All posts by David Penner

The Exploitation of Medical Students and Residents is a Metaphor for the Post-New Deal Barbarism

I was happy, secure, and mostly unafraid until med school. I recall in vivid detail the first orientation day. Our anatomy professor stood before an auditorium filled with 125 eager, nervous, idealistic would-be healers and said these words: ‘If you decide to commit suicide, do it right so you do not become a burden to society.’ He then described in anatomical detail how to commit suicide.

— “Why Doctors Kill Themselves”, by Pamela Wible, KevinMD.com, March 23, 2016

The exploitation and bullying of medical students and residents is pervasive, and stories of the most egregious and diabolical hazing are not uncommon. So oppressive are these working conditions, that each year approximately four hundred medical students and doctors take their own lives. Indeed, with the betrayal of the American worker by the liberal class, which is too busy chasing Russian spies to notice that our once proud middle class lies in ruins, the decimation of unionization continues unabated. Compelled to work outrageously long hours by corrupt hospital administrators, while also forced to negotiate a landscape of diminished autonomy due to the takeover of the medical profession by private insurance companies, a young doctor’s ability to help their patients can be steadily degraded over time, and their spirit broken.

This abuse and exploitation of medical students and residents is something that we cannot afford to ignore, for these inhumane working conditions place both the lives of these young doctors as well as the lives of their patients in grave jeopardy.

In “Medical Residents are Abused More Than Chinese Factory Workers”, an anonymous physician writes on KevinMD.com:

I began my internship…and worked up to 160 hours per week, though I only reported 80 hours of my time due to the pressure by hospital administration and fellow residents. That year, a fellow intern, Tony, a compassionate doctor, was killed in a single car accident when he fell asleep at the wheel after working too many consecutive hours without sleep. I too have fallen asleep post-call at the wheel when paused at a stop light, only to be startled awake by blaring horns indicating the light change.

These exploitative working conditions are emblematic of the authoritarian nature of post-New Deal America, where much of the increasingly debt-ridden workforce has been reduced to the status of serfs and indentured servants. This absence of democracy in the workplace is inextricably linked with the fact that there are at present approximately a hundred million unemployed Americans of working age, along with massive numbers of Americans working very low-paying jobs that do not support an independent existence. Consequently, conditions are ripe for corrupt employers to engage in ruthless forms of exploitation, and young people that enter fields where they seek to help others are marked for particularly heinous forms of abuse.

In “The Secret Horrors of Sleep-Deprived Doctors”, written for KevinMD.com, an anonymous physician writes:

During intern year at a program with a nominal 80-hour work week, I worked 100 hours per week for most of a month. I was interviewing a patient when I suddenly realized that I could not remember what I had just asked. I excused myself abruptly and rushed down the hall where I collapsed on the bathroom floor. I leaned against the wall and felt relaxed for the first time in weeks. My face was wet, and I realized I was sobbing. I was so unaware of how exhausted and impaired I had become. I cried because I was tired, and also because the patient I was seeing deserved better attention and care than I was capable of providing. I couldn’t remember any details of his chest pain or risk factors for heart attack. I couldn’t even remember his name or his face. Only that he was friendly and he trusted me. I felt intensely guilty for not being able to stay awake, let alone think like a doctor. I nodded off while crying, propped up against the wall. I woke up and forgave myself. I think I was away from him for less than 10 minutes. I walked back into his exam room and said, ‘Where were we? Let’s start at the beginning to make sure I get this right. Because what you are saying is really important.’ That month during my evaluation, my program director told me that my total number of work hours was a sign of inefficiency.

Medical students and residents that suffer from anxiety, either due to being bullied or as a result of being forced to work outrageously long shifts, sometimes feel the need to see a psychiatrist and yet are fearful of doing so. This is because if a physician is treated for depression or anxiety, the stigma that follows can have a deleterious impact on their ability to maintain and renew their medical license.

Tragically, abused medical students and residents may go on to lose their sense of empathy and compassion, which can result in their becoming callous or even abusive towards their patients.

Some residents are indoctrinated into believing that this exploitation is for their own good, as if this will somehow make them a better doctor. Residents are also indoctrinated into believing that this exploitation is necessary “in the quest for perfection.” In-hospital medical errors are presently the third leading cause of death in the United States. Indeed, this is the “perfection” that hospital administrators and health insurance companies have blessed us with.

There are also significant parallels between the exploitation of young doctors with the exploitation of teachers, for the exploitation of the former is analogous to giving a high school English teacher hundreds of students per semester, which puts them in the impossible position of being unable to make detailed corrections to these essays. The loss of autonomy so acutely felt by doctors, where they are now forced to spend countless hours each week requesting permission from insurance companies so as to be able to prescribe a particular drug or order a particular test, again finds its mirror image in education, where a similar loss of autonomy has resulted in classic works of literature being jettisoned by book burning administrators, and replaced with teaching to standardized tests.

The grade inflation game that many teachers are forced to play can be no less soul-destroying, and undermines high school teachers and professors in many ways. Adjunct professors are easily fired at the drop of a hat should they receive negative evaluations from their students at the end of the semester, as the student is now regarded as a customer, and the professor as a disposable fool that has been hired to dumb down to the lowest possible level. How does one receive negative evaluations? Not giving enough A’s is indeed an excellent method of attaining such a result. This is not unlike a doctor receiving a negative online review for failing to prescribe opioids or antibiotics to a patient that simply doesn’t need it.

The brutality of neoliberalism cannot abide the altruistic. Capital is in the driver’s seat, and those who refuse to swear obedience at the Altar of Profit must be destroyed. Hence, gratuitous savagery and barbarism are unleashed on the kind, the generous, the merciful, and the idealistic. Public school teachers, professors, medical students, idealistic young doctors, nurses, social workers, and public defenders must be relentlessly tormented for their refusal to turn their backs on their fellow human beings. They must be punished without mercy for the crime of altruism.

As we have lost real communities in this country, and many Americans consequently identify with nothing other than their jobs, a career that does not come to fruition as it had when the New Deal was still in effect can be taken as incontrovertible proof that one is a failure, and this can have a devastating impact on one’s mind and spirit.

No amount of yoga, meditation, or Prozac is going to help a suffering resident or medical student. Only with a restoration of the humanities and solidarity will the soulful triumph over the soulless. And it is only then that compassion and empathy will triumph over alienation, hopelessness, and despair.

In “A Tragic Physician Story The Match Doesn’t Want You To Hear About”, published with KevinMD.com, an anonymous physician describes his first days of residency:

It did not take long for my excitement to wane. Within only a few days of starting my residency, I was called ‘retarded’ and referred to with homophobic slurs. Women were commonly referred to with misogynistic labels. I was given no organized instruction on how to perform my duties…. There came a time in which a patient of mine died as a result of a procedure I’d performed. I was told that I needed to lie to the risk managers and make it look like my supervising attending physician was in the room even though he was nowhere to be found, and while I personally didn’t do anything wrong, it would just look bad if I was unsupervised. It became clear that the people I was working for did not live in a world in which accountability existed.

Crushed under the iron heel of the new untrammeled barbarism, the dream of helping others can fade into the night. This inhumane treatment places both young doctors and their patients in extremely grave danger. Caught in the diabolical machinery of merciless plunder, a sleep-deprived resident may even accidentally kill a patient – a mistake they will likely never forgive themselves for.

American Teaching Hospitals: Where Pelvic Exams Under Anesthesia Happen

Before undergoing a liver biopsy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, I asked my surgeon’s nurse whether I was to be catheterized for the procedure. In response to this perfectly legitimate question the knave sardonically replied: “I’m really not supposed to say this, but what difference does it make? You’re going to be under general anesthesia.”

It was at that moment that I started to wonder: With an attitude like that, what do they really do to us when we are under anesthesia? And thus a little Internet surfing was most certainly in order.

In my journey into the subterranean depths of cyberspace, I was startled to come across a most terrifying sea monster indeed: a disturbing discussion where medical students debate, often favorably, the ethics of doing practice pelvic exams on anesthetized women undergoing surgery. The thread is here.

Apparently, there is no shortage of medical students, interns, residents, and attending physicians who feel they are entitled to penetrate the vaginas and anuses of anesthetized patients that lie paralyzed and helpless on the operating table, and who feel that they have the right to do this without first obtaining the patient’s consent. This naked display of barbarism and sociopathic behavior speaks volumes about the moral unraveling that is so glaringly on display in the West today.

This scandalous practice is evidently not uncommon in Australia, as this article attests.

The forum is fascinating in that it allows the reader to be a fly on the wall, giving one a glimpse into how many American medical students think – if that is, in fact, the appropriate word. (Some spelling corrections have been made in the following quotations. Hopefully, these Ivy League superstars will take more care in looking after their patients than they do with the written word. Considering the attitudes on display here, I am not optimistic).

The discussion opens with a medical student named Unregistered Abuser, who, like a kind of postmodern Socrates struggling with an existential conundrum, puts forth the following question:

Let me pose a question. I am on gynecological surgery and several different residents and attendings have told me that prior to surgery it is a great idea to perform a pelvic exam on the anesthetized woman in order to get practice. Many have said it is not traumatic to the patient and you get a more technically adequate exam since the patient is not guarding. Sure enough, before every procedure the attending and resident…perform a quick pelvic exam. Is this wrong? The attending does it for one last chance to feel for any previously undiagnosed masses or other abnormalities, but the resident and student do it primarily for educational purposes. The patient has consented to the surgery, but not for the pelvic exam. Does consent to surgery of the uterus, vagina, vulva, ovaries, etc. also imply consent to manual palpation of these structures during the surgery?

A medical student named Starayamoskva comments: “It is standard procedure. How else do you think the residents and students are going to learn?” A student named Gauss replies: “Pelvics on anesthesized women prior to surgery is routine – informed consent was obtained as part of the surgical consent.”

Doc Ivy chimes in, “As a woman I have to say that I really don’t have a problem with this. If I am at a teaching hospital it’s what I would expect.” A medical student named tupac_don flippantly remarks, “Been there done that, it’s A okay.” And not to be outdone, one student who could be the very devil himself says, “Patients…have rights? This phrase is thrown around by every damn idiot…but where does it come from? Hey Mr. lawyer, does the Bill of Rights say ‘Medical students shall not examine a patient’s vagina prior to vaginal surgery?’ This patient’s have rights bull**** came from lawyers…. Healthcare isn’t even a right.”

So how did we arrive at this cesspit of degeneracy and the most abject moral bankruptcy? And where did these despicable monsters come from?

They came from our schools, our press, and our mass media. They came from our consumerism, our materialism, our barbarism abroad, and the totalitarianism of our prison system. They were born out of the ashes of post-New Deal America, where our nation’s once proud middle class now lies in ruins, and we are increasingly trapped in a world of the affluent living in their gated communities on one side, and the miserable wretched masses – the oppressed, the destitute, and the debt-ridden on the other.

The dismantling of the humanities has also played a significant role in fomenting this dehumanization. This is because most colleges and universities presently exist for only two reasons: to maximize the greatest possible profit, while also serving as vocational institutes that mold young people into becoming automatons trained to perform increasingly specialized jobs. (Jobs which, particularly outside of health care, do not even exist).

This absence of a proper humanities education has undoubtedly contributed to the inculcation of many medical students with the pernicious idea that patients are mere objects and teaching tools. And the danger of significant numbers of young people receiving an advanced scientific and technical education that is utterly devoid of any foundation in the humanities, lies in the fact that the soullessness and amorality that follow will inevitably usher in an age of authoritarianism and absolute unchecked barbarism.

Many medical students are also made acutely aware of which patients have money and good health care plans, and which don’t. This two-tier system is well on display in many medical institutions across the country, as patients are separated into the haves and the have nots. (And lest we forget, there are also the “have mores,” as George W Bush was once kind enough to point out). One student writes on this thread: “At my school, the rule is that it’s ok to do [pelvic exams on anesthetized women] on welfare patients but not on private patients.”

The oligarchy’s mass media brainwashing apparatus has been relentless in spreading the virus of neoliberal free market dogma. And this has also exacerbated commodification, dehumanization, desensitization, as well as contributing to a profound loss of compassion, empathy, and a sense of self.

The attitude of the attending physician will unequivocally have a profound impact on the behavior and thinking of the medical students, interns, and residents that they mentor. And their philosophy and approach to patient care will shape and mold the moral character (or lack thereof) of their charges in profound ways, and for many years to come.

The physician Peter Ubel writes on the website kevinmd.com:

Moral attitudes are often a function more of our experience than of our training. When some colleagues and I surveyed medical students and asked them how important it was to ask permission before conducting a pelvic exam on an anesthetized woman, brand new medical students almost universally stated that permission was vital but by the time the students finished their OB/GYN rotations three years later, they didn’t see permission as being important anymore. Despite the lectures they’d received about ‘informed consent’ during the first two years of medical school, six weeks of an OB/GYN rotation was enough to change their moral attitudes.

Men under anesthesia are not immune to this barbarous practice, as the attending physician can order medical students to line up and perform practice prostate exams on anesthetized male patients.

How ironic, that if a student passes out while intoxicated at a party and their body is vaginally or anally penetrated while they are unconscious, the law states unequivocally that this is illegal. However, if a student gets a 4.0 GPA, aces the MCAT, and goes to medical school they can actually do this all day long and to their heart’s content.

Many medical students will feel in their heart that this practice is unethical, yet proceed with the unauthorized exam as they wish to get a good grade and don’t want to anger their attending physician. And like soldiers in the military, the pressure to conform will be overwhelming. It will take great courage to say no.

There is also an inextricable connection between nonconsensual physician shadowing and nonconsensual rectal and pelvic exams performed on anesthetized patients. With the former, once this Rubicon has been crossed it becomes ingrained in the minds of everyone on the medical “team” that the patient is more of a primate than a human being, and is consequently undeserving of any right to privacy whatsoever. Moreover, once these civilized norms of morality and ethics have been breached, it will be easy for a medical student to take things just one step further, and violate a patient’s body on the operating table “for practice.”

It is vitally important that medical students, residents, and fellows be inculcated with an understanding that both observing a patient’s session with their doctor as well as examining a patient’s body, constitute a privilege and not a right. And they must be made to understand that this privilege can only be granted when both the attending physician  and the patient sign off on it.

There may be some medical students who are angrily reading this, and who have concluded that I am somehow attempting to sabotage their efforts at becoming doctors. As one who has taken a lot of photographic portraits on the streets of New York City, never have I taken someone’s portrait without first obtaining their consent. If a photographer makes the case that there is an ethical and an unethical way of taking portraits, does it then somehow follow that they are of the opinion that photographic portraiture should be banned altogether?

Every teaching hospital in this country has a website where they speak ad nauseam of their profound respect for patient privacy. The problem is that their conception of the term applies only to protecting the digitalization of your medical records.

It is noteworthy that not all the medical students who participated in this discussion were in favor of this practice. Souljah1 says: “Lining up 4-6 medical students to do pelvics on anesthetized women is totally ****ed up in my opinion. Not giving clear information regarding students lining up to examine their genitalia and reproductive organs is incredibly unethical in my opinion.”

And one brave medical student going by the name Mumpu argues, “Think about the absolute trust the patient places in your skills and professionalism when they go under anesthesia. They are paralyzed and unconscious and it is grossly unprofessional of you to violate that trust by violating their body. There’s no ‘greater good’ clause here. To do an unconsented exam is assault (any firefighter/EMT who ever worked on the streets knows this), to do an unconsented pelvic is sexual assault.”

And so perhaps we can take heart in knowing that even in this dark age of book burning and the most appalling ignorance, there are still those who live their lives with a powerful sense of morality and ethics, who have retained their humanity in the face of stifling reactionary dogmas, and who have resisted the call of dark forces that lie in wait behind every shadow and every unlocked door.

Whither Privacy? Physician Shadowing in an Age of Moral Bankruptcy

Amazing Things are Happening Here.

— Motto of Weill Cornell and New York-Presbyterian

Countless times as a patient both at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell in New York City, I have witnessed doctors arrogantly waltzing into an examination room and arriving not alone, but with an entourage. Like Greeks bearing gifts, they arrived with something unwanted and threatening: medical students, interns, residents, and fellows. And not once, in all the many times that I have been subjected to this ignominious practice, was my consent ever obtained prior to the doctor’s arrival.

As there are experienced and inexperienced doctors, there also experienced and inexperienced patients. And as I have logged quite an impressive array of hours at NYU, Lenox Hill, Weill Cornell, and Memorial, perhaps it is fair to say without boasting that I am one of the former. And it has been unequivocally clear to me for quite some time, that it is profoundly unethical for a physician to invite other people to observe a patient’s session with their doctor, and to do so without first obtaining the patient’s consent.

