Tag Archives: doctors

Quacktitioners III – a little bit of ‘me’ time

Oh dear, this isn’t going to be popular. And the reason it isn’t going to be popular is because I’m suggesting that women go to alternative practitioners for the same reason that men go to sex workers – for rest and relaxation or, as the women’s magazines call it, “a little bit of ‘me’ time”. Hear me out before you dismiss me as salacious or simplistic: it’s a conclusion it’s taken me a couple of years to arrive at and it’s one I’d like to test in debate.

When we ask “what do alternative therapists offer that doctors don’t” the simplest answer is “45 minutes of undivided attention”. There are plenty of other answers the most worrying of which is “hope”, but this post is not about desperate searches for a reprieve from a death sentence, it’s about healthy people who go time and again to alternative practitioners. I know what they’re like. I’m one of them.

In my time I’ve spent thousands on alternative therapists.  I’ve had pins stuck in my flesh, candles balanced on my ears and my aura captured in photographs.  I’ve had my chackras re-aligned, the state of my gut diagnosed by the strength in my arms and been annointed with everything from marigolds to onions.  One osteopath refused to chant over me on the grounds that “it’s a bit too shamanic for Cheltenham” but he was willing to do it in Stroud. Make of that what you will.

It was all money fantastically well spent even though none of it cured anything, though the shamanic osteopath did free up a neck muscle which had gone into spasm. But I got a bargain every time, because what I was really buying was 45 minutes of uncritical attention.

Men go to sex workers for this, though in their case they want orgasms rather than attention, but then they’re from Mars. Vive la différence.

So here is my two pronged observation:

  • Firstly, that what pays alternative therapists’ rent and rates is a predominantly feminine need for someone else’s considered attention and non-threatening touch
  • And secondly that men tend to sexualise sensations, and women tend to de-sexualise them, and alternative therapists and beauty therapists offer some decidedly odd services in a women-friendly way

If you’re not sure about my second point, ask yourself why it is that if men want a massage or colonic irrigation or to be wrapped in cling-film or put in a sensory deprivation tank it’s sexual and they look around on the scene or go to a sex worker, but if women want any of those things it’s beauty treatment and they go to a health spa?

Please think about this for a while because it’s probably one of those things that you’ve taken for granted for so long that you’ve never realised just how strange it is. Yes, I know that health spas will happily take a man’s money and wrap him in mud and cling-film, but let’s face it, men who really want this sensation see it as a form of bondage (it’s called “mummification”) and find other fetishists or go to some highly specialised sex workers. And equally, if having your insides washed out with warm water is your thang, then women want Enya playing in the background and the gentle aromas of neroli and ylang ylang floating in the air and men, um, don’t.

But think how peculiar this is. Same physical sensation interpreted in very different ways. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s very odd and very interesting.

So, what do we do with this observation? I dunno, and there isn’t room here for my thoughts and speculations on the subject. But if the medical profession is serious about casting a harshly critical light on to alternative therapies, then it should consider what it is that people are buying, and if you ask me, it’s attention.

Personally, I think that the alternative practitioners are providing a service as necessary and helpful to society as the service provided by prostitutes, and while I’m certainly in favour of regulation, I don’t think banning either helps.

Doctors’ Arrests

The Elephant in the RoomIt is hard to know what to make of the recent arrests of the Indian and Iraqi doctors.

The foreign press in particular express some surprise that the presumed terrorists are neither ignorant nor uneducated and this is briefly echoed in some of the UK reporting. We should remember though that Mohammad Sidique Khan was neither ignorant nor uneducated. He seemed to be the epitome of a well integrated, westernised muslim right up until the point where he set off the Edgeware Road bomb on 7/7.

But this is more middle class, closer to home. What is so hard to assimilate is that these are doctors working for the NHS. They are proximate: as with the McCanns, as with Christopher Janaway and Matthew O’Donnell who were killed on the M25 in May, there’s only a degree or so of separation. They are trained as scientists; they should not be influenced by ignorant, rabble-rousing muslim clerics. Most confusingly of all, these are men dedicated to saving lives, not taking them. While I find it comprehensible that someone should feel sufficiently powerless, threatened and angry to commit indiscriminate acts of terrorism (or “resistance” as it was termed in war-time France) I find it almost impossible to comprehend that doctors should do that.

It seems that I am not alone. The Telegraph is running a predictable leader entitled “Muslims must raise their voices in anger“. Well yes. But why aren’t they running one entitled “Doctors must raise their voices in anger”?

The GMC, the BMA and Remedy are noticeably silent on the subject. So are all of the medical blogs that I’ve read recently. This is presumably because it is just too alien to understand. It is unsettling and challenging that people we are used to trusting could do this, and I suspect that the Medical community simply cannot comprehend that one of their own, eight of their own, could do such a thing.

This leaves me with so many questions about assumptions, prejudice and denial that I don’t know where to start.