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Suffering and Healing in America - An American doctor's view from outside (Book Review)

Easter 2008

From triple helix - Easter 2008 - Suffering and Healing in America - An American doctor's view from outside (Book Review) [p18]

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Suffering and Healing in America - An American doctor's view from outside - Raymond Downing - Radcliffe Publishing 2006 - £24.95 Pb 144pp - ISBN 1 84619 1300

This elegant collection of 16 essays is much more than a critique of the failings of healthcare in the USA. It suggests solutions and its strength is that it is written by an experienced primary care physician. The 'view from outside' comes from his years of working in Africa and in particularly poverty stricken parts of the USA. He uses fascinating metaphors from Greek mythology and frequent quotes and stories for illustration. Later in the book he uses the Bible explicitly, and his perspective is always implicitly Christian, but people of different faiths and none could read this book cover to cover with great profit and no offence. There are both evidence based and anecdotal assessments of 'medicalisation' in the US and the message is summed up by Professor Pust in the Foreword: 'America's societal willingness to invest in these medical treatments ultimately reflects the American culture. America has money and science; but we may have abandoned the spiritual and social context of our lives, and deaths.' As the UK moves towards the inappropriate US approach, we here need the message of this excellent book, which is packed with that increasingly rare commodity: common sense.

Article written by Andrew Fergusson

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