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Robert De Niro,
When Lori Reimuller learns that her young son Robbie has epilepsy, she first trusts the judgment of the hospital staff in how best to bring it under control. As Robbie's health slides radically downhill, however, she becomes frustrated and desperate, and so does her own research into the existing literature on treatments. When she decides to try an alternative treatment called the Ketogenic Diet, devised long ago by a doctor from Johns Hopkins, she is met with narrow-minded resistance from Robbie's doctor, who is prepared to take legal action to prevent Lori from removing him from the hospital. This movie is an indictment of those in the medical profession who discuss only the treatment options they favor. Several of the minor characters are portrayed by people who have been not just helped, but cured by the Ketogenic diet. Written by
Debra K. Day <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jim Abrahams helped set up the Charlie Foundation in Santa Monica, California, an institution dedicated to spreading the word about the ketogenic diet to major paediatric neurological centres. It was through this network that he first came into contact with the Reimullers, the family depicted in the film. See more »
There is no doubt that any movie with Meryl Streep is well worth watching and that she will always find a way to surprise and impress the audience. This movie is no exception from that point.
However, the reason I decided to add my comment has little do with the main star (and one of the producers of the movie!), but very much to do with the story itself, particularly the element of medical staff's arrogance which was brilliantly shown. "First Do No Harm" tells the story of an epileptic child, whose family struggles with his condition, trusting that doctors and scientific methods will help cure him. As the times go by, it becomes evident that the child is not getting better. Doctors refuse to admit their methods are not resulting with any progress but suggest more radical treatments, regardless that the family disagrees with them. On one side stand the people in white coats who base their authority much more on their degree rather than on the confidence in results they have (not) achieved; on the other are parents, especially the mother, who instinctively feels her child is being treated the wrong way. The scene in which a simple, frightened woman steps into the big doctor's office and expresses her frustration with the fact her son gets all sorts of medications, when one is used just to cover the side-effects of another and causes another set of symptoms that need new treatments, is especially strong and significant.
After realising that she has no-one else to rely on but herself, the mother does her own desperate research and comes up with a discovery of a form of treatment she has never been told about, but strongly believes it is at least worth trying. The treatment is ketogenic diet, some kind of natural method that forces the body to use its own resources to fight the epilepsy. The method gives good results, a drug and seizure-free life, for about 1/3 of the patients treated by it. Again she stands alone against the rigid medical establishment that obviously finds it hard to admit the failure of drugs treatments and still insist the mother is incompetent of a sensible judgement. However, this time the child will get the treatment that mother feels will give some hope, and the end result will be the complete recovery.
As a strong supporter of alternative medicine I found the message of the movie extremely important. The doctors are competent, educated individuals whom we are supposed to trust with our health. However, the chemical/drug treatment or operations they are so eager to prescribe are not necessarily the only good ways of treating the ruined health. In my experience I've seen far too often that "classical" doctors are not too welcoming to alternative methods, justifying this by insignificant research and proofs that nautral methods actually work, at the same time forgetting that many methods they are using are not proved either.
The people who have been treated from epilepsy by ketogenic diet method play a few characters in the movie. This is a wonderful way of supporting the movie and its message and I was delighted with the final scenes in which these people were presented.
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