Yes, I would like to make an attempt to fill the empty phrase of overburdened care somewhat with substance, and we have chosen a different setting for this. I will tell a story based on history.
When we were at the end of secondary school, at the beginning of university, there was a great rebellion among the students and that eventually led to, for example in Amsterdam, the Maagdenhuis op het Spui (Virgin House on the Spui) being occupied; there was the central administration of the university, the auditorium as well, and the students occupied the Maagdenhuis with the intention of showing that they wanted to see an end to it, that they had nothing to contribute.
You can imagine the university system as it had always been, where the Professor was a kind of deity. That does not suit the self-aware young person, and so, at the end of the 1960s, there was a rebellion among students - at least throughout Europe.
We experienced this with and actually felt the same way. So, although I did not join to occupy the Virgin's House, we could understand what it was all about, and as a self-confident young person, we felt the need to have a say and to be able to see what was being done to us, including during a course of study, for example. Well, that was a success, there was a participation council for the students and to what extent they actually had something to say, that is always a question, of course, but what we could see was that the great distance between the students and the professor, for example, was getting shorter.
Gradually the distance between the students and the professor, for example, became smaller and smaller until we noticed with some surprise, when our own children went to study, that they simply appealed to the professor with his or her first names and said ‘you', which we thought was actually going a bit far.
Anyway, everything gradually changes, and what one experiences then is a certain tendency in that change in which one also participates, and part of that was that at that time a great deal of emphasis was placed on the doctor's relationship with the patient. When I went to Maastricht to train as a general practitioner, there was a general practitioner there, an elderly man who felt deeply religious and who said: God is dead, now the doctor is on turn.
Yes, he still had to die too, so the distance - God had already been abolished - but the distance between patient and doctor was still there to some extent, and yes, that alos had to disappear, and that is what we also found. We found that if you did not have to do certain treatments, you wouldn't be sitting at your desk wearing a white coat. A white coat just because of the status, we thought that was completely wrong, so we took it off, the white coat. It was even the case that we felt that the patient shouldn't sit opposite us, but on the side of the desk, so we put the chair there and no longer there. So that frontal event, that had to be over, and you felt the need to introduce a great deal of psychology into your surgery, especially in the form of listening, listening well and not saying anything and, above all, letting the patient tell what he or she had to say, and not criticising, but only dealing with it in an affirmative way and then, of course, in the end, if it wasn't psychology, but medical problems, then of course, at some point, one would have to carry out an examination and make a diagnosis.
But that is how the relationship between the doctor and the patient gradually changed. That really fits in with our times, but it also has a rather unpleasant side effect. And that is actually becoming experience in our time. Because when you look at these things from a spiritual point of view, you know that what the doctor used to have in his distance from the patient was based on a mystery principle, an initiation principle. In the times when this was still valid, the doctor was an initiate into the secrets of the human body, and an initiate has the duty, or in the past in the old days had the duty, to remain silent, he was not allowed to speak to uninitiated people about the initiation wisdom. So it was unthinkable for a doctor to share with a patient what his findings were, that was unthinkable and you can understand that very well from that mystery principle.
Of course, this has become completely ineffective in the course of time, and this has continued for some time in the tradition of keeping the white coat and the distance between doctor and patient. The doctor on a pedestal, for he or she has a knowing, what relates to that which is beside you, that is your body. So that is a person, the doctor, who is of great importance when you are ill. And in the distant past, it was only right that the doctor did not share this knowledge with the patient. Then it became tradition. And that tradition has also passed by and that, one could say, ends in 1968 or something like that, and then it is time for a change and new points of view have to be sought. But that goes hand in hand with loss, of course.
And yes, as doctors, we still felt very strongly the, let me say, breath of the past, we were a kind of idealists after all, we really had ideals with regard to being able to heal, or to may heal. And yes, those ideals that we had were in fact so strong that we also knew that we belong to a professional group in which that ideal is, as it were, embodied; in that sense, as doctors, we are in fact one, a unity, so we are not going to criticise our colleagues, we have to take care, that together we represent that healing impulse, and when we do, we can be sure that when we have to sit between sniffing and coughing patients, and we have had to do that for many years, as a doctor, that we are not afraid that we will get the disease. That is impossible, because you are the healing facility, you represent the principle of health, and you do not have that fear, because you are protected, because you are part of the medical profession. We still had that feeling. That is why it is, of course, quite difficult for older doctors, who have stood or are still standing in their profession from a spiritual point of view, to understand what is happening in this day and age, that the participants in health care - not only the doctors, of course, but also the nurses, for example, who have their own professional position, one might say - are gripped by fear of infection, and they should be, because they have to deal with measures that are very specific. If you work in a hospital and you work with covid-19 patients, there is of course a real chance that you will ingest the virus, no matter what happens then, or that you will ingest and take over the aura of the disease.
