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It may come as a surprise to many of you that Japanese doctors generally don’t tell the truth. You are probably asking yourself, what does this author mean? It means exactly as how it sounds. Japanese doctors have a reputation of not being transparent in their actions and holding back pertinent information about your health.

For example, when the man who was revered as a divine being by his people, Emperor Hirohito, was showing deteriorating health and unexplained vomitting, his doctor knew what was causing it, but withheld the diagnostic from him.

“I don’t regret that I didn’t tell him about his cancer”
— Akira Takagi, Emperor’s Chief Doctor

According to a survey conducted in the mid-1990s, only one out of five cancer patients were honestly told of their diagnosis. [1]

A New York Times article cites a cancer diagnostic experience of 50-year-old Kazuku Makino. Her doctor diagnosed her with gallstones and suggested surgery to remove them. Makino, being a former nurse, sniffed out, for the lack of better but no truer words, the bullshit, and opted out of having unnecessary surgery.

Makino’s doctor suspected she had gallbladder cancer. The diagnostic proved to be correct. The cancer spread to her system and Makino died shortly after.

Her family sued the hospital for malpractice, but the courts rejected their claim. What resulted was a 1989 landmark case won by the medical industry in which doctors weren’t obligated to inform their cancer patients their true condition.

Some doctors argue that informing the patient of a terminally ailing disease would cause unhealthy psychological stress to the patient. As far as I know, no reputable journal or study has supported this claim.

Photo Source: pezheadsthemovie

Japanese doctors also have a reputation in prescribing medicine for every symptom or even non-symptom the patient may have. Oftentimes, the medicines are overprescribed. Some prescriptions aren’t even labeled for user readability, but with a hidden code for those only in the medical field can understand. So who knows what kind of medicine you are ingesting (or if you are unlucky, putting medicine into that backdoor of yours).

What is up with all the sketchiness? Doctor’s make a commission off of the medicine.

Why can Japanese doctors get away with this?

How Doctors Are Viewed

Photo Source: cathywagnerblog

To understand why Japanese doctors operate the way they do, one must understand how the Japanese view their relationship between themselves and their doctor.

In the United States, medical care is viewed as a service. The doctors and medical staff provide the skilled services, while the patients are the paying customers. The customers expect to get what they are paying for. The Japanese society on the other hand generally view doctors as their masters and the patients as the subordinates who are indebted to the master for his or her services.

As such, it is extremely rude and looked down upon to question their doctors, in addition to go around consulting other doctors for second opinions. The doctors tend to not go into a detailed explanation of the diagnostic and treatment being administered.

Again, to contrast this to U.S. doctors, the patient is informed of the specifics of the treatment, such as what and why it is being conducted, and the possible outcomes, good and bad, that may result. A big reason behind informing the patient is legal protection for the doctor and the medical practice.

Unfortunately, the Japanese tend to dislike causing drama. If any hint of malpractice was involved, it is very rare for them to take legal action against their doctors. And if no legal action is taken against the doctors, then they are left unchecked to do whatever they want.

What the Japanese expect from their doctors in regards to full disclosure has been changing the past few decades. In a survey conducted in the 1990s, 60% of the people surveyed would want to be told by their doctor if they were diagnosed with cancer. In a research that was conducted in 2004, 86% surveyed wanted full immediate disclosure. [2]

Not all doctors aren’t forthcoming with the results. Those who have studied or done work overseas, especially in Western countries, tend to bring back with them the practice of being forthright. How do your country’s doctors operate? Koichi has also written an similar article on Japanese doctors. Check it out!


[1] Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology Volume 24, Issue 5, October 1994.

[2] Kai, I., Miyako, T., Miyata, H., Saito, T, Tachimori, H., (2004). Disclosure of cancer diagnosis and prognosis: a survey of the general public’s attitudes toward doctors and family holding discretionary powers. BMC Medical Ethics, 5:7. Retrieved June 17, 2004.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    My one experience with this was when I had weird tinglings in my head, so I went to a Japanese hospital, where they did an MRI. I insisted like every 5 seconds that they better tell me if there’s something wrong… they said I was fine, but I suppose I’ll never know for sure… dun dun DUNNN.

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Brain cancer.

