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Review: What Patients Don’t Say If Doctors Don’t Ask

  • Posted on July 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM

What Patients Don’t Say If Doctors Don’t Ask by Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND, is a book written by a doctor for other doctors advocating a new approach to medicine that questions some of the basic, underlying assumptions Western societies have made about health care.

This first thing that should be clear from this opening statement is that I, as a lay person, did not understand everything in this book, and I certainly didn’t understand the book well enough to actually have an authoritative opinion as to whether Dr. Bolliger proved her premises or not.

I can, however, say that Dr. Bolliger supported her premises well enough for me to say:

  1. The book is well-researched and well-supported.
  2. I am prepared to question my own assumptions about health, wellness, and my preferred approaches to treatment.

The second thing that should be clear from this opening statement is that this book will open your mind, if your mind is willing to be opened, to some intriguing and insightful questions:

  1. The book identifies areas worthy of further research;
  2. But, the book also questions the validity of some of our basic assumptions about how research should be performed and what the goals of that research are.

I’ll put it this way: I approach science with a carefully thought-out degree of skepticism, because:

  1. I think we, as human beings, have to question our abilities to actually conduct unbiased inquiry, when significant amounts of evidence indicate our perceptions are shaped by our biases, and therefore we are not unbiased observers.
  2. I think scientists betray themselves and their discipline, as well as revealing their own biases, when they present theories as facts, which is done frequently, often based on pretty ludicrous assumptions, when dealing with “big issue” scientific inquiries, like global warming/climate change, evolution, and facets of human nature.

So, when I read this book, I read it with a mind that is open to its concepts. I also read it with the hope that I would, in its pages, discover how to get the kind of medical treatment I wanted from the health care facilities available to me.

Unfortunately, this book is very much written with the doctor in mind, which means that I’m not going to be able to go to my doctor armed with the knowledge to convince him that not only should I be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, unless he has significant reasons to question the validity of the diagnosis, but that this condition should be treated as a whole, not merely as a collection of symptoms.

Fortunately, this book has both reinforced my reservations and made me further question some of my own assumptions with regards to health care, so I’m formulating a long-term plan that will, hopefully, not only help me to become symptom-free, but also help me to become truly healthy. And there is a difference, which is one of the things this book is about.

If you’re interested in being healthy and you’re willing to open your mind to new ideas, I highly recommend this book. Beware, however, that without a background in medical science some of this is probably going to go over your head.