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Shush, don't ask

Are medical matters the new taboo?

Published on January 19th 2009.


Shush, don't ask
Yes: - 44%
No: - 56%

Graham Stringer, MP, upset the health applecart on Monday last week when he wrote in his Manchester Confidential column that dyslexia was a cruel myth. This was an elected representative who had researched the subject thoroughly and for some years.

His opinions went national and then international. They were debated and doubted: some even approved.

But what was interesting was that many people didn’t think he even had the right to articulate his views. "I can’t believe this was published,” was a repeated rant on our site and others. "Why did you let him air these opinions?" some said.

Isn’t this wrong-headed? Surely in a mature democracy like Britain we should be able to debate what we want – within certain boundaries of taste, decency and morality. Questioning (as people said on the site) the existence of dyslexia, or for that matter ME, ADHA and others, isn’t like saying paedophilia is fine or that incest should be condoned.

Maybe the problem is that when anything is named it becomes real. The naming of a medical condition creates an uncontrollable vortex, sucking in literature, study groups, treatments, solutions and so on. The condition might then divide into different sub-groups and the whole circus around it expands.

To then even question such a condition becomes a taboo. And those people who either suffer from it, real or imaginary, and those who make their livelihood from it, go on frenzied attack when it’s denied.

On the other side of the coin, maybe there are health taboos, which we shouldn’t debate, unless qualified. By doing so all we do is cause concern amongst the victims of the conditions and this is neither constructive nor compassionate. The argument being that it'd be best if you got a barrister to make a case in court rather than a surgeon. The only problem with this would be that it meant even those suffering from a condition were debarred from commenting as they wouldn't be experts either.

Maybe Graham Stringer should have kept his views to himself. For many commentators doubting dyslexia and saying so, was as pointless as arguing against air: it put you with the flat earthers.

It's a poser.

Vote yes on our homepage, if you think there are medical taboo subjects which only doctors (and possibly) victims should discuss, and no, if you think Graham Stringer had every right to say what he did especially as an elected representative.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

MikeJanuary 19th 2009.

"Graham Stringer, MP, upset the health applecart on Monday last week when he wrote in his Manchester Confidential column that dyslexia was a cruel myth. This was an elected representative who had researched the subject thoroughly and for some years." .............................................. It is right to say that we all have the right to question these matters in an informed and intelligent way, but Mr Stringer made some extreme gaffes within his article, not least of which being the fact that he couldn't even get his figures right and yet still stated his opinion as irrefutable fact without the benefit of backing evidence ............................................. He may be an elected representative, but he proved with that article that either his research methods were severely lacking, or that he was willing to ignore the evidence catalogue built up by the medical profession for over a century. ............................................. "Vote yes on our homepage, if you think there are medical taboo subjects which only doctors and victims should discuss, and no, if you think Graham Stringer had every right to say what he did." ...................................... That is a very misleading last paragraph, because questioning the subject was not the taboo, presenting his argument in a biased and unsupportable manner was, and voting no on this page is not defending his right to present it in that way. If he had put some supporting evidence in there, then it would have been legitimate. Another way of looking at the taboo is that he presented his argument in this manner while stating himself as a constituency MP, therefore insinuating that he was speaking for his constituents in this matter.

AnonymousJanuary 19th 2009.

Would you consider it appropriate to say for example ‘All paraplegics are making it up and should be told not to be so silly and walk’ by an MP. That’s a close analogy of what ‘Graham Stringer’ said. If Graham Stringer doesn’t believe in dyslexia then he has a write to say so, but the rest of us, especially those of us who have been struggling with the problem for years have a write to disagree, I cannot imagine the harm that the article has done to the many kids struggling with this problem. Mr. Stringer is grossly ill informed and irresponsible. Shouldn’t we expect better from our elected representatives.

petit bourgeoisJanuary 19th 2009.

disorder? Poor kids are thick? Learning disabilities are far complex than a simple diagnosis and Adult Education Centres deliver a learning programme that fits into a persons way of life. Slightly OT, but certainly within the boundaries of this vote; ADHD is more common in working class children

JohnJanuary 19th 2009.

Doctors would love to forbid any discussion or, God forbid, disagreement with their diagnoses or methods despite the endless catalogue of medical disasters they inflict on their patients: thalidomide, ritalin, etc. Pesonally, I keep away from the quacks as much as possible

MikeJanuary 19th 2009.

@ Michael West: ......... You make some good points there, and I can certainly say that I agree at least in part with most of them. However, in your first post you made the comment that I most agree with, and the one that I believe illustrates why Mr Stringer should have kept his opinion on the matter to himself (especially as an elected representative) ..... "Debate isn't about silencing anybody with "How very dare you.", it is about providing people who are skeptical, with well formed (cited) insights.” ..... Mr Stringer's research on the matter was poor and fundamentally flawed, as well as him getting his facts wrong and making insinuations about the links between dyslexia, illiteracy and crime which were indefensible, therefore he did not provide us with the well formed insights that mark an open discussion, he provided us with what amounted to bookends that read 'Alpha' and 'Omega'.

Sharon MJanuary 19th 2009.

He should have kept his comments to himself, at the end of the day, my child and many others have LEARNING DIFFICULTIES, wether its called dyslexia, asd, hyperlexia, wateva, and until you have experienced it yourself or know someone that has these problems you should not disregard it unless you have complete 110% evidence to prove their is not such thing as a learning difficulty which you will never do !. You go to your doctor for a diagnosis and what he says goes unless you are not happy and you get a second opinion. Learning Difficulties are not an illness like flu etc that can go away they are with that person until the day they die, all we can do is find ways of making life more easier and more understanding for them so that they have the same chances as anyone who finds it easier to read, write etc.

Neil CraigJanuary 19th 2009.

He said that there was no dyslexia in Nicaragua & Korea, which may have ben a slight exageration but is nearly correct. The only explanation for this, other than Stringer's I have seen is that Korean & Spanish, unlike English, are so structured that it is impossible not to learn to read in them. Despite the fact that this was from a professional "educator" on the BBC it is obviously a ridiculous lie.Far from questioning whether he has right to speak out, if he is factually correct, surely the question is whether other politicians with a duty to promote the education of the next generation have a right to keep silent.

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