Category Archives: health

The people’s right to illness

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 20.55.35Resistance to the health dictatorship

In Juli Zeh’s Corpus Delicti: Ein Prozess (2009), health as defined by the WHO (‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’) has, Dalrymple explains,

become the ideology of the state – all other ideologies, religious, social, political and economic, having failed miserably. Citizens are implanted with a chip under their skin; they are obliged, under pain of prosecution, constantly to monitor their blood pressure and biochemical parameters. They are not permitted to stray beyond the limits of areas that have been bacteriologically sanitised, and if they do, they are punished.

The protagonist Mia Holl, a bacteriologist,

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 20.58.14is in rebellion against the supposedly beneficent dispensation. A shadowy, and probably fictitious, terrorist organisation is called the PRI (People’s Right to Illness), and she is accused of being a member.

Mia is put on trial for

having consumed illicit substances such as caffeine and tobacco.

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There’s no prig like a little prig

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 09.04.55An unpleasant 10-year-old is monkey-trained by her parents before appearing on TV to read out, from a page in front of her, politically correct fatuities.

Dalrymple’s reaction:

I was appalled by her. She had the air of a prig, a know-all and a robot all at the same time. Clearly she had been tutored, for I do not believe any 10-year-old would have found the date of the introduction of compulsory seatbelts by herself. She was put up to it.

Dalrymple is reminded of

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 09.06.28Pavlik Morozov, the Soviet boy who, according to legend, was killed in 1932 by his grandparents after he denounced his father to the authorities. He was reputed to be a fervent supporter of the collectivisation of agriculture. The story was a fabrication, but at least Pavlik was supposed to be 13 at the time of his death.

Little Charlotte’s

head had been filled with ideology about health and something called wellbeing. One could easily imagine her denouncing her parents to the health police for having given her a chocolate biscuit.

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Men of action

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 22.08.41Doctors, writes Dalrymple,

are inclined to believe that doing something (especially when it is them doing it) is better than doing nothing. They mistake benevolent intentions for good results, believing that the first guarantee the second.

Besides, doing something

stimulates the economy.

Dalrymple comes across a paper by Danish researchers that

assesses the extent to which published reports of trials of screening procedures, such as mammography, colonoscopy, PSA testing, etc., note their harmful effects and consequences as well as their positive ones.

This is important ethically because

screening reverses the usual relationship between patient and healthcare system. In screening it is the healthcare system that initiates the contact, not the other way round. Screening is offered to healthy people, or at least to those complaining of nothing; moreover, the chances of benefit from screening are often slight, and those who benefit do so in a sense at the expense of those who are harmed.

Physician, absent thyself (from my inbox)

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.16.18Dalrymple writes:

I have always taken my health for granted, and believed that health is for enjoying rather than for worrying over.

He says that his doctor

keeps calling me (by computer) for various screening tests but, though — or because — I am a doctor myself, I never attend, even though the tests are free. Once you are in the clutches of doctors it is difficult to escape them and the statistical chances of such tests saving my life are minimal. There is enough to worry about — the wasps’ nests, the weasels in the roof, the dead tree that might fall across the track — without worrying over one’s health.

Blessings bestowed by BASF and Bayer

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 08.39.32Suppose, writes Dalrymple, the German chemicals industry

were to shut down tomorrow. What would the costs be (to European health alone)? Almost certainly they would be incomparably greater than the present costs. Imagine life without any of the chemicals that the industry produced.

The rest of Europe owes Germany

more than it pays for the chemicals it buys from it.

Drunken retching as self-realisation

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 08.15.24The British, Dalrymple points out, are

despised throughout the world wherever they congregate in any numbers.

In any English town on any night of the week you will see

scenes of charmless vulgarity, in which thousands of scantily clad, lumpen sluts scream drunkenly, and men vomit proudly in the gutters.

It has been suggested that the English might be able to develop civilised Mediterranean café culture. Dalrymple remarks:

You might as well preach the comforts of the igloo and the tastiness of whale blubber to the Maasai.

Much of the British population believes

not only that it has no duty to control itself, but that it is harmful to try to do so. It believes that screaming, smashing bottles, vomiting, urinating against walls in full view of others, swaying drunkenly in the gutter, and hailing strangers to give them lifts, are essential to its health and emotional wellbeing, that drinking in this fashion is Aristotelian catharsis.

For the English,

there can be no higher accolade for a night out than that no trace of it remains in the brain. ‘Getting wasted’ and then behaving antisocially before passing out is the pinnacle of social life.

Just as the British government is so corrupt that it does not know that it is corrupt, so the British people

are so lacking in self-respect that they do not know that self-respect is desirable.

In England, drunkenness

to the point of brutish amnesia is regarded as admirable, a high achievement.

The quintessential apparatchik

Punchy: Paul Hunt

Paul Podsnap-Hunt: keeping on the right side of the rules of correctness

What is the secret of being a successful, well-paid administrator-at-large in the global health and aid-and-development apparat, with all the opportunities that this affords for international travel, for avoiding dull routine, for feeling very good indeed about oneself, and for transnational or nether-world approbation?

The secret, Dalrymple explains, is to follow the recommendation of Paul Hunt, the former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to give him his full title. Hunt makes it a point in his speech and writing to be

as punchy as I can be within the rules, both spoken and unspoken.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.13.47At the same time Hunt believes that, as a human rights lawyer, he must

expand the traditional boundaries

of his

calling,

more or less to include everything. There is, says Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.16.09a kind of grandiosity about this that produces in me a similar effect as that my teachers used to produce when they had a piece of defective chalk that squeaked on the blackboard. Here is a man so perfect, so moral, so well-intentioned, so benevolent towards humanity, that he feels he has the right—no, the duty, the calling—to lay down the world’s agenda.

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Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, primer virrey de la Nueva España (1535-50) y del Perú (1550-52)

Hunt finds that he gains an appreciation of his worth as a humanitarian UN leader of considerable ability and far-sightedness when he hears that

some country or other has passed a law because of his

intervention,

and he feels as if he has achieved something, as if all laws in the world were obeyed and achieved their end.

Alas,

Obedezco pero no cumplo.

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Paul Hunt: grandeur

Coiffure of a globa; healthcare visionary

Coiffure of a global healthcare visionary

Wellbeing in elderly people

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Hill was regarded as a bit of a quack, Dalrymple informs us

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But his advice seems sensible enough