The Worst of Medicine: Obsessive Healthy Living | Michael Fitzpatrick

Well, my conception of the worst of medicine is the notion of a complete check-up. I think one of the most heart-sinking moments for the modern general practitioner is the young person who comes and sits down and says, “Doc, I need a complete check-up.” And the idea of the complete check-up, the idea that people who are in peak of health need to see a doctor in order to be reassured that they’re in good health symbolizes the tyranny of health among society and the degradation of medicine that that entails. The problem that the complete check-up symbolizes is the idea that to be healthy you need to be living your life in constant vigilance against threats to your health and to maintain a constant level of surveillance over your body and its activities and to submit yourself regularly to medical inspection and investigation in order to guarantee your health.

17 Responses to "The Worst of Medicine: Obsessive Healthy Living | Michael Fitzpatrick"

  1. Cindy   August 11, 2016 at 5:21 am


  2. Lena   August 11, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Exactly! I’ve had eleven children and the insanity of “Well Baby Check Ups” is mind-boggling. Why would I want to take my healthy baby into a doctor’s office where sickness proliferates? I understand that a young, new mother might need some anxieties eased and might benefit from some instruction in the care of the infant, but that information used to be readily available from older women in her family, her church, her neighborhood and her community. I’m so thankful that my children have avoided major illness and they are all healthy kids/adults. Doctors are for figuring out illness and disease when all else has failed or for helping manage catastrophic injury.

    • Mary Lynn   August 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

      “Well Baby Check Up” is code for “Vaccination Visit” IMHO

  3. Terri   August 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Interesting way to look at it. I’m torn though. Don’t we do that with out cars? Why not our bodies? Do we not want confirmation that how we feel is really ok? Especially if we begin to get tired, crabby, depressed, a little overweight maybe? Craving Vitamin C?

    I think sometimes we just want the reassurance that we’re doing ok. The question is can we trust those tests?

    • Jo   August 11, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Generally, the answer is “no”.
      Especially if those tests are ‘free’, meaning those ‘free screening’ tests which are only fishing expeditions to get you in to a doctors office somewhere for something from which you aren’t suffering in the first place.

      Stay as far away from doctors as possible.
      Read Dr. Robert Mendelssohn’s books–they’re available from online (used) booksellers for nominal prices. He is now deceased but his advise is absolutely still valid.

    • Linda   August 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      The difference between people and a car is the car can’t think or decide how it will be driven/cared for. A person, on the other hand has a brain and can take their health into their own hands…(I know that is a controversial concept)…since from before birth until death we are taught we can’t think for ourselves concerning our own health and bodies, and we have to ask the doctor if we can start a new exercise program! But guess what? When we are responsible for our health, we might just want to take better care of ourselves because we want our body parts to last as long as we do! I never liked being the courier bringing all those body parts back to the pathologist…seemed unnatural to me when I was told…”these are the spare parts people can live without.” I plan to keep mine, thanks!

    • Penny Friedberg   August 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I go to my acupuncturist for my “check up”. It’s great, no fishing expeditions, just an energy tune up which helps keep me on an even keel. I highly recommend this check up. Going to an MD for a check up, no thanks.

    • kelly   September 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t take my perfectly running car for “check ups.” I take it for scheduled tune ups… oil change, spark plugs, brakes, etc… to keep it running. But using that as a metaphor for the human body… it’s completely different from what this doctor is talking about.

  4. Steve Prewitt   August 11, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Growing up in a medical family where advice was readily at hand there was no need for “complete physicals”. Cursory physicals were given for athletic participation for CYA reasons. So agreed, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
    On the other hand, when hormones begins declining starts in your 40’s, if you want to maintain optimum health, one should get a complete blood and hormone panel at least every 5 years or more frequently if your tests indicate needed adjustments in nutrition, lifestyle, etc. I’m talking about those comprehensive tests your doctor will say are “not necessary” (ie: our lab doesn’t have that level of detailed analysis and we’d have to shop that out). It is amazing what markers “standard” in house lab tests miss. The Admiral was right,
    “the devil is in the details”.

    • Raymond Horvath   August 13, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Last time I looked, messing with hormones is a dangerous enterprise. Medicine doesn’t even have a currently accepted universal paradigm for a human being.

  5. Mr. Al   August 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    This is a great question that raises several related issues. What does mainstream medicine have to offer in terms of a well person check up. I would say…very little. How much do you learn from having your reflexes checked, your blood pressure taken and having the doc listen to your heart and lungs? Some, but not enough. No metabolic insights likely. What about, for a few examples, a diet and sleep diary, exercise vs. time in front of screens assessment, and a blood test for markers of internal inflammation (the precursor of many problems).

