1. All our crises are connected, and we are all a little sick.
The Hologram emerges from Greece at the height of a financial crisis and a refugee crisis. The country has a national health care provision similar to the NHS, but which could only be accessed via the workplace. Without a job, one loses access to health care. The response by activists all over Greece was to occupy abandoned buildings and create completely free health clinics run by volunteer health professionals and many others. At the Social Solidarity Clinic of Thessaloniki, A Group for a Different Medicine organized ways to challenge hierarchies implicit in medicine. For example, the ‘patient’ (which translates to something like ‘unwell’ in Greek) were called ‘incomers’, doing away with the idea that something is wrong with those who need care. At this clinic, incomers are seen by a doctor, a therapist and a "social worker" (not a professional, the volunteer "social worker" would ask attentive questions about the incomer's home and social life). Together this team would work with the incomer to find out all about their health: What did they eat? Where did they work? Are they lonely? And after, the group would problem-solve with a holistic image of the person’s health in mind: Could we find the drug you need in our free pharmacy? Could changes in their life be made? Perhaps eating differently or ending a relationship. Some doctors still worked part time in the government hospitals. If the incomer needed an operation, they could be sneaked into the theatre after hours.
2. In physics, a hologram uses diffraction to physically record a pattern that is reproduced as a three-dimensional light field.
There are two important ideas here: a record that is multi-dimensional, and patterns that are physical but immaterial - like light, or a personal history. Inspired by the work in Thessaloniki, the Hologram imagines a new health care model. The patient or incomer becomes the hologram, reproduced through the attention of three dedicated carers, who meet together to understand their health in three dimensions. The carers are not professionals and don’t give advice, but each commit to asking questions based on the same divisions as in the clinic; focusing on either mental/emotional, social, or physical health, and to meeting regularly over an extended period of time.
The Hologram was first conceived for and tested in the American context, where free medical care does not exist. As a model for health care, the Hologram does not replace professional care, but works underneath it. The 'doctor,' 'psychotherapist,' and 'social worker' do not prescribe or treat the hologram, but dedicate themselves to asking probing questions. Over time, the hologram gains an intimate and collective knowledge, which can help with making big decisions. Perhaps it would ask: should we have an operation and how will we manage the payment? The carers can also advocate for the individual at the centre as they navigate institutional systems, physically attending health appointments, or helping to write a resignation email. The hologram meets whether it is sick or healthy.
3. The Hologram inverts the usual health hierarchies.
Here, the person seeking support is considered to be the expert of their own health. Usually this person takes responsibility for convening their carers and organising their hologram, though you could propose this idea to a friend. A hierarchal structure, if used carefully, can lead us towards horizontal organizing of power and resources. You wouldn't want to enter a classroom without a teacher.
4. Everyone needs care, especially people who are giving care.
But care is usually better if received from someone who also feels healthy. The Hologram institutes viral care: it suggests that each carer should over time form their own hologram. And this should be reproduced by every carer in that hologram again. We will all face sickness and health at different points in our lives. The older the hologram, the wiser, the stronger. This is the hypothesis of the Hologram. Who do you dedicate yourself to caring for?
5. During coronavirus we have just started to rethink how we care.
Grassroots mutual aid networks have proliferated, and dwindled. Racial and class health inequalities have become apparent, suggesting both failings in our beloved NHS and that health is determined way before the hospital, the ambulance or the dental clinic. Health is everywhere, all the time, everyday, just like a virus. The Hologram knows this. It proposes that we distribute the work of caring for our minds and bodies amongst friends and in networks of strangers. This is a life's work.
Text credit to Horrid Covid and The Hologram
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