June 10, 2010
The Philosophy of Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine
By Vijayaraghavan Padmanabhan
Mind-body-spirit medicine allows the unknown to be tackled by the body's built-in mechanisms. Thus the therapeutic potential of mind-body-spirit medicine is unlimited, while the purely biomedical approach confines itself to limits set by the logical mind.
There is increasing scientific evidence (especially in the developing field of psychoneuroimmunology) for a rational basis for the concept of Mind-Body-Spirit medicine. It is also termed as Era 3 medicine, Era 1 being Body and Era 2 being Mind-Body medicine.
However, Mind-Body-Spirit medicine is best viewed as a philosophy where the mind, the body and the spirit are viewed as an integrated whole. Mind-Body-Spirit integrity is actually an age-old concept being fundamental to Ayurveda and other similar systems that come under the category of Alternative medicine.
Those of us who have been educated in the modern scientific way, trained in Physics Chemistry and Biology, find it difficult to accept the intuitive way of understanding the concept of spirit. We find the logical way of understanding matters, sensible. We tend to discard anything that is not supported by logic. In fact our intuitive mind has regressed.
Accepting the philosophy of Mind-Body-Spirit medicine requires a developed intuitive mind that is balanced by the logical mind. Intuitive mind is simply the ability to feel within oneself the nature of a problem or thing. Though every one of us has this in-born faculty and make use of it, we are trained by science to use our logical mind to understand matters.
The learning and teaching of conventional biomedical approach to health and disease consists of understanding the structure and function conveyed through words. Deeper understanding implies assimilating more information. It mainly depends upon the efficacy of the logical aspect of mind.
Understanding and applying the philosophy of mind-body-spirit medicine depends mainly on the intuitive aspect of mind. Assimilation of more and more information is not a priority. Instead, understanding the soul of the patient through the faculty of empathy is a primary requirement. In fact, assimilating more information beyond a limit may be deleterious to the physician's faculty of empathy.
The physician understands the patient as a person and then utilizes the information about the disease process to the extent needed and prescribes his treatment. Mind-body-spirit medicine allows the unknown to be tackled by the body's built-in mechanisms.Thus the therapeutic potential of mind-body-spirit medicine is unlimited, while the purely biomedical approach confines itself to limits set by the logical mind.
Vijayaraghavan Padmanabhan is a Former Professor of Medicine at Madras Medical College, Chennai, India.