Two one hour documentaries have recently aired on the BBC. Hosted by Dr Chris' van Tulleken they were titled “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs”. I watched both episodes this weekend and would like to put forward how I see the problem and some of the points raised. Before I even saw the programme I thought most doctors prescribe too many drugs and I put that down to a number of things. Doctors can’t afford to spend to long with patients and so have to go for the quick answer. The drug companies market their products to the doctors very well and lastly, patients nowadays feel they’re not being treated if they’re not given drugs. These assumptions turned out to be correct but didn’t stop Dr Tulleken from looking for alternatives.
So let’s take a closer look. One patient had been taking a large cocktail of over the counter painkillers for back pain. The pills had long ceased to work for her but she was convinced they did work. At first she resisted the attempts to stop her taking pain killers. She insisted she had tried exercise on a regular basis to no avail but her husband wasn’t having any of it and counter argued that she did not. A plan was devised to reduce the contents of her pain killers and proved they no longer worked. This particular lady did have a physical problem and so Dr Tulleken prescribed physiotherapy and exercise. This fixed the problem and showed she had spent years in pain needlessly.
Another lady who was in a lot of pain and was also on a great deal of medication. Much of it high strength with side effect and more drugs to counteract those. They couldn’t find a physical reason but the pain had gotten so bad that even with her medication she could hardly move. Her GP actually said something along the lines of “well, what can you do”. Dr Tulleken took her to a Kung Fu Master who taught her exercises that relieved her pain after only a few weeks of work. He told her not to look for the pain, which she was doing as she’d been in pain for so long, but to wait for it to happen. Hypnotherapy could have helped both these ladies but the first one actually had a physical problem so needed a physical answer to stop it and hypnotherapy could only control the pain. The second one seemed to be psychosomatic and so hypnotherapy could find the answer. The number of people with this problem in the UK means sending them all to a Kung Fu Master is not practical. The thing to remember is pain is created in the mind. You stick a pin in your hand and the nerves send a signal to the brain to say something has been pushed through the skin. Your subconscious then creates a pain which tells you conscious the information of where and what kind of event has happened. With this in mind the answer to pain with no physical cause is in the subconscious. When the answer to anything is the subconscious, then hypnotherapy is a great way to find that answer and fix the real problem. In short in the two pain scenarios shown, the first one hypnotherapy couldn’t fix the problem and its use may actually make the physical problem worse, as would just taking pain numbing pills. The second was an ideal case for hypnotherapy.
He also helped a young lady with depression and prescribed exercise, swimming in cold water. It worked but she did find it hard to keep up with the routine initially. Hypnotherapy is also a good way to deal with depression. While the exercise worked I ask the question, did it work in the same way as the anti-depressants? That means if she stops the exercise and the chemicals realised through exercise stop being realised, will she go back into depression? Depression means there is something wrong in our life that we need to put right. Often the sufferer doesn’t know what that is but hypnotherapy can help discover it and then the sufferer can make that change they need to make. At least exercise doesn’t have the side effects that some anti-depressants do, such as depression, yes depression. As far as the lack of motivation to exercise goes, this is also something hypnotherapy can help with. Exercise was the only prescription for those on statins. Test carried out before and after proved a half hour walk five times a week work better and with a numbers need to treat as 1 and side effects 0, when compared with statins, walking is far better for the patient and cheaper for the NHS.
Now I’m going to back up Dr Tulleken against the doctors at the surgery he highlighted in the programmes. They convinced our anti-drug hero the drug companies weren’t influencing them with free lunches, well they are wrong and you were right Dr Tulleken but they changed your mind. This is why you should have stood your ground. By providing a free lunch the drug company rep’ is using what psychologists call the rule of reciprocation. In short, I do you a favour and you do me a favour. There doesn’t have to be an agreement beforehand. If someone does us a favour we feel obliged on a subconscious level to repay the favour. Now these doctors did say the drug company offer larger “gifts” such as holidays but they refuse them. They only take the free lunches. Guess what, it doesn’t matter. Using the rule of reciprocation, the manipulator only has to do a small favour to get a large favour in return. When writing prescriptions this drug companies name will be in their heads and they will side with prescribing their drugs. It’s not a bribe, it is manipulation and it works. Many companies in different industries use it all the time. That taster sample at the supermarket makes it harder to take then walk away from the promotion staff without putting the product in your basket for example. Even the Hare Krishna movement use it in their fund raising. I bet these doctors don’t have figures to show how they choose which drugs to prescribe before and after these free harmless lunches but I bet the drug companies do. I would also put money on that the drug companies wouldn’t give this food away if it didn’t pay for them to do so. I would also hazard a guess on the frequency of these free lunches. I would guess that when sales to a particular surgery start to drop a free lunch is organised. If it didn’t affect how these doctors chose which drugs to prescribe they wouldn’t be eating it. These drug companies aren’t going to give away their profit.