The medicine of yesteryear, though imbued here and there with progress and pride, preserved Christian fundamentals, often unbeknownst to the practitioners themselves. This cursed post-war generation, oblivious to religion, nonetheless applied some of its fundamentals, perhaps unconsciously: hence the illusion, which lasted a generation, that one could do just as well without religion. But they ate the fruits of good religion, without realizing that, once these had been squandered, and without the Christian sap, the tree would fall into decay...
What are the characteristics of Christian medicine?
First of all, we know that historically, the greatest devotees of bodily life were essentially the greatest devotees of the salvation of souls: the nuns in particular, and the brothers. They were a kind of beacon for all doctors, who, even if they were atheists or apostates, could do no less well or be no less dedicated than the religious... The disappearance of this healthy competition is hastening the end of Christian medicine.
The Hippocratic Oath is a Christian fruit: the guilds of doctors, placed under the protection of St. Luke, committed their members to binding moral duties, for the good of patients: not to use their art to harm, not to impose treatments, to care for anyone in need regardless of money or social conditions, and not to seek profit.
Then we have what we'd call the ancient Hippocratic Oath, which, despite its name, is in reality above all a Christian fruit: the guilds of doctors, placed under the protection of St. Luke, committed their members to binding moral duties, for the good of patients: not to use their art to harm, not to impose treatments (a doctor not being a guru), to care for anyone in need regardless of money or social conditions, not to seek profit, etc., etc., etc., etc. All these elements make up what we'd call the Hippocratic Oath.
All these elements make up what we commonly call a "vocation": the idea was, and still is in many people's minds, to become a doctor to fulfill the vocation of saving human lives, not to make a profit or have a position... These ideas, if not yet abolished, are no longer really in vogue, nor really applied, and the Hippocratic oath is a distant memory : Killing a child is no longer considered a nuisance, getting up in the middle of the night to save a patient is becoming a rarity, and so is being prepared to travel far from home to treat a patient...
Let me take the example of medecine in France, I know a bit.
Even today in France, it is legally forbidden to advertise medical activities: it's not a business! Moreover, advertising would be useless to a good doctor, who builds up a fama (reputation) that brings patients to him. What's more, advertising is always accompanied by lies and distortions of reality.
In short, the medical profession in France has always had something of the Ancien Régime about it, and a very practical (and therefore realistic) outlook: a good doctor is one who is experienced, who knows how to listen to his patients - and put them in their place when necessary - who diagnoses, who is prudent in the Aristotelian sense of the term, and who assumes his freedom to prescribe as much as his freedom to judge, without becoming a slave to machines or even institutions and lobbies. All this is collapsing... What will become of our medicine?
To find out, just look at what's happening in Japan, a pagan land where medicine is reputed to perform well... and it's chilling!
For a long time now, the Hippocratic Oath has had no legal force, and is no longer compulsory. In addition, its form is absolutely free and variable: young doctors are neither obliged to take the oath - at least in Anglo-Saxon countries such as Australasia - nor, if they do, is the form compulsory.
The notorious incompetence of Japanese doctors is well known in French circles living in Japan, accustomed to the old standing of the good family doctor. How can this be observed? First of all, if you're French, the best way to get treatment in Japan is to look at the lists of doctors recommended by the embassy: it's very expensive, but the doctors are good... In fact, the only thing that can reassure you when you call on a Japanese doctor is when you pay a lot of money! This way, the doctor sees you as a source of income and has every interest in keeping you happy, even keeping you alive.
Of course, there's no Hippocratic oath: here, medicine is first and foremost a profitable business. Most doctors are salaried, while others are owners of high-investment clinics. For the most part, they are civil servants and work their own hours, no more: so it's best not to fall ill on Sundays or at night! But advertising is everywhere: in newspapers, in railway stations, on local TV... Their image, for its part, is well looked after!
What's more, medicine is used as a means of social control, for life. From birth, children are invited - almost obliged, in fact; it's hard to resist, it's a fact of life - to undergo a frightening number of routine consultations between the ages of 0 and 6, four times a year for the first few years! The big problem with these consultations is that all the information gathered on these occasions is automatically passed on to the Town Hall and the children's services... With intrusive questions about upbringing such as: "Does dad help with household chores?", "Do you lose your temper with the child?", "Do you spank him?", "Do you need help?" "Do you drink?"
From the age of 6, school takes over, and in working life, it's the company: an employee is forced, once a year, to undergo a cumbersome consultation, excessively expensive for Social Security, and completely useless - because these factories only tick boxes, without listening to you in case you have a genuine concern that doesn't appear on the screen, and all the information is of course passed on to your employer.
An anecdote on the subject: not playing the game with my five children, I nonetheless decided to go for this kind of consultation once, but outside the municipal framework, paying out of my own pocket to be sure and certain that the appointment would be strictly medical. We went to the clinic as a family, and what a surprise it was to find two agents from the town hall, who had been warned by the clinic, had kindly come to offer us brochures on official, free consultations! They were thrown out by yours truly, but that's symptomatic of one thing: medical confidentiality exists only in law; in practice, nobody cares! And that doesn't shock the Japanese...
Since then, doctors no longer serve the incarnate patients in front of them, but an evanescent "humanity", just as doctors during Covid served the protection of humanity by helping to spread the good news of the vaccine.
This is what awaits us in Western countries as the country becomes de-Christianized, if there are any medical structures left standing, at least superficially…
I'm not familiar with the situation of medicine in the United States, but I imagine it's following the same pattern. In any case, it's important to recreate a true medicine of vocation, to heal, in a Christian spirit of sacrifice.
Let's finish by mentioning an important fact: the Hippocratic oath - which we'll have to analyze another day - often invoked to counter the current mortifying trend, is not enough. For a long time now, the Hippocratic Oath has had no legal force, and is no longer compulsory: in Japan, for example, doctors are barely aware of its existence. In addition, its form is absolutely free and variable: young doctors are neither obliged to take the oath - at least in Anglo-Saxon countries such as Australasia - nor, if they do, is the form compulsory. The oath can thus be emptied of all substantive content... Finally, the Hippocratic Oath has been discredited worldwide: the French version of the 1948 Declaration of Geneva's oath reads: "En qualité de membre de la profession médicale, Je prends l'engagement solennel de consacrer ma vie au service de l'humanité" ("As a member of the medical profession, I solemnly pledge to devote my life to the service of humanity").
To put it plainly: since then, doctors no longer serve the incarnate patients in front of them, but an evanescent "humanity", just as doctors during Covid served the protection of humanity by helping to spread the good news of the vaccine...
The future of medicine, without Christianity, is bleak, especially for the poor and the weak.
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