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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Medical-industrial complex needs soul care

Mark Moran writes about Thomas Moore’s recent book, Care of the Soul in Medicine (Hay House, 2010) in Psychiatric News, 3 December 2010, (Vol. 45 No. 23) under the headline, "Patients' Souls Called Medicine's Missing Link". Moran quotes Moore:
"I understand the field has become more biological," he said. "My sense is that people entering medicine today get this very intelligent, up-to-date training in biomedical science. And when I talk to psychiatrists about a spiritual approach to healing, it doesn't seem to them to have that intelligence behind it.

"But I would want psychiatrists to know there is a whole world of knowledge and wisdom outside the biological tradition that goes back several thousand years," Moore said. "They should give a philosophical and spiritual approach to the patients in their care another look, and they may find that it can be very substantive and would complement their biological work."
Moran includes: "His remedies for what ails modern medicine may seem to some either quixotic or "unscientific" (or even "antiscientific"), but his thoughts echo those of such respected thinkers as biomedical ethicist Daniel Callahan, Ph.D., who has written extensively of the need to return to "caring over curing."

Moore continues,
"You don't have to talk too long to patients and their families, as well as doctors and nurses, before they express a common feeling that contemporary medicine, for all its technological virtuosity, lacks something," he said. "Patients and families will talk about how the medical establishment is just so huge and they feel like a piece of machinery. When I tell them about how images and architecture can transform a healing environment — about how the way a hospital room looks and feels can be a part of healing — they are a little surprised, but they know what I am saying. So I seem to be giving people a language for talking about things they know intuitively."
After asking, "What does Moore, an admirer of Carl Jung (but he is not, he said, a Jungian), think of the widespread use of pharmacologic agents to treat psychiatric disorders?" Moran quotes Moore’s response:
"It's a complicated issue, and I have nothing against the use of pharmacologic treatments in conjunction with other approaches," he said. "But I think it goes hand in hand with the prevailing philosophy of our time that is based on treating people as mechanical systems. If you see the brain as a collection of neurochemicals, you are going to use chemicals to treat people.

"That's the underlying mythology of our time. It is useful as far as it goes, but I think it leaves much to be desired and ignores a vast trove of wisdom about the soul that predates the 20th century."

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