  • Hailey

    To be honest, this is one of the things that makes me wary of going to Japan. The thought that I could be sick and not have a proper diagnosis or be prescribed unnecessary medication scares me a bit. This wont hold me back, but if I do need to go to the doctor I’m going to be extremely cautious and be willing to raise all sorts of hell. I will put my cultural norms on the back burner while in a different country, but when something as improtant as my health is involved I’m not going to screw around. 

  • Juli

    wow. i never heard of that! this is really shocking. what i am wondering now is, how do japanese people react to a doctor who has been let’s say to the US and is telling them the truth? or how do they react when watching american tv shows?
    i am from germany and i am a doctor, although i have not been working as one for years, cause it’s just not me. in germany it is like in the US i guess. i have never been to an american doctor, so i only know from tv and movies, but we have to be very honest here and talk about every move we make to patient and get his permission beforehand. germans have to be annoyingly meticulous with their paperwork, although they very rarely get sued. it seems to be some kind of fear the hospitals are living in..

    i would love to live in japan and i hope one day i will, at least for like a few years, and i, as a patient, would let me show every test result and every picture that is taken. 

    i mean, if a patient has a fatal disease and is dying in the near future and there is totally nothing you can do, even then it’s not fair not to tell them. but if there is a chance you could do some treatment and even then they don’t tell them??? that is murder, right?

  • Jill

    There was a recent news story about a famous and rather wealthy Japanese man who was dying of cancer. His doctor and family did not tell him, so he didn’t realize he had a fatal illness and didn’t change his will or do anything to provide for the woman who had acted as his wife for about 30 years, but whom he never married. Because of inheritance laws, she was left with nothing. I can’t recall if their children received anything, either. I think the inheritance all went to children from a previous marriage or to other relatives. The woman was pictured as a martyr who loved him so much that she sacrificed her security to protect him from the truth.
    I wonder, does this situation say anything about the value of truth in Japan, or just about love?

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Wow. Do you happen to have the article to this? Would love to read it.

  • Juli

    to me it says a lot about the value of truth in japan, but i guess the poor woman had no choice in this situation. wouldn’t have looked too good for her, if she had told him and he would have changed his will. to me it seems like a normal situation, but to the japanese it would have been very obviously very greedy i guess.

  • Mescale

    Ha! Doctors are pointless anyway. Either your body can fix you and it will, or it can’t and you’re screwed, and nothing the Doctor can do will help.

    There’s only one thing worse than a Doctor and that’s a Dentist.

    As an abnormally healthy person I can be blasé about health, I swear everyone else must be doing something wrong to get sick all the time.

  • Madbeanman

    This reminds of that horrific hepatitis outbreak (I wanna say in the eighties) where the Government blamed the foreign gays (even though they were using infected blood knowlingly in blood transfusions ) and the doctors didn’t wanna tell their patients they were going around infecting their families with hepatitis.  Not the best episode in Japanese history.  ( Please correct any details of this story that are wrong. Its not the kinda thing I would like to be wrong about)

  • http://twitter.com/MAD_JedCat ► LΔURΔ

    Here iin germany they basicaly tell the patient straight away what’s wrong with them. prescribe medicine, tell which medicine is to cure what and so on… so you always know what medicine you are taking and why and if you are going to die or not. that is also because most cancer patiens get treatment almost immediately. like, they have some time to think about what they wanna do after the docter explaind everything, and then treatment starts, to get rid of the cancer, if that is still possible.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Dun dun dunnnnn

  • neuromantic

     famous last words.

  • Ashley

    Wow, this is disgusting.

    What’s the point of being a doctor if you don’t try to help people?
    “Ah, I see this person has cancer. That’s nice.”
    It’s essentially as if you don’t do anything. It’s a moot profession.
    They pretty much lead meaningless professional lives. They have no purpose.

    If you don’t try to assist someone who’s ailing, you aren’t a doctor. You may have been trained sufficiently in the medical field, but if you aren’t attempting to “doctor” people, you aren’t a doctor.

    Maybe they just got confused when they decided to be “doctors” and thought it meant they were supposed to “doctoring” patients’ medical records instead of doctoring their health.

  • Ashley

    I’m assuming you’re joking because the alternative would mean you are extremely poorly educated, and I like to assume the best in people.

  • Mescale

    Deadly serious, please learn me about my misconceptions however, I may be stupid, but I am willing to learn.

  • ಠ_ರೃ

     And for that matter, scientists. How come they ain’t invented everything yet? Bunch of no good scammers.

  • Joseph Goforth

     hmm…i’d check with a doctor in the states.  you may find out that you were given some weird nanomachines in japan that will turn you into a gundam soon!

