America’s history in the eugenics movement is just as shameful as our history of slavery. I say it’s our “history” because slavery and eugenics are no longer around. Or are they?
The drug war is just like slavery, only we now put black and brown people behind bars (where they work for prison contractors for very little pay). The prison industry provides economic benefits to the cities and states where prisons are located, just like rich plantation owners provided to the societies they lived in. Without the slaves (prisons), how would these communities survive?
And certainly modern day slavery includes working in coal mines, and maybe even having to work in a cubicle all day. We are all slaves to money — you can’t live without it. Yes, we are also slaves to consumerism, but perhaps that’s changing. (Okay, maybe not.)
You could look at the social programs in America today and easily compare them to the eugenics of our past — just like Robert has done in the linked post. If you slap a different name on it, like the drug war for slavery, that doesn’t change the results. Death is death, whether you die in a prison camp or because you can’t afford to pay for cancer treatment. A prison is a prison, whether it’s political, economic, from chronic pain, or because of the color of your skin or your gender.
The differences in how the medical industry treats physical and mental health could easily be seen as a eugenics-type program. The excuse that we don’t understand mental health as well as physical health is bogus. There are plenty of things that science hasn’t figured out about physical health and disease, yet it continues to treat all conditions it can give a name to. And we’ve known for a long time about the connection between the mind and the body — it is impossible to separate them, they are one and the same.
This is what the American Medical Association said in 1994:
“Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment. The social commitment of the physician is to sustain life and relieve suffering. Where the performance of one duty conflicts with the other, the preferences of the patient should prevail…
As far as I can tell, the AMA still uses this language. And yet for pain patients, it appears this language does not apply. Relieve suffering? Preferences of the patient? Perhaps this language only applies for end-of-life care. If your medical condition is terminal, you get to choose your treatment options; if your condition is chronic, the DEA gets to choose.
For a patient who is terminal, and suffering horribly, the role of the physician as “healer” is no longer attainable…
For a chronic pain patient who is suffering horribly, the role of the physician as “healer” is no longer attainable.
Perhaps a brand new specialty should be created for treating pain. If doctors aren’t going to prescribe the medications that work, what are we paying them to do? Hold our hands?
The current specialty of pain management and rehabilitation is outdated and woefully inadequate. (Woefully.) Patients aren’t respected in this system and have no rights. The DEA gets to decide which treatments are allowed and doctors have to submit to the DEA, leaving patients with fewer and fewer options for treatments that work.
Pain patients should create their own treatment specialties, just like former alcoholics are now addiction treatment counselors and experts. If there were more addiction treatment programs that didn’t rely on AA-like beliefs, maybe there would be more former alcoholics who were using programs that provided all available treatment options. And maybe the outlook for people who suffer from addiction would be a little bit better. It would be nice to create something like that for pain patients.
Not medical care, not health care, but pain care.