"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.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Healthcare and the incredible reinvention of medicine

In these musings of mine around the subject of healthcare we must not forget to give proper credit for the many wonderful advances that are being made in medical science; the technological achievements, the surgical and clinical skills, the development of ever more efficacious drugs and the efforts of the very many health care professionals working competently and tirelessly using best knowledge, experience and facilities for the benefit of the patient.
Lyme Regis February 2014
Perhaps more doctors than we realize do understand and practice the philosophy of holistic health care, with due regard to the full impact of body, mind and spirit in considering the ‘wellness’ of the person. Even so it is unlikely that this can often be realistically achieved within the normal time constraints of a busy practice. Nevertheless there is an opportunity here that should not be ignored; indeed we may not be able to ignore it for much longer, given the escalating costs of traditional healthcare.

Several years ago I picked up in our local library a very battered secondhand copy of Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine by Larry Dossey. I hadn't heard of Dossey at that time, and I was intrigued by the book’s title. Now I realize that Dossey has been in the vanguard of mind body healing for some time and is even sometimes credited with being the father of this genre of medicine with which so many are still uncomfortable. His influence was perhaps first felt in the 1990s with Healing Words. Upon reading further, I was immediately fascinated by Dossey’s division of the history of medicine, from when it first became scientific in the mid 1800s, into three Eras.
Studland Bay January 2014
The first 100 years or so from around the time of the American Civil War of Independence up until around 1950 he calls Era I, the rise of ‘mechanical medicine’, because, he says, ‘of its adherence to classical, mechanical physics.’ Era II from then until the first publication of his book in 1993 and still developing to this day he described as the age of mind/body medicine. During that period there was an increasing recognition that the state of a person’s mind, their thoughts and emotions can affect the physical body and cause what is usually described as psychosomatic illness. Such illnesses are often unfairly misrepresented, by being thought of as imaginary, or ‘all in the mind’, a misnomer that is unhelpful to the further study of this important phenomenon. Dossey now says that he prefers to look at this concept the other way around: that it is better to show how positive feelings keep us healthy, or whole.

Both Era I and Era II medicine remain, he says, ‘wholly devoted to the tenets of classical science as an explanation for all events, including the actions of the mind.’ Dossey also talks of an Era III, the era of non-local mind medicine. But that is for a later post…

If you are finding this series of blogs interesting, I have treated other vital aspects of our lives to a similar analysis - always urging spirit over matter - spirituality and healing over materialism and curing, bringing a more holistic lens to our economy, creativity, creation, pastoral issues, and so on… 
All in Healing This Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope.

What readers are saying about Healing This Wounded Earth:
"Within a few pages ... I was making a mental list of all the friends and colleagues I wanted to give or lend this book to. I loved reading this book and am sure will turn to it again in the future."
From review by Dr Yvonneke Roe GP in London, in Network Review, Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network 

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