I was born in a generation where it was thought women couldn’t drive cars, write fiction, compose music, compete at sports, or should be let work after marriage. Women were emotional, intuitive, erratic but not really capable of full rationality.
Ireland in the 1950s may have been a few years behind other parts of Europe on these issues, but it has a prior history of women warriors and matriarchy, and may be heading that way again.
Ireland suffered, however, and perhaps will continue to suffer forever from mothers adoring their sons. This gave rise to a joke, perhaps not uniquely Irish, that Jesus was Irish – he was 33 and single and his mother thought he was God.
Women often complain about being ignored at board meetings when they raise good ideas and then find some man repeats them a short while later and is praised for his scintillating insights. The patriarchy often gets blamed, but this happens in families the whole time. Many a younger sister has heard a brother get praised by their mother for something she had mentioned earlier.
Things are changing. Women are winning Nobel Prizes in all domains. They increasingly compose the best music and the previously ignored compositions of women now dead are being resurrected and recognized for the genius they embody. There are fewer and fewer areas where women don’t outdo men.
Many years ago, interview processes in medicine and most other places became standardized. Every interviewer had to ask the exact same question of every candidate. I decided to ask all candidates to tell me about a mistake they had made and what they had learnt from it.
In interview after interview, the women could answer immediately and coherently. Not a single man that I can remember answered immediately or coherently if they did answer.
Objectivity and Science
In a recent lecture I gave in Boston, The History of a Medical Psychosis, I offered a different view of science and objectivity to the standard one. The talk stresses that objectivity does not come from algorithms, logic, numbers, statistics, or any of the other usual suspects but from the engagement of people who know they are fallible, who attempt to come to a consensus view about what they see happening in front of them – in life, in law, and in experiments.
To do science, you have to be prepared to accept that your initial view is wrong, prepared to listen to the insights of others, not deferring to a King or other dominant man over the views of a healthcare assistant or scullery maid, in addition to being able to think outside the box.
Someone with wonderful ‘ideas’ is not engaging with the world. Bumping into things and finding out your ideas are wrong is the engagement we call science and it cannot happen without at least two people attempting to come to a consensus with an openness to the fact they may be wrong and a willingness to change if developments upset a neat idea.
There is no better place to see this happening, or increasingly failing to happen in the modern world, than in the domain of drug induced injury.
Doctors with people in front of them telling them exactly what is going wrong, far more often than before find it impossible to come to a consensus view. They know best. They have used this drug in lots of people, in double or triple the dose, and nothing has gone wrong – come back and talk to me when you have a medical degree.
But these things going wrong, these mistakes, things a doctor has never seen before, are the essence of science. Science is about individuals – not non-existent average people. This medical not-listening has left 15% of the population of many Western countries unable to get off antidepressants – many of them women put on them for menopausal hot flashes. This is a disaster. How blind can a doctor be? Completely, it seems.
When it comes to science, communities of individuals count. In terms of drug problems, the science is now being done by communities of harmed individuals not by individuals in a lab or even a clinic. Its people grappling with conditions like PSSD, who are doing the science, or Annemarie featured in Did My Doctor Make me a Substance Abuser, or my patient with OCD who was cured with nicotine – who is outlined in The History of a Medical Psychosis.
Grappling with the harms being done to people is a sacred mission, on a par with efforts to explore the origins of our universe with the James Webb telescope. Sacred because drug induced injuries are the Stone the Builders rejected.
The History of a Medical Psychosis gives you the plot of Shipwreck of the Singular. The talk ends on a Relationship Based Medicine note. Shipwreck goes a little further and suggests the job worth prioritizing and paying people handsomely for is people-making – at which women are better than men.
Many women would dismiss this and say men can be just as good parents. Many of the same women would say they rule the world by ruling/manipulating men. Manipulation doesn’t sound great. Translate it, though, into nudging young people and men through a Zone of Proximal Development and it becomes the essence of science.
In The Zone
The History of a Medical Psychosis has a message that what all of us want most is to control our own lives. After listening in, Tim Carey in Perth sent me some of his articles on these issues – see Health is Control.
Tim also introduced me to the work of Harvey Max Cochinov who has refashioned the Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would want to be done to yourself
Into a Platinum Rule
Do unto others as they would want done unto themselves
Its worth reading everything of Harvey’s that you can get hold of – see Ellen and the Platinum Rule.
This message is on the scientific, and clinical money and is exactly what doctors now seem unable to do.
Whose Erratic Now?
Aditi Bhargava who has featured in this blog – see Boosters and Boosterism – was quoted in an New York Times article on Tuesday – Guess Which Sex Behaves More Erratically – in anticipation I guess of International Women’s Day. She was being asked to comment on a study showing that Male Mice were much more erratic in laboratory experiments on behaviour than Female Mice. Until recently only males were used as it was thought that the estrous cycle of the females made them more erratic.
The article, not Aditi, more generally said the same applied to women in medical studies, including pharmacology studies and that this was a problem as women seem more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of drugs than men. The picture for drug trials has been changing over the last 30 years with new regulations requiring sexual parity and ensuring diverse representation (not just Pink People).
This is where the Sacred comes up against the very Profane. There are many good arguments for involving women in clinical trials but little appreciation among those who made the regulations, how what some would call fraud is close to the standard operational model for company trials – see:
This is leading to a crunch point, which is in the name of diversity and equity pregnant women are being recruited to trials. This doesn’t need to happen to find out what the likely effects of a drug taken in pregnancy are.
RSV Vaccine trials are a venue where the issues have become particularly salient lately. The Canadian consent form for the Pfizer RSV Vaccine trial states:
The risks associated with the study vaccine (RSVpreF or placebo) may be experienced by you, but not your baby, since your baby will not receive the study vaccine or placebo directly.
All adverse effects that are known at this time about the study vaccine are described in this form.
This really makes no sense at all, particularly as there were risks found to the baby in an earlier GSK trial of a very similar vaccine – increased rates of prematurity and neonatal deaths – as well as increased neonatal jaundice found in an earlier Pfizer trial. These are not mentioned in the consent form.
Women are now being recruited by pharma to scaremonger about RSV and promote the benefits of vaccines. No doctors or patients have seen the data from these trials but investors in the companies have been briefed about the hazards, while at the same time being told the companies know how to get these vaccines into millions of arms. Your baby might not be safe with us but your money is.
Come the Moment, Come the Women – hopefully.
This post was late for International Women’s Day. Aditi’s mention in the NYT drew my attention to what was going on as well as work by Peter Selley on RSV vaccines. Pfizer and other companies need to be made aware of an emerging New World Order.