In my last post I wrote about an article published in a British medical journal that admitted that medically futile care — care that is not expected to increase a sick or dying patient’s health or prolong their life — has ritualistic intent and effect on the population at large. I did not pay to access the full article and the abstract did not detail the ritualistic intent/effect so I was left to surmise for myself what the intent and effects are on society as a whole when Western medicine in particular flogs corpses with no reasonable chance of being revived; prolongs the dying process with aggressive and violent transplants and surgeries, resuscitation attempts and so-called “life support” including intravenous nutrition and hydration, mechanical breathing and filtration and the like; artificially delivers and maintains genetically or congenitally nonviable infants instead of letting them die naturally and so on.
I have observed previously that Western medicine attempting to treat untreatable, incurable and progressive disease is also ritualistic and does not benefit the patient except to function as a means of compliance and confession where sick people, especially sick women, are expected to confess their sins of and accept a flogging for being failed producers/consumers under capitalism and patriarchy. Thus I would include such ineffective care under the heading of ritualistic medically futile care although the article I was responding to did not address or include that type of futility. As a radical feminist I reject patriarchal rituals on their face and refuse to participate in them at all where and when I have a choice. I have resisted using the capitalistic patriarchal (Western) medical doctor’s office as confessional, and refused to accept the flogging of brutal treatments that will not increase my overall quality of life or even reliably delay my death, instead choosing to treat my otherwise intractable pain and symptoms with medical cannabis.
So the existence of medically futile care as (capitalistic, patriarchal) ritual does not seem to be at issue, being freely admitted to by researchers who frame these rituals as having a positive effect on society — an effect which transcends the abuse and pain suffered by individual patients who are subjected to it but do not themselves directly benefit from it in terms of an increased quality or even quantity/length of life. So what exactly is the specific ritualistic intent and effect on society at large of flogging corpses, creating and maintaining zombified “undead” and/or profoundly impaired patients on so-called life support, artificially reducing natural levels of infant mortality and so on?