Jewish World Review April 23, 2004 /2 Iyar 5764
Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak
In pain do we part!
This week, we continue our mediations on medications, albeit from a
different perspective - cinema.
Way back in 2002, your Medicine Men established the "Medicine Men Caduceus
Awards," which carry a cash honorarium of zero, offer neither statuettes
nor trophies nor plaques, and have been generally ignored by Hollywood and
the rest of the world. These items notwithstanding, the Caduceus Awards go
to films that, in our highly personal but nonetheless correct opinion,
significantly change the popular image and/or perception of some aspect of
disease, diagnosis, and treatment, and thereby make a difference to
affected individuals, their families, and society generally.
On March 21, 2002 we wrote, "This indeed is an area where Hollywood can
excel. Their talents can make us pause, think, raise our awareness,
reconsider. The award is merited for reasons far different from
touchy-feeliness or crude moralism."
That year, we chose the movie. "A Beautiful Mind," for its sensitive
portrayal of schizophrenia. There was no award in 2003 (Our standards can
be dreadfully high).
This year - the envelope, please - the Medicine Men Caduceus Award goes to
"The Barbarian Invasion," released by Miramax to American theaters in
November 2003. If a picture equals a thousand words then this film equates
to millions of words. It is a tribute to the Canadian film makers that they
beat Los Angeles to the hospital floor on the issue of humane pain
Sadly, "The Barbarian Invasion" has not been a large box office hit. But
the film will endure for its unfailing heart and the story it tells.
According to "rottentomatoes.com," the consensus opinion of reviewers is:
"A moving and heart-felt film from director Denys Arcand. The cast includes
Remy Girard, Stephane Rousseau, and Marie-Josee Croze. The Barbarian
Invasions is a story about the humor, hope and unspoken bonds that hold
family and friends together against the onslaughts of life in our
contemporary times." It is rated R, for language, sexual dialogue, and drug
content and running time is 1 hour and 39 minutes.
Surprisingly not one major reviewer commented on the film's momentous
The film gives an intimate look at the hopelessness and dreariness of
Canadian hospitals and their system. We might add this film will not make
you want to adopt the Canadian medical system. Up North, as in the United
States, terminal pain is no match for an unending and stubborn bureaucracy
and antiquated attitudes.
The prosperous son of a dying patient wants to make his father's death less
painful. He is given no good choices by the system. The hospital and care
are inadequate, the necessary pain medications are not allowed, and legal
euthanasia is not a choice. As always, the lack of good choices leads to
bad choices (both here and abroad). Therefore the son pursues pain
medication from illegal sources in non-conventional ways so that his father
may die under his own covenant.
One can interpret the film in many ways. It tells of the barbarian killers
of centuries past, barbarian drug dealers now, and about the current
barbarian treatment of patients -- and portrays the dilemma of nurses and
doctors who can be arrested for acts of kindness such as giving pain
Kathryn Serkes, spokesperson for the Association of American Physician and
Surgeons thinks the message of "Barbarian Invasions is so strong she plans
to do a screening for Congressional staff members in the near future. Says
Serkes, "The entire issue is far more than just illegal drugs and
prescription medications on the street. This is a distressing family issue
that must be addressed by the nation."
Cinema matters. So does understanding reality.
Pain management is a subject your Medicine Men have addressed many times,
especially the growing bureaucratic over-regulation and prosecutorial
over-zealousness. As we noted in last week's column, "When honest citizens
cannot get pain medication because ethical doctors are afraid to treat
them, ours is no longer a free society."
It is, however, a society willing to tolerate the suffering of the innocent
in order to gratify and appease the state. Which ain't so good, either.
We suggest, therefore, that you see Barbarian Invasions or rent the DVD
when released on July 13, 2004. We suggest that you see it because pain
management either is or will be a concern for you or someone you care
about. With the technical advances of modern medicine there is currently no
need to practice barbaric medicine in the United States or Canada.
Also, we welcome your nominations for future Caduceus Awards - or even a
few ideas on films that ought to be made on medical subjects. Who knows? It
might start a whole new cinematic genre. "Cihak and Glueck's Mediflicks."
Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck wrote this week's column.
Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments
on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute
Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians
and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists.
Comment by clicking here.
04/16/04: Free or not free to treat pain
04/09/04: Wrong Military Diagnoses & Treatments
04/02/04: Radiation monster slain
03/19/04: What Do and Don't Bush and Kerry Plan to do to Your Health Choices
03/15/04: Dear Rush: We Feel Your Pain, So Now Feel the Pain of Others
03/05/04: Fraudulent use of fraud laws by government
02/27/04: Population growth, birth control and increased terrorism?
02/20/04: Doctors fighting against doctors, at the behest of the government and lawyers
02/13/04: Legal Cancer in the White House?
02/06/04: Feds Harass Doctors. Who's Next?
01/30/04: Women, the Military and Medical Misconceptions
01/23/04: Welfare for the Wealthy
01/19/04: New diagnoses and strategies create both short and long term problems for medicine and the military
01/09/04: A new plastic phobia?
01/02/04: Baseball Good Medicine?: International Forkball and Split Finger Rotating Our Way Soon
12/26/03: Medicare Bankrupt: A Possible Palliative
12/19/03: Crossing Fruit Street: Some Movies Like "Stuck on You" Cross the Medical Line
12/12/03: Silver Lining in the Medicare Clouds?
12/05/03: Medicare mop up
12/01/03: The Dirty Radioactive Bomb: Rational Response or Fear Itself?
11/24/03: The Caduceus Conspiracy: How the People Lost Medicine and How We Can Take It Back
11/14/03: Mosquitoes kill us; DDT doesn't
11/07/03: Avoiding the Schiavo Scenario: Readers Speak Out With Life-and-Death Comments
10/31/03: The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Case: Speaking out for those who can't
10/24/03: Want health service go on a diet?
10/15/03: The War on Legal Painkillers: Sen. Kerry owes an apology to the more than 48 million Americans who suffer chronic pain
10/13/03: Medicare defrauds itself
09/19/03: Politics prevents women from learning about abortion/breast cancer risks
09/12/03: Medical mischief
09/05/03: Unholy medicine
08/29/03: The California Tea Party and West Coast Determinism; Voter anger coming your way soon
08/18/03: The outlaw prosecutors: A Justice and Civil Liberties Issue
08/08/03: "Toxic Teeth?"
07/25/03: Resuscitating the Constitution; CPR American Style
07/25/03: Drug reimportation: Bill translates to goodnight, patients
07/11/03: Costly Medicare Changes, Without Real Reform
07/04/03: The Painful DEA II: War on legal drugs ensnares too many doctors and not enough dealers
06/20/03: The Medicare Mess: Will President Bush call Congress' Bluff?
06/13/03: Diagnosis: School Insanity: A suit for sanity and school discipline
06/05/03: Soaring Medical Costs: Rational ignorance or rational enlightenment?
05/30/03: A Tale of Two Admirable Women: Jessica and Annika
05/23/03: Latest medical innovation: Cash
05/09/03: We feel your pain; Physicians have it too no thanks to the DEA
05/02/03: Medical Quarterbacking
04/25/03: CNN the "Conscience-Not Network"
04/21/03: Medical Miranda?
04/11/03: Are childhood vaccines shots in the dark?
04/09/03: The PETA Principle -- The lambshank Redemption
03/28/03: American conscience?
03/21/03: West Wimps or Wings: Treatment for Hollywood Hypocrisy
03/13/03: Worldwide schmaltz shortage looms --- all because of a featherless chicken
03/06/03: Legal metastases are killing us
02/28/03: Outside the Jury Box: Seeking Justice rather than a Lottery in Medical Liability
02/21/03: Workforce temperature rising; employer TLC in demand
02/14/03: Malpractice Insurance: They Reap What They Sue
02/12/03: Hawk, Dove or Groundhog: Diagnosis Critical List; Prognosis Uncertain
02/07/03: How about tax cuts for the "rich" and "poor"?
01/31/03: AIDS Bug Chasers
01/24/03: Libertarian moment or movement?
