chapter  1
26 Pages

STILL IN THE BUSINESS OF FIXING UP

THE MEDICAL MODEL:AN ENDURING IMBALANCED VISION AND PRACTICE

Depending on one’s point of view, western medicine is either at a peak of great achievement or going through a time of serious crisis. Either way, the key is technology and the role one attributes to it. On the one hand, there have been vast developments in the area of medical technology, which have led, among other things, to the development of genetic medicine, with the promise held out of eliminating all disease. This can be seen as incredible progress, the human mind reaching out to fend off menacing influences of disease and to enhance our lives and health as never before imaginable. Others would see that this emphasis on biological manipulation is part of a fundamental and ever deepening illusion, and that a dependence on scientific technology will never ‘cure the world’s ills’. The most striking example is perhaps that given by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, claiming some 3 million lives in 2002 alone

(UNAIDS, 2002). Technology alone was never going to ‘solve’ the problems associated with the management of this condition and the healing of the individuals and communities afflicted by it. The vast amounts of money spent on this approach (looking to technical solutions) to the neglect of the care of those families affected by the epidemic is a striking example of how distorted our thinking and policies can get by pursuing the notion of technical solutions to human problems.