Some would argue that this practice is perfectly acceptable, provided high school students and college students are not doing the shadowing. The idea that such young students could ever be permitted to shadow a doctor is utterly ludicrous. Yet even if a physician wished to have a resident or fellow observe a session with a patient, should they not in good conscience be morally, if not legally obligated, to first obtain the patient’s permission?

There are health care professionals who believe that patients who wish to meet with their doctor in private should simply avoid teaching hospitals. There are hundreds of teaching hospitals in this country that serve millions of people. Are all of these patients supposed to voluntarily relinquish all vestiges of privacy?

If a patient is denied the right to meet with their doctor in private, what rights does the patient actually have? Do they have the right to discuss their medical questions and concerns with their doctor in confidentiality, and without unwanted interlopers in the room? Do they have the right to develop a relationship of trust with their doctor? Do they have the right to a discreet and respectful medical examination, without unwanted persons in the room violating their privacy in a base and barbarous fashion?

There are physicians who argue that it would be impossible to train the younger generation of doctors, should any restrictions be placed on this practice. Yet those who make this argument fail to acknowledge the fact that, should patients be asked, many would, in fact, give their consent. And this would permit medical students, interns, residents, and fellows to continue to accumulate their hours of observation.

The problem is not with shadowing, per sebut with the fact that the patient’s consent is almost never obtained.

It is this absence of consent, which can bring about a profound degradation of trust – a trust not only in the patient’s physician – but in the entire medical profession. And the ramifications of this violated trust can be grave. For it will be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to ever fully restore it.

Should there be an unwanted third party observing the session, will a patient feel comfortable talking with their doctor about an embarrassing medical condition? Will they feel comfortable going over their different treatment options should they have a serious disease? Will they feel free to voice all of their concerns?

Many of the most enthusiastic supporters of physician shadowing ardently defend the practice, just so long as they and their loved ones are not the patients, and on the receiving end of it. For attending physicians at Memorial and Cornell, who love walking into an examination room with their entourage as if they were Henry V meeting with his nobles prior to The Battle of Agincourt, are able to use their superior health plans and connections within the medical profession, to in turn meet with their own doctors in private. They are then able to avoid the very practice which they so vigorously defend in dealing with their own patients.

There are a number of disturbing online blogs, where pre-med and medical students discuss their experiences with physician shadowing. Overwhelmingly their attitude is as follows: “I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get into medical school. And if a patient is extremely uncomfortable with my observing their session with their doctor, too bad.” What kind of doctor will be born from this shameless and soulless careerist, who has nothing but contempt for the patient – the one person whose feelings a good physician will make paramount at all times?

No one argues that student social workers and aspiring doctors of psychology should shadow an experienced psychotherapist, as such a practice would be universally regarded as being in diametrical opposition to confidentiality. And no one complains that as a consequence of this, there will somehow be no younger generation of therapists.

And what does it say about the attending physician, who patronizingly and condescendingly dismisses a patient’s objections over a medical student, intern, or resident observing the session?  What example are they setting for the younger generation of doctors? And what message are these student doctors actually being inculcated with?

And will these attending physicians continue to staunchly defend this unethical practice, should there come a time when it is they who wish to meet with a doctor in private and yet are unable to do so? Will they clap their hands with glee, when it is their doctor who proceeds to enter the examination room not alone, but with another person? It is regrettable that there are so many physicians in this country, who make no effort to treat their patients as they themselves would wish to be treated.

Moreover, the idea that patients are somehow in need of a “chaperone” is the very quintessence of sophistry. For one of the principal reasons why so many doctors prefer not to be alone in the room with their patients, is so that they can later have a witness so as to protect themselves from lawsuits. Yet how can even the vaguest semblance of privacy and trust survive this crude and uncivilized behavior?  And what will become of a doctor-patient relationship that is completely devoid of trust and mutual respect?

Why is it that everyone has to sign off on this – the attending physician, the medical student, the intern, the resident, the fellow – everyone that is, except the patient?

When unwanted persons are observing a patient’s session with their doctor it causes the conversation to become distorted, so that instead of a patient talking with their doctor they are being talked at, as the pompous attending physician attempts to put on a show for his subordinates. And this commodification of the now nameless and faceless patient can have a profoundly dehumanizing and debasing effect.

If this refusal to ask a patient for their consent fails to constitute an egregious and unequivocal violation of patient privacy, then what does? And what’s next? Will a patient’s visit to their doctor be secretly videotaped for “educational purposes?”

In discussing this matter with the slippery chair of Cornell Dermatology, I asked him whether there were certain situations where he would personally object to having other people in the room when meeting with his doctor, to which he replied, “Of course!” So then why are the overwhelming majority of patients, except for a privileged few who have the best commercial plans, denied the right to meet with a physician in private when they go to this very institution? Indeed, this is indefensible on both moral and intellectual grounds.

The corrupting influence of so many teaching hospitals has led to the indoctrination of thousands of young health care professionals, with the pernicious idea that the patient is a mere teaching tool, and an object that has no rights. And this dogma has become pervasive, spreading throughout the entirety of American health care like a cancer.

Following an extremely painful liver biopsy performed at Memorial, a nurse walked in on me while I was attempting the undignified act of urinating into a flask. What remains so hauntingly ingrained in my memory, is the fact that she neither left nor apologized, but instead became angry and defensive when I asked her to leave. The behavior of this knavish creature underscores the total moral bankruptcy of so many health care professionals who work in teaching hospitals. And her complete disdain for my privacy remains vividly ingrained in my memory, as a metaphor for the barbarism which so many patients in this country are all too often forced to endure.

Denied their inalienable right to privacy, the patient is stripped of all dignity, and the ethical foundation of sound medical care is dismantled and torn asunder. And the denouement of this farce, is that the patient is ultimately treated as though they were a slab of meat, and not a living breathing person with a soul.

American Liberalism and The Church of Psychobabble

Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But, with a little, act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulfur.
— Othello (3.3.324-326)

A remarkable irony of contemporary American life is that those who have been charged with the task of deciding who is of sound mind and who is mentally ill are not only utterly insane themselves, but are quite possibly the greatest psychopaths in all of human history.

Home to the illiterate, the mindless, and the mentally disturbed, the Church of Psychobabble (COP) is a peculiar religion, rooted in vitriolic anti-intellectualism and a love of unfettered capitalism. Listening to a fundamentalist from the COP vomit up their gibberish is eerily reminiscent of listening to a Hare Krishna or a Christian fundamentalist regurgitate their cult-like dogma. And while Christianity has the father, the son, and the holy ghost, the COP offers a hatred of the humanities, total submission to the mass media and the whims of the ruling establishment, and a deeply irrational belief that therapy alone can act as a panacea and an elixir for all of human misery and suffering.

Priests of the COP preach to their flock that happiness bears no relationship to political and socio-economic factors. As Dr. Adrian Furnham writes in the abysmal Psychology Today:

It pays to be happy. Happy people live longer and, by definition, they lead happier lives. They make better decisions and have more fulfilling relationships. They also make more money, being as much a consequence of happiness as a cause.

So those who are happy make more money, and those who struggle to pay bills are somehow mentally unwell, and represent a kind of flawed and degenerate person.

This lamentable and base dogma serves a profoundly reactionary purpose. For it teaches people whose lives have been destroyed by offshoring, deunionization, the destruction of public education, privatization of health care, the dismantling of checks and balances, and the destruction of real communities, that they have only themselves to blame for their sorrows. This relentless attempt to blame the victim is a key tenet of the COP, and it plays a critical role in how they seek to manipulate, brainwash, and recruit new members.

Indeed, priests of the COP serve a similar function as reactionary priests and other right wing religious leaders have done throughout history. As they serve no other purpose than to turn the masses into mindless and illiterate sheep that cannot think for themselves, and who they lead down a path of ignorance, impotence, and self-loathing. One difference between the COP and the traditional religions of the world, is that Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are actually based on beautifully written texts, whereas the COP is rooted in such a hideous Orwellian jargon that it would make George Orwell himself blush to look upon it.

And just as fundamentalists from the world’s major religions seek to address social problems by proselytizing and brainwashing new members, fundamentalists from the COP seek to recruit new members with equal fervor, while also attempting to drag as many people as possible into therapy – neoliberalism’s new Sunday sermon.

Even in the best of times all of us need guidance. The question is, do we want this guidance to come from artists and intellectuals, or do we want this guidance to come from illiterates, con artists, knaves, and charlatans? That the COP is rooted in such things might explain why liberals are so drawn to it. As nothing liberals have done in over thirty years can be rationally or intellectually defended, a cult-like religion had to be created in order to establish a dogma that would serve as an ideological foundation to their knavery.