That would not have been so bad in the past, I should say, even if it was a bad disease. We have, of course, had many serious epidemics in history, and it is bizarre to think that the medical profession and the nursing profession would have been frightened. That would be the same as when a front soldier has to attack and gets scared. Yes, then he would no longer be able to do so, then he would also become vulnerable and sensitive to the bullet, or whatever comes his way. So that is a loss of wisdom of the power of the ideal.
And that is where we are now, with the consequences of this, and I know very well that this loss must take place, because we have to reintegrate this ideal, let me say fully understood and with a conscious will, and from there we have to initiate a new doctor's stand and a new nurse's stand. So we have to go through that valley, but when you are in it, in that valley, it is extremely painful to see that the healthcare system is afraid of infection - and it has to be. Because when, I wanted to say that, when one works with patients with Covid-19, one probably takes over the disease anyway, one has to get tested, one is tested positive and one has to spend ten days in quarantine, which is quite a lot. So it is a concrete fear that prevails there. If you are not afraid that you will die, then at least you are afraid that you will have the disease, that it will be proven and that you will have to go into quarantine. And then it is also understandable that the medical care becomes overburdened, because if you consider that it is highly likely that the care workers will have to be tested mainly, that they will be confronted with positive test results and will then have to go into quarantine, how will this care still work if more and more people working in the care sector have to go into quarantine, although they are not sick at all often, so they do not have any complaints, but they sit at home, to sit out that time, until they are allowed to go back to work. And that, of course, is a very curious development.
And I wonder who will think about this, how it should be solved, because you can, of course, paralyse the whole functioning of society in the hope of avoiding an agent, but you would say it would be better if you knew how to deal rationally with these positive test results. Well, that has to do with a very deep background conviction, which I may have, but which is not reflected in the politics at all, of course. And that conviction, which is based on the fact that one knows one is protected in healthcare. That does not mean, of course, that no one ever gets sick. But of course there is never nobody who gets scared anyway. If you look at the past - I am sorry that I keep saying this as an older lady, I do not want to say at all that in the past it was only better, but we have to compare - if you look at that, in the past we had epidemics too, and they were not always very pleasant, You were really not wanting that, to get a very serious form of influenza, but you did not get it and you were also sure that you would not get it and that was not overconfidence, but that was the calm certainty, that you are part of a profession that forms a unity. And if you live in it as a health worker, then you are protected. And the symbol for this was of course the white coat. After all, we cannot say that this white coat had such a protective function, as does not have a mouth mask either, not a protective function in the sense that you are not contagious on two sides, that you do not contaminate the other and that you yourself are not contaminated either. That was actually not why we were wearing the white coat. The white coat was a symbol that you are part of a professional group that has the support, the true support in a spiritual area. Well, of course, that is something you really cannot come up with in modern medicine. But it was so, and of course it still is. We also see the people, who have the courage to do their work without fear, that in general, knowing that they will not get sick, they really do not get sick. There are, of course, a whole host of examples of doctors who have become ill and have even died, but that is not what I mean, of course.
In this way we could fill in the hollow phrase about overburdened care, because you see that it is overburdened, because it has lost its connection with the origin, because it has lost its connection with the ideal of health, because it has been forgotten that it is not just a salary slip that you receive every month, but that you really do have an idealistic task, which becomes effective in physical reality.
That was my plea for today, that care workers should be made aware of this, that there should not be this painful phenomenon of applause for health care workers; as a health care worker we should actually be deeply ashamed of that, because we want to help, we want to heal, we want to take care of patients. And if there are no sick people, what's the point of our profession? Now there is an epidemic, you can help, you can heal, you can take care of the patient, and then you have to get applause for it?
All these things are amazing and give stupefaction. And still we can understand it all, we can understand that everything has disintegrated, that there is no longer a connection with that intuitive certainty that the healthcare needs and that this intuitive certainty has to be exchanged for whole lists of protocols. But that doesn't mean that the human being doesn't carry this intuitive security in himself and wouldn't be able to find it somewhere in the depth.Why healthcare is continuously overburdened by Mieke Mosmuller