Archives for posts with tag: awareness

Lots of people around the world do not take any homeopathic treatments. Lots of people do. Both groups tend to live to similar ages and are largely prone to the same conditions as they go through life.

You can think of it as a kind of thought experiment. On one hand, you have people who tend to see illness as something to wait out. Most illnesses – sniffles, coughs, pains, lows, wheezes – they come and go. It’s often a matter of tolerating them until they eventually die down and disappear. Maybe an analgesic, if necessary, will temporarily ease the symptoms. On the other you have people who, at the first sign of a cold or an ache, it’s off down to the homeopath for a dose of oscillococcinum, or whatever you are having yourself.

This intrigues me, because as far as I can see, in both cases the outcomes are pretty much the same. It’s just that in one case, there is this persistent belief that some kind of external remedy needs to be taken. This belief is always confirmed once the symptoms die down, as they normally do.

That’s why I regard homeopathy as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You see, every time it’s called on, it seems to work. The prescribed remedies actually seem to do the trick. Until one day, they don’t.

The normal, non-homeopathic person will then trot off down to the doctor to find out what’s going on. The homeopathic person has so much invested in their beliefs that they will wait it out, possibly consulting their homeopath a few times, thinking they need something else. All the while, time is ticking away. The old reliable sheep has suddenly revealed itself to be a wolf, and yet the patient is oblivious to this. They convince themselves, until they have no choice, that the growl they hear is just a new kind of bleating.

I don’t think this is healthy. Homeopathy, because it appears so successful for lesser ailments, works against people when they actually need to go to the doctor. It works against their pets, their kids and other family members. Not only do you have to contend with a change of health, you have to deal with a change in your belief system, and that might just be too difficult to accept.

Better, I think, to leave the pills out. It’s not true to say they don’t do anything. While they certainly don’t do anything good, they have the strong potential to make situations worse.

Dignitaries from Ireland, the UK and North America will be attending a dinner in Dublin tonight commemorating the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Given that the agreement helped to resolve the 30 year conflict in Northern Ireland, it’s a worthwhile commemoration indeed. It’s not Irish politics I want to write about though. I’m much more interested in the charitable cause being supported by the dinner in Dublin Castle. The beneficiary of the get-together is 3TS – Turning The Tide of Suicide. Their spokesman, Noel Smyth, spoke eloquently on the radio this afternoon about the stigma and the prevalence of suicide in this country and the initiatives in place to reduce it. It’s a noble aspiration and I wish them the very best in their efforts.

In my view, the task ahead of them is daunting in the extreme. It makes the resolution of the Troubles seem easy in comparison. Irish society is now structured in a way that makes suicide much more likely than ever. We have moved over the past three decades from a communal culture to a highly individualistic one, where only the successful seem worthy of love, respect and acclaim. We live now in a society where a person’s economic contribution is the prime determinant of how society views them. It’s now acceptable to look at those who have had reverses in their lives or who have failed to live up to the standards set for them by others as losers. While this approach may seem good for our economy, it has failed to take into account the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals who feel left behind by it all. Messages of self-worthlessness are reinforced each and every day through their workplaces, the media and perhaps even their friends and families. It’s no wonder therefore that people seek extreme solutions to their problems.

Many modern workplaces are absolutely draconian in the way they manage their staff. The side effect of initatives such as talent management, bell curve assessments and high performance management is a reinforcement of the message that economic value equals self worth. Subliminal messages such as “Failure Is Not an Option” have become part of the modern zeitgeist. This is all very well, but as one gets older, one begins to realise all too painfully that failure is part and parcel of the journey through life.

From a conversation with a medical professional recently, I learned that the number of people taking anti-depressants in this country is staggeringly large. A recent report has shown that suicide has tripled since the 1960’s. It seems to me therefore that we are surfing a massive suicide tidal wave that has yet to fully break.

So what can be done? Well, I’m no specialist, and I appreciate that bad feelings will differ depending on the person, their age and the situations affecting them, but it seems to me that we can go a long way if we work on breaking (or at least lengthening) the link between between perceived economic value and self worth. In addition, anything we can do to destigmatise issues such as depression and suicide will help enormously.

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