Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Observations Wellbeing

The A to Z of the wellbeing industry: from angelic reiki to patient centred care

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 04 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2711

Rapid Response:

Re:Caring - curing?

@Wouter Havinger

You say
"It is striking that an educated person like professor David Colquhoun is
following the delusion, like many patients in the consultation room do,
that doctors can cure them."

That does seem a rather pessimistic interpretation of what medicine
can do. It is as though antibiotics had never been invented. I speak
with feeling, since my own life was saved by the very early diagnosis of a
renal tumour two years ago, but a smart (and, as it happens, not at all
grumpy) doctor. It's true that you can't cure diabetes, but you can
certainly manage it and the best ways to do so have been established by

I won't go into depression, because that is the subject of
disgraceful fraud by the pharmaceutical industry. It is (or should be) a
matter for the police not for medicine.

I'm afraid the later part of your letter betrays you as a sympathetic
to the alternative medicine industry (and it is a big and rich industry,
every bit as ruthless as the regular pharmaceutical industry). Does that
mean you believe in deceiving patients? You say you want to "preserve
what is good about CAM". But you don't tell us what you think is good.
Does that include Angelic Reiki?

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 May 2011
David Colquhoun
Research professor