Professor Aylward claims many people are ill because there are gains to be had for being ill. He thinks this explains why people stay on benefits and adopt the ‘sick role’. That twaddle didn’t have much credence when it was first mooted decades ago.
This is the psychological side of the biopsychosocial model. Well, anybody who has studied psychology, as I have, know there’s hundreds of research studies being published every day, so it wouldn’t be difficult to find one to fit your agenda or the government’s – in this case, a sinister one to justify savage cuts to disability benefits, especially to those with illnesses and sicknesses which Aylward, Waddell et al don’t consider to be ‘diseases’. But anybody with only the most rudimentary grasp of psychology knows that psychological factors can affect the physical; that if you have a disease or illness, the symptoms can be affected by external factors, stress, depression etc. But you can’t go from stating psychological factors play a part to then saying that psychological is all there is. This just displays a lack of the most basic scientific logic and is shoddy in the extreme.
But there’s also something warped about stating that sick people stand to gain from financial security and thus need to be ‘disincentivised’ (horrid word); that somehow benefiting or needing a financial safety net is wrong and that sick people should somehow choose to put themselves at financial risk in preference. This isn’t peculiar to ill people; everyone derives benefits from being financially better off. We see the same sort of language being bandied about all people on benefits, sick or the ‘fit’ unemployed. We hear the term ‘welfare dependent’. Let’s get one thing clear. Everyone is financially dependent. Everyone needs money to buy the basics to survive. How is it that we never hear about the tax-break dependent? Or the bonus-dependent? It is only the poor who are blamed for being ‘dependent’ on something that is a requirement for us all to survive. Money. And enough of it.
So it's time to name the elephant in the room.