    Conventional care tends to wait until we are in an acute state, and then apply heroic measures. There is little attention paid to the typical trajectory of life health issue, what the ideal early intervention point is, and how to detect those problems early.

    With the general health of the US sinking fast in relative rankings with other developed countries, the likelihood of finding signs of impending health issues in a young adult (what Dr. Fitzpatrick is talking about here) is significant. Look at overweight/obesity, cancer as the second leading cause of death in children, and the fast rising rates of learning disorders and autism for example.

    As to the note Lena left above, right on. The notion of early childhood wellness being dependent on a burgeoning vaccine schedule is both missing the point and often contributing to the problem, given the toxic adjuvants in vaccine formulas.

    What the blog post highlights is the need for a functional medicine approach to child through young adult wellness, including lifestyle assessments, with parents invested (it’s a family system problem), that sets a proper course from an early age–as many of the major health issues we are seeing now start when we are young. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and toxic exposures start very early!

  6. Ellen   August 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I agree completely. I came from a very large family. My siblings and I rarely went to see a doctor unless something was really wrong. We ate well, maybe not very much. We played outside in the sun without worry and if we got sick my parents knew what to.
    In our society people fret more, and the pharmaceuticals have all the remedies. For the most part, I trust parents and they need to be given back the right to take the best care they can of their children.

  7. Raymond Horvath   August 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Not much has changed since Hippocrates; nature heals 98% of illnesses and doctors can only hope they can chip in. Sometimes it is embarrassing how little they know.

    As medical myths change every five years (the latest example is cholesterol, although statins or worse are still being pushed by illiterate or establishment doctors, or the fact that sugars, not healthy fats make you overweight), you cannot trust most of what doctors say. A checkup usually used for one or two purposes.

    1. They find that your parameters don’t fit into their current paradigm (although they know everyone’s metabolism is unique), so they are eager to medicate you (either to rip off your insurance or enter your into a study). As the parameters tend to change, there is nearly always a reason for medicating (e.g psychiatric drugs are ineffective and harm young people, but that is ignored). Recently, they invented a”stage 0″ form of breast cancer, irradiating healthy women on a regular basis, inducing cancer in those who are prone, while fully aware that three percent of women die of breast cancer, whether treated or not. Sad…

    2. You become part of a worldwide database. By revealing anything about yourself to a doctor will only make you vulnerable in the long run. The only thing doctors seem to do fairly well is patch you up after physical injury.

  8. betsyanne   August 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    @ Terri: All of our grandparents lived to ripe old ages (moreso than we do now, that’s for sure) and they didn’t need “reassurance” from anyone. My paternal grandparents both lived well into their late 80’s and my maternal grandmother lived to be 96 without the aid of doctors at all. Heck, my paternal grandparents lived 75 miles from the nearest clinic and about 100 miles from the nearest hospital. They simply didn’t worry about all the things “modern medical thinking” has taught us we NEED to worry about. Good grief.

  9. Dee Erickson   August 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Ridiculous well baby check ups. An excuse to give vaccinations… and seem to show you what bad parents you are.. give me a break

  10. Zuto   August 11, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    A unique position in the U.S.: Expectation of good health. Great faith in the ability of the human body to take care of itself – it has evolved over millenia, selecting for successful features and selecting against unsuccessful features.

    It is so much more comfortable than allowing the medical industry to browbeat me into anticipating failing health and living in fear of the next health problem, and the next, and the next. And if there isn’t a problem, they will work relentlessly to help me find one. It is a sick way to live, quite literally.

  11. Scott   August 12, 2016 at 6:48 am

    I feel everyone needs to find their own balance and level of comfort when it comes both to our health and other services we relegate to those whom we believe are more qualified. As far as health goes, I think we need to listen to our bodies. No two bodies are exactly the same. Unfortunately because or business, over booking, etc. many doctors cannot provide the one-to-one careful investigation of each patient and therefore often times use what works best for the majority. However what works well for the majority may be the one thing that puts someone else in health crisis due to underlying issues. I work on my health and my cars to the extent that I am comfortable. Knowledge is power and wisdom to apply that knowledge is powerful. Learn as much as you can so you can question and have a great dialog with those you put your trust in for health, cars, plumbing or any other service. However your health is most important. You must know your body, how it reacts to certain foods, stimuli and supplements to ensure the best results.


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