The COP is a cancer in academia, and actively promotes a deep-seated hostility to all things intellectual. This philistinism represents a useful tool as it allows the oligarchy to inculcate young people with a hatred of the arts and the humanities, without which ethics, political literacy, and liberty of thought cannot exist.

In the COP there are no catastrophic political problems, and all of human suffering can be magically fixed through therapy and mind-altering drugs. That we have more people in therapy than ever before – and also more suffering – fails to dampen the enthusiasm of these fundamentalists of psychobabble.

Have you ever felt as though you were wasting away due to a lack of meaningful work that pays a living wage? Are you sad that trillions of American taxpayer dollars are used to kill enormous numbers of people all over the world? Do you live a life of alienation and loneliness because neoliberalism and the free market have obliterated any sense of community? Never fear: with psychotherapy, all of your pain and sadness can be made to vanish into thin air.

That the COP also conveniently doubles as a business devoted to maximizing the greatest possible profit, further underscores the hypocrisy of this insidious and dangerous cult. And as the liberal class played a key role in dismantling the New Deal, the ruling establishment now seeks to profit off of the alienated, atomized, and broken people left in its wake – as America’s lost souls can be charged a fee simply to have someone to talk to.

The inextricable connection between American liberalism and the COP plays a critical role in their monopolization of the political dialogue, allowing them to squelch radical and dissident views. For liberals and COP members now feel empowered to determine whose views are rational and whose are not. The next time a member of the COP suggests that you seek professional help, ask them how a lunatic who believes that Hillary Clinton lost the election due to Russian hacking, has the right to suggest that you are somehow mentally unwell.

And as facts mean very little to psychobabble fundamentalists, they can simply be invented, as Dr. Nigel Barber was kind enough to demonstrate recently in Psychology Today:

When one combines huge increases in leisure time with corresponding increases in leisure spending, it follows that the lifestyles of contemporary workers are similar to those of the idle rich in earlier times with plenty of leisure time, and expenditure of huge amounts of money on leisure pursuits. Workers are certainly affluent in historical terms.

Therefore the New Deal was, in fact, never dismantled, and the economy is booming.

In an article posted on the website of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, titled “Psychotherapy: How it Works and How it Can Help”, a nameless knave writes:

Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) can be an important part of treatment for depression or bipolar disorder (manic depression). A good therapist can help you cope with feelings and symptoms, and change behavior patterns that may contribute to your illness.

So the billionaire class can carry on robbing, raping, pillaging, and plundering, while the billions of people whose lives they have destroyed can go into therapy, and be brainwashed into thinking that it is somehow indicative of mental illness to feel sad because the American oligarchy is free to enslave and murder large numbers of people. And what are these “behavior patterns” that need to be changed? Writing poetry? Reading Monthly Review? Watching Russia Today?

And this isn’t to say that there aren’t some social workers and psychotherapists that really do help those who were the victims of childhood trauma, or who experienced a traumatic event later in life. Just as a little Christianity, Judaism, or Islam can enrich someone’s life, the problem is the fundamentalists of psychobabble, who kneel at the altar of fanaticism, demagoguery, and anti-intellectualism. And it is they who dismiss any attempt at meaningfully addressing catastrophic political problems, which in many cases they actually helped to create in the first place.

The dire need for profound political change in this sick and troubled nation, felt so acutely by millions of suffering Americans, is anathema to devout followers of the COP. Thankfully, not all psychologists are blind to the dangers that the COP poses to American society. In an interview published in The Sun, psychologist James Hillman says:

The vogue today, in psychotherapy, is the ‘inner child.’ That’s the therapy thing – you go back to your childhood. But if you’re looking backward, you’re not looking around. This trip backward constellates what Jung called the ‘child archetype’.  Now, the child archetype is by nature apolitical and disempowered – it has no connection with the political  world…. This is a disaster for the political world, for our  democracy. Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children.

As the COP is unequivocally an extension of ruling class power, the pressure to see a therapist in many ways constitutes an attempt at duping the citizen into voluntarily relinquishing any remaining vestiges of privacy. Moreover, the end game of this cult dogma is to manipulate the citizen into surrendering oneself mind, body, and soul to the most rapacious power the world has ever known, and to have the masses acknowledge on bended knee that they, and they alone, are to blame for their sorrows.

The devious cult-like language with which COP members are inculcated teaches them to view the world through a profoundly delusional prism, making rational political discourse all but impossible. And they read the same pernicious rot for years on end, their brains steadily atrophying amidst the onslaught of soulless jargon and lies that they drink like a poison, and which condemn them to a slow and torturous death of mindlessness, soullessness, and the most base and abject dehumanization.

Yet there is no lack of space for these fundamentalists to pray. For their churches are the ruins of our civilization.

American Liberalism and The Church of Psychobabble

Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But, with a little, act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulfur.

Othello (3.3.324-326)

A remarkable irony of contemporary American life, is that those who have been charged with the task of deciding who is of sound mind and who is mentally ill, are not only utterly insane themselves but are quite possibly the greatest psychopaths in all of human history.

Home to the illiterate, the mindless, and the mentally disturbed, the Church of Psychobabble (COP) is a peculiar religion, rooted in vitriolic anti-intellectualism and a love of unfettered capitalism. Listening to a fundamentalist from the COP vomit up their gibberish, is eerily reminiscent of listening to a Hare Krishna or a Christian fundamentalist regurgitate their cult-like dogma. And while Christianity has the father, the son, and the holy ghost, the COP offers a hatred of the humanities, total submission to the mass media and the whims of the ruling establishment, and a deeply irrational belief that therapy alone can act as a panacea and an elixir for all of human misery and suffering.

Priests of the COP preach to their flock that happiness bears no relationship to political and socio-economic factors. As Dr. Adrian Furnham writes in the abysmal Psychology Today: “It pays to be happy. Happy people live longer and, by definition, they lead happier lives. They make better decisions and have more fulfilling relationships. They also make more money, being as much a consequence of happiness as a cause.” So those who are happy make more money, and those who struggle to pay bills are somehow mentally unwell, and represent a kind of flawed and degenerate person.

This lamentable and base dogma serves a profoundly reactionary purpose. For it teaches people whose lives have been destroyed by offshoring, deunionization, the destruction of public education, privatization of health care, the dismantling of checks and balances, and the destruction of real communities, that they have only themselves to blame for their sorrows. This relentless attempt to blame the victim is a key tenet of the COP, and it plays a critical role in how they seek to manipulate, brainwash, and recruit new members.

Indeed, priests of the COP serve a similar function as reactionary priests and other right wing religious leaders have done throughout history. As they serve no other purpose than to turn the masses into mindless and illiterate sheep that cannot think for themselves, and who they lead down a path of ignorance, impotence, and self-loathing. One difference between the COP and the traditional religions of the world, is that Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism are actually based on beautifully written texts, whereas the COP is rooted in such a hideous Orwellian jargon that it would make George Orwell himself blush to look upon it.

And just as fundamentalists from the world’s major religions seek to address social problems by proselytizing and brainwashing new members, fundamentalists from the COP seek to recruit new members with equal fervor, while also attempting to drag as many people as possible into therapy – neoliberalism’s new Sunday sermon.

Even in the best of times all of us need guidance. The question is, do we want this guidance to come from artists and intellectuals, or do we want this guidance to come from illiterates, con artists, knaves, and charlatans? That the COP is rooted in such things might explain why liberals are so drawn to it. As nothing liberals have done in over thirty years can be rationally or intellectually defended, a cult-like religion had to be created in order to establish a dogma that would serve as an ideological foundation to their knavery.

The COP is a cancer in academia, and actively promotes a deep-seated hostility to all things intellectual. This philistinism represents a useful tool, as it allows the oligarchy to inculcate young people with a hatred of the arts and the humanities, without which ethics, political literacy, and liberty of thought cannot exist.

In the COP there are no catastrophic political problems, and all of human suffering can be magically fixed through therapy and mind-altering drugs. That we have more people in therapy than ever before – and also more suffering – fails to dampen the enthusiasm of these fundamentalists of psychobabble.

Have you ever felt as though you were wasting away due to a lack of meaningful work that pays a living wage? Are you sad that trillions of American taxpayer dollars are used to kill enormous numbers of people all over the world? Do you live a life of alienation and loneliness because neoliberalism and the free market have obliterated any sense of community? Never fear: with psychotherapy, all of your pain and sadness can be made to vanish into thin air.