  • Joseph Goforth

     guess he’d like more smallpox and polio? :s

  • Saikou

    Right.

    The body is a mess of random interactions. The things that go on include various chemical and mechanical connections which allows for the array of things that it’s able to do.

    Without going into detail. We have a skeletal system which gives us shape, a muscular system which allows us to move, a nervous system which gives us the ability to interrupt feedback from the world, a circulatory system to keep each of these systems fueled and connected, an endocrine system to elicit specific physiological changes, an immune system to combat against invading cells and faulty cells, a digestive system to provide materials for cellular use….

    Each system itself is very complex, involving a handful of different systems and specific cells within it (the circulatory system alone involves a great number of specialised blood cells and organ cells, chemical reaction cascades to fix damaged tissue, stem cells for the creation of new cells, the electric activity of the heart, the all important pressure creating cells of the lungs and diaphragm….

    What’s more is that all of these systems are working together in unison at every waking moment, even the sleeping moments. But here’s the thing, because of the great complexity of our bodies, nothing is ever done simply. It’s as though our bodies are a great system of Rube Goldberg machines happening in tandem. And just like Rube Goldberg machines. They never go perfectly all that often.

    With the exception of trauma (like being hit by a car) most diseases are a result of the bodies systems screwing up in a big way. Cancer, for example, is when cells screw up in their multiplying. Cells multiply all the time, it’s how tissue is healed and new cells are created. The process itself is actually really complicated with a bunch of different checks all along the way to make sure it’s doing it right. And if any of those checks stop working, then you have a cell which multiplies weirdly, it’s a bit like a factory worker who is putting toys in a box, but there’s no foreman to tell him that he’s putting too many toys in the box, eventually you get a bunch of boxes that you can’t close. The cells grow and divide uncontrolled and their numbers start to affect with the already pretty delicate systems that we have in place. That’s cancer, a toy which has fallen out of the box and jammed up the conveyor belt.

    Auto-immune diseases are the epitome of body screw ups. It’s the immune system recognising our own cells as foreign and attacking them as they would anything else. And I’m not even getting started on genetics. To put it briefly, genetics makes proteins, proteins are used for everything and I mean EVERYTHING that your body uses to function, proteins are basically strings of small chemicals which need to be arranged in a specific order and if that order or sequence is altered, you can get anything from a protein which ceases to be functional or a protein which does the very opposite of what it’s meant to.

    So what do doctors do? Firstly they know about all of this, and understanding a system is the first step in doing anything about it. They oversee what’s going on and make small changes, or big changes, to try and bring the afflicted person as close to well as they can get.

    A doctors job can be roughly divided into two halves, diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is all about understanding what it is that’s going wrong. Looking at the symptoms (the things which you can actually see going wrong), taking a look at the tests (which show the results of the things that go wrong) and in ruling things out until they can come to a conclusion which best fits the patient. And bare in mind that there are a lot of systems which use the same organs, so just because you see a problem (like coughing up blood) doesn’t mean you know why it’s happening.

    Treatment, however, is a lot more complex as there are no two patients with the exact same physiology. Treatment is all about finding ways to affect the affected systems. Because the body is not like a machine in that you can’t turn it off, mostly this means having to affect things indirectly, i.e. triggering another system or chemical pathway to try and stabilise the first problem. Most doctors, like all humans, can’t telepathically feel how the body is going to react and are making, at best, guesses, like all scientists, as to how to improve the situation.

    One of the biggest problems with cancer patients is that cancer cells come from the same cells which make up the rest of us. To target them would be to create a process which can tell between them, and the only real difference between them the cancerous ones are that cancerous cells are usually growing where they shouldn’t be and lack specificity. That’s why most treatments today are widespread, designed to go through the entire system which would destroy everything, though affects the cancerous cells quicker and then stopping the treatment before the rest of the body is affected. Either that or literally taking out the problem cells with our hands as in surgery. 

    But treatment doesn’t have to stop a disease, it can just make it so unlikely to kill you that it ceases being a problem. In all honesty, we all have the ability to die just by sitting here and waiting for our body to screw up. It’s probably already doing that as we speak. Heck, there’s even a whole scale of symptoms around feeling “incredibly healthy”.

