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Commentary By Theodore Dalrymple

Beware Health Totalitarianism

Culture Culture & Society

Richard Gunderman begins his essay with an exposure of the intellectual absurdities, historical deficiencies, and inconsistencies of the notorious new oath administered to freshmen at the Minnesota Medical School. This is not very difficult to do and has by now been done many times, but Gunderman then goes on to say something much more original, namely that the oath is a manifestation of idealism, albeit of a mistaken or even perverted variety, and of a subliminal awareness that practitioners of medicine ought to have a much wider social perspective than they have now. To an increasing extent, he says, doctors have become but sophisticated technicians narrowly focused on some small aspect of human existence, a particular cancer shall we say, without considering the social context in which the disease develops and is caused, treated, and cured.

I think that Gunderman is rather too generous to those who wrote and imposed this oath. Its aim (I surmise, though I cannot definitively prove) is not to produce any tangible benefit for the Dakota people on whose supposed ancestral land the medical school functions, even if such people could be unambiguously identified. The purpose of the oath is quite otherwise: it is an instrument for the achievement of power. 

Continue reading the piece here at Law & Liberty


Theodore Dalrymple is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

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