“‘This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President Of The United States Former Five Star General Farewell Address To The Nation, January 17th, 1961
MIC and BPS
Some might say the above was perhaps the most important speech that any American President has ever made. I have never heard it referenced on any media discussion of conflict versus peace, but I presume it will have been. The recent and ongoing reaction of the political class here in the UK to the first prominent peace-promoting party leader in recent times is a yardstick for the modern politician’s disregard to anything Eisenhower said. Jimmy Carter has had similarly important contributions to make regarding peace since he left office. Again, these are not widely covered. In any meaningful and all-encompassing debate on conflict, the industrial and business implications should be discussed.
If considered broadly, there are again parallels between the health of humanity and the health of humans. So, just as the function of conflict cannot be meaningfully discussed without reference to the trillions spent on it, human health cannot be meaningfully considered unless we remember it is a trifold paradigm- biological, psychological and social.
Here in the UK, there is presently a politicised drive for more spending on mental health and an increased awareness of mental illness. This of course is all agreed, notwithstanding the obvious point previously discussed that all the right honourable health minister can meaningfully hope to do is somehow balance the healthcare budget, and so what comes to mental health will come out of physical health, at least in part.
There is also a drive for social care to be recognised as an entity discrete from the NHS. From everything we have said about health, whilst I do agree that in general terms health awareness and budgetary issues are important, I think the drive to segment the notion of health is fundamentally wrong.
Friendship, Meaningful Debate, Diagnostic Labels, Consumer Healthcare and (Biopsychosocial) Care
Sometimes, I find that interactions with people you will probably only meet once can be incredibly poignant. Modern society places great emphasis on friendship and social interactions. By definition, to be a good friend (we are told) we must be good listeners and in essence friendship is an art. Clearly friendship is ubiquitous and may be all encompassing but I would point out that friendship per se is not (according to Maslow) a basic human need, although it may make many of the basic human needs easier to achieve. Moreover, the art of listening and or questioning, as often displayed by media news types, may all be for show.
So, a couple of weeks ago I had a fifteen minute business meeting with someone I had never met before and I doubt I will meet again. But I have thought about one point he made ever since. I am hoping that sharing this with my friends here shall enable closure. The gentleman in question and myself had a mutual colleague. He did not know the third party’s name. Quite innocently, I presume, he said “oh, I know who you mean, is he a bit autistic, a bit of a boffin'” Now I must state that the second party was not in any way medically trained. Hence perhaps he could be forgiven for using a diagnostic label without any justification. I can vouch that said third party is not autistic, but is perhaps ‘a bit of a boffin’. What I am coming to is this: the current political drive here in the UK partly centres upon an awareness of mental health and therefore diagnostic labels such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. My own viewpoint is that the lay public being ‘aware’ of these diagnoses will not achieve anything significant. Especially with something so complex as mental health. It is the healthcare providers themselves that must be empowered to recognise the trifold nature of health. You cannot, I contend, dissect out the psychological from the physical or the social. Healthcare should be truly holistic. Every encounter with a patient should be an opportunity to assess and treat as required their biopsychosocial wellbeing.
During another attempt to amuse myself with the media, an eminent surgeon was being interviewed with regards to his memoirs (soon to be released). He did make some interesting points which resonated with my own experience. But one point he made quite vehemently I do not think stands up in the modern age. His basic point was that healthcare cannot be seen to equate with commerce or a customer service industry. “Patients are not consumers.” Sorry, but I think they are. And when we all realise that healthcare is primarily a customer service industry, healthcare will improve greatly. This is the concept of patient centred care, which we shall revisit.
Finally, on the subject of biopsychosocial care, I can speak from experience that providing great care is just as challenging as providing great healthcare. You absolutely cannot provide great care within ten to fifteen minute visits, however regular (up to a point of course). As such, I would suggest as a nation and indeed as a world that we should look again at the traditional way families used to care for their own aged relatives. And tax payer funds should be redistributed accordingly.
Sport, Football, Management, Kayfabe & Life
Jose Mourinho is the special one. He has something about him. He is the Fergie of today (the Scottish, previously football managing Fergie that is). But Chelsea sacked him because he lost a few matches. On the balance of probabilities, next season he will be in charge of another very famous English football club which shall remain nameless here. As a medium level follower of football and sport, I can state that the phenomenon of football is bizarre. But for football read sport. And for sport read politics or business.
So the modern day football management merry-go-round is a source of consternation, despair and or delight for all of us. But is it not broadly similar to the ‘real’ world in its approach? So today’s health minister is yesterday’s culture minister. The next potential president is the relative of the previously scandal hit one. The former president was formerly a great actor. The figure who was the talk of the tabloids last year re ‘scandal’ is this month’s main media news expert in his or her field, oh did I mention s/he had a short prison stint too, just adds to their appeal to the everyday media news watcher of course. And in a life imitating sport masterpiece, the former shadow chancellor is now a football kingmaker.
More broadly, sport does imitate life or is it the other way around? Recent sporting scandals have involved drugs, sex, ‘fixing’ and almost always large amounts of money. Need I go on?
Finally, anyone who went to school with me will know my two passions were educational excellence and professional wrestling. As per the Bill Hicks ‘Just A Ride’ quote in the last piece, my cohort of then adolescent wrestling fans perpetually wondered “is this real, or is this just a ride?” What I now know about wrestling entertainment is that the storytelling has a specific term attached ‘kayfabe.’ Look it up, my friends. All I would wish to say here is that kayfabe may not be confined to professional wrestling.
MQ Bismil is a medically qualified and surgically trained; writer and thinker. He has been commissioned to write a series entitled Health And Humanity for the London Progressive Journal in 2016. His views are his own and unrelated to his medical practice.
In this series, the generality of health is discussed. Please do not construe this as specific health advice, and please consult a physician if you wish to consider making changes to your lifestyle.
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This post was written by MQ Bismil