That the COP also conveniently doubles as a business devoted to maximizing the greatest possible profit, further underscores the hypocrisy of this insidious and dangerous cult. And as the liberal class played a key role in dismantling the New Deal, the ruling establishment now seeks to profit off of the alienated, atomized, and broken people left in its wake – as America’s lost souls can be charged a fee simply to have someone to talk to.

The inextricable connection between American liberalism and the COP plays a critical role in their monopolization of the political dialogue, allowing them to squelch radical and dissident views. For liberals and COP members now feel empowered to determine whose views are rational and whose are not. The next time a member of the COP suggests that you seek professional help, ask them how a lunatic who believes that Hillary Clinton lost the election due to Russian hacking, has the right to suggest that you are somehow mentally unwell.

And as facts mean very little to psychobabble fundamentalists, they can simply be invented, as Dr. Nigel Barber was kind enough to demonstrate recently in Psychology Today:

When one combines huge increases in leisure time with corresponding increases in leisure spending, it follows that the lifestyles of contemporary workers are similar to those of the idle rich in earlier times with plenty of leisure time, and expenditure of huge amounts of money on leisure pursuits.  Workers are certainly affluent in historical terms.

Therefore the New Deal was in fact never dismantled, and the economy is booming.

In an article posted on the website of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, titled Psychotherapy: How it Works and How it Can Help, a nameless knave writes, “Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) can be an important part of treatment for depression or bipolar disorder (manic depression). A good therapist can help you cope with feelings and symptoms, and change behavior patterns that may contribute to your illness.” So the billionaire class can carry on robbing, raping, pillaging, and plundering, while the billions of people whose lives they have destroyed can go into therapy, and be brainwashed into thinking that it is somehow indicative of mental illness to feel sad because the American oligarchy is free to enslave and murder large numbers of people. And what are these “behavior patterns” that need to be changed? Writing poetry? Reading Monthly Review? Watching Russia Today?

And this isn’t to say that there aren’t some social workers and psychotherapists that really do help those who were the victims of childhood trauma, or who experienced a traumatic event later in life. Just as a little Christianity, Judaism, or Islam can enrich someone’s life, the problem is the fundamentalists of psychobabble, who kneel at the altar of fanaticism, demagoguery, and anti-intellectualism. And it is they who dismiss any attempt at meaningfully addressing catastrophic political problems, which in many cases they actually helped to create in the first place.

The dire need for profound political change in this sick and troubled nation, felt so acutely by millions of suffering Americans, is anathema to devout followers of the COP. Thankfully, not all psychologists are blind to the dangers that the COP poses to American society. In an interview published in The Sun, psychologist James Hillman says:

 The vogue today, in psychotherapy, is the ‘inner child.’ That’s the therapy thing – you go back to your childhood. But if you’re looking backward, you’re not looking around. This trip backward constellates what Jung called the ‘child archetype.’ Now, the child archetype is by nature apolitical and disempowered – it has no connection with the political world…. This is a disaster for the political world, for our  democracy. Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children.

As the COP is unequivocally an extension of ruling class power, the pressure to see a therapist in many ways constitutes an attempt at duping the citizen into voluntarily relinquishing any remaining vestiges of privacy. Moreover, the end game of this cult dogma is to manipulate the citizen into surrendering oneself mind, body, and soul to the most rapacious power the world has ever known, and to have the masses acknowledge on bended knee, that they and they alone are to blame for their sorrows.

The devious cult-like language with which COP members are inculcated, teaches them to view the world through a profoundly delusional prism, making rational political discourse all but impossible. And they read the same pernicious rot for years on end, their brains steadily atrophying amidst the onslaught of soulless jargon and lies that they drink like a poison, and which condemn them to a slow and torturous death of mindlessness, soullessness, and the most base and abject dehumanization.

Yet there is no lack of space for these fundamentalists to pray. For their churches are the ruins of our civilization.

Chemo Brain and The Conspiracy of Silence

Prior to starting a regimen of CHOP chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, I sat down with my oncologist’s nurse who briefed me on some of the things I should expect from treatment, such as mouth sores, nausea, and other delightful stomach ailments that I had to look forward to. Never did she mention a word about post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, also known as chemo brain.

Should you stop random people on the street and ask them what they think of when they think of chemotherapy, they will invariably rattle off some of the more commonly known side effects: nausea, vomiting, and hair loss. What is so exceedingly odd about this is that oncologists and oncology nurses appear to look at the side effects of chemotherapy in a fundamentally very similar way; as they are extremely focused on the short-term side effects, while completely ignoring the much more damaging and deleterious long-term side effects.

Following my first cycle of CHOP, I noticed that my brain was extremely foggy. Indeed, it was almost a feeling of intoxication. Six months after my last cycle, and I still feel that there are unequivocally times when that fogginess returns, and my concentration span is not what it is supposed to be.

While in treatment, some of the chemotherapy nurses who happily injected me with toxicity, would occasionally mention chemo brain, as if in jest. It became quite clear to me that their idea of chemo brain is three or four days of spoonerisms, and forgetting where you parked your car. (I don’t have one).

This base and degenerate behavior is either indicative of the most appalling ignorance, or a deliberate and sinister attempt at concealing from cancer patients the risks that certain types of chemotherapy can pose to mental acuity and cognitive function.

The beauty writer and editor Deanna Pai, describes her experience with chemo brain in New York Magazine: “A few weeks into chemo, I began to make odd mistakes. I switched similar-sounding words, like “with” and “which.” Sometimes, I’d find random half-sentences in my stories, and I’d quickly backspace, backspace, backspace before anyone noticed. Once in a while, I just wrote nonsensical stuff, like ’hair blow dryer could possibly what.’”

Apparently, my traumatic experience of discovering chemo brain entirely on my own is not unique. In a discussion about chemo brain on the website The Cancer Forums, Archer1019 writes:

Hi all. First time posting here. I was diagnosed with stage 3 grade B NH Follicular Lymphoma. Swollen gland in my neck turned out to tell the tale after a routine annual…exam. Just started RCHOP June 1 and after coming off the prednisone I feel foggy daily. Did a little web exploring and found out about Chemo Brain.

Article 9, of the Sloan Kettering Patient Bill of Rights, states that as a patient you have the right to: “Receive all the information that you need to give informed consent for any proposed procedure or treatment. This information shall include the possible risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment.” It is regrettable that Memorial refuses to follow their own guidelines in this matter.

In a forum devoted to chemo brain on the website breastcancer.org, lintrollerderby writes:

I had four rounds of Taxotere and Cytoxan and can say that it definitely caused (seemingly) permanent chemobrain. I’m five years out and still have long-term loss of my short-term memory which was excellent pre-chemo, inability to focus, inability to multi-task (used to be a strong suit of mine), frequent word drop issues, etc. I’ve been upset for years that I have continuous issues. It’s one thing if I’d given informed consent, but it was never mentioned to me that this might never go away.

When I tried to talk about chemo brain with my former oncologist, he was characteristically dismissive, and questioned the notion that chemotherapy could bring about a deterioration of one’s mental acuity. When I persisted in attempting to discuss the matter with him, he sneeringly replied, “If it weren’t for chemotherapy, you’d be dead right now.”

This villainous and uncivilized behavior only serves to further degrade and debase an already frightened patient, as if suddenly realizing that one’s mind were not functioning properly, wasn’t already a terrifying thing for anyone to experience.

On The Cancer Forums website, RockyMiranda writes that following chemotherapy:

Then my verbal vocabulary started being affected… This worried me more than anything. I would be trying to have a conversation, and sitting there trying to grasp for what should have been a very common word for me to use. I stumbled in my conversations trying to find other words to use. Sometimes, because I’m a visual person perhaps, I can picture the word, or the image the word evokes in my min[d], but I just can’t say it.

Despite the barbarous and treacherous denials on the part of many nurses and oncologists at Memorial, there are increasing numbers of physicians and scientists that are taking the side of those who have experienced a deterioration of their mental acuity following chemotherapy; and who are arguing that it is the chemotherapy itself which has brought about these cognitive changes, and not stress, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

The geneticist Dr. Viatcheslav Wlassoff writes in the publication Brain Blogger:

Although cancer chemotherapy does work very well for many cancer patients, most certainly it can also cause dangerous and permanent brain damage. Chemotherapy can change how the brain works through changing the level of neurotransmitters. It can even change the structure of the brain, reducing its volume and reducing grey matter in the brain. Eventually this leads to cognition impairment which is strongest shortly after finishing the chemotherapy but can persist for decades after.

