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Society & Ecology
Saturday, November 27, 2004  
Systems View on Health

Using a systems view on health, we find a very different perspective than what is still current in modern medicine.

The universe can be seen as a holarchy: a whole made up of nested systems. Everything is a whole in itself, and a part in a larger whole.

Applied to health, it means that the health and well-being of the individual is tied to the larger system (ecology and society) as well as smaller systems (body/mind and their subsystems). We need to use a comprehensive and systems view on health to bring about real changes. Focusing on just one aspect (which tends to be just a symptom of processes in the larger whole) may give relief for a while, but the larger system will tend to recreate the same or a similar symptom.

Partnership vs. Adversarial
Western medicine tends to use an adversarial approach, as reflected in the often used war terminology. Instead of supporting the self-healing processes in the body/mind, they try to eradicate the part that expresses the symptom (antibiotics, surgery etc). Western medicine is great for emergencies, but not so good for supporting deeper healing processes.

The area western medicine has had the most impact is probably hygiene and an understanding of how certain diseases are transmitted. It has created profound changes in the overall health of the population where hygiene is taken seriously (and where they have the ability to take it seriously).

In the future, we may see a more integral approach to medicine - a systems view on health. The individual and facilitator (doctor) works in partnership with the self-healing processes intrinsic to all life. And we recognize that these self-healing processes are typically more powerful and precise than what we can come up with on our own.

Integral Medicine - essay by Ken Wilber

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