Since its beginnings 200 years ago, modern medicine has, with each decade, become increasingly powerful in its ability to diagnose and treat ill health. But expectations of how well we should feel have risen in step. It's fortunate, then, that most illness is never reported to doctors - that we obsessively look after, diagnose and treat ourselves - or else the NHS would never cope.The dream of health for all was encapsulated in the British NHS. To name it the National Health Service was neither a slip nor an exercise in Orwellian cynicism: its pioneers believed the problem of illness could be solved within a few years and that it could then turn to promoting health. But dealing with ill health has proved problematic and, like a new road clogging with traffic, there always seems to be enough demand for medicine to exceed supply, and thereby to place excessive demands on the health services. Perhaps feeling healthy is just more difficult than being healthy. Or perhaps we, the wealthiest and healthiest generations the world has ever seen, can’t give up on the desire to feel yet better. Modern medicine is often reductionist - it concentrates on the minute mechanisms of disease. It may be this that provokes the desire for a more holistic approach to disease that treats the whole person, not just the disease. It is in search of this that many of us insist in treating ourselves, as our forebears have for centuries.