Hoffman Centre for Integrative & Functional Medicine

Limitations of Traditional Medicine – Observation Two: It distorts the doctor/patient relationship

Limitations of Traditional Medicine - Observation Two: It distorts the doctor/patient relationship

In our last post, we discussed how most diagnoses don’t just fall innocently out the sky at some point in life’s trajectory and how easy it is, once a diagnosis has been made, for patients to objectify the diagnosis as something separate from themselves, the choices they have made and the life they have lived. This process of objectification of illness has been disparagingly called N2D2 medicine; the name of disease = name of the drug. Dr. Sydney Baker has termed it “name it, blame it. tame it” medicine.

This trend in modern medicine has a further interesting effect on the relationship between the doctor and the patient. By avoiding cause and effect inquiry, it limits the patient’s involvement in their own care and projects the power to heal onto some outer authority. The doctor is seen as all healthy; the patient is often seen as all sick. The patient frequently identifies with their diagnosis in order to derive some form of identity and meaning from this one-sided relationship. It is a means of barter and exchange within the allopathic system.

The implication is that when this transaction occurs, and the patient assumes the illness as an immutable, fixed, objective entity of sorts, the patient’s “inner physician” completely shuts down. Their desire for self-enquiry and self-advocacy for bringing all that it takes for themselves to heal their illness, closes off as the responsibility gets shifted onto the outer authority figure, whether it be a doctor, naturopath, psychologist or some other member of the healing profession.

This occurrence is particularly tragic because it has been my observation that it is the physician within the patient that needs to be activated to result in a true transformation. The inner physician’s healing action is as great as that of the physical doctor/healer appearing on the external scene. Similarly, if the inner healer is not activated by the conscious act of intention by the patient, the possibility of a true healing experience is somewhat dissipated. If nothing shifts in the internal dialogue and the mental field of the patient, if the patient is not fully engaged in cause and effect inquiry and totally committed to changing previous outcomes, then the possibility of something shifting at the level of the physiology is somewhat muted and no true, lasting transformation occurs.

For example, an herb is somewhat inert unless the individual consciously links the physical substance to their intentional mental field, engages their mind in a solution-focused way, and then in some mysterious alchemical process, activates its healing potential. This process is incredibly important to the doctor/healer and patient transaction. It has been much maligned in the traditional research as exerting the so-called “placebo effect,” but if the mind-body connection is real (and the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore), then why do we not factor this into the healing equation and give credit where credit is due? If, as a patient, one is not mentally engaged and in agreement with the outlined therapeutic interventions, it is highly likely that the healing effect will be significantly compromised.