Reviews PERSONAL VIEW

A conduit to imbecility

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7500.1157 (Published 12 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1157
  1. Peter Davies, general practitioner ([email protected])
  1. Shelf, West Yorkshire

    They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And intentions do not come any better than those of the healing professions. We want to help others and so to empower people to be themselves. We are powerfully trained, conscientious, and somewhat driven.

    And yet despite the empowering efforts of the healing professions the public seems to be developing an ever greater taste and apparent need for the services of our professions. The patient or client base is growing, and all the while the professionals say they are empowering the patients. If patients are really being empowered, how come there are more of them and they are staying around longer?

    There is a deep paradox between the expressed aim of professional services to empower patients and the ever greater demand for professional services from the thus empowered patients. I want to explore this paradox in this essay.

    “Normal? We just haven't examined him closely enough yet!”

    In the classic medical model of disease, patients …

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