Why doctors never understand depression
September 7th 2007, 10:13 | Bryan Hubbard
Doctors and medicine are part of the current scientific zeitgeist to reduce things down to their smallest component part. That way, they think they can really understand things.
So, the greatest achievement for any doctor is to become a specialist - someone who knows more about a particular function, organ or part of an organ than any of his colleagues.
Reductionism is the converse of wholism, where a diagnostician will try to understand a specific problem by looking at a wide spectrum of possibilities.
And by being a specialist rather than a generalist, the doctor misses out on the biggest influence on health of them all - our minds. Our thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears have a far bigger part to play in our wellbeing than anything else, as a new report by the World Health Organization has confirmed.
In a poll of 245,000 people, the WHO discovered that depression is far more disabling than angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes. That means our thoughts are more 'real', and produce more palpable reactions, than the deadliest of recognised diseases.
Doctors will deal with the mot severe forms of depression, but most of us who are depressed are in a grey fog of disconnection or disenchantment, for which the doctor will advise us to merely 'pull ourselves together'.
Mild depression is, for the doctor, just one of those things that we all go through on occasions.
But just suppose that our mental reactions aren't just some vaguely interesting side-show to a health problem - instead, they are the very cause of the problem.
What would our doctors do then with their pills?