    The body goes wrong all the time, normally it’s able to catch itself as it goes wrong, but this isn’t a sure thing. It’s a random connection of tubes and fluids which just kinda works somehow.

    tl;dr? Go back up there and read it you lazy git. You do not get to make flippant comments about subjects you admit to knowing little about and then ignore it when your incorrect views are challenged.

  • Joseph Goforth

    sadly, i think this is a more common problem than even just in Japan.  i’ve heard horror stories in very similiar ways with doctors in the middle east and eastern europe. I think cultures where in the not so distant past still relied on folk medicine and that whole ‘wise man’ approach that they had makes it so that patients are very unquestioning towards medical care.  One never questioned the wise man/witch doctor…never know how they might make you worse!   /hidesfromcurses

  • Conpanbear

    That’s pretty disgusting. I expect if anyone was worried about this happening while in Japan, you could find a non-Japanese doctor there, hopefully.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    ^ this I want.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I hear they’re getting to the point where they can cure most of those things in mice, now, which means it may be a decade or two off for humans, if things go well. Go MIT.

    http://www.process.org/discept/2011/11/17/draco-death-to-the-virus/

  • Conpanbear

    Surely the aim of the medical industry should be about quality of life, not necessarily curing every sickness. For example, how many people live with chronic or severe asthma? These people would otherwise die (or, still do in poorer countries) without the advances in science and medicine.

    For me, living in a first-world country, I find strange to think my grandmother DIED from ASTHMA(?!) because she didn’t have access to medicine in a third-world country. My sister has asthma, my partner has chronic asthma, and I couldn’t imagine them dying from it when they have easy access to medicine. It is a bit sad to think my partner has over 4 spare Ventolins (in his car, at work, etc.) and it would’ve taken just one to save my grandmother’s life. They are only $5 each here.

    Doctors can’t cure HIV or influenza infections, and it’s not because they are useless; it is because these microbes are extremely complex. It is due to their hard work that people are given a chance at a healthier life, or a few more years of life to enjoy.

  • Conpanbear

     Oh, and with regard to placebos, no matter how optimistic you are, or how
    convinced that sugar-pill is working, if a disease has the capacity to
    kill you and it wants to, it will try to. Of patients using positive
    thinking alone to heal themselves, the 1 in 1000 who lives will say it
    was due to positive thinking, medicine is an expensive rort, and doctors
    are useless. The 999 others who die of cancer have no voice to say
    positive thinking did nothing and their body alone could not save them.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Segway Polio is the best!

  • http://thehopefulmonster.wordpress.com/ Sublight

     Flu, HIV, and the common cold are all caused by viruses, and so far no means of curing viral disease have been found yet. Successful preventions for many of them have been found, however.

    Cancer is brought on by a malfunction in the reproductive mechanism inside one cell, causing it to reproduce out of control. So if destroying the cancerous cells isn’t ‘curing’ cancer, I’d like to know what definition you’re using.

    Diseases brought on by bacteria, however, have been very successfully cured by doctors and medical science. Or did you lose half your family to Cholera, Smallpox, and Typhoid?

  • Peptron

    So THIS is how the zombie apocalypse started!

    Patient: Doctor… I think I’m sick… I think I got Ebola from my travel to central Africa…
    Doctor: No, all that puking blood is just stress…
    Patient: This is really bad… I think I’m dying!
    Doctor: You are being negative… are you depressed? AKB48, give this man a hug!

    AND SO THE HORDE HAS SPAWNED

  • http://www.survivingnjapan.com/ Ashley

    In my experience, it’s definitely true that many doctors hate being questioned, and often become offended or annoyed if you question them at all. And that they sometimes prescribe unnecessary medicine. But for those who might be coming to Japan, don’t worry that you are doomed to have a bad experience! (And I speak from many bad experiences).

    I’ve probably visited doctors more often here in Japan in just a few years compared with most foreigners coming here. Two long stretches because of mysterious illnesses and a third due to pregnancy and childbirth. I found that most doctors I saw were actually very forthright in telling me what they “thought” was wrong, even though nearly all of them couldn’t find anything wrong (and most of them hadn’t studied overseas or anything). They kept telling me it was all in my head and that I should see a psychiatrist, even though I knew there was something wrong. (This was actually when I had labrynthitis, a deep inner ear viral infection, and it took months and a trip back to the States to finally get a diagnosis). You’re right though, in that if/when I questioned the doctors at all, they got upset. If I said I had seen another doctor about a second opinion, they told me bluntly I should just see that other doctor. I think some of it has to do with the fact these are men with egos, as the women doctors I’ve seen in Japan aren’t like this at all and much more helpful (but I’ve also seen a handful of helpful/kind male doctors). My case was kind of extreme, and we didn’t live in a major city like Tokyo, so we had less options too (and I saw maybe 4 or 5 ENTs, on top of various other specialists, got an MRI and other tests done at the hospital). 

