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A radical shift away from the biomedical bubble

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

The front cover of the July issue of The Lancet:

Some people have been calling for and working towards that radical shift for decades. Dr. Patch Adams comes to mind.

Sadly, alternative medicine has mainly only paid lip service to “social, behavioural, and environmental determinants of health,” while being much more truly defined by and deeply invested in snake oil and pseudoscience. What a tragic missed opportunity! Alt-med could easily have inspired/shamed mainstream medicine into that important “radical shift”, but instead it’s done nothing but drive ever deeper into left field.

The biomedical model definitely isn’t all wrong, and indeed much about it is so right we should actually double-down on it (vaccination!). We definitely do not need a “radical shift” away from those strengths. Of course.

However, the biomedical model has been a terrible failure for a lot of patients — especially pain patients — and there certainly a need for a radical shift away from those weaknesses. And when a pendulum needs to be swung, it’s often necessary to push away from where it’s been, to vigorously reject the past.

I have a highly relevant little-known article, one of my own favourites, that explores the strengths and weaknesses of both alt-med and mainstream medicine: Alternative Medicine’s Choice

And one more “see also”: physical therapist Sigurd Mikkelsen put together a great little compilation of related points.

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