If A Disease Is Untreatable, Incurable and Progressive, Is It A “Medical” Condition at All?

I have seen it pointed out elsewhere that some “conditions” for which the medical establishment offers consumerist goods and services are not actually bona fide medical conditions at all and are in fact money-making schemes advanced by wealthy investors and others who stand to make a fortune off of anyone stupid, naive or deranged enough to accept them.  The conversation I am most familiar with pertains to the medicalized transgender movement where people are persuaded that they can achieve the impossible through medicalized interventions, in that case, that “transgender” individuals can change their biological sex through consuming expensive and dangerous cross-sex hormones, puberty blocking drugs, and surgeries including castration, so-called “facial feminization” surgeries and others.

Whether anyone accepts the psychological or physical transgenderism of individuals or not, the issue remains that there are billions of dollars to be made globally on this phenomenon and thinking people are prone to thinking about such things.  “Follow the money” is a familiar admonition and politically-minded people understand what that means.  They generally accept the reality that where there is money to be made, there will be corruption and wealthy people and entities working in the shadows to further their own interests.  In the above-linked article by Jennifer Bilek entitled “Who Are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology?” she asks and answers that question and names names.  She concludes that it is “Exceedingly rich, white men (and women) who invest in biomedical companies [who] are funding myriad transgender organizations whose agenda will make them gobs of money” including billionaire businessmen George Soros, “Jennifer” Pritzker and others. And it’s difficult to argue with that conclusion which is demonstrably true.  But let’s go further.

Whether the potential or actual opportunity to make “gobs” of money under a capitalist patriarchy renders a potentially legitimate project illegitimate on its face is a discussion for another day.  However, in the case of the legitimacy of medicalizing transgenderism Bilek identifies a specific social discourse that “institutionalizes and normalizes” transgenderism in a way that convinces people that consuming medicalized goods and services literally for life — the entire life of the patient throughout and following medicalized transition — is in the interests of both the patient and society at large.  According to her, it does this by manufacturing a medical condition which arguably does not even exist, and then by encasing the created medical and consumerist issue within a civil rights framework.  In the case of transgender, the intended and actual result is to socialize all people (aka “consumers” whether they themselves are transgender or not) to believe both that there is something physically wrong with so-called transgender people which medical goods and services can fix, and that it is those people’s unalienable human right to have the condition corrected no matter the cost to themselves or to society.  She concludes that

It behooves us all to look at what the real investment is in prioritizing a lifetime of anti-body medical treatments for a miniscule part of the population, building an infrastructure for them, and institutionalizing the way we perceive ourselves as human beings, before being human becomes a quaint concept of the past.

As her argument is narrow and addresses only the issue of transgenderism, I cannot fault her for coming up with such a narrow conclusion.  She does not broadly criticize Big Medicine in general, favoring specificity to make her point which appears to be that medicine does not behave this way in any other area besides transgenderism and that the (alleged) difference should be parsed.  In making that point, she necessarily implies that medical overreach is a small-scale problem affecting only a miniscule part of the population (and that medical consumerism is not inherently problematic and that we needn’t follow they money except in the case of transgender); that “building” social and medical infrastructure to accommodate these new patients is worse than absorbing new patients into the existing infrastructure, or expanding the existing infrastructure to include people it shouldn’t; and that Big Medicine is not fundamentally about “institutionalizing the way we perceive ourselves as human beings” already, and is not generally intended and used as a tool of social control.

And although she rightly characterizes transgender as a problematic “lifestyle” issue, she misses the opportunity to discuss the apparent fact that medicalized goods and services are not effective in treating the (alleged, self-reported) mental and physical pain and symptoms of transgenderism, which analysis would only support her skepticism that transgender is a legitimate diagnosis of a medical disease/illness at all.*

But what if the problems she identifies with the medicalization and normalization of transgenderism are actually a feature and not a bug of Big Medicine and Big Pharma when it comes to defining — if not outright inventing — what constitutes both illness and treatment and engaging consumers long-term or for life?  Feminists have long known and noted that patriarchal medicine “invents” both illnesses and treatment for women as a part of our oppression — hysteria and its dubious treatments being perhaps the most obvious example but there are others.  But the evidence suggests that invented treatments aren’t “just” for invented illnesses: Big Pharma and Big Medicine actually invent “treatments” for untreatable (yet objectively verifiable) disease, for example, in the case of Crohn’s disease which notoriously does not respond to conventional care.

