Anita Roddam edited this passage from Friedrich Engels:
“When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder.
But when the medical profession/psychiatrists place hundreds of patients in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet;
when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual;
disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.
I have now to prove that the medical profession/psychiatry in England daily and hourly commits what the working-men’s organs, with perfect correctness, characterise as social murder, that it has placed the patients under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long;
that it undermines the vital force of these patients gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time.
I have further to prove that the medical and psychiatric profession knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the patients, and yet does nothing to improve these conditions.
That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murder, I shall have proved, when I cite official documents, reports of Parliament and of the Government, in substantiation of my charge. . .
. . . So far has it gone in England; and the general public reads these things every day in the newspapers and takes no further trouble in the matter. But it cannot complain if, after the official and non-official testimony here cited which must be known to it, I broadly accuse it of social murder.
Let the medical & psychiatric profession see to it that these frightful conditions are ameliorated, or let it surrender the administration of the common interests to expert-patient groups.
To the latter course it is by no means inclined; for the former task, so long as it remains the “caring professions” crippled by caring-professional prejudice, it has not the needed power.
For if, at last, after hundreds of thousands of victims have perished, it manifests some little anxiety for the future, passing a “Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Strategy”, under which the most unscrupulous lack of research, treatment and management is to be, at least in some slight degree, funded;
if it points with pride to measures which, far from attacking the root of the evil, do not by any means meet the demands of the commonest standard of medical care, it cannot thus vindicate itself from the accusation.
The English medical and psychiatric profession has but one choice, either to continue its rule under the unanswerable charge of murder and in spite of this charge, or to abdicate in favour of equity of medical care for people living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Hitherto it has chosen the former course.”
Adapted from ‘Condition of the Working Class in England’,
F. Engels (1845)
Yes, EIGHTEEN forty-five!