A poor gentleman is forced to be a quack

Le Medecin Malgré Lui - Texte Intégral et L'Analyse Littéraire - Moliere, Marie-Helene Prat

This play is quite a farcical piece of work and I suspect it is making fun of many of the quacks that were running around Europe at the time promising miracle cures (though nothing much has changed with the exception that miracle cures are now peddled by massive pharmaceutical companies over television). The main character, Sganarelle, is a pretty obnoxious person and his family dump him in the pot by telling people that he is this wonderful doctor and forcing him to play along with them (despite knowing nothing about medicine). Obviously a rather farcical affair ensures which results in him almost being executed for trying to cure a servant by setting him up with a nobleman's daughter.

The introduction talks about how this is supposed to be making fun of those people running around France calling themselves doctors, though we should be aware that medicine in those days was still quite primitive. In fact, the people that were the true doctors tended to be burnt at the stake for witchcraft (which is what I suspect most witches were at the time - women living in the woods and using herbs to cure ailments). This was still during the time when diseases were cured by applying leeches and performing exorcisms.

Despite the huge advancements made in medical science over the centuries we still face much of that today. In fact there are doctors out there that actually have legitimate degrees hanging on their walls that are pretty much as bad as the doctor in this play (how many people remember Dr Nick Riviera from The Simpsons?). Even then, there is also a plethora of other less traditional medical practitioners out there that perform treatment in ways that just baffle the mind. When I was in Hong Kong recently I went a visited a few places offering foot massages. Now, a number of people thought that these places were fronts for brothels. In fact they are not (you have to actively search for the brothels in Hong Kong because they tend not to be obvious, though if you see a sign in an alley with a list of women with prices on them, then you can be assured that that is one of them, though you may discover that they are actually a decoy and the actual brothel is somewhere else, but I'm not talking about brothels, I am talking about dodgy doctors) but rather they practice what is known as reflexology, which is the theory that by massaging the feet you can cure all sorts of ailments. If you have a look on the walls in these places you will see large charts of the feet, and each part of the feet corresponds to a part of the body.

Here in Australia you actually get a bunch of doctors that live off of insurance companies. Basically you don't go and see these doctors if there is actually something wrong with you, you simply go and see them if you have a compensable injury (or even if you don't have one, but simply want to scam money out of an insurance company) or if you need a sick certificate for Monday morning (or any other day you simply don't want to go to work). Some of these doctors become really brazen in their 'opinion' simply because they, and their lawyers, know that most insurance companies don't actually want to take plaintiffs to court because they generally lose, and lose big.

I personally don't want to go down the road of attacking the less scientifically proven practitioners because, well, I don't think science can prove as much as we thing that it can prove. I have mentioned the pharmaceutical industry and to be honest with you I have some doubts about some of the rubbish that seems to come out of those places. Okay, here in Australia there are strict laws governing what pharmaceutical companies can advertise (and they cannot advertise prescription drugs) however that is not the case in the United States, where Big Pharma uses the advertising media to convince people to ask the doctor to prescribe them their drug. The thing is that the average bloke on the street actually does not know what drug is good for a condition and which one isn't, so why are they asking the doctor for a specific drug. Personally, though, I am glad I'm not a pharmaceutical salesperson (the legitimate type that is, though I'm not the illegitimate type either).

 

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/625691544