Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Holistic Approach to Health Care Reform

As everyone knows, our nation is in the midst of a health care debate. Essentially, the debate boils down to the degree to which federal government ought to be involved in providing health care coverage and making health care decisions.

But wait, we're missing one key ingredient, that nobody is talking about. What is that? According to Cesar Baldelomar, its the need for holistic healing. Wait, but that's not really what people care... Shut up! Read the article!

(excerpts, responses... We've been down this road before.)

As debates rage over the proposed health-care reform (which I strongly support), I believe many politicians, activists, religious leaders, and ideologues are missing an essential point. We need a complete overhaul in the way medical and pharmaceutical professionals perceive biology and the role of medicine.

Um, yeah. Exactly what I was thinking. My doctor can't perceive biology for shit.

In 1982, in his prophetic book The Turning Point - Science, Society, and The Rising Culture , physicist Fritjof Capra

Has anyone heard of the prophet Fritjof? He wrote The Tao of Physics, unread by me, and you, probably. He is the founding director of the center for Ecoliteracy (no points for guessing at which University that's located).

The human body is regarded as a machine that can be analyzed in terms of its parts; disease is seen as the malfunctioning of biological mechanisms which are studied from the point of view of cellular and molecular biology; the doctor’s role is to intervene, either physically or chemically, to correct the malfunctioning of a specific mechanism.

That sounds about right. Ol' Fritz is on the ball. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Mindwalk, with Sam Waterston.

Consequently, many medical professionals have lost sight of the whole person.


Diseases, conventional wisdom shows, have physical, mental, and cultural consequences.

All of which should be addressed by those who study, um, medicine?

For instance, an HIV/AIDS patient will perhaps face emotional burdens that may often outweigh the physical pain, but doctors only address the physiological symptoms and neglect the patient’s emotional status.

Which makes sense, because they are not psychologists.

The ability to heal the whole person has been forgotten, and perhaps even lost.

Psychology being an ancient profession of a bygone era.

This neglected ability to heal is the result of the training medical professionals receive in school.

I am interested to hear Cesar argue this using facts.

The movie Patch Adams,

Oh, God.

which is a perfect illustration of the battles “holistic” physicians have to face to be taken seriously in the medical profession that views them as less scientific.

Precisely because they are less scientific, or, typically, not scientific at all. It sure was funny when Robin Williams put legs on that building, so the door looked like private parts. He sure showed those lousy, stuck-up Deans!

By evoking laughter, Adams inspired self-confidence and hope in his patients that they could indeed overcome their illnesses, and many of them did.

In this case, laughter really WAS the best medicine. Well that and, you know, medicine.

The “holistic” doctor perceived his patients not as machines, but as living, organic systems that require more than chemicals to be healed.

Sometimes a woman just needs to be dropped into a big ol' pool of spaghetti noodles. Thanks Cesar. Now I know how to reform healthcare.

Similarly, Jesus healed the sick by being attentive to the sick person’s ailment, mental and emotional status, and cultural milieu.

But mostly their ailment.

Renowned Harvard theologian Harvey Cox argues “that the mobs of people who thronged Jesus did not seek him out to hear his message. They came because he had gained a reputation as a healer.”

Renowned Harvard theologian Harvey Cox has successfully argued against your thesis.

Jesus was ahead of his time in rejecting the ancient idea that sickness was a punishment for evil.

How unlike modern physicians, who are always telling us we need to lose weight so we don't have heart attacks. Those jerks.

Jesus was this person, and his attention to assuaging their emotional and psychological pain may have led to many of them curing their own illnesses.

Let me re-construct Cesar's syllogism here:

a) Jesus was kind to people
b) Jesus was so kind, some people might have healed themselves
c) If doctors are more kind, some people might heal themselves

In response, I argue:

a) The ancient Aztecs sacrificed people
b) These sacrifices may have led to advanced techniques in banana harvesting
c) Taxpayer dollars should fund sports arenas

The medical profession could also learn from the emerging occupational therapy field.

