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HomeCOVID-19A plague on the cure-all quackery that’s killing us

A plague on the cure-all quackery that’s killing us


WHEN my children were young and I was fully occupied in the unending daily rounds of that now virtually extinct creature, the full-time housewife and mother (popularly known to today’s more extreme feminists as ‘a kept woman’), I would spend an inordinate amount of time repairing the knees of my sons’ trousers.   

As I laboriously juggled with free-wheeling darns and scraps of matching material to bridge the ragged gaps in the fabric left by hours of rough and tumble in the playground, or resorted in despair to iron-on patches which curled up at the edges and retired from the fray on their first encounter with a washing machine, I would muse despondently on the passing of the short trouser, once the norm for pre-adolescent boys.   

All the boys at my junior school wore short trousers.  Most of the time they also sported impressive grazes on one or both knees. But the great thing about grazes is that, unlike holes in garments, they heal themselves, and they do it beautifully.   

Where my own best efforts never achieved more than a very obvious repair in the legs of all those expensive trousers, the darns and patches of nature, drawing on some remembered template, required only a little time to knit the damaged flesh smoothly together, as good as new. 

Pondering on this everyday miracle, I would often wonder why, if Nature can accomplish such feats of healing as a matter of course, it is not equally adept at setting the body to rights in other areas where no natal anomaly or drastic injury exists.   

Why, for instance, can it not spontaneously eliminate cancerous cells?  Conjure up replacement cushioning for arthritic bones?  Adjust the functioning of errant organs?   

It seems that in youth there is, indeed, a spontaneous correction process in operation.  I read somewhere, for instance, that a healthy body is constantly on the alert for pre-cancerous cells, which it speedily eliminates; but with the passage of years, and habitual abuse of the system, this awesome capacity to make whole is overwhelmed, allowing disease to take hold in those parts of the body where the natural defences are at their weakest.   

The best way to keep illness at bay, then, is to acknowledge the effects of wear and tear, and to counteract them by enabling and boosting the innate powers of recuperation with healthy living.  This is the philosophy of alternative medicine. 

The trend of orthodox medicine on the other hand – a trend which has been powerfully reinforced over the past two-and-a-half years – is in the opposite direction.   

Its message, which is remorselessly hammered into the public consciousness, is that health can be maintained only by aggressive preventative interventions, by endless invasive testing; by the extinction of potentially susceptible tissue and organs; by the routine consumption of pills such as statins; above all, by an ever-increasing melange of vaccinations.   

The effect of this indoctrination is to instil and maintain a high level of anxiety with regard to health, and an increasing dependence on the kind of medicine which, as described by Rousseau, in Emile, ‘is less successful in curing our diseases than in impressing us with a fear of contracting them’ – the kind of medicine which ‘doesn’t so much hold death at bay, as ensure that we live in death’s shadow’. 

As I consign to the recycling bin yet another reminder from the health centre – for a mammogram; for a smear; for a blood-pressure test; for a bowel cancer test; for a vaccination against the flu, against shingles, against Covid – I realise why it is that my GP cannot find time to arrange with the local hospital for an X-ray of my arthritic knee: His day is no doubt fully devoted to ensuring that every preventative box for every one of his patients has been dutifully ticked. 

Yet these constant reminders of vulnerability in the face of dire possibilities are quite enough to stimulate a nocebo effect in impressionable people; it could even be that the preventative measures themselves, while aiming to avert some particular evil, succeed only in upsetting the delicate balance of the whole.  

The human being is, after all, an intimately intertwined complexity of soul, mind and body whose inscrutable inner workings orthodox medicine, with its mechanistic assumptions, cannot hope to fathom, let alone control.  

It is all the more disturbing, then, that the Great and the Good at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) appear to believe that such control is possible, as they set about unleashing as many innovative vaccines and medications upon the captive population as there are diseases to be brought to heel.  

The aim, it seems, is to find an illness for every putative pill, an infection to correspond with every vaccine lined up for high-speed development.   

In defiance of the practical wisdom of Florence Nightingale, whose experience taught her that ‘diseases are not individuals arranged in classes, like cats and dogs, but conditions growing out of one another’, the MHRA bureaucrats envisage a future in which every rigidly-classified malady, each newly-identified infection, will be jabbed into submission by a whole range of mix-and-match mRNA injections, whisked up and sent to market in 100 days.  

No place for individual physical dispositions in this quest for Utopian herd purity in a disease-free world, and no consideration of the possibility that, by interfering with intricacies beyond their powers of comprehension, the guardians of public health may be crippling, rather than enhancing, the innate will of the body to seek wholeness. 


But then, what else can we expect, in an age where the reigning intelligentsia have confidently set themselves the task of controlling the climate?  What manner of men (sorry, persons) are these, we might ask, that even the winds and the sea must be taught to obey them?   

One thing is certain. In comparison with the gargantuan tangle of imponderables these crazed would-be masters of the universe will find themselves confronting as they pursue Net Zero, tinkering with the human body is mere child’s play.  

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Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond is 78, a mother and grandmother living in the north-east of England.

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