01/17/03: It's not just 'sue the docs' anymore
01/03/03: A pox on the critics; diagnosis sour grapes
01/03/03: If protesting is good for your health; then at least let's root for the home team
12/20/02: Obesidemic (obesity epidemic) or not?
12/20/02: Time for voluntary informed smallpox vaccinations
12/13/02: The real reason the state opposes homeschooling?
12/06/02: Conscience of a former conservative: Portrait of a political metamorphosis
11/27/02: Thanksgiving dinner hazard?
11/22/02: Time to think outside the box and inside the nucleus
11/15/02: The military should be protected from abusive environmental laws in times of war
11/11/02: Does Kyoto Treaty pose more harm than global warming?
10/31/02: Deep thoughts on Baseball, the World Series and Life: How about them Anaheim Angels?
10/23/02: "Pediatric rule" guinea pigs
10/23/02: Once the World Series ends, we need to create a Donnie Moore Day of Remembrance: Sports and mental health
10/18/02: Congress to senior patients: Do as we say not as we do for ourselves
10/11/02: Using pollution "scare labeling" to political advantage
10/04/02: The Great Asbestos Heist: Did Litigation and Junk Medical Science Helped Bring Down the World Trade Center?
09/27/02: The imminent rise of civic feminism: A far healthier national alternative in war and peace
09/20/02: A Ray A Day" to replace the daily apple?
09/13/02: Beware of celebrities hawking drugs
09/06/02: Avoid 9/11 overdose: Give blood to begin "September of Service," SOS
08/28/02: From Doubleday to strikeday: Baseball's collective anxiety attack
08/23/02: Should she or shouldn't she?: An alternative view on treating menopause with HRT
08/16/02: Cooking up defenses against germ warfare
08/02/02: Medicine, crime and canines
07/26/02: Lies, pathologic lies and the Palestinians
07/19/02: Medicare Drug Follies … as in "now you see it, now you don't"
07/12/02: Anti-Profiling: A New Medically False Belief System
07/08/02: Don't procrastinate, vaccinate!
06/28/02: The scientific advances on the safe and effective deployment of DDT are being ignored, or denied. Why?
06/21/02: Sex and the system: In seeking healthcare men are different from women
06/14/02: The FDA, drug companies and life-saving drugs: Who's the fox and who's the hen now?
06/07/02: Medical Privacy Lost: A hippo on the healthcare back!
05/24/02: To clean up America's game: A (soggy) ground rule
05/10/02: Free speech is good medicine
05/03/02: Medicine's Vietnam
04/26/02: Attack on alternative medicine could lead to alternative lawsuits
04/12/02: Insure the 'crazies'?
04/09/02: No Time for Litmus Tests: In War We Need a Surgeon General and NIH, CDC, and FDA Directors
04/02/02: The scoop on soot: A dirty rotten shame?
03/22/02: Too many beautiful minds to waste: The first annual Caduceus Movie
03/15/02: Terror and transformation: Defense essential for health & state of mind
03/08/02: Diagnosis: Delusional
03/06/02: The great matzah famine
03/01/02: Is new Hippocratic Oath hypocritical?
02/15/02: Why the recent moaning about cloning?
02/08/02: Searching for Dr. Strangelove
01/15/02: Score one for the value of human life
01/04/02: Medical-legal-financial wake-up call
12/28/01: Who's afraid of a 'dirty bomb'?
12/21/01: End of medicine?
12/14/01: More heroes: Docs deserve a little credit after 9/11
11/16/01: Do we need 'Super Smallpox Saturdays'?
11/09/01: Why the post-9-11 health care debate will never be the same
11/01/01: Common sense good for our mental health
10/26/01: Your right to medical privacy --- even in terror time
10/12/01: Failed immigration policy ultimately bad for nation's mental health: Enemy within leads to epidemic of jumpy nerves
09/28/01: Can legal leopards change their spots: A treat instead of a trick
09/21/01: Civil defense again a civic duty
08/30/01: Shut down this government CAFE
08/23/01: School Bells or Jail Cells?
08/15/01: Time to take coaches to the woodshed
08/10/01: Blood, Guts & Glory: The Stem of the Stem Cell controversy