    One thing too is that some doctors won’t tell you they are doing something before they do it. When I was giving birth, they said they wouldn’t do an episiotomy, but ended up doing it without telling us (and I wasn’t thrilled). They needed to do it, understandably, but at least saying something like “OK, I need to do an episiotomy now” would have been nice. I also had an issue from a toenail that had been pulled up from playing soccer, and grown back more ingrown, and one side had become swollen and red so we went to a podiatrist. He looked at it, and before I knew what was happening he had grabbed it and clipped off the ingrown part (which hurt incredibly bad as it was swollen/tender). Perhaps for a lot of people this kind of method could actually be a good thing, so I’m not necessarily bashing it, but it isn’t for me. 

    However, some of the doctors, including the OBGYN we ended up going with (we saw two before deciding to go with him), was friendly and understanding, let us ask questions and such. Some of the nurses were the opposite, though, but the rest were helpful. 

    As for medicine, I’ve never been prescribed anything with a strange number or anything like that. But I’ve definitely been prescribed unnecessary medicine, like antibiotics for a cold (which I didn’t take). Although I found some websites that allow you to look up the medicine you’ve been prescribed (mostly in Japanese, but some in English), so you can understand exactly what the doctor gave you, whether he/she or the pharmacist gave a good explanation or not. Not that the doctors always prescribe you pointless medicine, so it’s not necessarily wise to just not take anything they give you, but if you aren’t sure about it, it helps to look it up. Or even, ask your doctor from your home country if that’s something they prescribe. I’ve written up something about those websites though, if interested. They’ve definitely been helpful to me!

    Anyway, I should also say that I’ve had just as many bad experiences with doctors in the U.S. (the ones that also hate being questioned). You would think the point is for doctors to try to help people, but so many seem to take their position to their heads or something. In my experience, you just have to keep looking until you find the helpful/kind ones, because they are out there! Even in Japan. 

    But, sometimes I wish I could find one like Dr. House…

  • Mescale

    I recall a doctor saying that vaccinations would lead to autism. 

    He sure did his bit for curing the world.

    Vaccination levels went down, diseases such as measles, TB, etc. which were unheard of in England suddenly became a problem.

    They also showed he was a big fat liar and only said it to line his pockets.

    Doctors are the bad!

  • Mescale

    All that aside, Doctors being AWESOME guys who save the world, ALL THE TIME!

    Is that really the truth?

    Lets be honest our definitions of doctors or what we think doctors do is one thing reality is another.
    Our society canonises doctors our media turns them into idols, but in truth are they really that great?

    I hear in some countries Doctors won’t tell you if you have Cancer. What kind of Doctor is that?
    You can come up with all manner of examples of treatments that Doctors do to bodies, but they don’t cure people, they attempt to remove a problem and hope the body will cure itself. 

    Sorry but I would say how dare people give Doctors so much credit when the body should get so much more.
    Its your body that makes you live and its your body that will decide if you continue living.
    I imagine any real Doctor would agree with that entirely, because they know their limits and they have seen how amazing the human body is.

    But really its the dentist thing people are upset about right?

  • Mescale

    If destroying cancer cells is curing cancer, then does that mean amputating a leg cures a broken leg?

  • ಠ_ರೃ

    Cancer cells are my favourite limbs.

  • Mescale

    I once fell on my cancer cells and fractured it.

  • Saikou

    The main objection I have with your comment isn’t “The body does the healing, not the doctors” because that’s fundamentally true. On a base level, the only thing that doctors do is promote the body to do things. They change some of the variables and manipulate the internal environment of certain systems in order to facilitate change,
    to start certain parts of the healing process.
    What I object to is your comment that this means “they do nothing.” I’ve already given you a list of reasons above why the most certainly don’t do “nothing”, and if your argument for that is “Well, apart from all that, they do nothing.” then that could be applied to anything. Apart from all the work your body does to keep you alive, all it does is make you sick. It’s pretty meaningless to say “apart from the good, they’re nothing but bad”.

