we won't have enough time and resources for serious research. Scientific. Of course. No one demands to test everything", only those few things that have already worked to some extent. Perhaps, the result will be negative after all.

What if it turned out that at least a few people could just be helped by Dr. P.'s method?

Who will then accept responsibility that the research was abandoned?



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