Within the holistic community the emotional-physical or the mind-body connection has been a cornerstone of its philosophy and approach to health care.
Over the last decade, science has become involved: looking for evidence that unexpressed emotions influence or even cause illness and pain. And there have been some interesting discoveries…
Being holistic in health care means attending to the physical symptom and taking the time to work with any underlying and related emotional issues.
When Oprah Winfrey learned that students boarding at the South African school she built were being sexually abused by the some of the staff she employed, she responded by ridding the school of the abusers. At the same time, she attended to the emotional health of the students who had suffered from the abuse.
Oprah flew to South Africa herself to comfort the girls, she brought in counselors so that they could talk to someone about their ordeal, she attempted to provide future safety by giving each one her personal cell phone number allowing any student to phone her should they be traumatized in any way again.
It is one thing to wish for a more holistic approach to our medical services, for our physicians to recognize that emotions and stresses influence our physical well-being. At the same time, it is important to know that the road to emotional change is not a quick fix.
The road to emotional change is a long and winding road: one that twists and turns in often unexpected directions. Walking that road entails commitment, the willingness to learn, the courage to face aspects of ourselves we may have resisted confronting, and the risk to venture into places within ourselves we may have closed off.
Peter Gzosky was a much loved journalist turned host of the national Canadian radio show Morningside. Peter’s guests were not limited to stars, celebrities, and politicians. Listeners of the popular morning magazine were frequently introduced to the everyman and woman: a young Saskatchewan woman who recovered from childhood sexual abuse, a street person, a soldier who was in the 1944 D-day landing on Omaha Beach, France. Peter asked the type of questions you always wished you had asked as an after-thought but could never think of at the time.
One such guest, a retired village physician, had spent his life in the service of a small Canadian town. Many of Peter’s questions explored this doctor’s approach to treating his patients comparing them to the modern physician’s approach.
The doctor recalled that when he entered a patient’s bedroom, he would first smell the room, then the patient, sometimes audibly sniffing over-top and around the patient like a bloodhound.