Medical professionalism vs commercialism

The history of American medicine is the story of the rise and fall of a professional guild. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, physicians distinguished themselves from other healers by banding together to form professional associations dedicated to science-based practice. Even more important, medical ethics put the patient first, above considerations of personal gain […]

NEJM and the pharmascolds

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) called the question: Has criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, and of physician relationships with that industry, gone too far? Are self-righteous “pharmascolds” blocking the kind of essential collaboration that brought streptomycin and other lifesaving treatments to market? The editorial by Dr. Jeffrey Drazen and the lengthy three–part […]

Medical ethics are healthier than business ethics

Compared to most others in society, physicians endorse, and are held to, higher ethical standards. (To illustrate, here are ethical codes from the AMA and the World Medical Association.) High standards apply to professionals in other fields as well, especially fiduciaries such as attorneys, accountants, schoolteachers, and judges. But standards of medical ethics may be […]

Behavioral science versus moral judgment

George S. Patton, Jr. commanded the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third Army, in the European Theater of World War II. General Patton, a brilliant strategist as well as larger-than-life fount of harsh words and strong opinions, was also infamous for confronting two soldiers diagnosed with “combat fatigue” — now known as post-traumatic […]

Review of _Century of the Self_ (BBC documentary)

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)

It may have been a patient (I can’t recall) who suggested I search online for the 2002 BBC documentary by Adam Curtis called Century of the Self. It turns out the video is freely available at several sites; the full four-hour documentary can be viewed or downloaded here, or each of […]

How to promote nonviolence — (2) Necessary elements

In my last post, I outlined the fundamental problem facing advocates of nonviolence: Despite nearly universal conceptual agreement with this goal, human psychology conspires to make peace elusive and strife apparently unavoidable. Our emotions trump our rationality, biasing assessments of real-world evidence and leading to post-hoc justification of whatever our “gut” feels. Unfortunately, and rightly […]

How to promote nonviolence — (1) The problem

Prompted by the Sandy Hook shootings and Boston Marathon bombings, a bumper crop of articles about our violent society has sprouted in recent weeks. I was particularly drawn to this opinion piece in the New York Times. Author Todd May, a Clemson University professor of Humanities, articulates well the crucial underpinning of a nonviolent world […]