Wednesday, September 16, 2009

IN DEFENSE OF ICONOCLASM -THE DEFENSE OF DR J DOUGLAS BREMNER

Having read the Open Letter to Dr. J Douglas Bremner of Emory University published on September 12, 2009 by Dr. David Gorski in Science-Based Medicine Blog in defense of Dr. Peter Lipson’s criticism of Dr Bremner I was immediately brought back to three articles all published in the 1999 medical literature.

One was by Dr Elliot Fisher from Dartmouth who was among the very first to dare to ask the basic question about “more possibly being worse” in US bio-medicine in JAMA. The second and third articles were from Dr Larry Dossey who then edited the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine who wrote eloquently about intolerance among bio-medical scientists toward even considering Alternative Medicine.(Dossey, Larry‘You people’: intolerance and alternative medicine. 1999;5(2):12-17,109-112)

I would ask Drs Gorski and Lipson if an iconoclast like Dr Bremner might be serving a valuable role as gadfly to an entrenched failing status quo in bio-medicine who have made the mistake of deifying science? I would posit that the very essence of science is always and incessantly asking the question- “is it possible that I may be wrong?”. And I strongly support the return of narrative- the patient’s individual story- to the practice of medicine. The incomparable Sir William Osler, one of my heroes in medicine, knew that well.

I believe that of all the determinants of successful US bio-medicine medicine going forward that a strong dose of humility is in very tall order.

To make progress our egos must die first- a basic psychiatric principle. It is much better and much more important to be tolerant and kind than to be right.

I support Dr Doug Bremner’s role as a colorful and passionate iconoclast. We need more just like him.

Dr.Rick Lippin
Southampton,Pa

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is much better and much more important to be tolerant and kind than to be right".

So if you were a patient with a potentially fatal disease you'd rather be treated by an affable but incompetent doctor, rather that one who you could actually cure you.

Not me, I go to see a doctor to get better, not someone simply to hold my hand.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kind but wrong sounds like a medical disaster to me (“but at least he meant well” is not generally heard of malpractice). And being right and being tolerant/kind are not mutually exclusively. Is it really too much to ask for both? Duh, no.

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