Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prejudice Against Aging and Disease

Discussion of Prejudice Against Aging and Disease
April 4, 2012                                            

Homeless Man

 With 30 years in medicine, I have refined my skill at helping people adapt to their health limitations because there are many diseases we cannot cure or even lessen the symptoms very much.  The diseases of aging, like the degenerative arthritis that I have that has rendered me "totally permanently disabled" by Social Security is one example. However, there is nothing wrong with my mind that would impair my ability to make good medical decisions.  Rather the opposite, I am at the peak of my game.  The wealth of experience combined with a superb understanding of the human organism, especially the "mental" aspect and psychiatric illnesses combined with potent instincts about the level of sickness in a patient (both physical and mental) means I can out perform 99% of general medical physicians.  But, by not being flexible regarding sitting positions and computer data entry (trivial issues, they aren't paying me to be a secretary; but, my value, any physicians value resides in his or her JUDGEMENT.   But I am tossed aside because I have chronic pain and can't sit in an ordinary chair.  Thus, I am having to adapt by finding other ways to be helpful to mankind, including finding other ways of expressing myself.  Photography helps fill that gap; and, has become both artistically more sophisticated and more political for me, as well as becoming a social commentary at the same time.  I have learned a lot  about how to use symbolism and abstraction to achieve these goals  There exists an  idiotic social prejudice  in our society against "sick people".  Prejudice against illness is the last prejudice we have yet to confront.  We have addressed racial, ethnic, gender, sexual preference (to some extent); but, age and illness, which come together at times, we have yet to confront .  Part of the reason is that historically we have never had a large percentage of the population reach "old age";so there was really nothing age-related to be concerned about from a demographic view point.  As recently as 1900, the average life span in the US was 50.  For the first 99.99% of the existence of homo sapiens, the life span was 35.  Thus, we have gone from 35 to 80 (for women) in about 4 centuries.  I guess our society simply can’t  culturally adapt to that rapid a change in the demographics !