In Western medicine, it is anathema for the physician’s subjective being to be critical to the practice of his medicine. The validity of his practice is now defined by his intellectual ability to choose the correct drug and procedure, which consequently also gives him personal satisfaction and respect among his colleagues. Should the patient recover in a way that does not afford the physician with reproducible, documentable evidence, the profession and the doctor question whether the patient was sick to begin with. This creates a natural authoritarian gulf between healer and those in need of healing. It creates conflict, rather than harmony, in the therapeutic environment. It also raises the question of how we define disease.
To a large extent today, the physician is a robot, operated by a pharmaceutical company. There is no way he could avoid the acknowledgment that he could be easily replaced, and his job performed more efficiently, by a computer. However, if we require a form of medicine that through its very practice encourages and allows the physician to maintain his own humanity, this medicine would impel a physician to exercise all his sense in his contact with patients. This would inevitably benefit not only patients, but doctors as well: when physicians constantly use their eyes, ears, taste, smell, and touch as their principal tools of communication, they do not have the high incidence of suicide and early death from disease that many physicians now suffer.
Therefore, the humanity and health of the physician, as well as of the patient, depend very much on a more human, personal contact between the two. The laying on of hands has important overtones in terms of healing, as the transmission of a sense of caring from one person to another. This is a form of love, and love is ultimately the great healer. In a more compassionate model of medicine, therefore, the elements of what is popularly referred to as suggestion –
In this new medicine, the diagnostic system is composed of the senses, mind, heart, and spirit of the physician. There are no machines. The key to this system is the personal awareness of the physician, and his faith in that awareness and himself, rather than in a machine. In the West, reality must be captured by shape and form. It is real only if it is reducible to a material object or a statistically-
The pursuit of knowledge solely in this fashion would have eliminated most of the important medical discoveries of the past fifty years, which have been primarily the result of serendipity. The Amine-
In the beginning, science was the art of observation, as opposed to the art of speculation. Chinese medicine is scientific by that original standard. The trained Chinese doctor, like the trained Western physician of yesteryear, is a keen observer of phenomena. Whereas, in Western medicine, we are now alienated from the power and value of our senses, in Chinese medicine the training and value of these senses is retained. By its original definition, Chinese medicine is far more faithful to the basic tenets of science than modern Western medicine.
In Chinese medicine, the physician is objective but not alienated. His energy is an accepted part of the healing process. It does not mean this his herbs and his needles are not meaningful; it means only that he, also, is meaningful. Some years ago, there was a physician in the Long Island Jewish Hospital who was the only one anywhere in the metropolitan area able to use streptomycin without any side effects: not even hearing loss, for which this medicine is so infamous. In his hands, the medication had no side effects.
The model of medicine congruent with a modern, humanistic psychology would embrace a philosophy beyond the concept of a double-
Oriental medicine exists in harmony with a universal model of existence: a cosmology that unifies man with his universe and all its phenomena. It is prepared to include the spiritual, as well as the material, aspects of life as factors in health and the aetiology of dysfunction. Within this framework, spiritual life is not dissociated from the physical, mental, and emotional. This model is capable, therefore, of assessing the spirit as readily as it can evaluate any other basic function of life. It is committed to helping people search for their own free and independent spiritual growth, when they signal their readiness.
I have observed that acupuncture is a medicine-