And this has everything to do, in fact, with “institutionalizing the way we perceive ourselves as human beings.”  Doesn’t it?  We have to engage with Big Medicine because that’s what human beings do, it’s one thing that separates us from animals, it separates the sick from the well, even when the medicine itself does nothing but make us worse it is the willingness to engage that’s important.  In cultures that extoll Big Pharma and Big Medicine we seem not to include untreatable disease as part of the human condition and “the way we perceive ourselves” despite all evidence that it is and has always been part of the human experience (and untreatable illness such as autoimmune disease has only become more prevalent over time).  Think about that for a minute.  It is striking.

And if transgender patients can rightly be seen as “lifestylists” making medicalized consumer choices in the absence of therapeutic benefits, and I think they can, what could be said about chronically ill people whose lives revolve around medical interventions which are not therapeutic and which therefore must be something else?  This is a serious question that, I think, deserves serious “treatment” but is a sticky wicket; as far as I can tell it is rarely if ever discussed.  Our alleged “civil right” to medical treatment seals the deal where perhaps Americans in particular will die a million billion deaths before they will fail to exercise a perceived or actual “right,” even if the alleged right has no basis in natural law, and even where the fight and even the prize will likely kill us, and that includes women and feminist women.

They will die on the hill of “rights” again and again and again and again and again, but in the case of the alleged right to medical treatment of chronic illness no one will ever question why and how a condition for which Big Medicine offers no effective treatment and no cure has been “medicalized” in the first place and what that actually means, for one, that a health condition equals a medical condition (meaning that health and medicine are the same thing).  That our alleged “right” to medical care is not a right at all, but an obligation and that we are therefore coerced into engaging with Big Medicine and Big Pharma.  That “the way we perceive ourselves as human beings” in a medical/medicalized context has been institutionalized (meaning, dictated and normalized) by lying, scheming and powerful men.  That untreatable illness has been written out of the human experience, and that “human history” is therefore fiction.  It’s fiction, as is our human present and our future.  It probably means other things too, but it definitely means that.

And don’t even get me started on the goddamned “disability advocates” who aim to protect sick (and transgender) people’s “civil rights” to a lifetime of painful, dangerous and ineffective medical treatments, but notably do not advocate for anyone’s right to refuse unwanted medical care, even in the United States where that right of refusal is protected by the Constitution, and where so-called disability advocates would universally remove euthanasia from the table for mentally competent yet seriously, incurably and even terminally ill patients because the disability advocates say so.  And thus spake capitalism and patriarchy: (alleged) positive rights yay!  Negative rights, meaning, the right to do nothing, the right to abstain, the right to be left the hell alone, the right to cease to exist at all, especially when it comes to women (and where women are particularly vulnerable to developing untreatable chronic disease) (crickets).

*Note: until very recently there was an excellent online resource providing citations from the medical literature indicating that medical transition is not a reliable treatment or cure for the (alleged, self-reported) distressing symptoms of transgenderism but that site no longer exists, having been deleted by WordPress for speaking ugly truths about the transgender movement that Bilek does not address and which are beyond the scope of this post.

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16 thoughts on “If A Disease Is Untreatable, Incurable and Progressive, Is It A “Medical” Condition at All?

  1. In my opinion, I believe that the insurance companies are the biggest obstacle. I hear of more and more people wanting alternative medicine, homeopathic, functional medicine, integrated medicine, etc. The problem is that people such as myself cannot afford them without insurance coverage. Most insurance companies will cover nothing but big pharma big med. More people are seeing what is going on but the insurance companies are in cahoots with big pharma and big med. They are doing their best to not cover other options so that we are forced to only utilize poisonous big pharma and big med. People want it. It is mostly a matter of obtaining it.