    Also, can you stop talking about your body as if it’s a sentient thing. It’s not, the only thing sentient about it is the person you call yourself. The body itself is just sequence of incredibly complexly arranged cells and tissues which enable you to be aware of yourself, interact with your environment. You can’t thank it any more than you can thank a field for growing grass or yeast for fermenting your alcohol. I’m not saying you shouldn’t appreciate your body, because I do agree that it’s capable of some amazing feats. But that’s by design. It’s able to do these things, not as a favour to you, but because that’s how our genetics built it to be, and saying that we should thank the body and not the doctor for feeling better is like saying “Don’t thank the gardener for the garden, thank the flowers, they did all the growing.”

    Lastly, you can’t have it both ways. Either doctors are useless and anything they tell you is just as good as anything they keep from you, or you do need their advice and hearing what they have to say is important, so not being told information is a problem. If it annoys you that there are some doctors in the world that choose to hide things from you, then you must admit they know more than you do about certain subjects, and they are of use to you. Otherwise, why would you care what some useless guy in a coat said about your amazingly self-sufficient body?

  • Foozlesprite

    Yeah I’m kind of wary of this too.  If I ever go to Japan I’m sure my husband will come with me, and he’s a type I diabetic.  If something happens, we really don’t need doctors telling him incorrect diagnoses or giving him the wrong treatment, because that could kill him or put him in a coma very quickly.

  • Mescale

    I don’t think Doctors promote the body to do things.
    Lets think of like in Final Fantasy 7 right, the Planet was trying to heal itself but it couldn’t because Sepiroth was there blocking it, You had to destroy Sepiroth so the Planet could heal. So you aren’t promoting the Planet to heal, you’re just removing something to help it along.So as long as your Doctor has his level 4 limit breaks and knights of the round materia, its OK, but you’d also want to know he’s beaten the ultimate monsters, specially the Ruby Weapon. Also you’d want Tifa in his party.

  • Saikou

    I have never played Final Fantasy 7, so excuse me if I miss the finer points of this analogy. But I can’t help feel that you don’t actually understand how the body works and how it doesn’t.

    From what you say, it seems that you believe that the body, when left alone, will only try to recover from something. That is generally what appears to happen, but unfortunately for us, it’s not that simple. Diseases are not as easy to disregard as “something blocking the ability of healing”. It’s not as though we have a small stone in us which causes diseases, and once the doctor removes that stone, the body can get on with getting well again.

    Diseases are, by definition, a disorder of the bodies processes which lead to ill effects that can lead from anywhere between annoyances to potential fatality. Most of these problems are simply because the body screwed up all on its own. How does this happen? Mainly because everything that happens in the body is based on chemical reactions, and chemical reactions are completely random events. This is less likely because there are systems in place which check for these screw ups and tries to remedy them, but these systems screw up just as much.

    Going back to Cancer, a cancer cell was once a normal cell, all cancer cells originated from normal cells and every cell in the human body has the potential to become cancerous at any waking moment. That’s just how cells work. The body, if left to its own devices, is just as likely to make things worse than to get better. Look up auto-immune diseases to get a better understanding, these are the ones where the immune system recognises its own cells as foreign all of a sudden, and then just goes on a killing spree.

    Yes, there are instances in which the problems are foreign bodies, such as the case with infections, but to say the doctor doesn’t promote anything but only removes things is showing your ignorance of the system. You mentioned vaccinations earlier. Do you know what they actually are? They come in many forms, but the simplest to explain is the ones which are harmless versions of the virus in question which do nothing but wake up the immune system and start up its production of antibodies and various lymphocytes so once the infection hits proper, it’s as though you’re already immune. i.e. they promote the immune system.

    Another example of promotion is genetic engineering and gene therapy to promote the development of certain proteins over others.

    Doctors have many different strategies to combat a whole range of problems. That includes promotion of certain systems, targeting of threats, suppression of faulting systems and even replacement of tissue damage beyond repair. There is no all encompassing strategy as every person is different and “normal” does not exist. The aim is always to get the body back into a stable equilibrium.

    But no matter how you describe what the doctor does. You’re still giving them the credit that they’re doing something beneficial. In your own analogy, you place doctors as the heart of the narrative, the main protagonist against the destructive antagonist, without whom, the world would be unable to return to a stable state of being.

  • Mescale

    Are you a Doctor?

    And why isn’t anyone defending Dentists?

