The Case Against Doctors Providing Lifestyle Advice

( see also “Medicine vs. Health” elsewhere on this site. Major point: health is purely preventative, medicine (science) is purely corrective. )

On the surface it appears that the world would be a better place if we just educated doctors to provide good lifestyle advice mixed in with their doctoring, but look a little deeper: even now people everywhere are abdicating far too much of the personal responsibility for health to doctors. Think how much worse that would be if we officially entrusted them with the keys to prevention as well?

A major tenet of Primacy is that the concepts of health and medicine have always been separate and distinct until modern times. This is the root of many modern behaviors that contribute to eroding health.

Being a primal purist I must point out that a primal existence was one where there was no medicine worth mentioning; there was only prevention. Prevention was the only variable that determined human health, and everyone could (and did) do it. Prevention remains to this day as the only variable that cannot be duplicated and is still the most powerful determinant of our potential for quality of life.

One of the facts that distinguishes prevention (synonymous with the word health in my world) is that it cannot be accomplished by anyone but the recipient. When it comes to medicine, the doctor performs the corrective actions necessary for a remedy. Contrast that with prevention, where doctor can talk about it, but only you can actually do it. Also unlike medicine, it isn’t so complicated that you need a scientist to decipher it for you. Anyone can learn it quickly and perform it completely.

One more time let me remind one and all that health is NOT what doctors do, no matter what the marketing hype suggests.

If we fail to maintain that distinction, we lose touch with what our role in our health is and must be, and we open the door for the hijacking of the preventative realm by for-profit entities. Never forget that prevention can easily and better be achieved by yourself and for free; for-profit entities can never be as effective at this than you can be for yourself.

The for-profit entity that is the obvious first-in-line to seize on that failing is the medical field. They have a built-in connection to human quality of life that most of us enjoy, and that gives them a huge advantage for the sell-job on the preventative side. And you see it happening already: medicine is fully engaged in the marketing wars in search of profits, and they will hijack any and all words and concepts present in the minds of their target market to achieve those profits. Health is the big one.

Besides the profit motive, equally problematic is that the goals of medicine and prevention are counter to each other. As we all know, the ultimate goal of prevention is to eliminate the need to ever find yourself in a doctor’s office. How anxious do you think a doctor is going to be to help you in that goal; how credible will a doctor’s advice on prevention (lifestyle) be when good advice clearly sabotages the main source of their income. I might actually be willing to admit that some high-integrity doctors would give quality advice if they had a choice, but knowing that the vast majority of them are paid by gigantic corporate “health” conglomerates who are not shy about dictating everything their medical staff says and does makes that an unlikely scenario.

We can all agree that it is folly to ignore prevention in our search for health. To ignore prevention is merely another form of suicide. Yet, if we trust in the messaging from for-profit medical concerns which says that nothing is your fault and doctors are in complete control of the health realm, then that is exactly what we do. There are truly no medical substitutes for preventative strategies that also result in maximum quality of life. They are all compromises of one sort or another. That’s why this distinction is so important.

One more time let me remind one and all that health is NOT what doctors do, no matter what the marketing hype suggests. Health is on you and you alone. Health is purely preventative; what doctors do is medicine, and medicine is purely corrective. Correction is only required when prevention isn’t applied, or applied inadequately. Please don’t let doctors tell you otherwise. That distinction can only live in the minds of individuals, and only when those individuals will accept the responsibility of maintaining the highest possible quality of life for themselves and their children.

I wouldn’t suggest this if I didn’t believe that everyone has the ability to master prevention. The fact is that far too many of us know more about preventative strategies already than we’re actually doing. How is that going to change when doctors are the source of those strategies. For myself, I very much want the doctors that I will only see in crisis situations to be as focussed and well-versed at corrective strategies as possible, not dabbling in things that I can do better myself.

Let’s all recommit to doing what we already know. We may find that we don’t actually need doctors for anything but their corrective knowledge after all.

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