analysis: medical industrial complex

Well, it could be argued that science, or the veneer of science, is required to make a ritual acceptable to modern, educated people, who are unlikely to be impressed by drumming and animal horns. The Ihamba ritual may be culturally appropriate for the Ndembu people to express concern for an afflicted person; Westerners require the trappings of science - imaging machines, centrifuges, and sterile, or at least blank, interior rooms. But to my knowledge no one has tested this proposition. Would it help to add cut flowers, soothing music, and friendlier faces to the conventional medical encounter? Does all the equipment have to be real, or would cardboard imitations do just as well? And if the real point of medical ritual is to demonstrate social support for the patient, surely we could do so in ways that are less grotesquely expensive, as well as stressful and demeaning.
— Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control