In this Newsletter, we are discussing the evolution of Medicine in this country, which has gone a full circle from integration of mind-body-spirit to disease focus and gradually evolving back to integration of mind-body-spirit again.
Patient in the 1800s might have been known as “Mrs. Richardson, the daughter of Mike Richardson, the mother of Robert Richardson, who had a problem with her kidney”
In the 1920s, she became, “Mrs. Richardson with her interesting unsolved kidney abnormality”
In the 1950s, she was addressed as, “the kidney in room 320”
In the 1960s and 1970s, Mrs. Richardson became, “the person with kidney abnormality with a genetic cause or a viral etiology, who may respond to an IV infusion, or some gene therapy”
While this is progress in Medical field, there are also two significant problems with this evolution:
- Dehumanization of the patient, with a reduction in emotional contact
- An increasing cost of care
For thousands of years, the medical profession had integrated body, mind, and spirit in order to be of service to our patients. Historically Western allopathic medicine began in the 5th century B.C.
The Greek physician, Hippocrates, said, “The treatment by the Hippocratic physician reflected his fundamental approach. This was the treatment of an individual, not of a disease, and the treatment of the whole body, not any part of it. (Short History of medicine by Dr. Erwin Akemacht)
More than two thousand years later, we find in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, p.1, “In the practice of medicine, the physician employs a discipline which seeks to utilize scientific methods and principles in the solution of its problems, but it is one which, in the end, remains an art.”
Between Hippocrates and Harrison’s, at the time of Descartes, the religious tradition decided that the “mind” was part of the spirit, and therefore not to be included in the realm of allopathic medicine. At that juncture, Western medicine separated “body and mind”
The last 100 to 200 years of Medical history led to the following:
- The elimination of multiple therapies and treatments
- The reduction of services offered and payment for services
- The devaluation of time with the practitioner
- The growth of high-tech procedures
- The categorization of diagnoses
While to some degree, diagnoses are important, especially in acute care, they tend to oversimplify the cause and effect nature of medicine.
Integrative holistic medicine tends to avoid this knee-jerk response by evaluating the patient as a whole being and treating him/her as a partner in the process of care.
With this brief historic background and backdrop in mind, the following quotations can help us maintain our center and balance.
The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease -- William Osler, MD
On several occasions, Osler emphasized the importance of what he called the ‘education of the heart’.
‘The education of the heart—the moral side of man—must keep pace with the education of the head. Our fellow creatures cannot be dealt with as man deals in corn and coal.’
Integrative Medicine—the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and the patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
Holistic Medicine—medical care that views physical and mental and spiritual aspects of life as closely interconnected and equally important approaches to treatment.
Integrative Holistic Medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. The practice of integrative holistic medicine integrates conventional and complementary therapies to promote optimal health and to prevent and treat disease by addressing contributing factors.
Integrative medicine treats people as human beings and not human doings.
Finally, like to end this Newsletter with the following quote:
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
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