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As a result of a grant from the National Institute of Health National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Georgetown University School of Medicine has integrated a course in Mind-Body Medicine into its medical school curriculum.
In order for students to understand the potential of mind-body approaches, as well as apply them in clinical practice, we believe that they should experience these approaches themselves. To that end, the Mind-Body Medicine Program, supported by the administration and faculty, takes medical, and graduate students through a series of exercises used to promote overall well-being, stress management, empathy, self-awareness and self-care. Bernadette Barron can help to alleviate your symptoms to provide initial relief and then create a safe place from which you can delve in deeper to treat the underlying cause, thereby providing true mind body healing. Bernadette Barron can help you combine classic psychiatric treatment, including medication as needed, with complimentary therapies that combine to create true healing on all levels. That the health of the mind and body are linked is generally seen as obvious, almost beyond question. Our art also reinforces the belief that states of mind can express themselves as disease or relief therefrom. It is offered because I believe that the mind - a term which, for convenience, will be used to include spirit and soul - has often been undervalued in health care.
CM practitioners interest in the mutual interdependence of mind and body stems from a laudable holistic intuition.
Similarly, homoeopaths take information about both physical and mental characteristics in order to choose an appropriate remedy.
If that is as far as CM practitioners take mind-body medicine, then there may be little grounds for criticism. Typically, these invoke unresolved conflict or repression and inadequate expression of feelings as the cause of malignant disease. In one famous public articulation of these beliefs, a well-known novelist explained a violent outburst by stating that he would rather express his anger than get cancer.
But, seemingly out of the blue, authors of aromatherapy texts introduce ideas of psychological causation: eczema, according to one author, is related to emotional hypersensitivity.
What is interesting about some of these articulations of mind-body medicine is that, rather than the mind and body having equal weight, the mind is given primacy as being the driving force in determining health.
One of the main criticisms of some forms of mind-body medicine is that so many claims are made with such great certainty in the virtual absence of evidence.
One possible reason why much mind-body medicine is practised in the absence of data may be that the absence of data is the direct cause of many of its theories. Now that the cause of tuberculosis is understood and effective treatment available, the disease tends not be described in these terms. Similarly, William Osler's description of diabetes as a disease of a neurotic temperament presumably resulted from an inadequate understanding of its pathological basis. It is this attempt to make sense of the unknown, to control what cannot be controlled, that may explain the origin of some conceptions of mind-body medicine.
A number of forms of mind-body medicine can also be criticised on the grounds that they are profoundly parochial.
Evidence that mind-body medicine is determined by parochialism comes from the observation that the psychological states said to cause disease mirror prevailing social concerns. The political, historical and cultural naivete of much mind-body medicine also extends, ironically, to over-simplified understandings of the psyche and its effects on the body. It is also ironic that many theories of mind-body medicine, though promoted as part of holistic medicine, are profoundly reductionist and dualist. It is not difficult to work out how simplistic ideas about the effects of the mind on the body have developed: they arise from the tendency to try to intuit mental states from behaviour. I have argued that much mind-body medicine is unsubstantiated, triumphalist, parochial, naive, dualist, reductionist, simplistic and vague. By pointing to the physical health of those who are paragons of mental virtue, theorists of some forms of mind-body medicine set patients up for feelings of moral failure.
In the traditional Christian tale of the saint's embrace of a leper, the soul is seen as separate from privations of the flesh. The growing awareness of the need to care for a patient's mind and spirit is, I believe, one of the most important developments in contemporary health care. Nowadays, many of the top, specialist cancer hospitals offer psychosocial care: support groups, counselling, even massage and aromatherapy. In short, what is important about mind-body medicine starts from its recognition that we are not just bodies, but minds, hearts, spirits and souls as well.
Andrew Vickers is director of research at the Research Council for Complementary Medicine and editor of Complementary Therapies in Medicine. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is increasingly blended with conventional medicine or used in place of standard medical care. Finally, whole medical systems, which are complete systems of theory and practice, such as Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, can be considered CAM. Mike McGuigan is returning tomorrow night under the light of the moon for another amazing sound healing!!! Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. In addition, an annual professional training program in Mind-Body Medicine is being offered to the faculty of Georgetown University School of Medicine and Georgetown University Law Center.


By their very nature they put high value on, and teach the power of self-awareness and self-care.
It is not enough to hear about mind-body medicine and to read and comprehend the scientific basis for its efficacy.