Prior to commencing with the CHOP, my nurses at Memorial spoke to me at such length about mouth sores, yet after six months of chemotherapy I failed to get a single mouth sore. How can any sane person argue that it is more important to disclose the dangers of mouth sores, than to disclose the real possibility that one’s mental acuity may be degraded due to exposure from high levels of toxicity?

Since pharmaceutical companies and most medical institutions exist for no other reason than to maximize the greatest possible profit, what difference does it make if millions of cancer patients experience long term deterioration of their mental acuity following chemotherapy?

In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, the pearl buyers collectively conspire to tell Kino that the unusual pearl he has found is worthless, while simultaneously sending agents to try and steal it. In a similar fashion, the eerie manner in which so many doctors and nurses at Memorial insist on belittling the dangers that certain types of chemotherapy can pose to the human brain, suggests that they may know more than they are letting on.

There are two explanations for the behavior of the many oncologists and nurses at Memorial, who belittle and deny the existence of chemo brain. Either they have not read anything whatsoever on the subject, and refuse to listen to the complaints of their patients; or they are well aware of the long-term cognitive damage that can be brought about by certain chemotherapy drugs, yet have deliberately chosen to conceal this information from their patients. Either way, they have imprisoned us all in a conspiracy of silence.

Chemo Brain and The Conspiracy of Silence

Prior to starting a regimen of CHOP chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, I sat down with my oncologist’s nurse who briefed me on some of the things I should expect from treatment, such as mouth sores, nausea, and other delightful stomach ailments that I had to look forward to. Never did she mention a word about post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, also known as chemo brain.

Should you stop random people on the street and ask them what they think of when they think of chemotherapy, they will invariably rattle off some of the more commonly known side effects: nausea, vomiting, and hair loss. What is so exceedingly odd about this is that oncologists and oncology nurses appear to look at the side effects of chemotherapy in a fundamentally very similar way; as they are extremely focused on the short-term side effects, while completely ignoring the much more damaging and deleterious long-term side effects.

Following my first cycle of CHOP, I noticed that my brain was extremely foggy. Indeed, it was almost a feeling of intoxication. Six months after my last cycle, and I still feel that there are unequivocally times when that fogginess returns, and my concentration span is not what it is supposed to be.

While in treatment, some of the chemotherapy nurses who happily injected me with toxicity, would occasionally mention chemo brain, as if in jest. It became quite clear to me that their idea of chemo brain is three or four days of spoonerisms, and forgetting where you parked your car. (I don’t have one).

This base and degenerate behavior is either indicative of the most appalling ignorance, or a deliberate and sinister attempt at concealing from cancer patients the risks that certain types of chemotherapy can pose to mental acuity and cognitive function.

The beauty writer and editor Deanna Pai, describes her experience with chemo brain in New York Magazine: “A few weeks into chemo, I began to make odd mistakes. I switched similar-sounding words, like “with” and “which.” Sometimes, I’d find random half-sentences in my stories, and I’d quickly backspace, backspace, backspace before anyone noticed. Once in a while, I just wrote nonsensical stuff, like ’hair blow dryer could possibly what.’”

Apparently, my traumatic experience of discovering chemo brain entirely on my own is not unique. In a discussion about chemo brain on the website The Cancer Forums, Archer1019 writes:

Hi all. First time posting here. I was diagnosed with stage 3 grade B NH Follicular Lymphoma. Swollen gland in my neck turned out to tell the tale after a routine annual…exam. Just started RCHOP June 1 and after coming off the prednisone I feel foggy daily. Did a little web exploring and found out about Chemo Brain.

Article 9, of the Sloan Kettering Patient Bill of Rights, states that as a patient you have the right to: “Receive all the information that you need to give informed consent for any proposed procedure or treatment. This information shall include the possible risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment.” It is regrettable that Memorial refuses to follow their own guidelines in this matter.

In a forum devoted to chemo brain on the website breastcancer.org, lintrollerderby writes:

I had four rounds of Taxotere and Cytoxan and can say that it definitely caused (seemingly) permanent chemobrain. I’m five years out and still have long-term loss of my short-term memory which was excellent pre-chemo, inability to focus, inability to multi-task (used to be a strong suit of mine), frequent word drop issues, etc. I’ve been upset for years that I have continuous issues. It’s one thing if I’d given informed consent, but it was never mentioned to me that this might never go away.

When I tried to talk about chemo brain with my former oncologist, he was characteristically dismissive, and questioned the notion that chemotherapy could bring about a deterioration of one’s mental acuity. When I persisted in attempting to discuss the matter with him, he sneeringly replied, “If it weren’t for chemotherapy, you’d be dead right now.”

This villainous and uncivilized behavior only serves to further degrade and debase an already frightened patient, as if suddenly realizing that one’s mind were not functioning properly, wasn’t already a terrifying thing for anyone to experience.

On The Cancer Forums website, RockyMiranda writes that following chemotherapy:

Then my verbal vocabulary started being affected… This worried me more than anything. I would be trying to have a conversation, and sitting there trying to grasp for what should have been a very common word for me to use. I stumbled in my conversations trying to find other words to use. Sometimes, because I’m a visual person perhaps, I can picture the word, or the image the word evokes in my min[d], but I just can’t say it.

Despite the barbarous and treacherous denials on the part of many nurses and oncologists at Memorial, there are increasing numbers of physicians and scientists that are taking the side of those who have experienced a deterioration of their mental acuity following chemotherapy; and who are arguing that it is the chemotherapy itself which has brought about these cognitive changes, and not stress, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

The geneticist Dr. Viatcheslav Wlassoff writes in the publication Brain Blogger:

Although cancer chemotherapy does work very well for many cancer patients, most certainly it can also cause dangerous and permanent brain damage. Chemotherapy can change how the brain works through changing the level of neurotransmitters. It can even change the structure of the brain, reducing its volume and reducing grey matter in the brain. Eventually this leads to cognition impairment which is strongest shortly after finishing the chemotherapy but can persist for decades after.

Prior to commencing with the CHOP, my nurses at Memorial spoke to me at such length about mouth sores, yet after six months of chemotherapy I failed to get a single mouth sore. How can any sane person argue that it is more important to disclose the dangers of mouth sores, than to disclose the real possibility that one’s mental acuity may be degraded due to exposure from high levels of toxicity?

Since pharmaceutical companies and most medical institutions exist for no other reason than to maximize the greatest possible profit, what difference does it make if millions of cancer patients experience long term deterioration of their mental acuity following chemotherapy?

In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, the pearl buyers collectively conspire to tell Kino that the unusual pearl he has found is worthless, while simultaneously sending agents to try and steal it. In a similar fashion, the eerie manner in which so many doctors and nurses at Memorial insist on belittling the dangers that certain types of chemotherapy can pose to the human brain, suggests that they may know more than they are letting on.

There are two explanations for the behavior of the many oncologists and nurses at Memorial, who belittle and deny the existence of chemo brain. Either they have not read anything whatsoever on the subject, and refuse to listen to the complaints of their patients; or they are well aware of the long-term cognitive damage that can be brought about by certain chemotherapy drugs, yet have deliberately chosen to conceal this information from their patients. Either way, they have imprisoned us all in a conspiracy of silence.

The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care

A quick perusal of the website of Weill Cornell Medical Center, and one immediately arrives at such platitudes as, “People are the heart and soul of our institution,” and “We care about your health all the time – not just during office hours.” Yet the lamentable reality, is that despite its veneer of affability and bonhomie, Cornell is an institution that has neither heart nor soul, and which exists for no other reason than to maximize the greatest possible profit.

The total privatization of health care, which Cornell embodies in the most gruesome and quintessential manner, is incompatible with a sound health care system, because it is firmly rooted in the idea that good health care is a privilege, and not a right. It is also inextricably linked with a deeply reactionary two-tier system, where rich and poor are not afforded the same standard of care.

At Cornell, patients with major commercial plans are allowed to meet with experienced specialists that teach at Cornell Medical School. This is in stark contrast, to the way patients that have Medicaid and community plans are treated, as they are regarded by the Cornell administration and many of its senior physicians as untouchables, and as a degenerate inhuman rabble.

