Hope fell out of favour in medicine.
Physicians used to believe that the mind, body and spirit were equally important in healing from an illness, but over time a shift occurred in the teaching of medicine and the body became the domain of medicine, the mind the domain of psychology and the spirit the domain of religion.
Rene Descarte, a Polish philosopher in the 1600’s believed that the only way humanity could build up a body of scientific knowledge based on absolute certainty was to engage in analysis and reductionism – with God in the middle. This approach still drives science today, although God got lost somewhere along the way.
This focus on the parts rather than the whole absolutely had its place in the evolution of medicine, but while it has given us a greater depth in understanding the individual components of our bodies, it has very much created a medical model that can’t see the forest for the trees.
“The problem with this approach is that researchers cannot watch the whole body working in its entirety, let alone observe the impact of the sun, moon, food or our thoughts on the molecular processes under examination.” Cry for Health vol 1 by Jesse Sleeman.
When you are dealing with something like a broken leg, a wound needing stitching, acute trauma or a diagnosis, science is incredible. The problem becomes very evident however if you have a chronic illness like diabetes, cancer, MS etc. I will speak very specifically here in relation to cancer because that is what I am familiar with. Doctors are great with the diagnosis part and quick to direct you to the prescribed treatment, but they appear to have very little clue how you can support your body to heal.
This focus on reductionism and analysis has made for a medical system that is disease/illness focused. Not health/wellness focused. I think it is really important to understand this. (Hence the bold type). If you want to know how to keep your body healthy – don’t see your doctor.
So, you might ask, what has this to do with hope?
You see, medical science tries to work only with absolutes. It ignores subjective human experience. It ignores the very essence of what it is to be human – our beliefs, thoughts, values, intentions, spirit, feelings. And these “intangibles” have a huge impact on our physiology – our body.
Hope is an intangible. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it. It’s very subjective, you can’t put it under a microscope and study it. But you can clearly see the effects of it. See the person who is without hope, and one who has hope, and the difference is obvious.
Oncologists in particular seem to have a fear of giving “false hope”. Now, the Webster dictionary definition of hope is “desire and expectation combined”. So, false desire to heal, and false expectation to heal. Really? Says who? Who has the right to tell me that my desire and expectation to heal is false? A medical system that ignores two of the three aspects of what it means to be human – mind and spirit? I think not.
The mind needs to believe in a future – it is part of its structure – and when it cannot imagine a future it struggles to cope. Depression, despair, hopelessness and lethargy can result and these feelings all release chemicals that have negative effects on the body. Now it is not just the body that is unwell, but the mind also. Not conducive to healing.
Hope gives a feeling of buoyancy, it is uplifting, encouraging and has a positive effect on the body. Conducive to healing. Conducive to making today an enjoyable experience. A valuable tool in the healing toolbox I would have thought.
Why take that away?
If someone has their affairs in order (And commonsense indicates that everyone should at any given moment), then what does it matter if they are in denial or insist on holding onto hope? I think I have mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning again – an Oncologist can only recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, drugs and immuno-therapy (the last at a pinch – I think it is still relatively experimental). Unless they are an Integrative Oncologist (good luck finding one of those near you), then this is pretty much the limit of their expertise. Their prognosis is based on statistics and their treatments. On a prediction of a mainly physical based progression of disease. But you know what? We are all unique. We all possess a mind and spirit and once these are consciously bought into the quest for healing, all bets are off. Anything can happen.
I want to make it clear – I am absolutely not dissing Mainstream Medicine, I have the utmost respect for it. However, I am pointing out it has limitations when it comes to supporting the body to heal. It focuses on only one aspect of the triune of humanness. The body. Nothing wrong with that, if it is clearly understood by everyone using their services and it isn’t thought they are the be all, end all of healing. The last word on the matter.
This is why we need to take responsibility for our own health and utilise all aspects of creating wellness – our mind, our body, our spirit.
Hope is important – Don’t let some-one make you feel ridiculous because you have hope. The future is all potential – it is not absolute.
Apparently, statistically I should have died a long time ago. Me and many others.
For extra hope read the following: