Healthcare is very much dependent on the model of the patient that is assumed by healthcare providers. The current model derives from a chemical/mechanical view of the patient body. Simply put: we are healthy if all of our mechanical parts are working properly and if all of the chemicals in our body are in the right proportions and have the appropriate reactions. This view is based on philosophical accounts of the body that go back to Paracelsus, Descartes, Boyle and others. It became the central basis of medical practice only in the late 19th Century after several hundred years of research and professional politics.
The Mechanical Patient traces the intellectual development of the chemical/mechanical model of the patient and its implementation. This book names the problem that we have with the mechanical patient and prepares us to respond to its exaggerated place in our society. It provides a historical and conceptual background and explains how the chemical/mechanical model of health gained such a strong hold over our thinking and took the place of the earlier Galenic humoral model. It sketches a promising outline of a more humanized model for understanding health and calls for help to fully articulate it. In that way, it joins a growing movement to go beyond our current chemical/mechanical orientation.
Sholom Glouberman is Philosopher in Residence at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. He has a PhD in Philosophy from Cornell University. His early experience in healthcare was caring for his dying father. He was a planner and adviser at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, a Fellow at the King’s Fund in London England, the director of Health Policy for Canadian Policy Research Networks, the director of the International Health Management Program at McGill University and the founder of Patients Canada. He has been an adviser to many healthcare organizations in Canada and the UK. He has spoken before more than 25,000 people around the world. In the last few years he has worked extensively with patients and organizations to create patient partnerships and identify performance targets to humanize healthcare experiences.
Sholom Glouberman is Chairman of the Patient Advisory Board of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario which has 42,000 members. In 2015 he underwent a major surgical procedure and was himself a patient. His direct experience and work with others has helped him see the disparity between the current medical model and patient concerns. He has written four books and many articles.