In Cornell Dermatology, patients who are identified as having inferior plans, are sent to the Cornell Dermatology Residents Clinic. This invariably results in patients receiving extremely dubious care indeed, as their principal dermatologist ends up being a resident, and not an experienced dermatologist. Moreover, this also results in a lack of continuity of care, because when the patient returns to the clinic, it is highly probable that they will be seen by a different resident each and every time.

When the attending physician is actually present, the patient is then subjected to an embarrassing – indeed, for some a humiliating examination – with multiple people in the room simultaneously: the attending physician, the resident, and perhaps also a nurse. This is in stark contrast, to the way patients with major commercial plans are treated, as they are afforded continuity of care, and are also allowed to meet with an experienced Cornell dermatologist in private, without unwanted interlopers violating and barbarically trampling upon their privacy.

As Cornell regards patients with inferior plans as fundamentally subhuman, the masters of this base and degenerate institution feel they have the right to violate the privacy of these patients at will, by inviting college students, interns, residents, and fellows into the examination room, and without first seeking the patient’s consent. When I complained about these egregious privacy violations to the knavish chair of Cornell Dermatology, he seemed concerned – until he realized what kind of plan I was on – at which point he completely lost all interest in the conversation. Indeed, this creature is undoubtedly one of many senior physicians and administrators at Cornell, who make large six figure salaries, maintaining and sustaining this diabolical and morally bankrupt system.

In addition to being a haven for perverts and people with unusual mental problems, having a two-tier system also comes in handy, in that it allows cowardly physicians to pass off unpleasant tasks to their residents, such as when the patient has to be told that the tumor taken out of their neck, actually ended up being malignant, and not benign as they were initially told. No matter: simply find a closet to hide in, while one of your residents delivers the unfortunate news.

After having a tumor removed from my neck, performed by Cornell Otolaryngology in April of 2016, a frozen section was placed under the microscope, and it was immediately declared by the chief resident to be benign. I was told to then come back in a week to have the sutures removed. But when I arrived at the clinic, I was met by yet another resident, who proceeded to tell me that I had metastatic melanoma. In the evening, I got a phone call saying that I didn’t have melanoma after all. And a few days later, I was told that I had Interdigitating Dendritic Cell Sarcoma, a one in two hundred million diagnosis, and the rarest disease known to oncology.

In the months that followed, pathology reports were obtained from MD Anderson, Memorial, Dana-Farber, and Stanford, all of which debunked this third and final diagnosis. Consequently, I received three diagnoses from Weill Cornell, and they were all ultimately proven to be erroneous. Moreover, each of these incorrect diagnoses were communicated to me by a totally unsupervised resident.

Many teaching hospitals have strict regulations, prohibiting residents and fellows from being alone in an examination room with a patient. It is regrettable that Cornell refuses to implement similar policies.

When discussing this catastrophic sequence of events with my esteemed head and neck surgeon, his attitude was that I should be happy that the residents didn’t actually perform the surgery. Indeed, the only reason why Cornell doesn’t allow such a thing to occur, is that should a patient wake up from anesthesia and find that their face has been paralyzed, they would sue both the institution and their surgeon for millions of dollars.

Following this third erroneous diagnosis, Cornell then had the unmitigated gall to assign me a doctor from their Cornell Oncology Fellows Clinic, who proceeded to walk into the examination room, and happily declare that she had never even heard of this unusual disease before. This oncology fellow was permitted to oversee the entire session without any supervision whatsoever, and if I hadn’t witnessed this with my own eyes, I simply wouldn’t have believed it.

Privatized health care – the power of which, has in fact been bolstered by Obamacare – is incompatible with a proper health care system, and is intertwined with the rise of a health care system rooted in greed, deceit, and the deepest contempt for those who are neither independently affluent, nor earning six figure salaries. Indeed, should we fail to nationalize our health care system, barbarism shall be our lot – and our future one of darkness, hopelessness, and despair.

Both political parties support this abhorrent health care system, which has bankrupted millions of Americans, and undoubtedly murdered millions as well. With all the trillions of dollars that the oligarchy spent destroying Iraq, we could have nationalized our health care system several times over. The mass media have also thrown their weight behind this unconscionable for profit system, and refuse to rationally and morally discuss the issue. The time has come to collectively fight for a full nationalization of our health care system. No less than our very lives are at stake.

When Patient Rights Do Not Exist

American health care is in a truly deplorable state. Along with virtually everything else in our collapsing society, the American people are increasingly held captive to the barbaric whims and dictates of a ruling establishment, which holds nothing sacred, and which has acquired unprecedented amounts of wealth and power. Consequently, it was inevitable that in our health care system, the patient would become a mere commodity, to be used solely for purposes of research and profit maximization.

In any discussion regarding the current state of health care in America, it is illustrative to use as benchmarks, two of the most prestigious medical institutions in New York City: Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Each institution regularly engages in behavior, which should be regarded by any sentient being as unequivocally criminal. Yet most Americans are scarcely able to muster a yawn, and insouciant liberals and neocons alike, evidently find the subject quite boring, in comparison with starting World War III.

Both Memorial and Cornell regularly commit egregious violations of patient privacy, by inviting college students, interns, residents, and fellows to sit in on a patient’s session with their physician, without first seeking the patient’s consent. As Edward Snowden has eloquently pointed out on numerous occasions: Freedom and liberty cannot exist once privacy has been lost. Is inviting unwanted interlopers, into what should otherwise be a private session between a doctor and a patient, indicative of a respect for patient privacy?

Evidently, this subject isn’t taught in medical school.

For many patients, it is humiliating to have a third person in the room, and a fourth person going in and out of the room, as they meet with their physician. Medical institutions defend this unconscionable practice, in the name of educating the younger generation of doctors, but this argument is rooted in base sophistry: For what lesson is being imparted, other than the one which declares that the patient is a commodity, and has no right to privacy whatsoever?

Sloan Kettering is a deeply authoritarian institution, and in many respects represents a microcosm of a police state, complete with the euphemistically named Patient Representatives, who are there not to represent the patient at all, but to bully and harass patients who complain, and who are deemed insufficiently docile and submissive.

Except in extremely unusual circumstances, where there is a change in diagnosis, Memorial refuses to allow patients to change their oncologist. To do so, would be to empower the patient, and the only people that Memorial wishes to empower, are their oncologists and their corporate Leadership Team.

Once a patient has been admitted into the hallowed halls of Sloan Kettering, and allowed to mingle with the Gods on Mount Olympus, they are given a specialist in colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc., and this essentially constitutes an arranged marriage that one cannot extricate oneself from, except by leaving the institution, dying, or being fortunate enough to have your oncologist retire. At first glance, this might seem a trivial matter. So why not get another oncologist at a different institution, many would ask. This is not an easy thing to do, as Memorial has hundreds of cancer specialists, some of whom have a specialized knowledge of cancers so rare, that doctors working outside of oncology have sometimes never even heard of them. Moreover, this argument erroneously assumes that the specialists you would be interested in working with at Cornell or NYU – the two other leading cancer centers in New York City – will also take your insurance.

Not allowing a patient to change their oncologist – when they vehemently wish to do so – while also knowing full well that cancer patients will be reluctant to leave such a specialized institution, results in a power imbalance, where many patients end up as punching bags for their abusive oncologists. A lamentable omission from the Sloan Kettering Patient Bill of Rights, and which incidentally, negates the entirety of the document.

Diabolical health insurance companies are already placing extraordinary restrictions on which specialists patients can and cannot see, and this problem is then exacerbated by this base and authoritarian practice. In any humane health care system, the patient’s right to choose between a variety of specialists, is deemed inalienable and sacrosanct.

All fields of medicine have made astounding leaps forward over the past century – all that is, except the field of oncology – which remains, with certain notable exceptions, mired somewhere in the Middle Ages. In spite of this rather lamentable state of affairs, oncology produces some of the most arrogant and egotistical people ever to walk the face of the earth. A peculiar phenomenon, which one is no doubt constantly reminded of at Memorial. The field is also evidently a magnet for bullies and sadists, who delight in tormenting patients, who are often physically, psychologically, or emotionally too weak to fight back.

Since Memorial places tremendous value on cutting edge research – as this is where the dollars lie – and regards the patient as the least important aspect of the institution, an abusive oncologist who repeatedly receives complaints from his patients, yet who produces good research, will continue to be enthusiastically backed by the institution.

Many of these young oncologists are also a product of our universities, which increasingly function as vocational job training facilities, utterly devoid of intellectual inquiry. These young doctors have typically done an enormous amount of study in their field, yet often lack a basic humanities education, making it exceedingly difficult for them to establish a harmonious rapport with their patients. Due to their lack of a liberal arts education, they are often unable to feel compassion and empathy for their patients, without which a doctor cannot be successful and effective.

