The Limitations Of Modern (Western) Medicine

25 Jan 2018


I think it’s incredible what modern medicine is capable of. 


If you ever experience any trauma or are involved in any kind of serious accident, then I have no doubt, you’ll be very grateful for the treatment you’re able to receive today.


Modern (western) medicine has its rightful place, but we may have become a little too reliant on it and it would seem naïve to assume it didn’t also have its limitations.


There are two areas I believe this is particularly true:


  1. Modern (western) medicine is predominantly concerned with cure, over prevention. They are quick to prescribe medicines, they’ll treat you and in most cases treat you well, but will do very little to stop you from getting sick in the first place. 

  2. Modern (western) medicine is a secular practice that relies only on modern science, in that sense, it has very little to do with matters pertaining to the spirit and as eastern traditions would have it, the spirit can be infected with illness too. 


Let’s examine these a little closer.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it was common practice that the village doctor would be paid by patients for as long as they were ‘well’ and would indeed NOT be paid once they became ill.


The doctor would not be paid again until the patient was returned to good health.


The incentive was to prevent illness; needing to cure it actually reflected poorly on the physician, as the patient shouldn’t be unwell in the first place.


Now, if you subscribe to scientism or hold a strong secular worldview, then you’re probably not too concerned with my latter point; you may even view it as a little nonsensical. 


However, I don’t think there’s any denying that modern medicine doesn’t leave much room for any examination of anything that transcends what it can’t quantify, test or explain using the scientific method.


Even practices such as Psychology essentially take the spirit out; and treatment is very seldom considered from the perspective of ‘the heart, the spirit or the soul’.


Any such approach would be considered ‘alternative’ at best and has no real place in modern medicine. 


Eastern traditions (including the Eastern church) are very much concerned with healing; not only of the body, but also of the spirit (or soul).


They go beyond what is scientifically quantifiable and deal in depth with what they consider 'matters of the heart'; working to return us and keep us in harmony with our more 'natural state'.


Healing essentially means - ‘to make whole again’. Ancient thinkers, philosophers, educators and physicians were very much concerned with cultivating the spirit as part of this process.


This would include things such as:


Living an active and productive life


Living a life of meditation and/or prayer


Living a communal life and a life of contribution


Cultivating the virtues and your character 


Communing with nature and embracing your truest nature


Tempering your passions


Throughout the ages, there has always been hardship, it’s almost innate to the human condition to struggle, to suffer and fall ill to some level at some point.


The question you need to ask yourself however; is illness only restricted to the matters of the physical body; or is there more to it than that? 


My view is that it would serve us all better, if east and west were able to meet somewhere in the middle.

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