According to an ancient legend, the famous Chinese physician Guo Yu held the belief that rich people were harder to cure. Renowned physician Bian Que also held the same opinion.
During the Eastern Han Dynasty, the palace physician Guo Yu was often praised for his superb skills. Although he was a palace physician, he never refused to treat poor people. He noticed his treatments were more effective on the poor. It puzzled everyone that when he treated people from high-end society, the results were never as good. The emperor thought something was unusual, so he asked the noblemen to wear ragged clothes when they went to see Guo Yu. Sure enough, they were cured very quickly.
The emperor was very upset about this and called Guo Yu into the palace to ask him about it. Guo Yu replied:
“The principle of treatment is concentration. Dealing with high-end society has four difficulties: They do not respect their physician’s advice, they live an irregular life, they are physically weak, and they are often so arrogant that they end up intimidating their physician.”
“For example, when doing acupuncture, one must fully focus on the work. Any deviation of the needle means failure. Treating the rich often causes anxiety for the practitioner, and therefore makes it harder to cure their illnesses.”
Upon hearing his explanation, the emperor nodded his head in agreement and ordered people from the palace to change their manners and bad habits. The saying “It is hard to cure the rich” started to spread through the region.
Coincidentally, Bian Que, from the state of Qin during the Warring States Period, had a similar opinion. Bian Que traveled to many different states and used his skills to help relieve people’s suffering. Even though Bian Que had extraordinary skills, he had a rule about the six kinds of people whom he would not treat:
- People who have power and are arrogant and overbearing.
- People who love money more than anything else.
- People who indulge in overeating and overdrinking.
- People who are seriously ill, but did not seek help earlier.
- People who are too weak to take medicine.
- People who believe in witchcraft, but not in medical ethics.
Translated by Yi Ming.