Now here's a story.
A blog or 2 ago I wandered around the idea of what it means to be a healer. I considered, purely on statistical bases, the chance of Joe Average being 'cured' of hiser malady by visiting hiser friendly local homeopath.
I recall talking abut the 1 in 3 rule that applies to medical treatments. 1/3 of ailments are psychosomatic and hence can be treated with anything from mumbo-jumbo to placebos. 1/3 will simple disappear if left alone, so can be ostensibly treated with anything from mumbo jumbo to placebos. The remaining 1/3 requires a proper medico-scientific intervention to be addressed. It is in the last third where the life and death dramas of modern western medical science play out there greatest successes and failures. It is arguably in the other 2/3 where our western doctors have lost the plot. In the rush to provide health care to the rich and health care to the masses we make the mistakes of either too little attention and time on each patient or too much money made from a single encounter.
I tried to make an appointment with a 'good' cardiologist for my 88 year old mum today. The first half hour slot I could get is on the 22nd Dec 2009. That is 6 weeks time. Between now and then every hour of every working day there is taken by someone in dire need of expertise in respect of their ticker. Quite a thought...makes me put on my running shoes earlier than normal today. (That is the next blog!)
Back to the alternatives....I needed to drop off a parcel with an old acquaintance this morning, a gentle Peace activist who now works as a healer, dispensing happiness and useless pills. Well, the pills may be strictly speaking useless but clearly something is bringing the customers back and back again.
One of the key things about homeopathy is that back story. On your first appointment you have a minimum of 1 and a half hours during which the practitioner takes copious notes from an in depth conversation about who you are, where you are from and what makes you who you are. As apposed to the normal western medical experience, each patient is seen as a total individual and is treated as such. This extends to the actual remedies being different for different people for similar ailments.
So, by applying the 1 third rule, it is easy to see how homeopaths and other traditional healers can get it right most 2/3s of the time. That, in any book is a good cure rate.
However, the danger is when the practitioner loses sight of this basic rule and develops a Christ-like healing complex and starts to imagine that sHe can cure all....or at least dispense in all cases. The best example of these are homeopathic vets who are extremely adept at healing pet owners.
Clever homeopaths cross refer with allopathic doctors. The best combine both in one practice.
Even better would be a solid allopathic doctor who did the same as the homeopaths but threw away the little potions and pills.
In many medical training institutes there are doctors and professors who understand this, and try to stress the need to treat patients in their context. This becomes increasingly difficult where healthcare is regarded as a human right and the vast rural realities are overburdened and under resourced.
The risk of being a stressed functionary or medical technician is one of actually having a lower cure rate than the traditional healers, because to get the same 2/3 success rate science needs to get their 1/3 right all the time....unless they can learn how to operate equally well in the first third....the human touch part.
Of course, pandemics like TB and HIV/AIds slew these success rates heavily and have effectively demonized the traditional healers, who now are way out of their depth when it comes to treating the underlying challenges of a immune compromised person.
My conversation with my homeopath friend went from conscription and anti-racism to the notions of healing in our society. The aha! moment which gives rise to this blog came when I said, pointing to the rows and rows of prepared pills in hand labelled bottles, "Well, I have strong personal doubts about the biochemical efficacy of those pills, but an increasing understanding of the role they play in allowing you to be a healer..."
He answered unhesitatingly, "Oh yes, you are quite right, I understand that very well, you are right."
Once again, by engaging and questioning I have moved from a place of strong rejection of a form of human behaviour to an embracing once again of it. And the best thing of all is that it is so logical...no suspension of disbelief needed, unless you are the patient.
Right now I am going to run down to the local book shop and buy the most scientific technical book I can find. My left brain needs stimulation.
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