worrying actions on generic drug distribution from Ireland.
fire in the blood.
This week has seen some excitement over the possibility of the first case of someone being ‘cured’ of HIV, generating a lot of hope and expectation for future treatments. This week has also seen a little attention on the story of HIV drugs in Africa, which is a much darker story. It’s been told for the first time in a new documentary, Fire in the Blood, which is currently screening in Britain.
It’s the work of Indian-Irish historian and filmmaker Dylan Mohan Gray, and it tells the story of how the pharmaceutical companies blocked the sale of cheap anti-retroviral drugs in Africa. It protected their profits, but caused an estimated 10 million unnecessary deaths. That’s a crazy number of deaths that could have been avoided. You would need to add the Holocaust and Stalin’s gulags together to match it. It’s little wonder Gray refers to it as ‘the…
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Britons beware of changes to the NHS. A Time Magazine article on the problems with private health care accross the pond.
One word I hear mentioned a lot in relation to health is invalid.
Not so much as a description of a sick person, but from the mouths of the sick I hear a lot of;
‘My feelings aren’t valid’
‘I feel invalidated’
‘No one listens’
‘I need an advocate’(1)(2)
From the vulnerable I hear it crying out like an echo, coming up again, and again, and again.
It’s like a sound that isn’t heard.
Why do sick people feel invalid? Why do we need advocates to speak for the sick? Does being sick mean that you can’t speak?
Or does it mean that others don’t hear what is being said?
There are lots of situations where having another person or ‘advocate’ to fight for someone else’s corner is necessary, not just in legal situations but in health settings as well.
I decided to look at where the words invalid and invalid come from.
One word two different meanings. (3)
One is ‘invalid’ in relation to sickness, one means ‘invalid’ in relation to having no cogency or legal force.
How does suffering from disability, illness or injury lead to invalidation?
How did sickness become to invalidate? (4)
As I read around the subject I came across this article http://eqi.org/invalid.htm it defined invalidation in the following terms;
‘Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone’s feelings. It is an attempt to control how they feel and for how long they feel it.’
‘Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one’s feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy’.
‘Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal. This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren’t like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.’
‘Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity and individuality.’
The article ends with;‘I still remember many years ago when I was driving my car thinking about how people in my family would so often argue and debate about everything. I stopped the car, opened my laptop and wrote in a large font ‘
‘Feelings Are Not Debatable’
I found this article very sobering,
Not only can people feel invalidated when they are unwell, but by actually invalidating people’s emotions healthy people can become sick.
The article actually links this type of invalidation to personality disorder. (5)
This made me think about another area of invalidity.
In Britain there has been a welfare state (6), which has supported the vulnerable and provided subsistence level state benefits to live off.
In 2008 a new benefit called ‘Employment and Support Allowance’ was introduced to replace the old ‘Incapacity Benefit’.
As part of ‘Employment and Support Allowance’ sick people have to complete a questionnaire and sit a medical assessment.
‘Charities and disabled groups say the assessment is “not fit for purpose”, with appeals against 40% of claims that are turned down. They cite cases of suicide where the coroner has said denial of benefits was a contributory factor. The BBC’s Panorama this year found a case of a man who died of heart failure just 39 days after being found fit for work’ (7)(8) Randeep Ramesh Social Affairs Editor The Guardian Thursday 13 December 2012
So, invalids who don’t have their health needs validated and recognised by the state are actually dying because of the lack of recognition or validation of their health needs for benefit purposes.
In terms of health I would argue that validation of health needs, experiences and emotions would lead to a healthier society.
If invalidation leads to sickness I would argue that currently our society is heading in the wrong direction, people can only be well when they are valid.(9)(10)
In his forward to Chinese Medical Qigong page 1 (1) Marc S. Micozzi M.D. PHD states “current political debates in the US about healthcare “reform” amount only to “rearranging the deck chairs on the SS Titanic”.
Personally I would extend this description of healthcare to Britain as well, because in my experience current welfare and NHS “reform” amounts to the same superficial, short sighted rearrangement. (2)
In global economic recession poverty and therefore health problems are on the rise.
In the book ‘Violence, inequality and human freedom’ by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe; ‘structural violence’ is described as ‘violence of institutions’, ‘for example, violence can be an outcome of how we have organised society in terms of access to basic necessities of survival’ (3). The implications of which are limited access to medical care and education for the poor.
In the wake of the economic sinking ship there is the question; how to tackle health problems when poverty is on the rise?
The NICE Guidelines for clinical excellence (4) lay out the ‘stepped approach’ for mental health problems and recommend therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling and access to health care services which should be available to combat common mental health disorders. NICE lays out all guidelines for healthcare in Britain.
It is unfortunate that the resources to provide for these guidelines are being cut, or in some cases are simply not there at all (5). Additionally changes to the benefit system are being made which negatively impact upon the emotional health of the sick and disabled (6).
The situation is not helped by competition for the little work that is available. It is easier to manage health with an income and something to occupy the mind such as a job, in my experience.
What possible solutions are there to these problems?
Could the application of systems theory (7) be the beginning of change in bringing information about health to the masses?
In her book ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’, Jacqueline Harvey appears to be supporting the view that self-education and self-care and responsibility are the way forward in terms of a long term solutions to integrative health. (8)
I support this whole heartedly, as in my experience holistic health practices such as yoga (9) and tai chi (10) are very beneficial for health and promote self-care and self-education. They encourage the exploration of body, nutrition/diet and psychological personal development.
It would be nice to think that children have the opportunity to access these types of exercises and mindfulness practices, as well as physical education and sports so that in the future they did not need to access Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (11) for health conditions like personality disorder. DBT has some basis in Buddhist mindfulness practice. Would it therefore be cost effective to build mindfully based approaches to health into the education and health system from an early age?
In the circumstances the building of networks, social or otherwise, and communities on a local, national and worldwide scale; made up of existing established resources, practices and health resources seem like the way forward in tipping the balance towards preventing health problems and managing conditions.
I think I am a little bit ‘evangelical’ about promoting personal health care exploration.
God bless the World Wide Web.
And finally:http://www.drfranklipman.com/motivation-and-personality/ an after thought but very relevent.
(1) Chinese Medical Qigong – Editor in Chief: Tianjun Liu, OMD Associate Editor in Chief: Kevin W Chen, Ph.D.
(3) Violence, Inequality and Human Freedom by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe ISBN:0-7425-1923-6 Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc
mine came free with http://www.ommagazine.com/ October 2012