Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The rhetoric of thyroid dysfunction

I'm putting this here because someone expressed interest.  It's a summary of something i wrote a few years ago.

When diabetes mellitus is discussed in medical consultations, healthcare workers and patients both tend to refer to numerical measurements of glucose levels in blood as the disease itself rather than the signs, symptoms or pathology of the condition.  Discussions of thyroid dysfunction can be similar.

Rhetoric sometimes sees three major elements in discourse, namely logos, pathos and ethos, which are respectively the quantifiable and rational part, the generation of sympathy in the audience and the reputation of the speaker.  In the case of a medical consultation between a patient and an endocrinologist, ethos is a major factor.  Logos includes such things as blood glucose measurements and in the case of thyroid dysfunction also often the measurement of various thyroid hormones in the blood.  The use of numbers is frequently reassuring to both parties and brings a feeling of knowledge and control.  However, in some cases this can be higher the more abstracted these figures are from everyday experience and the use of logos in more direct physical examination such as the timing of peristalsis can be deprecated in spite of its closer link with the subjective feeling of ill-health by a patient.  The reputation of CAM practitioners is often very poor and they are less able to use this to persuade clients and the general public.

There is a tendency for clients to prefer more abstract forms of logos from sources with superior reputations to more concrete forms of logos or pathetic ways of describing health and disease, and a paradoxical preference for that which has a looser connection with everyday experience over that which is more experiential.

There you go, that's roughly it.  Irrelevant really, isn't it?  I should point out that due to the serials crisis and poor protocols practiced by CAM people, this is generally the kind of research that can be done in this context.  Anyway, i'm abandoning the whole thing:  people can educate themselves - much healthier.