From Terry Baranski/Healing the Self:
“‘Medication, surgery, and radiation are the weapons with which conventional medicine foolishly shoots the messengers called symptoms.’ – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Western Medicine is firmly entrenched in three fundamental ideologies when it comes to chronic mental and physical pathology: A disease-based perspective, symptom-focused treatment, and mind/body separation.
The prevailing view held by Western medicine is that chronic mental/physical pathologies are caused by diseases, which exist independently of the host (person) and its environment. Diseases are seen as either things or entities that people have (‘I have depression,’ much like the cold or flu) or as fundamental traits that people are (‘I am an alcoholic,’ much like gender or race). In my view there are several problems with such a mindset:
– Having a disease implies that it is separate from oneself, a mysterious invader wreaking havoc on the internal system. This creates a disposition that the illness is something to be fought, e.g. the war on cancer. While this (perhaps arguably) makes sense for infectious diseases like a cold or flu with a clear viral or bacterial cause, it’s an untenable position – or better stated, an untenable assumption – for chronic, non-communicable (non-infectious) illnesses for which no such cause has been found.
– Being a disease implies that the disease is who the person is, permanently. A person with such a belief can’t help but identify with their condition. Most popular with addictions, this highly stigmatizing perspective implies (or even declares) from the outset that cure is impossible. When someone says ‘I am an addict,’ the connotation is that the addiction is who they are – much like saying ‘I am human’ or ‘I am a nice person.’ On the other hand, viewing the addiction as a dynamic process rather than a fixed aspect of a person is a significant shift in perspective which, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, can change everything.
– The vast majority of chronic disease, such as autoimmune conditions, cancers, depression, and addictions, have no known cause (despite decades and billions of dollars worth of research). Perhaps the time has come to reassess our fundamental views on what exactly these diseases even are.”
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