Lily The Pink

People say that your adult life is shaped by your childhood experiences.

Now I have my own young children I begin to recall all sorts of nursery rhymes, songs and tunes I haven’t heard for ages. What effect did they have on me I wonder?

I’m not sure that my mum singing “The Purple People-Eater” greatly influenced my future development, but just recently I’ve been getting a song stuck in my head called “Lily The Pink”.

So with a bit of hunting in Wikipedia I find that “Lily The Pink” is an English drinking song based on “Lydia Estes Pinkham (February 9, 1819 – May 17, 1883) who was an iconic concocter and shrewd marketer of a commercially successful herbal-alcoholic “women’s tonic” meant to relieve menstrual and menopausal pains.”

The traditional “Lily The Pink” has verses like these two…

Peter Whelan
He was sad
Because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia’s compound
Now they grow in clusters ’round his butt.

And Uncle Paul
He was terribly small.
He was the shortest man in town.
So on his body he rubbed medicinal compound,
And now he’s six foot, underground.

I have a sanitized version stuck in my head, and this was a hit in the UK just before I was born.

Maybe this was the start of my upbringing to becoming a medical sceptic?

All I can say is that anytime someone tells me they have found a medicine or natural cure that seems to work on anything and everything, then this song pops into my head (the full original lyrics are below the video)

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a t-t-terrible s-s-stammer.
He could b-barely speak a word.
So they gave him medicinal compound,
And now he’s seen, but never heard.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

The original and complete vinyl recording is here;

-Dr Martin Russell

Doctors And Empathy

Have you heard the joke?

When is the time to get empathy from a doctor?

Before they’ve gone to medical school.

Boom. Boom.

Well actually it’s not a joke at all. It’s a researched fact, and not a very funny fact either.

Evidence has been building that shows a steady decline in empathy in doctors as they go through their medical training. The latest one came out just last month…

It is quite staggering.

Empathy is the ability to feel and respond to what someone else is experiencing.

Doctors are most empathic when they have first been chosen for medical school.

From this point on their ability to be empathic declines. Even once they become registrars it continues to fall away.

I’m not yet aware of research that shows when this trend stops, or begins to reverse. Perhaps at some point it does.

Not surprisingly females on average have more empathy than males, but it makes little difference in medical school.

The proportional drop during training is the same.

Except for alcoholism, some prescription drug addictions, and completed suicide (presumably they have better knowledge about how to succeed if they attempt it) doctors are generally healthier than the average population.

So for self help, empathy may not be very necessary.

But if you want empathy from a doctor you might have to hunt a bit more than you would expect. No joke.

-Dr Martin Russell

Antidepressant Ups And Downs

“There have now been six meta analyses in the last decade showing little difference between antidepressants and placebos, yet this is not commonly recognised in clinical practice.” – Medical Observer April 4 2008 pg 31

So says Professor Gordon Parker of the Black Dog Institute in Australia, who has long been a critic of “depression” as being too broad a label for what is going on in particular individuals. He is particular keen that treatment, including antidepressants, must be tailored much more specifically.

Professor Parker points out that the popularity of antidepressants was full of ups and downs even before the culture-shifting release of the antidepressant Prozac…

“The first antidepressant drug (the tricyclic drug Imipramine) was ‘discovered’ a little more than fifty years ago.

The manufacturers, Ciba-Geigy, did not wish to take that drug to market as their analyses indicated that there were insufficient depressed people in the world for the drug to return a profit, and it was only after strong protest advocacy in the United States (by consumers) that it was released [my emphasis].

When we consider the sales of antidepressants over the last decade, that judgment by Ciba-Geigy may seem inexplicable. But “depression” in the middle of the twentieth century essentially comprised severe expressions of “biological depression” (psychotic or melancholic depression) that resulted in a percentage of people being hospitalised, generally in asylums as few general hospital psychiatry units existed.”

The last 50 years of psychiatric thinking has been an enormous rollercoaster ride through society and the ride isn’t looking like ending any time soon.

All I can say is, hang on!

-Dr Martin Russell

For Adelaideans

This self help website attracts readers worldwide, from the US, Canada, Australia and UK, along with about 30 other countries so far. This is the main value of this site.

A few of my readers come from Adelaide, South Australia, where I have my solo counselling practice.

There are some things I can offer locally that I can’t yet do world-wide, so I would like to invite my Adelaide or South Australia readers to get specific local updates.

I will be able to provide access to other aspects of my self help/counselling work, including…

  • Local Adelaide presentations I’m currently doing on why almost all the weight loss methods around today don’t work in the long-term. [Hint: it’s probably NOT your fault. The methods themselves are flawed.]
  • How I fixed my every backache, knee pain, neck twinge, headache, and more, over the past 5 years… without pills, braces, physiotherapists or chiropractors, and all for less than $100.
  • AND, a special offer for an appointment with me at no cost to you. Currently my standard consulting fee is $206 for a 45-minute session (as I am a GP, Medicare Rebates and Safety Net do apply), but as a reader of this blog I would like to offer you – or someone you know – a complete session on me.

You can get all the details by entering your name and email address here…

Full Name:
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NOTE: To keep the disruption of the rest of my practice appointments to a minimum this offer is for April only. Also, with school holidays in Adelaide this month my practice will be closed for one week for time with my family, so I suggest you phone my office as soon as you receive the email after you sign up.

-Dr Martin Russell