"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

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Monday, 20 January 2014

Where is medicine's soul?

For far too many of us, the soul is nowhere to be found in the clinical medicine setting.
The modern physician is able to draw upon a vast wealth of advanced techniques that may be available, whether drugs or surgery or radiation or other interventions that he deems to be suitable from his scientific knowledge, training and experience. With the amazing march of scientific progress and the significant development of clinical medicine, physicians have welcomed the predictability and precision provided by these advances. They have become increasingly trained and skilled in clinical excellence, curing disease, with some wonderful achievements to record.
Chapel at Burrswood Christian Healing Hospital
With the increasing demands of the twenty first century, the work related stress, the bombardment with bad news, relationship problems, even chemical imbalances in the brain, the patient often presents himself at the surgery with mind related disorders. These may include mental disturbances or psychosomatic illness or simply an indefinable need, perhaps even subconscious, to be made whole in some intangible way.
The physician is often not prepared or adequately trained for this modern need. We may be cured clinically, as far as is possible within the capacity of the available treatments; but what have we cured, the illness or the disease? Are we healed?
There can be a mismatch between what the doctor offers and what the patient needs.
It is often said that the physician used to be able to cure rarely but care always. Now it seems that the reverse is the case: he can cure very often but somehow it seems that there is often little room for the caring and the healing.
Burrswood Healing Hospital
The fact is that millions of times a day our health professionals in our surgeries and hospitals come face to face with patients in search of curing, but in need of healing. And that basic need is so often not being met. The physician can feel frustrated and wounded, even sense that in some way he has failed his patient. There is often an equally frustrated patient who remains wounded and who is likely to be back before too long with another physical complaint requiring some ‘listening’ treatment. Although the patient may not fully comprehend his own need to achieve wholeness, to be healed, he certainly recognizes that the consultation has been unsatisfactory in some way.
It is surely because so many of us do not receive the healing for which we yearn on the visit to the physician that we join the ever increasing number of people who seek complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs) elsewhere, often without our physician’s knowledge and with varying degrees of success. It is no coincidence that the number of practitioners trained in such therapies has mushroomed. This is also one of the reasons for the increasing interest in faiths and religions.
Doctors have even sometimes been deserted in favor of spiritual retreats and similar events, but the help that these can offer may often be limited by time constraints and lack of suitable training. Pastoral Counselors are another important resource but of course they do not have the clinical medical training. Because our woundedness remains, we may even resort to dealing with those wounds in other ways, through retail therapy, with drug abuse (including alcoholism) and with smoking. These habits may alleviate our problems in the short term but at the same time are harmful to ourselves, to the environment, or indeed to both. This all raises a serious and fundamental question.
Should healthcare be seen as a problem of cost, or an opportunity for growth?
It should be neither! It should be a dynamic and readily affordable system that continually strives to integrate its conventional allopathic disciplines with the various and increasingly popular complementary and alternative medicines, including spiritual and religious healing methods. These should all work alongside one another in a spirit of full cooperation and mutual respect. This is truly integrated medicine at its very best.

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