Cornell delights in their two tier health care system, where patients with “good insurance” are allowed to meet with experienced specialists that teach at Cornell Medical School, while patients with “bad insurance” are given a resident or a fellow. The hypocrisy of this unconscionable practice is simply nauseating and beyond belief.

In the Cornell Oncology Fellows Clinic, unsupervised fellows are allowed to treat even the most difficult and challenging cancers, and are essentially given the green light to perform medical experiments on live human beings. This is deemed perfectly acceptable to those who run Cornell, since in their eyes, the destitute and unemployed are beneath contempt, and not deserving of good care.

In a deep and fundamental sense, both Memorial and Cornell regard good health care as a privilege, and not a right, which is precisely the same way in which affluent Americans and the upper middle class regard education.

The arrogance of these institutions can reach such outrageous proportions, that physicians will sometimes not even deem it necessary to fully disclose all of what is known regarding a patient’s disease. Sloan Pathology debunked Cornell’s controversial pathology report of my disease, yet was unable to replace it with a diagnosis of their own. Embarrassed to have failed at determining even so much as the lineage, a senior Sloan pathologist lied to me over the phone, and gave me an imaginary diagnosis, which I discovered several days later when meeting with my oncologist. As the patient is regarded as merely a piece of useless flotsam, what difference does it make, if they even learn the truth of their diagnosis?

And this disdainful treatment of patients at Memorial, often communicated with much sneering and snarling, is administered by oncologists, who without intended jest or irony, proudly refer to themselves as The Best In The World.

The fact that any American hospital – let alone two of our most prestigious – can regularly engage in such abusive and unethical practices, underscores the lack of humanity, compassion, and ethics; as well as the unbridled arrogance and greed, which continue to serve as the mildewed decaying heart of our satanic health care system. For it is a system which regards patients not as human beings with a soul, but as things to be mocked, exploited, discarded and thrown away.

Nationalization or barbarism? That is the question.

When Patient Rights Do Not Exist

American health care is in a truly deplorable state. Along with virtually everything else in our collapsing society, the American people are increasingly held captive to the barbaric whims and dictates of a ruling establishment, which holds nothing sacred, and which has acquired unprecedented amounts of wealth and power. Consequently, it was inevitable that in our health care system, the patient would become a mere commodity, to be used solely for purposes of research and profit maximization.

In any discussion regarding the current state of health care in America, it is illustrative to use as benchmarks, two of the most prestigious medical institutions in New York City: Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Each institution regularly engages in behavior, which should be regarded by any sentient being as unequivocally criminal. Yet most Americans are scarcely able to muster a yawn, and insouciant liberals and neocons alike, evidently find the subject quite boring, in comparison with starting World War III.

Both Memorial and Cornell regularly commit egregious violations of patient privacy, by inviting college students, interns, residents, and fellows to sit in on a patient’s session with their physician, without first seeking the patient’s consent. As Edward Snowden has eloquently pointed out on numerous occasions: Freedom and liberty cannot exist once privacy has been lost. Is inviting unwanted interlopers, into what should otherwise be a private session between a doctor and a patient, indicative of a respect for patient privacy?

Evidently, this subject isn’t taught in medical school.

For many patients, it is humiliating to have a third person in the room, and a fourth person going in and out of the room, as they meet with their physician. Medical institutions defend this unconscionable practice, in the name of educating the younger generation of doctors, but this argument is rooted in base sophistry: For what lesson is being imparted, other than the one which declares that the patient is a commodity, and has no right to privacy whatsoever?

Sloan Kettering is a deeply authoritarian institution, and in many respects represents a microcosm of a police state, complete with the euphemistically named Patient Representatives, who are there not to represent the patient at all, but to bully and harass patients who complain, and who are deemed insufficiently docile and submissive.

Except in extremely unusual circumstances, where there is a change in diagnosis, Memorial refuses to allow patients to change their oncologist. To do so, would be to empower the patient, and the only people that Memorial wishes to empower, are their oncologists and their corporate Leadership Team.

Once a patient has been admitted into the hallowed halls of Sloan Kettering, and allowed to mingle with the Gods on Mount Olympus, they are given a specialist in colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc., and this essentially constitutes an arranged marriage that one cannot extricate oneself from, except by leaving the institution, dying, or being fortunate enough to have your oncologist retire. At first glance, this might seem a trivial matter. So why not get another oncologist at a different institution? many would ask. This is not an easy thing to do, as Memorial has hundreds of cancer specialists, some of whom have a specialized knowledge of cancers so rare, that doctors working outside of oncology have sometimes never even heard of them. Moreover, this argument erroneously assumes that the specialists you would be interested in working with at Cornell or NYU – the two other leading cancer centers in New York City – will also take your insurance.

Not allowing a patient to change their oncologist – when they vehemently wish to do so – while also knowing full well that cancer patients will be reluctant to leave such a specialized institution, results in a power imbalance, where many patients end up as punching bags for their abusive oncologists. A lamentable omission from the Sloan Kettering Patient Bill of Rights, and which incidentally, negates the entirety of the document.

Diabolical health insurance companies are already placing extraordinary restrictions on which specialists patients can and cannot see, and this problem is then exacerbated by this base and authoritarian practice. In any humane health care system, the patient’s right to choose between a variety of specialists, is deemed inalienable and sacrosanct.

All fields of medicine have made astounding leaps forward over the past century – all that is, except the field of oncology – which remains, with certain notable exceptions, mired somewhere in the Middle Ages. In spite of this rather lamentable state of affairs, oncology produces some of the most arrogant and egotistical people ever to walk the face of the earth. A peculiar phenomenon, which one is no doubt constantly reminded of at Memorial. The field is also evidently a magnet for bullies and sadists, who delight in tormenting patients, who are often physically, psychologically, or emotionally too weak to fight back.

Since Memorial places tremendous value on cutting edge research – as this is where the dollars lie – and regards the patient as the least important aspect of the institution, an abusive oncologist who repeatedly receives complaints from his patients, yet who produces good research, will continue to be enthusiastically backed by the institution.

Many of these young oncologists are also a product of our universities, which increasingly function as vocational job training facilities, utterly devoid of intellectual inquiry. These young doctors have typically done an enormous amount of study in their field, yet often lack a basic humanities education, making it exceedingly difficult for them to establish a harmonious rapport with their patients. Due to their lack of a liberal arts education, they are often unable to feel compassion and empathy for their patients, without which a doctor cannot be successful and effective.

Cornell delights in their two tier health care system, where patients with “good insurance” are allowed to meet with experienced specialists that teach at Cornell Medical School, while patients with “bad insurance” are given a resident or a fellow. The hypocrisy of this unconscionable practice is simply nauseating and beyond belief.

In the Cornell Oncology Fellows Clinic, unsupervised fellows are allowed to treat even the most difficult and challenging cancers, and are essentially given the green light to perform medical experiments on live human beings. This is deemed perfectly acceptable to those who run Cornell, since in their eyes, the destitute and unemployed are beneath contempt, and not deserving of good care.

In a deep and fundamental sense, both Memorial and Cornell regard good health care as a privilege, and not a right, which is precisely the same way in which affluent Americans and the upper middle class regard education.

The arrogance of these institutions can reach such outrageous proportions, that physicians will sometimes not even deem it necessary to fully disclose all of what is known regarding a patient’s disease. Sloan Pathology debunked Cornell’s controversial pathology report of my disease, yet was unable to replace it with a diagnosis of their own. Embarrassed to have failed at determining even so much as the lineage, a senior Sloan pathologist lied to me over the phone, and gave me an imaginary diagnosis, which I discovered several days later when meeting with my oncologist. As the patient is regarded as merely a piece of useless flotsam, what difference does it make, if they even learn the truth of their diagnosis?

And this disdainful treatment of patients at Memorial, often communicated with much sneering and snarling, is administered by oncologists, who without intended jest or irony, proudly refer to themselves as The Best In The World.

The fact that any American hospital – let alone two of our most prestigious – can regularly engage in such abusive and unethical practices, underscores the lack of humanity, compassion, and ethics; as well as the unbridled arrogance and greed, which continue to serve as the mildewed decaying heart of our satanic health care system. For it is a system which regards patients not as human beings with a soul, but as things to be mocked, exploited, discarded and thrown away.

Nationalization or barbarism? That is the question.