Archive for October, 2011

Reflections on Weirdness in Healthcare

October 21, 2011

When it comes to acceptance of new ideas in healthcare philosophy and approaches, I believe there are 3 kinds of people in the world.

The first type is the ultra-open-minded. These are people with seemingly no skepticism or critical thinking. If it’s mainstream, they reject it as being outdated or the outcome of conspiracies of wealthy businessmen (both of which may be true in many cases, but should not be automatically assumed). If it’s strange and mystical, they are quickly drawn to it and may sometimes become ardent supporters and devotees with only a modicum of evidence. The weirder, the better. Some may consider those belonging to this group to be gullible and/or rebellious.

The second type is the very closed-minded people. These are the ones who won’t consider anything that hasn’t been extensively researched and proven by trusted sources. If you’re a conservative critical thinker, at first glance, that sounds perfectly right. So what’s wrong with this attitude? First, there are many philosophies that have merit. Whether right or wrong, the philosophy will influence the way you look at life and health. To say that your approach is the only valid one is to shut out a world of other possibilities. It creates an attitude of arrogance that cheats you out of many things that could be helpful. To many closed-minded people, anyone who does not think as they do must, by default, belong to the first group, the “gullibles”. For instance, our current system of medicine has evolved mostly over the last couple of centuries. Qi Gong, the ancient Chinese healthcare system involving the manipulation of energy, has been around for over 5000 years. Yet it’s mostly rejected by western medicine. I’m not proposing that we abandon all that we’ve learned in modern times and return to the “old ways”, but is it wise to assume that for 5 millenia people have been duped into thinking this method of healthcare had some merit when indeed it had none? There must be something to it or it would have been abandoned many centuries ago. So to dismiss it without even investigating it is not reasonable.

These first two types of people represent extremes in thinking — one extremely open, one extremely closed. I have found in my life that extremes of thought are often incorrect. Life isn’t so simple that you can assume something is correct or incorrect due to its seeming weirdness. It is my contention that the best way to be is skeptical but receptive. This third type, which I would hope most people fit into, views everything with a critical eye, but does not assume that it’s right or wrong before examining the facts. This person will base their beliefs on evidence and personal findings rather than just going by what someone says. But even if they cannot prove or disprove something, they understand that there is more truth out there than what can be immediately understood. They respect the viewpoints of others knowing that their approach is not the only valid possibility. They realize that there is far more “out there” than one person can have full knowledge of or comprehend. Because of that, when their journey through life places them in a situation where they are introduced to a new idea, they can examine it critically and see if it has merit for them. If it does, they may choose to embrace it and make it part of their reality, or they may choose to respectfully decline it or put it on the shelf to be incorporated later. They may also find, after examining it carefully, that it does not have value to them and so they reject it, still realizing that it could have merit for someone else.

This is not to say that we should try everything to see if it has any validity. I don’t need to use heroin to decide if it’s healthy for me. Nor am I saying that in regards to religion, we should just stick with agnosticism and say that truth doesn’t really exist. But in regards to healthcare, we should understand that a variety of disciplines exist. For most of my 28 years as a chiropractor, I have stuck with the more conservative techniques. Many medical doctors would have considered me to be like the first type of individual, whereas many people practicing alternative forms of healing could have thought of me as more the second type. For the past year or so, I’ve been becoming more and more open-minded, while still taking care to not embrace everything in a gullible fashion. This transition was outlined in my previous blog entitled “The Journey of the Hesitant Healer”. Having learned through many years of experience that you cannot separate body, mind and spirit while being an effective healer, I have broadened the scope of my practice to include other techniques, mostly dealing with energy medicine, that I find to be helpful for many individuals.

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