  • Saikou

    I am a biomedical scientist, and I know nothing about dentistry.

  • Mescale

    Well on the internet some people are idiots and you should just ignore them. Now go do something worthwhile.

  • Thomas Hjelm

    My experience with doctors in Japan is nothing like this article.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

     Then you sir are a lucky man, or you have cancer and don’t know it :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

     My congratulations!

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I’m guessing you never used Aeris. She’s too much like a doctor. :p

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

     What was your experience like?

  • http://www.facebook.com/clarissa.clarissa.sauter Clarissa Sauter

    Do they not get that that’s their job? What’s the point of going to the doctor if you’re misdiagnosed or lied to?

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Who needs doctors when you have Phoenix Downs, Healing and Revive Materia.

  • Mescale

    See I was waiting for someone to say, actually Aeris cast holy so it wasn’t the planet at all, it was Aeris last of the Ancients.

    Aeris does however die like halfway through so unless you are hacking the game she won’t be there at the end.
    Oh and spoiler warning! King Kong dies at the end!

  • Mescale

    Sorry, I just feel empty, I always thought it would be more satisfying. So… bitter sweet. ;_;

  • IndigoSelvedge

    She DIES?! You ruined it!!!!

  • Lathandien

     it looks like YOU’RE dealing with a trolololololol. no offense to you of course, you seem very educated in the subject.

  • Lathandien

    “Well on the internet some people are idiots”

    like you?

  • Mescale

    Yes that was my point, your reading comprehension truly equals the width of this reply.

  • Mescale

    Ok so here is why Doctors are useless.

     

    There are Doctors who don’t give a damn about people, they
    are there to draw a pay check, a very good one, they exist as is the point of
    this article and I’ve experienced plenty of them myself.

     

    But its not those that I’ve dealt with personally that made
    me feel this way, its the ones that were responsible for the death of my
    Grandmother.

     

    All of her life she had a lung disease, she would be short
    of breath, she went to the doctors and they treated her for all manner of lung
    conditions and it didn’t help. She would get the same treatments over and over
    again, because the doctors would change and they wouldn’t read her case file,
    and just assume some off the shelf drug would fix it, or maybe she didn’t take
    the medication last time, or she was making it all up.

    Her life ended when she eventually convinced Doctors that it
    wasn’t something they already knew about, and so they recommended an
    exploratory where they would take a sample of her lungs.

     

    Unfortunately she never woke up from the General Anaesthetic,
    her doctors were unwilling to do anything about this, and said it wasn’t worth
    putting her on a ventilator, we talked to multiple doctors who advised us
    because of her respiratory problems due to her smoking it wasn’t worth trying
    to help. The fact is she had never smoked in her life, they just assumed that
    was why she had this operation, and it wasn’t until we tried 4 doctors we found
    one who actually gave a damn and when he found out that she was not only not a
    smoker but was highly active, having taken her grandchildren on holiday the
    weekend before, and so was worth saving did they actually try and save her,
    only took a week.

     

    It was too late she never regained consciousness and we
    chose that we would remove her life support. She didn’t really want to die,
    though it took a while until her body gave up after they turned off the
    support, Doctors certainly gave up before her body did.

     

    So the question is this, if you have to shop around for
    Doctors, if you need to find one that you can trust, they are useless, can you
    trust this Doctor who says your tingling in your brain is nothing? Can you
    trust them when they say there is nothing they can do, when you’ve had
    experiences with Doctors before don’t even read up on case history, before
    making decisions to prescribe drugs, or leave someone to die? Does it matter if
    there are good doctors out there who care who work hard when there are those
    who don’t?

     

    Simply put once someone can’t trust Doctors they become
    useless, and its not because I am stupid or don’t know what cancer is or how it
    works.

     

    Its because medicine is about trust and I personally don’t
    have a shred of trust left for Doctors. So how useful are they? Not at all.

    I guess what really hurts is that she was really unsure
    about taking the operation, and me and my Sister visited her in hospital, we
    reassured her and said it would be fine, because we trusted Doctors to do their
    best, instead she died. She was too good a person to just be disregarded; I
    would gladly give my life right now if she could live again, because unlike me
    her life was worth something.

    So you can worship doctors all you want, you can consider
    them as gods who heal the world, but to me they’re all useless. 

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    Vaccines can cause devastating allergic reactions though (’cause of the preservatives they put in them). They can even be lethal. So yes, some people should not get them unless they are fresh (and have no preservatives). And just for your information, the percent of people who have allergic reactions to vaccines is higher than you think.