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  2. Hi Michelle, thanks for your comment! You’re right of course, insurance is definitely in bed with Big Pharma and Western medical providers and I know from experience that people want alternative treatment. I’ve involved myself in it for my entire adult life but as I’ve learned, it’s always something with these people! With MMJ it’s that you just haven’t found the right strain, the right dose, the right delivery method, the right frequency and THAT’S why you’re still sick. With everyone else it’s you haven’t found the right provider, the right meditation, the right attitude, the right stress level, the right supplements, the right detergent, the right diet, you found the right diet but you cheated, you never cheat but you were surreptitiously glutened and THAT’S why you’re still sick. lol! No one, not even alternative practitioners, seem willing to admit that there is any such thing as untreatable illness. And NO ONE lets you give up trying to find a not just a successful treatment but a cure. A cure! For incurable disease. But there has to be such a thing as untreatable and incurable disease, doesn’t there? And it can’t be new. Radiation sickness for example happens from close proximity to natural uranium deposits, not just from manmade nuclear although recently most environmental exposures are probably nuclear related and not natural. And radiation sickness is not treatable. Genetic defects and disease probably always happened, but those children may never have reached adulthood and had to survive their disease for 40, 70 or whatever years like we do. They got off easy but we don’t. We are absolutely obligated to keep searching and keep trying until that or something else kills us, or until we stop complaining and go back to work. But my (rhetorical) question is, how and why is anything a “medical” problem if medicine has absolutely nothing to offer to treat it?

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  3. Years ago when I was misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I was told “there is no cure, no effective treatment, don’t get your hopes up. If you have any questions, call. Bye.” I have found I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. All I know is my health progressively worsens and no one can tell me why. In my experience, no one cares if I choose to treat my illnesses or not.

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  4. Jennifer Bilek’s article was so thorough and undeniable. It really drives home how someone can figure it all out, lay it out for everyone else, and it doesn’t matter! People go right on doing whatever horrible thing they were doing.

    If gendertrender had gone done a year ago I would have been so distressed. I mean, I AM but I am mostly just exhausted. And yeah, I have noticed that people who really delve into “”the trans issue”” can’t seem to apply what they’ve learned to any other situation. History shows Big Med choosing profits over human safety and comfort EVERY TIME since the dawn of time… well, before it was Big Med it was just freelance sadistic males, I guess. But still, each person sees her ‘pet issue’ as an anomaly. “they’re targeting gay youth, they have a bias against fat women, autoimmune issues are poorly understood, etc. etc. etc.” and that’s ALL TRUE, but what do we get when we put it all together?

    Something you touched on, that I really hope I have the energy to think more about later- disability advocates make NO SENSE. It’s not just me, right? I wanna list examples but I’m really exhausted. Great post! I’ll come back to it if/when i can.

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  5. Wow that’s interesting! So they haven’t invented a treatment for ME/CFS? I wondered about that. I don’t recall the ME patient from Afflicted having treatment for it but I wasn’t sure. I will look into that more when I have the energy and desire to Google. There are so many people with ME it seems weird to me that they haven’t invented a treatment for it! I wonder what’s going on? You are fortunate that they didn’t force an autoimmune protocol on you for it since it seems to be AI related. AI protocol meaning immune system destroying poison (steriods and chemo). I wonder, have things changed re ME treatment since your diagnosis? What’s different about ME that they are letting you all off the hook?

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  6. Hi Nat, thanks for your comment! I found her article to be overly academic considering the braindeadness of the subject matter! Or maybe I’m just not her target audience, IOW, it’s not my first day. lol. It was difficult and draining for me to even read it, and then to attempt to parse it and respond. But at the same time I’m amazed that it was written and published at all. Are posts on the Federalist like blog posts on Forbes where they aren’t endorsed by Forbes? Or did the Federalist actually endorse (pay) her for her contribution? I don’t even have the energy to find out. I didn’t care for her approach but it’s so aggravating that we can address the material at any level we choose and you’re right, it NEVER matters. If we aren’t academic enough we are accused of being uneducated (plus irrelevant). If we aren’t political enough it’s bc we are too naive (plus irrelevant). Too emotional = irrational/irrelevant. Not emotive enough = cruel/irrelevant. And there are 1400 comments on her post, and a LOT (more than I would ever expect) actually agree with her and clock trans males especially for what they really are: perverts. But what does it matter? The post is nearly a year old and just last week GenderTrender was wiped from the face of the Earth which means Bilek’s contribution didn’t matter at all. All her research meant nothing, but it wouldn’t would it? It’s not like any of the doods are trying to hide any of it. So she went to a lot of trouble to “expose” connections that were never intended to be private because no one cares. I’m exhausted too.

