Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Brainwashing in the medical training
Sunday December 31, 2006

I am writing this e-mail to Alice Miller, having just finished reading the book, "For Your Own Good". I was moved deeply and found familiar most of the topics addressed in this book. I myself was raised by an emotionally abusive and narcissistic mother (my father was a complete enabler totally subservient to my mother), and I could discuss at length my struggles to heal from the damage.

What I would like to discuss instead is the state of Medicine as it is practiced in the U.S. I am a doctor of internal medicine, and I have observed a lot of the same psychopathology described concerning "pedogogy" pervading the medical profession. There is a lot of the same "group-think", authoritarianism, use of humiliation and rank, to - not only "whip into shape" new doctors - but also negate, wipe out, or pathologize true COMPASSION in the treatment of the patient. And it is truly amazing the amount of rationalization and denial that occurs with this. Just as children are often "blamed" for anything that happens to them, patients are often "blamed", and thus denied adequate care, for their afflictions, even though these may overwhelmingly be the result of poverty, violence, ignorance, and malnutrition. Instead of recognizing the shortcomings of the American medical system, doctors have been inculcated to pathologize the patient for their ill health.

I have attempted (without success) to discuss this with other health care professionals, but it seems that everyone has been so completely "brainwashed" that they see no inherent problems with their education nor with the system itself.

I would be interested if anyone had any experience or comments on this.

Respectfully, L. E. D., M.D.

AM: Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I completely agree with you and share your concerns. You write: “There is a lot of the same "group-think", authoritarianism, use of humiliation and rank, to - not only "whip into shape" new doctors - but also negate, wipe out, or pathologize true COMPASSION in the treatment of the patient. And it is truly amazing the amount of rationalization and denial that occurs with this." And you write further: “I have attempted (without success) to discuss this with other health care professionals, but it seems that everyone has been so completely "brainwashed" that they see no inherent problems with their education nor with the system itself. I would be interested if anyone had any experience or comments on this."
We are publishing your letter here in the hope that other physicians, who also feel the same discomfort like the one you describe, will share with us some suggestions. Maybe, some of them have an idea about how doctors can be encouraged to trust their feelings and take interest in the childhood history of their patients. In my opinion, this could certainly reduce the amount of prescriptions of unnecessary and sometimes harmful medication.


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