Musings on Dallas Buyers Club, Autodidactism and The Information War

Well, I finally got around to watching Dallas Buyers Club on Netflix and it was really good. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both turn in exceptional performances.

Sadly,  what undermines this biopic is the way that it takes some extreme liberties with historical fact in order to make it fit better into a three act play structure… for example, both the Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner characters seen in the film are invented – they’re actually based on a combination of different people rather than two real individuals. They’re composities.

Another aspect that’s completely fictional is the depiction of Ron Woodruff (as played by Matthew McConaughey) as being a raging homophobe, when he in fact had no hostility towards gay people in real life and it’s since been suggested by several people close to Woodruff that he was actually bisexual.

But if you can allow your brain to shut that information out it’s quite possible to enjoy this movie for its depiction of a group of people with HIV/AIDS coming together to form their own “buyers club” in order to (often illegally) access the best medication available in order to prolong their lives.

The best parts of the film? For me, they’re easily the scenes where Woodruff is poring over books in the library and educating himself on the best treatment options available for the virus, ultimately becoming an expert in his own condition and ultimately a civil liberties hero in his fight against the FDA in order to allow AIDS patients the right to experiment on their own bodies as they see fit.

There are in fact several parallels which I see with the scandalously unfair fight that many people with Alcohol Use Disorder in many countries have on their hands trying to access naltrexone or nalmefene using The Sinclair Method… and the undignified hoops that some patients are forced to jump through in order to get hold of a prescription.

I also relate to the scenes where the Matthew McConaughey character is ridiculed for educating himself on his own condition and the best treatment options available. I’ve had this several times over the years, with an addictions worker once cautioning me that I “think too much”.

The democratisation of science is a scary thing for some people. Autodidactism is especially threatening to some doctors, it seems.

But the question should be asked: is it really monstrous arrogance to “act as your own doctor” and take risks such as importing naltrexone illegally when you’re forced into that position because you know the default medical paradigm in your location is woefully ineffective in comparison to The Sinclair Method?

When the system has you over a barrel and your choices are severely limited, are you really the villain for saying “Fuck off. I’m not playing by your rules anymore. I’m just going to import some damn naltrexone myself”.

?

I would say not. It’s not so black and white as far as morality goes.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts on the movie. Despite the lack of historical accuracy it’s still a good watch. I got a lot of identification out of it.

Another film worth checking out for that similar theme of laypersons on an autodidactic quest to educate themselves on medicine (in order to save their little boy) is Lorenzo’s Oil (see HERE). Well worth viewing.

 

Just back onto the subject of The Dallas Buyers Club: there’s quite an interest article here about a HIV patient inspired by the initiative of the Matthew McConaughey character who has recently injected himself with an untested gene therapy:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41990981

Makes for interesting reading. It wouldn’t surprise me if gene therapy was one of the next things that they’ll look at for addiction treatment. Hey, you never know.

 

Okay, well I’ve ran out of things to say. Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

 

2 thoughts on “Musings on Dallas Buyers Club, Autodidactism and The Information War

  1. lovinglife52

    I must watch that, I have seen Lorenzo’s oil, which was of particular interest to me. I think it is important to learn as much as posible about a mediacl condition when you are looking at treatment options. As you know, my partner had a failed back operation which ended up with a six year struggle to put things right. We won the negligence case but that did not make up for the suffering. With hindsite I would have been much more guarded, when accepting advice from that Doctor. Since then I have always seen specialists armed with as much information as possible to discuss with them, so that we vcan make an informed decision. I don’t see this as disrespectful to the Doctors. There are often different approaches and it is important to find the right path for an individual. I do think we have to take some of the responsability for our own treatment.

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    1. Gary Bell Post author

      Yes, the fact is – given everything that they have to cover – that it’s humanly impossible for a GP to read every bit of research that crosses his or her desk. That doesn’t make them a bad doctor, that just makes them human.

      The difference is, given the fact that I was the one living it 24/7, I was personally invested in cramming up on as much info as I could about alcohol addiction… so given such a powerful intrinsic motivation it was no surprise that aspects of my own research would often be better informed than the doctor I was dealing with. That’s no disrespect to the doctor – it’s just a fact.

      What I am careful about is “playing doctor” with other sufferers of alcohol addiction, though. For the sake of my own conscience I like to signpost people rather than advise them because though I reserve the right to put into my body what I see fit, I stop short of saying “do as I do” – instead advising people to read The Cure for Alcoholism, see their own doctor and exercise their own judgement as they best see fit once they have as many of the facts as possible.

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