Over the past few years I have noticed a glaring error in our society and healthcare system. It was actually my son’s schooling that drew my attention to it initially. My eldest son is severely dyslexic however, the school did not recognise or acknowledge this and for years tried to force my ‘square’ son to fit a ‘round’ hole. I felt like I was the shoehorn they were using to try and force him into it! Eventually we found him a specialist school. He moved. And he is thriving.
The attitude that people should be made to fit a particular model, expectation, ideal or even dysfunctional mould is prevalent in our society and damaging and it is becoming increasingly restrictive.
I began to notice whilst talking to my patients how frequently I was seeing patients who were stressed, anxious or depressed due to adverse working conditions, demanding employers and abusive family members. In all cases the patient comes asking for help and to be ‘fixed’. But it was evident that in many of these situations the problem was not the patient’s problem at all, but the problem of the adversary or the system they were trying to function in. It therefore became increasingly uncomfortable for me to prescribe anxiolytics and antidepressants to these people on the basis that I was medicating them for a problem that was not theirs: the implication being that there was something wrong with them, when in fact it was the circumstance or other individual concerned that was wrong.
Even the provision of cognitive behavioural therapy and stress management became increasingly uncomfortable to me as I realised that these therapies can be used simply to enable the patient to bear the adverse circumstances for longer and to become increasingly worn down, stressed and broken.
This is not to say that counselling and other psychological therapies cannot be helpful in these cases. I think they can. Provided they are not merely enabling the damaging and dysfunctional situation to be perpetuated.
Russell Brand (I am increasingly a fan of his frank and funny videos) produced a video where he discusses anxiety and as he asks, ‘Is it your fault, or is it the fault of society’. He discusses whether in a pandemic situation where you are denied access to all your usual compensatory mechanisms and forced to comply with restrictions and continue to perform your job in circumstances that make it even tougher and more stressful, is the anxiety your problem? Or is it something society needs to address?
My experience tells me that conventional medicine is constantly trying to push people into the boxes that society expects them to function in regardless of fit. And the trouble is they don’t fit and so they keep popping out the sides like a jack in the box. We then as medical professionals play a silly game of whack a mole as the problem recurs with ever increasing complexity to the rising frustration of both the doctor and the patient.
In homeopathy we have a beautiful tool that cannot force anyone into a box. But we must use it wisely and gently. We must forego the temptation to use it in the way society demands and to suppress and shape and instead use it in a way that will allow our patients to grow in a way that perhaps neither we nor the patient expects.
Let’s stop playing the game of whack a mole and take the patient out of the box and see how beautiful they are. And what they can achieve when they are permitted to step into an environment in which they can flourish.