    As for that bull about medicine not curing anything; viruses are only one cause of illness. Viruses are hard if not impossible to kill without killing the patient as well, so they can only treat the symptoms and assist the body in staying alive while it is fighting off the virus. Bacteria are another prevalent cause of illness, but they are obviously treatable.

    I honestly prefer natural treatments and preventive measures (which aren’t fake or placebos) to medication, but sometimes it’s necessary.

    Oh, and I’m quite healthy myself, but just as much of that is from my diet (sufficiently lacking in fast food, soda, and other processed food products) as it is from my own immune system.

    Everyone is ignorant of something, but your extreme ignorance of the body, illness, and the medical professions is just sad. I mean, this information is readily available to anyone in many places, so go learn something. It’s good for you.

    Of course, if you continue to ignore facts and don’t try to learn more about the world, then I will demote you to stupid (willfully ignorant. It’s an insult if you didn’t catch that).

  • Mescale
  • Pasukaru

    I think it’s sad that Japan doctors won’t tell the truth to their patient, but I’d say that it’s kind of the same situation everywhere. I work in intensive care unit and emergency in canada, and not that Doctors won’T tell the truth, but many tend to ”throw the ball” to their colleagues. By this I mean for example that they’ll say : ”Oh yes there is something but i can’t say for sure what it is exactly, so i’ll ask [put a body system here] Specialist to see what is the problem” When they actually know what it is, but just won’t be willing to tell the truth to the patient OR their family. Why? Most of the time, they don’t like telling someone that they’re going to die (Who would blame them, I wouldn’t like to announce that either). But the point is that in many occasions, many specialist will see the patient wihout telling exactly the entire truth but will treat the illness anyway (if a treatment can be done). So the patient stays ignorant but is still treated for something he doesn’t know. There are also sometimes a minority that see a patient that ask questions as a nuisance (motsly elder doctors) because they don’t like explaining and see themlseves as ”godlike” and think that asking question is questionning their capacity to diagnose AND find treatments.

    So do doctors lie everywhere in the world? I’d say YES because, unfortunatly, Everybody does =/

  • Zaywex

    There’s a way to look up what the medicine is online in a Japanese catalog right?

  • TC

    Reminds me of the flu that I caught last fall.  I was vomiting, dizzy, with a slight fever and cough.  I had someone from my host campus to help translate what the doctor said.  By the time I was done seeing him, he barely used a stethoscope when he told me I need antibiotics for a virus.  “Antibiotics” and “virus” in the same sentence?  Nuh-uh.  I acquiesced and bought the meds.  But I didn’t take them and healed up by the end of the week.  My trust in Japanese doctors really took a blow that day.  My family also has a history of melanoma, so this worries me a bit…  Makes me think twice before I seek out a Japanese dermatologist.

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Yowza. Good thing you were educated on the manner. Antibiotics wouldn’t do crap for viruses, if anything, it would makes things worse by weakening your immune system :(

  • http://mpenaud.wordpress.com/about/ Mpenaud

    Yep, Agree. 2 years ago I had a suspicion of appendicitis on a plane going from Fance to Japan and 2 japanese doctors were called and I’ve never been less reassured in my life with lots of “tabun” (maybe) and “it might be appendicitis, you might be ok until we arrive”. European doctors are assertive and “maybe” is not a word that you want to hear from a doctor. I was really frightenened (and alone) on a looong flight until I managed to get to a clinic in Kyoto (forget the smallish clinic at Kansai airport where they speak only japanese… and “appendicitis” and “blood sample” were missing from my vocabulary though luckiliy I had a dictionary.
    I guess what we really like about the japanese (politeness, being non assertive all the time) is exactly what prevents them from being good doctors though the doctor at the clinic in Kyoto was great.
    One thing it taught me is to prepare before I leave (coz the consulate is no help either and you might not speak the language) so now I have with me a list of French speaking doctors coz when you’re sick is not the time to look for one. 

  • Lava Yuki

    Over prescribing nd lying to patients? As a medical student, that seems unethical. I know that over prescribing is heavily controlled where i live due to dangerous drug interactions and death from overdose.

    But doctors here are trained at “breaking bad news” like cancer, so there is no need to lie. Anyway, if you were to treat cancer and such, patients have to sign consent forms etc… So no point in mis informing.