Who’s The Expert?


There’s a lot in the air these days about who’s in charge when it comes to our health. Given the divisiveness and the accusations that abound here, it feels a little dicey even putting it out there. But if we don’t take a deeper look at who is the ultimate authority when it comes to the health and well-being of our bodies, we will not only continue to be at each other’s throats, we will have missed the most important question of all:

What makes for true health, and in whose hands does it belong?

Thinking about this, I was taken back to a time when I was working as a therapist-in-training. There were so many rules about how to engage with a patient. The proper boundaries around interactions that we had to set. The legal requirements around how to practice, and how to keep from being sued.

And then of course, and perhaps most ‘important’ of all, was the agreed upon (and often unspoken) narrative that drove the therapeutic interaction: The therapist is the expert and they know far more about the patient than the patient knows about their own life, what the trouble is and what they most need. In other words “I’m the expert and it’s up to me to tell you what’s wrong with you and how to fix it. It’s your job to do what I tell you.”

This never sat well with me, though at the time I could not have told you why. But now I can.

To ever presume that you are the expert in another person’s life is to not only create an imbalanced relationship that carries with it the promise, or at least the possibility of abuse, is nothing compared to what you will have robbed that person of. That being, their experience of learning how to claim their own inner authority.

For any of us to come to know a sense of full adult status, we must traverse the difficult terrain of claiming full responsibility for ourselves; the choices we make, and the lives we create through those choices. It is by engaging with all of the decisions that we must make as an adult in charge of our own body that we reap the power, clarity, strength, autonomy and authority that we require to live in health. And that our communities require of us in order to create healthy communities.

Becoming the bona fide expert in our own lives is the single, greatest contribution we will ever make to our life and to the lives of those around us.

Just as every parent must understand that to keep a young adult child tethered to us and our expertise may feel safer than letting them figure out what they must on their own, to do this is to cripple them. It is to rob them of a sense of self-trust and inner authority.

It is no different with the health of our bodies and with those who would appoint themselves as the ‘experts.’ We must, each on our own, be allowed the space and the freedom to decide what is best for us, mistakes and all. To do anything less is to cripple a populace. It is to keep them infantilized to parentified and controlling outside authorities.

In the end, it is to undermine the richness and the possibility of a world based on a kind of organic health that seeds itself in individual expertise, that then goes on to blossom into health for all.