"Asking the essential and upsetting questions"
On Lyme, Institutions and Power

One of the most intriguing subjects in the social sciences is “power”. While reading 'Shifting the Lyme Paradigm' I noted that references to the distribution and exercise of power keep recurring. I would like to describe power as the ability to make others do or believe what they would not do or believe out of their own free will. The institutionalization of health care implies that people outsource their coping with sickness, suffering and pain to professional interventions and thus alienate themselves from their own lives. In the process the decline of health is the likely end result.

The most common response to this is the extension and further professionalisation of health services and the application of ever more advanced (medical, biological and pharmaceutical) technology. It is unlikely that this will improve levels of health in modern societies. As Illich argues, “Better health care will not depend on some new  therapeutic standard, but on the level of willingness and competence to engage in self-care.” (Illich, 1975:165)

What Ivan Illich told us in the Seventies is today still essential for our reflections on illnesses like Lyme. In his crucial work on the disease of Lyme, Huib Kraaijeveld demonstrates once again his readiness and ability to ask questions that undermine the comfort of the status quo that is offered by the dominant interpretations of our reality. 

As a dedicated social researcher he does not pretend to have all the answers, but guides us towards asking the upsetting and essential questions that we need to ask ourselves for the benefit of our health.

Taken from the Epilogue of  'Shifting the Lyme Paradigm', written by Cees J. Hamelink, professor emeritus of International Communication at the University of Amsterdam, Athena professor for Globalization, Public Health and Human Rights at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and professor of Knowledge Management at the University of Aruba. The Netherlands