Hoffman Centre for Integrative & Functional Medicine

Limitations of Traditional Medicine: Observation One – Separates Cause and Effect

Limitations of Traditional Medicine: Observation One

Mahatma Gandhi said, “One of the greatest tragedies of modern medicine is that it’s just way too effective.” Put quite simply, traditional medicine works. Dr David Simon gives the following example: Let’s say that before you go to bed at night, you drink a half a quart of vodka with a cheeseburger and wake up at 3 a.m. with heartburn and pain. If you reach over for your Rolaids and within ten minutes, your heartburn is gone, what does that teach you? The lesson learned is to take your Rolaids before you go to bed at night! By taking the drug and suppressing the symptom, it completely separates you from that experience. It provides a short-term solution, but it does very little to link cause and effect in the creation of illness. And it does practically nothing to encourage personal responsibility in the process.

This attitude perpetuates the paradox of immediate sensual gratification versus that of eternal youth. Individuals do not want to feel symptoms they are experiencing; hence they suppress them, yet they also wish to live a healthy life in the absence of disease. Very little thought goes into the link between the two—how each act one performs has the potential to either assist the body in its healing process or hasten its trajectory to entropic disease states.

In an integral model, we are most concerned about how the patients have lived their lives up until this point in time. We want to investigate how the choices they have made, in all facets over the full span of their lifetime—from their food choices to their exercise regimes, to their familial and social relationships, to their work environment, to their spiritual practices—have influenced their symptom manifestation. It is also essential that people be familiar with the content of their thought processes and their internal dialogue, and how their perceptions of reality in the world are affecting them. We will see that all of these factors play a determining role in the kind of health or disease they will experience.

In modern allopathic medicine, individuals have been completely identified by their tissue diagnosis and the stage of disease, which leads to complete objectification of the individual and an absolutely material definition of health. It’s either this diagnosis or that diagnosis; that’s it. The patient is entirely divorced from the rest of their contextual interrelationships and stripped from a cause and effect relationship. Mark Wolynn, author of “It Didn’t Start With You” says: “diagnosis shuts down self-enquiry.” People are instantly transformed into cancer or a diabetes patient and deprived of their multiple interconnecting experiences. This contributes to the unconscious collusion between doctor and patient, based as it is on a faulty assumption that the disease process is entirely physically or biologically based.