She has both the clinical experience and laser-sharp insight to determine the core issue and the best modalities for effective results. The belief is part of our folk-lore: cliches such as "healthy body, healthy mind" and "dying of a broken heart" express the physical-mental connection in opposite directions. Perhaps the most explicit example is Solzhenitsyn's "Cancer Ward" in which patients speculate about a chemical secreted by the brain which enters the blood circulation and cures disease.
In this essay, I will criticise some of the ways in which it has been articulated in complementary medicine (CM). Yet, as has been the theme of recent editorials in this journal, an important part of promoting your beliefs is to subject them to critical analysis.
It is said that CM treats people who have disease rather than diseases which have people: mind and body are diagnosed and treated together as part of the whole person in need of care. The problem starts with the adoption of certain theories, which typically originate outside the main CM theoretical traditions. Similarly, a homoeopath recently gained notoriety by appearing on television and claiming that cancer was a matter of choice, that an individual could choose whether to hold on to their cancer or to let it go.
This results in claims such as that "90% of disease" is caused by psychological factors or that "all disease comes from a state of unforgiveness".
Certainly, there have been studies which have examined the effects of psychological stress on disease. Sontag points out that in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, tuberculosis was seen as an expression of the passions.
Cancer is yet to be managed as effectively as tuberculosis or diabetes and remains ripe for psychological theories of cause and treatment. In other words, they invoke beliefs about health in general which apply, if at all, only for say, middle-class, mentally competent adults in the late twentieth century in certain industrially developed countries. In the late 19th century, cancer was said to be caused by grief, overwork and feeling overcrowded, typical adverse emotional states of the urban Victorian. For example, one well known complementary practitioner has written that, in order to assess whether there is an "emotional cause" for illness, patients should "search diligently" for events such as being teased at school.
The idea of specific states of mind causing specific states of ill-health is no different in form from the idea of bacteria causing disease. It is possible for a patient to think that "I have disease because I am who I am, and not someone good like Albert Schweitzer" (how many Albert Schweitzers can there be?).
In much modern mind-body medicine, disease is a reflection of the psyche: a deformed and wasting body is a function of a deformed and wasting soul.
In the Sixties and Seventies, when critiques of conventional medicine first gained credence, medicine was dominated by a technical focus on the alleviation of physical pathologies and symptoms. These developments reflect increasing understanding that cancer affects people and not just body cells. Textbooks of anatomy, physiology and pathology do not constitute a complete description of patients and their needs in health care. In so doing, they help shape the new integrative model of healthcare - one in which treatment is balanced with teaching; in which prevention and self-care are given as much respect as procedures and pharmacological interventions. Rather, for students to appreciate their patients' capacities for self-awareness and self-care, students should experience and realize their own abilities. In many CM therapies, the mind-body link is codified in coherent theories with practical applications. An example is the claim that mental state is the direct cause of specific physical ailments, in other words, that disease is a reflection of the psyche.
This is despite such a belief being outside conventional homoeopathic understanding and homoeopathy providing a reasonable framework for understanding the relationship between mind and body. It has been shown empirically that bereavement can suppress the immune system, that chronic, long-term stress can lead to some diseases and that coping styles predict survival in cancer.
So the revolutionary-in-exile hero of a 19th century novel contracts the disease when he realises that he can never return home. When a CM journal includes a quote from a popular writer that "all that has happened to you, you have drawn to yourself" does this refer to all people with all problems throughout history? In the 20th century, cancer is ascribed to emotional repression, loneliness and lack of affect, arguably the archetypal fears and concerns of the increasingly technological and socially fragmented societies found in the West. Or "my disease has a poor course because, unlike the woman described in Love, Medicine and Miracles, I am unable to forgive my parents or come to terms with my sexuality".
Diseases were seen not in terms of their effects on the whole person, but in terms of changes in tissue structure and function. Moreover, there is increasing emphasis on helping patients to cope with disease, and live fulfilling lives, rather than just trying to deal with pathology.
Healing the mind and the spirit is an end in itself, not a means to the end of treating physical disease. CAM practices are often grouped together in broad categories such as natural products, mind and body medicine, manipulative and body-based practices, and whole medical systems. Similar to acupuncture, both use ancient practices involving manipulation of the energy field (Qi or Prana).


