The Holographic Paradigm by Alan Steinfeld
Conventional medicine has had many benefits. People are living longer today than in the past. This is due in part to the cure and prevention of infectious disease. Conventional medicine excels in the management of bacterial infections, acute trauma, childbirth emergencies, treating broken bones, performing corrective surgery, and treating acute, life-threatening illnesses
However, many illnesses treated with drugs and surgery could be treated more effectively with less toxic and invasive measures. Illnesses that are self-limiting, meaning they pass on their own, like the common cold, are often over treated with prescription medications, because patients and doctors are used to treating health problems this way. Many conventional medical treatments address health problems that could have been prevented through lifestyle changes and then treat symptoms without addressing the cause of the illness. This is a reflection of the fact that conventional medicine tends to view the human body as a biological machine and disease as a breakdown of that machine. The focus is often on repairing individual parts of the machine. This view fragments the body into parts and loses sight of the whole person. Some believe that the overuse of antibiotics in the last forty years has contributed to the development of bacteria that are increasingly resistant to treatment. This, along with added stress and a greater presence of toxins in our food, air, and water, all has contributed to the crisis.
Today, alternative medicine and holistic therapies, often are celebrated for bringing humanism back into patient care. They are no longer a hope for the future but are instead a reality that is being more readily embraced by physicians, health care workers, and a significant proportion of the general public. The national focus on health and living naturally, once considered merely a fad, have become an ongoing lifestyle for many.
The Parts vs. the Whole
A new development in thought is happening now, as for alternative medicine. We must change our view of the world to have a firm comprehension of the of alternative medicines orientation towards holistic health. As students and educators we need to create a different world and that starts with perception. The great psychologist Carl Jung said “It is a common illusion to believe that all we know today is all we ever can know. Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts not an everlasting truth."
The approach of science and medicine in the last 200 years reduces everything to what is purely observable by human senses. This has been called mechanism. In this worldview is seen as a machine, a ticking clock that is winding down. Life is an anomaly in the universe, "a glorious accident," a term coined by neo-Darwinist Stephen Gould. The only way to treat an illness with this philosophical understanding is to give a pill to change the chemistry or perform surgery to alter the physical form. Living organisms are regarded as nothing more than complex machines governed by the laws of physics and chemistry.
There is no understanding in this model of the bodies innate intelligence for self healing. Doctors know that it exists, but most mainstream have no viable philosophy in understanding this. Therefore western medicine has fallen into a differentiation of parts. They treat the parts not the whole. Chinese medicine laugher at treating the head for headache and know that the cause branches were effected by the roots. Treat the disease not the person.
Doctors specialize in areas of the body and recommend other areas to other specialist. But in reality the body is whole where all the parts are always interacting and influencing each other.
James Gleick, the author of Chaos, wrote in 1987 that "fifteen years ago science was headed for a crisis of increasing specialization.” He declared, "Scientists took it for granted that the complex system made up of billions of components must also be different.” Studies were getting more and more isolated and more dead ends were being reached. Dramatically, specialization has reversed. Now all areas of study are "turning back a trend in science. . . and believe they are looking for the whole."
The Holographic Paradigm
It is probably true that old scientists don't change; they simply rust away. The old ways of separation and isolation in the various scientific fields like physics, medicine, math, astronomy are being replaced by new ways of more holistic integration. The well-known physicist David Bohm said everything in the universe merges and unites into one great event he calls the holo-movement. The holomovement is an infinite spectrum of implicate order, an unbroken and undivided totality (New Frontier Magazine, 1993).
What is happening is called a shift in paradigms. A paradigm is a framework of thought (from the Greek word paradigma for pattern). A paradigm involves something that was there all along but eluded perception because of a lack of orientation. In 1962 Thomas Kuhn, a science historian and philosopher, wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it he said that paradigm shifts "are nearly always received with coolness, even mockery and hostility. Discoveries are attacked as heresy, as in Copernicus, Galileo, and Pasteur. The idea may appear bizarre at first because the discovery made an intuitive leap and may not have all the details in place yet." Kuhn points out that those who worked fruitfully in the old view are emotionally and habitually attached to it. They usually go to their graves with their faith unshaken. Even when confronted with overwhelming evidence, they stubbornly stick with the wrong but familiar.
In the development of Western medicine the doctors who tried an unorthodox treatment were considered quacks and charlatans by their contemporaries until their theories proved true over time. This happened to many medical pioneers, such as Joseph Lister and Pasteur. Even Hippocrates was ostersized when he broke from the Aeslepian tradition.
The emerging paradigm can be called the holographic or holistic paradigm. In this model the body is seen as one aspect of a greater whole called the universe. The whole is more than the sum of its parts and yet each part contains the whole. Life is not a matter of survival but is predicated on a growing awareness of self and others. Humans and life itself is viewed as a reflection and an integral part of everything that goes on in the universe. For example, as we breathe out, the carbon dioxide from our breath is used by plants, which in turn give us oxygen.
With this way of thinking a practitioner of alternative medicine can focus on one part of your body and still respect and treat the whole person. An iridologist looks at the eyes for information about the internal organs. A reflexologist rubs on the feet to ease tension in every muscle.
Energy in Healing
Another aspect of the new paradigm is the importance of the ‘life energy” in the healing process. This energy has been called by many names in different traditions, including "vital life force" in homeopathy, "innate intelligence" in chiropractic, “chi” in Chinese medicine, and prana in the Ayurvedic tradition. Alternative healing methods often focus on restoring balance of this energy within the person's physical system. Generally alternative medicine views illness as the result of internal or external influences affecting a person's energy. In traditional Chinese medicine, for example, acupuncture, herbs, and massage are all used to re-establish the smooth flowing of chi throughout the whole person.