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Introduction: The Trap of Wishful Thinking
A life of an average person is full of myths. A number of myths are related to the field of medicine, and looking at some of them will help figure out why people prefer basking in their own illusions to making a visit to a doctor, who will help figure out the problem and suggest the appropriate means of treating the disease in question.
Viruses Everywhere: The Mistakes of the Overcautious
Sometimes being too cautious results in a paranoiac fear of everything and everyone. These are the myths created by the people who are maniac about their health:
- Viruses can withstand extremely low temperatures (actually, – 80C kills most of them, as “Myths about Viruses” (1) say).
- Tarantula bites are deadly.
“Something That Will Never Happen to Me”: The Sad Truth
Perhaps, the most harmful myths of all, the ones that go into the given category are truly the scourge of doctors all over the world. By far the most frequently occurring and, therefore, the one that deserves a special mentioning is the myth concerning AIDS. Even though the issue of AIDS is no longer discussed as much as it used to be in the 90s, it still is topical, and the HIV test after sharing needles or an unprotected sex with a stranger will burst the bubbles of the adepts of it-will-never-happen-to-me myth completely.
“Precisely Two Spoonfuls of … Must Be Taken Every Day”
Some of medical myths can be put under the category of weird rituals. People need rituals to make sure that they will keep just as healthy and safe as they are now, which is why such myths are born. Among these myths, the following must be mentioned:
- Toxins can be “sweetened out” from an organism (the only elements that sweat contains is water and trace minerals, “The Top Ten Untrue Medical Myths” says).
- Breast cancer is caused by tight bras.
It must be admitted that these can be considered the least harmful myths, since they do not cause any actual harm. Instead, they seem to bring order into people’s lives, which is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. Not exactly useful, these myths also never threat people’s health or well-being, which means that they can be regarded as a whim.
When There Is Nothing to Lose but Hope
Some of the myths appear when people cannot handle with the idea of dying losing their family member and, therefore, need to keep their hopes high. As a result, the most unbelievable and, sadly, completely absurd myths are born. A number of these myths concern cancer and cancer related diseases.
- Cancer can be treated with positive thinking.
- Decreasing the amount of consumed sugar will help cure one’s cancer (Sugar Feeds Cancer 1).
- Staying unaware of cancer is easier than dealing with it.
A Random Pick Category: The Madness Ensues
Eventually, the most dangerous myth should be brought up. According to a widespread misconception, the victims of car crashes die because of severe injuries and the loss of blood. Though there is a grain of truth in the given statement, it yet must be mentioned that in most cases, these victims can be saved as long as no one except emergency service workers or doctors moves or even touches them.
The myth described above also conveys the wrong message concerning the use of belts. According to the interpretations of the given myth, wearing a seatbelt guarantees surviving the accident in 100% of cases. Sadly, this is not true either; as the existing theory explains, the shear-related blunt traumas caused by a slam to halt result in fatal lacerations (NAEMT 66). As one can see, though often harmless, in many cases, medical myths are deadly, which picks a question concerning why these myths exist.
Conclusion: Differentiating between Myths and Reality
Despite the obvious threat that medical myths pose to the health of those who believe in them, they clearly perform an important function in the society. While in general, myths have nothing to do with reality and are considered absurd not only by doctors, but also by the ones who have the slightest idea of how a human body works, these weird legends play the role of a painkiller for the person who comforts him-/herself with these myths.
For the people whose lives are in peril yet can be saved with the help of medical treatment, myths are deadly. For those who are terminally ill, as well as their relatives, myths serve as a drug that can take the pain of parting away for a moment, giving a glimpse of hope.
Those being overcautious about the health of their families or their own health can also find consolation in medical myths that are relatively harmful and can be viewed as some sort of rituals, i.e., drinking exactly eight glasses of water every day. While the helpfulness of such measures has little to do with reality, such myths serve as the means to reduce the anxiety concerning one’s own health or the health of a family member. That being said, it can be assumed that as long as a medical myth does not have a harmful effect on a person’s health, it deserves to exist at least for the sake of people’s peace of mind.
“Myths about Viruses.” Stanford University. n. d. Web. 2013.
NAEMT. “Kinematics of Trauma.” Personal Trauma Life Support, 7th Ed. Maryland Heights, MO: Msoby/Jems. 2010.
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Sugar Feeds Cancer n. d. Web. 2013.
“The Top Ten Untrue Medical Myths.” Ranker. n. d. Web. 2013.