    You are NOT alone in thinking disability advocates are….problematic. If you have the energy I would love to hear your perspective on that. Yet another sacred goat or whatever no one is allowed to criticize (not that our opinion matters). Ugh God I just Googled “sacred goat” and got results for “scared goat” which were completely disturbing. Thanks alot internet! But yeah, disability advocates can bite my ass honestly. One thing mine does is, she is completely obsessed with disabled “rights” and so every time I talk to her, she wastes like 30 minutes of my time and attention regaling me with tales of her letter writing, the local political issues and players behind handicapped parking spots, offering to do stuff for me like getting the manager to empty my trash, getting my cats on the lease as “comfort animals” so I don’t have to pay rent for them, and making lots of small talk and promises and then she never actually DOES anything to help me. It’s literally all talk with her, and going on and on about rights and everything I’m probably entitled to. What I don’t quite get is that I’m a fucking lawyer, I practiced law trying to get benefits for vulnerable people, and I ended up with vicarious trauma because I SAW the kinds of material benefits that are available to people and it’s basically NONE! So her failure to actually come through for me makes perfect sense TO ME because I know there’s nothing out there, but she doesn’t seem to have grokked any of that yet. And she’s disabled herself! But she’s also elderly. So any benefits she gets are probably due to her age and personal favors and rage-capitulation from people who are sick of hearing her shit. lol. She’s a nice lady I guess but Jesus. She’s completely exhausting. She always says she is too busy to be old and she’s too busy to be disabled, which makes me think she has no fucking idea what “disabled” actually means, and so she has no idea what my needs are or what my situation actually is. And when I tell her, it really seems like she doesn’t believe me, or care.

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  7. Things may have progressed over the years but I am not sure. I heard that big pharma and big med thought there was not enough profit in it but I don’t know why. Last I heard there was only $7 per ME/CFS patient for research. My fatigue began right after my stroke; therefore, my fatigue is stroke related. Several years later I learned that I have epilepsy (due to the stroke) which causes fatigue and drowsiness, encephalomalacia (from the stroke) which also causes drowsiness and mild sleep apnea.

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  8. My problem with her article was that it did not distinguish between male transgender people (in particular the nonops who try to force PiV on lesbians) and female transgender people (who know the truth about how the female body is treated in patriarchy–or suffer dysphoria about their body parts because of it–and are suffering just as we all are). I loved your anti-natalist post and agreed with every word, being an anti-natalist from the moment I had baby dolls thrust into my hands as a girl. I see the link between the two: the “exclusively female” bodily parts–breasts, reproductive system, female body fat patterns–are for making babies or titillating men/penises. I don’t believe in “gender” myself but I still have no use for any of those parts myself. My life would have been easier as a female human being to not have them.

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  9. That’s a good point considering that her article was about the medical transition industry and female trans (FTM) seem to be the ones being treated medically while male trans (MTF) seem to think medicalized transition is passe now? Don’t they? The medical stuff is being pushed on trans kids but not male adults from what I can tell. They seem to be jealous of trans kids because diverting puberty is no longer and option for themselves but since they have fully functioning adult male bodies/dicks they seem pretty attached to them. The antinatalist post has gotten no comments and very few views. lol. Should I have put antinatalist right there in the title instead of letting people discover it for themselves like opening an awesome present? Oh well.

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  10. Also, when I saw first-hand what “chemo” actually did to a person and mentioned to my parents that I’d sooner die than get tortured that way (to their horror of course!) I wondered if the medical world was actually run by sadists. Now that they are throwing this shit at patients with autoimmune diseases (often mandatorily, in the case of receiving disability payments, and refusing to offer euthanasia), I realize that they are all absolute sadists who want to squeeze out as much suffering as they can, and broadening “chemo”, delaying dying, and refusing to allow peaceful deaths are all part of it. As is the new habit of treating, say, a 10 year old girl’s situational horror and subsequent depression at what impending puberty/”womanhood” will offer her, with fucking anti-psychotics.

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  11. Yeah. I was thinking recently that religious people have a lot of this right, like telling kids that the world is an evil place when they see evil shit that can’t otherwise be (honestly) explained. At least that’s a type of explanation and worldview that doesn’t blame and gaslight kids for fucking noticing what’s all around them. I was just put on valium (I was 7). And I just realized that Accutane, which I took for cystic acne (chronic boils) was created as a chemo drug to treat cancer! I had no idea it was chemo but I noticed at the time that the drug insert said that it was “unknown” why Accutane works to treat cystic acne just that it does. And it’s highly effective too. Now that I know acne is autoimmune too it makes perfect sense that a chemo drug would work for it (while causing additional lifelong side effects). I had no idea I was on chemo, but I knew enough to resist Accutane for a decade before the chronic pain became too bad and I gave in. I knew, just knew it was bad even though no one ever told me the truth (they insisted it was bad for potential and actual fetuses but not for the adult patient). And looking back, I had constant infections the entire time I was on it and afterwards too. Sinus and bladder mostly. Absolute sadists is absolutely right. We live in hell honestly. It is absolute hell on earth.

