March 28, 2007

Medical advice: science or politics?

I guess I have always had some kind of faith in the medical advice doctors have dispensed to me over the years. I have assumed that the advice I have been given has been truthful, that it is the distillation of years of rigorous study, of carefully monitored tests, of repeatedly observed phenomena, that it has all the indicia of truth gleaned from years of practice. I have thought that medicine is truth and that it is derived from good science.

I forgot that medicine, while it may be applied truth, is applied by human beings. Medical professionals bring to the scientific process of dispensing medical advice all of their own biases and preconceptions, all of their own political and social world views, all of their own narrow prisms. These people are just as imprisoned by their tunnel vision as the rest of us.

Scary, isn't it?

What do I mean, you may be wondering at this point?

I have just finished a very short, very compelling, terribly frightening book: Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student .

Go forth, buy it, read it, and give it to your daughters. I am completely serious.

But back to my topic. The book brought me to this realization because it makes terribly clear how ideology guides and informs mental health treatment and risk education for college age, and younger, women.

The bias is this: women are just the same as men. The translation of the bias into action is social activism and is praised by mental health counselors who are hoping to help break gender constructs in an effort to achieve a more just and equitable society. How? By telling girls that having any kind of sexual relationship they want, no matter how casual, is just fine. It is risk free and without consequence, so long as "safer sex" is practiced.

The author of the book makes clear that is ideologically driven and contradicted by medical fact. How? First, venereal disease is not so easily cured by a one day treatment of some wonder drug, as the ideologues would have you believe. There can be grave physical consequences to a woman's ability to conceive later in life. Second, there are serious mental health consequences which appear to be neurologically driven. Oxytocin is a chemical released during breast feeding to promote the bonding between woman and child. It also is released during sex. It means, to boil it down very much, a woman is more likely to bond with a man during sex and thus, when the man blows her off because they were just hooking up for a no strings attached thing, she is more prone to become depressed. These consequences are not shared with women because they might blow away the political agenda -- female equality. Women, as a result of the agenda applied, are not being told that maybe it would be better to wait until they have fallen in love to have sex and then to have sex within a monogamous relationship. It conflicts with the agenda.

Read the book. I could go on. Instead, I am putting it on the shelf until my daughter just about hits puberty, and then I am going to make her read it and discuss it with her. Just so that she can make informed decisions about her own life in the context of knowing that all the facts and further knowing that the advice she may be getting about a healthy lifestyle is coming from a place more concerned about the end result of a political agenda than about keeping her safe.

By the way, the author originally wrote this as "anonymous" out of the fear she had for the consequences for her own career. She has since come out: Miriam Grossman, M.D., psychiatrist in the UCLA health services.

Here's an interesting piece about her and the book.

Posted by Random Penseur at March 28, 2007 10:49 AM | TrackBack

Very interesting, RP, thank you so much for posting about this. I'm not surprised, though. Sad, but not surprised.

This explains why so many young women come out of college so confused and conflicted about their romantic feelings. Like they are embarrassed by them, like they are not supposed to have them, like it's anti-feminism. They think something is wrong with *them* when they want to be "in love".

Like they've failed in some way. It makes me so sad. :(

And yes, I'm not surprised they are not making it clearer about the medical risks, which are greater for us than for men. It's harder to get rid of VD and the consequences for us are far more serious, too.

This used to be taught to women in college as a matter of course 50, 40 years ago; to be MORE careful than men are, not to try and copy men, not be more promiscuous, but that's been swept away in this new rush for absolute "equality".

I am an ardent feminist, despite my own sexual preferences; Dan and I both are. I think women have just as much potential as men have and women should have equal freedom to men.

But teaching women they should be promiscuous "just like men are" is an insult to women AND men. We are still different, biologically, physically and we still need to stop and recognize that fact and act accordingly.

Besides, men shouldn't be running around fucking everything they get their hands on like rabbits either. Just because some men might do so doesn't mean we women should *copy* that behavior.

I know SO MANY WOMEN who are completely militant feminists, just ANGRY feminists in college, no room at all for anything other than what they've been taught. Then they reach their late 20's/early 30's and they start to re-think the type of feminism they were taught in college. They get knocked around in life emotionally, things didn't work out quite the way they were told it was going to be when they were in college, and maybe they've had to raise a baby alone and slowly they start to realize they've been *had*.

It's become almost a cliche for a LOT of women I've talked to.

I'm glad to see them finally wake up but damn! It's hard watching them suffer before then. :(

Thank you again for the thoughtful piece! :) Hope everything is marvelous with you and your family! {{hugs to all of you}}}

Posted by: Amber at March 30, 2007 07:53 PM

Sometimes I hate that you literally have to take everything with a grain of salt. Even from people you should be able to trust.

I think the Girl Child is going to be one very smart, snappy, down to earth, brave young woman. I also thing she'll grasp these concepts well, which I'm afraid not every woman can.

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