Alternately, they could simply refer patients to an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapists empower their patients by heavily involving them in their own treatment.

Neurosurgeons, take notice.

Many months ago, I accompanied my wife, an occupational therapist,

Who, if primary care physicians were to learn her craft, would be out of a job. By the way, wasn't this deal supposed to be about health care reform?

I have heard far too many accounts from family members, friends, and strangers of how doctors treat them as if they were nothing but potential financial gain.

Occupational therapists volunteer their time, and have no personal economic incentive.

The insurance and pharmaceutical industries encourage doctors to continue looking upon their patients as nothing but machines in need of a quick oil change.

An excerpt from chapter 44 of "Conversations that Have Never Happened"

Insurance Adjuster: I wanted to follow up on the status of the multiple hip surgeries for Mrs. Garrison.

Dr. Adams: Well, actually, I referred her for physical therapy. She has been doing a lot better.

Insurance Adjuster: I'm sorry. We are going to have to insist on numerous expensive back surgeries. Our models have not incorporated alternative medicine techniques.

Dr. Adams: But all she had was a muscle strain. This is treatable with therapy and medication.

Pharamceutical Representative: Medication? If she had surgery, all she would need is ibuprofen.

Dr. Adams: Were you on the line this whole time.

Insurance Adjuster: Listen, you will schedule those back surgeries, or we'll cut you out of our network.

Dr. Adams: No, you're right, you're right.

It is, to say the least, a vicious business in need of reform.

According to your Kool-aid drinking wife who stands to gain financially from a shift toward occupational therapy techniques.

Patients are subjects in need of holistic healing.

Just take it from Patch Adams. The movie version, not the real-life version that has raised millions for an institute that has yet to be completed, leaving many to wonder where their money is going. But yeah, Robin Williams? Golden.

Pardon me while I go soak in some spaghetti noodles.


Blogger Lorena said...

I admire your stand in saying that you're in support of a propose health-care reform, meaning, I believe, that you are for some form of Universal Health Care (you may correct me if I am wrong). If this is how I understand it, be careful around dark corners and such for what I call the "Christian-Haters of UHC", and anything of the likes! You may of or may not of read the on-going comments that are part of a posting from a discussion that is on my facebook wall, but nonetheless, I never realized how this topic would stir-up so much passion! In fact, I just received the top 25 reasons to abhor any health-care reform proposal from one of those Christian-Haters today.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I am unilaterally opposed to any health care reform that does not build market influences into the system. I also oppose the elimination of the private insurance industry, and the creation of a public program for the purpose of competing with same.

I also oppose any plan that is sold without alerting Americans to the costs. As such, I oppose efforts to reform health care in the manner advocated by our president.

I am open to UHC conceptually, but leery of the impact lobbying will have on the care we receive. You'll have guys like this clown trotting up to Washington, demanding Occupational Therapy be included in any treatment package 'cause that's what Patch Adams would do.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Would it be too unreasonable to propose a government sponsored program allowing a path for the uninsured to get affordable insurance rather than reform all healthcare?

Why are so many people uninsured in America? They have no job or they can't afford it. If those are the cases, let there be a government program that subsidizes or reduces costs- like unemployment pays the unemployed.
(is this what medicare does?)

Kevin, you no doubt will point out the flaws of this comment and my ideology :)

I'm all for universal healthcare in spirit in that everyone will have insurance, but against it in that it's a step towards more government power in our lives. I believe in free speech, the right to bear arms, all of what our constitution says in fact.
It amazes me that the government tries to circumvent these freedoms with statues and because the people keep deferring their own power to the government.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

Part of the problem is that Democrats also believe government should play a substantial role in determining what care people should receive. Further, they are antagonistic to the notion that market influences can produce positive results.

For the Democrats, this is less about access to health insurance than it is accruing power to the government. The only way the latter can be achieved is to eliminate the privatized system.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What education do you have? What have you written?

7:24 PM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

I have an undergrad degree, which is more than can be said for Patch Adams.

7:47 PM  

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