In a typical story, the hero gets tuberculosis because he repressed his true sexual nature; when he accepts life, he recovers. In massage therapies, for example, anxiety and stress are seen to lead to increases in muscular tension which then feed back into greater psychological arousal. But this is a long way from linking particular psychological states to particular physical disorders or claiming that all or nearly all disease is psychological. But turn to a book on mind-body medicine and suddenly cancer is no longer so frighteningly out of our control: it is said to have a known cause (emotional repression) and a known treatment (taking the choice to let go of disease).
Does it apply to a child with Down's syndrome, a starving farmer in Sudan, the victim of an industrial accident such as Bhopal or a civilian burned by napalm in Vietnam? There is no interaction between mind and body, no systems theory, no holistic model, in beliefs such as that rheumatoid arthritis is caused by feeling "put upon" and can be treated by an appropriate affirmation.
In the 1950s, it was common theory that parents of autistic children were "refrigerator parents" whose "mechanicalness of human contact" caused emotional disorder in their children. Anatomy of an Illness is a best-selling book which includes on its cover the slogan "how one man proved [that] your mind can cure your body".
Patients were seen to respire, digest and respond to immunological challenge, rather than to hold jobs, fall in love, dance and play music. There is recognition that what influences how, say, chronic pain affects an individual's ability to work, perform social duties and enjoy themselves is not organic pathology so much as factors such as anxiety, dependency and social support. Massage techniques work to release tension in muscle tissue and therefore bring about both physical and mental relaxation. When Louise Hay claims that "all disease comes from a state of unforgiveness", and ascribes leukaemia to a lack of inspiration, does she include children living near Chernobyl?
It is not widely thought that unguided introspection is a reliable method of psychological exploration, or that physical ill-health can be caused by a single, less than traumatic, event in childhood or that "positive thinking " is an appropriate way to deal with adverse emotional events.
Nowadays, parents of autistic children are thought to have just as wide a spectrum of emotional behaviour as anyone else. A whole chapter on "Creativity and longevity" is devoted to the lives of Pablo Casals, the musician and Albert Schweitzer, the doctor who practised among the poor in Africa (predictably Dylan Thomas, van Gogh and Keats are not mentioned). It seems more likely that some theories of mind-body medicine double the burden of illness: not only are you physically ill, but it is your own fault for having the wrong mental states. They do not want their minds separated out and treated purely as the pathological cause of bodily symptoms. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is seen to be caused by criticism of authority and by feeling "put upon"; leukaemia is said to be caused by the "killing of inspiration" and the feeling of "what is the use?" and cystitis by the holding on to old ideas. It could be argued further that mind-body medicine is used to counter the spiritual malaise of increasingly secular societies.
The causes of most of the diseases suffered by most of the people in the world are well known - poverty, famine, poor sanitation, pollution, war - and have very little to do with the links between mind and body. Similar types of argument are found even in the writings of those practitioners who specialise in a psychological approach to illness. Yet hundreds of professionals spent many years interpreting the behaviour of typical, caring parents as devoid of emotional warmth. The remarkable intelligence, wit, wisdom and musical ability of the two great men is described in fine detail. It is, therefore, by abandoning some conceptions of mind-body medicine that we can best meet the needs of those suffering distress through ill-health. Hay's works are popular amongst CM practitioners and patients and her books are sold alongside standard CM texts. Alternatively, is there good evidence that the one-third of the population who are affected at some point in their lives by cancer are more emotionally repressed than the two-thirds who are not? Cancer concerns life and death and so raises some spiritual and existential questions: "why am I here?" and "what has been the meaning of my life?".
Edward Bach, inventor of the Bach flower remedies, claimed that all or nearly all disease is due to states of mind. Similarly, although "emotional repression" is often implicated in cancer, is there anyone, particularly in the UK, who does not repress their emotions to a certain degree? In another best-selling mind body text, Love, Medicine and Miracles, the author describes a patient who comes to love her body, forgive her parents, control her emotions and embrace her sexuality as a sacred and ecstatic form of self-expression. Mind-body medicine, with its simple arithmetic of mind and body, provides some straightforward answers. Louise Hay no doubt feels confident in the belief that cystitis is related to "holding on to old ideas" because people with cystitis, like the rest of us, no doubt do hold on to old ideas.
But the simplistic conceptions of writers such as Bach and Lowen, with mind and body simply mirroring each other, strain credibility. If, for example, a woman renounces her religion and leaves her job, this could be interpreted as holding on to the old idea that it is religion and career which determines happiness.



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