Ways of Health

Ways of Health : Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine

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An anthology of key writings reassesses and integrates humanistic ancient healing systems and the technical achievements of modern medicine to arrive at a more complete, holistic approach to health
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Product details

  • Hardback | 497 pages
  • 144.78 x 200.66 x 48.26mm | 544.31g
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0151953082
  • 9780151953080

Review Text

"The statement that most responses involve the whole organism functioning as an integrated unit is so obvious as to seem trivial," says Rene Dubos in one of the essays he has contributed to this critique of Western medicine. Yet we have lost sight of the whole - he, editor David Sobel, and others argue - blinded by the cause-specific, technologically sophisticated, and molecular approach of mainstream medicine. The moral is to adopt a systems approach combining new advances with the wisdom of the ancients, the East, or other representatives of what is now being called holistic medicine. (The adjective was coined by Jan Smuts to describe the "motive force in evolution.") The authors cite now-familiar arguments that improvements in health have come about more from social than medical interventions. Collectively, they come down hard on molecular biologists as the glamour boys who epitomize reductionism. This is arguable. The very point in examining the fine structure of membranes of cell nuclei is to understand how organs work as a whole - how the brain develops, for example - or how evolution and genetic processes unfold. Be that as it may, Sobel has assembled a useful and interesting collection of essays describing Navajo healing rites, Chinese medicine, the Hippocratic tradition, and instances of "unorthodoxy" which exemplify the holistic approach (e.g., biorhythms, relaxation methods, biofeedback, faith healing, homeopathy, atmospheric ions). While there are interesting parallels and common themes within the non-Western tradition (and even parallels with the West if one compares shamanism with psychotherapy), the book suffers from a wearying redundancy with its emphasis on emotional factors, stress, faith, will, and motivation in the healing process. However, the tone throughout is scholarly, some of the new material is excellent (the Navajo and Chinese sections particularly), and the theme that humans are unique, dynamic, and "wholly" respondlng creatures is worth repeating. (Kirkus Reviews)
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