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  12. I just approved a trollish comment on the antinatalist post if you would like to take a crack at it. There’s not much to go on as it was a trolly drive-by but I approved it in case anyone wants to respond.

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  13. CFS always starts with a ‘life or death’ health crisis. It can be anything: tropical virus, childbirth, cancer. This is what we know about it:
    1)It is acquired – not genetic
    2)It is present in every cell of the body via Natural Killers which suppress calcium absorption (discovered by the Oz Institute of Neuro Immunology last year). This causes cells to shut down energy production.
    3)It is immune
    4)80% female with 0% recovery rate for the females
    5)No one knows how the hell to treat it (the 1st trial of auto-immune drugs failed)
    6)at long last the crazy-making exercise & positive thinking model has been debunked. The medical establishment is slow on the uptake about it and still pushes it
    7)no test has been developed outside of research teams (the mentioned institute is working on it)
    8)no one funds it cause it’s 1 of the new designated Lady Hysterias (in good company with Fybromyalgia)

    Now here’s the kicker: half of ME cases turn out to be Lyme, which is also awfully hard to pick up on a test. I was terribly excited to recently discover that I actually have Lyme which is treatable with anti-biotics! …Only to discover that my socialised medicine country has adopted a Denial & Gag protocol on it > to avoid paying for very expensive prolonged treatment for 30-50,000 people (again mostly female!) with Lyme-like symptoms & their disability coverage too.

    Which means that even if you do have means for private insurance & out of pocket – next to nobody will treat or even diagnose you!!! Cause they’re scared of sanctions!! This forces people to either go overseas (few can afford it or even have the health to get there); Or just deteriorate untill it kills you (there’s been 1 publicised death).

    Today is the day that I lost faith in my god of Socialised Medicine. I used to feel so lucky in comparison to those poor Americans without public healthcare. Now I understand what Cannabis said before: ~that it’s just benevolent medical tyranny.& another tool of control. It gives the medical authorities absolute power to hand down diktats.

    Chemo basically feels like someone drills a hole in you; pours out all of your natural chemicals; then pours in dish detergent. It’s like you’re in a robotic chemical suit that’s replaced your body.

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  14. Hi kaguyamouse, thanks for your comments! What happened today to make you lose faith? Are you not able to get the treatment you need even tho it’s free? I can see how that would be seriously demoralizing, yes. I’ve seen so many Crohn’s patients talk about how it took them YEARS to find a medicine that worked, only to take it a couple of times and then having their insurance companies deny it. I don’t know what would be worse, knowing that your disease is untreatable, or knowing there’s something that could help you but no one will let you have it! I’m sick and tired (literally) of fighting so I guess I’m in the position in which I would rather be. There’s nothing to fight really, except to fight for the right to be left the hell alone. And that’s not a small thing either is it? God it’s exhausting. Of course, the Crohn’s drugs, even if you can find something that works initially all become poison in time as you develop antibodies to them. If you only need the drugs temporarily and it would actually be a cure, that is so patently unjust I can see the reality of it making you even more ill than you were before. How utterly evil to keep it from you.

    Your description of how chemo feels is EERILY familiar to me, and I’ve never been on the chemo infusions you’re talking about. But the “robotic chemical suit” that takes the place of your previously relatively healthy body, WOW, that is so descriptive and that is exactly what I was feeling before I was able to quell it with MMJ. Which makes me wonder, was it the Crohn’s or the drugs that were making me feel that way? But it was exactly how you describe it. Maybe it’s the feeling of your immune system going haywire because I was on steroids which does the same thing. I was this close >.< to getting the chemo infusions but my doctors fired me once I got on Medicaid and I didn't have a doctor to prescribe them anymore, even tho I had planned on paying out of pocket. It was almost like divine intervention that I didn't have the infusions because I was set to do them against my better judgement. If I had been delivered to a better situation (and not just terrible but in a different way, like I am now) I would've seriously thought it was a miracle or something that I was able to avoid them. I'm so sorry you're sick and that you can't get the treatment you know you need. It's so unfair, and horrific, and sad.

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