"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Michael Mayne on Holistic Medicine

Michael Mayne, busy parish priest who subsequently became Dean of Westminster Abbey within the Anglican Communion, was well qualified to write about the patient’s perception of healthcare. In his book A Year Lost and Found he describes his experiences and struggle with a debilitating episode of ME, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the post-viral fatigue syndrome. Of all the various treatments and advice he received for a condition that is still very little understood, he significantly gives special credit to a certain Dr D, whose particular efficacy in helping him cope with his condition is attributed to his grasp of the inter-relatedness of body and spirit:

"…he talked and he tested or massaged parts of my body. Sometimes he just talked. He had the great gift of encouragement. He understood that the question ‘How are you?’ is at root a metaphysical question, which is not sufficiently answered with clinical lists and data …but goes to the deepest part of ourselves as the complex and uniquely precious beings we are." (1)

Mayne tragically died from cancer in 2006, but not before heroically putting the finishing touches to his final book The Enduring Melody. This started as a meditation of his life, but when the cancer struck it became his daily meditations interwoven into an autobiography of his final year. The book is a brave and very thoughtful journal through those last ten months. It culminates in a reflective essay on illness and healing, and the need for a holistic approach:

"To treat a disease," he said: "is to inhibit it and hopefully help the body to destroy it or control it: to treat a patient is to observe, foster, nurture and listen to a life...
In an ideal [health service] it would be good if every doctor and nurse in training would reflect on the mystery of the human being with both the learning of the scientist and the observation and sympathy of the novelist or the poet." (2)

Mayne was writing of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service but his thoughts are equally relevant in the United States, which is actually ahead of the UK in recognizing the importance of spirituality in healthcare. Mayne understood only too well that chasm that is so often evident between what the patient actually receives from a short medical consultation and what he is really looking for.

(1) Michael Mayne, A Year Lost and Found, London: Darton Longman and Todd, 1987, p. 22. 

(2) Michael Mayne, The Enduring Melody, London: Darton Longman and Todd, 2006, pp. 13.
Studland Bay in January


No comments:

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews