Peeking Behind the Curtain

The phrase ‘peeking behind the curtain’ refers to seeing something or being made aware of something that is generally hidden or kept from common knowledge.

Consider a magician who performs a trick that amazes you. The reason you are impressed is because you have no knowledge as to how the trick is done. If you were to ‘peek behind the curtain’ and find out how the illusion was performed then it wouldn’t have the same effect and you wouldn’t be impressed. So, sometimes it is not in our best interest to ‘peek behind the curtain’. However, in some cases it just isn’t right that certain knowledge is kept from us.  I mention all this because the following information allows us to ‘peek behind the curtain’ of the health care system and see how it really came to be.

The landscape of medicine prior to 1910 did not look like anything we have today. As a matter of fact it looked a lot like what we refer to today as ‘alternative’.  Medicine in 1910 primarily embraced chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic philosophies plus herbal remedies to cure the ills of the day.  Pharmaceuticals had not been developed yet, but organic chemistry (the study of carbon compounds) had recently discovered that they could separate certain molecules from petroleum and produce many different things; including drugs.

The Flexner Report of 1910 was a book length assessment of the Canadian and American medical systems carried out by Abraham Flexner and sponsored by the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the AMA (American Medical Association) who had designs on changing the medical system of the day to a unified system under their control.  Apparently, the education process for doctors up to this point was unregulated and there was a plethora of institutions teaching various ideas and techniques to anyone with an interest and enough money. In the eyes of those who were wanting to revamp this free-market approach to the education system, they felt it did not always comply with the mission statement of the AMA, which is to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. The Flexner Report identified not only the need to regulate the education of doctors but also the opportunity to regulate how medicine was administered to the public.

Under the guise of improving the medical system in North America the sponsors of the Flexner Report set forth on a multi-faceted approach to regulate the medical system by:
– reducing the number and type of schools offering a medical degree.
– increasing the minimum standards for each  school to qualify as a medical school.
– rewriting the educational process to a more science-based format.

Although some of these changes could be deemed as necessary, it allowed the Rockefellers, Carnegies and the AMA to create a whole new breed of doctors who would be ‘branded’ by the new science-based pharmaceutical approach to medicine. Ultimately, they had succeeded in basically eliminating the competition to any of the schools which they financially supported.  In addition, this financial support allowed them to dictate what type of ‘medicine’ would be promoted through that school.
An unforeseen by-product of this new regulated approach to medicine was that the new breed of doctors did not have the same patient care component that their predecessors had. Under the alternative approach that was prevalent prior to 1910, the doctors viewed the patient as a whole being, considering their emotional as well as their physical well-being.  The new science based doctors were separated from their patients because they were now treating symptoms of a condition or ailment and not the whole patient.

Even though the Flexner Report and its cronies considered themselves successful in eliminating their competition by reducing the number of modalities available to the public, it came at a great expense to our society as a whole. They had essentially thrown out the baby with the bath water when you think of all the proven effective cures that have been discredited and forced to go ‘under-ground’ or even leave the country entirely. If it didn’t have a pharmaceutical connection it was labelled as ineffective and invalid. Even up until 1976 the AMA was still trying vigorously to bring down the chiropractic profession and discredit their efficacy. Thankfully, however, the courts ruled in favor of the chiropractors in a hard fought court battle. Even today, the FDA is still bringing suits against a doctor in Texas (plus many others) who have been offering effective programs of cancer treatment that have helped hundreds or thousands of people reverse their condition. To take it a step further, this regulated medical system has also robbed each of us of many effective alternative choices as well.  So when it comes to your own personal health, I think it really does become necessary to ‘peek behind the curtain’ from time to time.