In Defense of Medical Heresy
James Biddle, MD
Asheville Integrative Medicine
Available at http://www.docbiddle.com/futuredocseries.htm
In this audio CD, Dr. Biddle discusses the many ironies in the history of medical progress. For instance, during the nineteenth century in Vienna, Austria (among other places) doctors customarily proceeded directly from performing autopsies to delivering children without pausing to wash their hands. Why bother? They were just going to get dirty again anyway. This obviously happened before the germ theory came along. Consequently maternal death rates of puerperal fever (also known as childbed fever) were very high. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, as assistant to the professor of the maternity clinic in the Vienna General Hospital in the 1840s, mandated that doctors wash their hands before delivering babies. Contemporary doctors were actually insulted by the new regulation, which was very unpopular, but observed for a time. Mortality rates for childbed fever dropped drastically. One might think this would change standard procedure in the maternity ward but apparently the lesson didn’t sink in until sometime in the twentieth century. Meanwhile, Dr. Semmelweis was ultimately dismissed from the hospital, harangued by the medical community for his “extreme” views and forced to leave the city. His continued passionate efforts to change obstetrical procedures resulted in his commitment to an insane asylum where he died only two weeks later, likely a result of severe beating by guards. Something to think about if you want to save the human race.
In more recent times doctors in countries like Canada and Great Britain have formed unions and occasionally go on strike. It has been observed that local death rates fall when they do so. Doctors have to be careful not to strike for too long or people might figure out that they are better off without all that “health” care.
Dr. Biddle provides many other such stories. The point is that leaving your health up to the leading medical authorities is a very dangerous thing to do. I don’t fully agree with every detail in this audio but I’ll give it a thumbs up.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2009.