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Commercials prompt self-diagnosis

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The once popular, now defunct, magazine Ladies’ Home Journal featured a column in which readers’ medical questions were answered. My family doctor once confided to me that he always read it as soon as it arrived so he would be prepared for the parade of patients who visited him with all the symptoms described in the magazine.

Now, with the plethora of drug ads on TV that promise nirvana, followed by a sotto voce doomsday scenario of side effects, and access to an internet that exudes information on every burp, gurgle, ache, pain, bulge and laceration imaginable, everybody thinks they can self-diagnose and treat whatever may (or may not) be wrong with them.

It must be frustrating for doctors to have to explain away a self-diagnosis before getting to the actual problem.

I frankly think drug ads should be banned from TV and internet. It’s not as if potential patients can just go out and buy the product. They must badger their medical professional to prescribe it, and if that happens, they are likely to be appalled at the cost. Could part of that be because of the expensive ads on TV?

But as much as I hate the drug ads, there is another ad running right now that offends me even more. I have always been enamored of mazes. As a child, the maze at the palace in Williamsburg was my favorite vacation destination and I have happily wandered through all I could find, most recently at a winery in Mount Gambier, South Australia. It was fascinating to hear the winery owners describe the time and effort involved in designing, growing and maintaining it.

So, when I see a big piece of machinery mowing through a gorgeous maze in the TV ad, it makes my skin crawl. Never would I buy a policy from that health insurance company! I console myself by hoping that the whole thing is Photoshopped!

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.

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