Mindbody medicine is the study of the health interactions between the emotional and logical minds and the physical body. Most medical specialties treat either the mind or the body independently. Only a few treatments have evolved to treat the entire person: mind, body and spirit.
It is medical science’s failure to incorporate complete holistic care which has cost patients so much in their quest for good health. A human being can never be compartmentalized to the degree preferred in the medical industry. It is a known fact that all the processes of the mind and body are interdependent and inter-related on each other. Not considering this truth when treating any health condition is simply unenlightened.
This essay explores the mindbody medicine sector of medical science and its successful contributions to treating chronic pain.
Holistic medicine is a philosophy of treating the whole person. Rather than treating the exact location of an injury or disease, the healthcare provider will treat the overall wellness of the individual. This treatment will address physical, mental and emotional problems. A good holistic doctor knows that the general health of the patient is reliant on the combination of the mind and body working together.
The mind can affect the function of the body for good or for ill. The body can also affect the function of the mind, for good or for ill. Failing to address all aspects of the human condition will only throw the patient even more out of balance. Treating only physical disease or injury without addressing psychoemotional causes, contributors and effects will often do more damage than good.
Many modern doctors view the body as a physical machine. They do not accept the idea that the mind can injure or cure the body. Some physicians have adopted the idea that the mind can help to cure the body, such as in the example of the placebo effect. Few have accepted the idea that the mind can create a nocebo effect on the body, causing actual injury or disease. This great failure of modern medicine is one of the main causes of the back pain epidemic. Most doctors realize that some harmful physical processes can be can created or worsened by the emotions.
Stomach ulcers are a perfect example. Ulcer patients are always told to prevent their emotions from causing stress and injury to their bodies. Why is medicine so reluctant to admit that many common back pain conditions are also due to psychological causes? The answer is simple: $.
Doctors are not trained to deal with the less physical aspects of illness and therefore can not make money treating them. We need to start all over when it comes to designing educational programs which better prepare physicians to deal with holistic health if we are to ever break the cycles of symptomatic care and chronic pain.
The back pain industry is huge. This multi-billion dollar industry relies on long-term treatments that cater to the physical body. If a simple psychological cure was accepted as the norm for most back ache, what would all these care providers do? A widely accepted true cure for back pain would create an economic vacuum that would destroy healthcare as we know it. There is simply no way for the industry to deal with such a powerful blow to its earning potential.
The results of this Cartesian obsession?
Misdiagnosis of many pain conditions is a dire problem.
Extended back pain treatments that are often unnecessary.
Unnecessary back surgery.
Unresolved back pain that might continue for years.
Personal injury mills where money supersedes health.
Psychological back pain stigma created by the medical industry.
The mind does influence the function of the body and vice versa. Psychology and medicine are both respected and accepted sciences. It is ridiculous to think that there is no overlap territory between these professions. The interaction between the mind and body is constant and is the single most important factor in determining how both parts function.
I am a firm believer in mindbody interaction. To me, it is one of the easiest to prove of all anatomic facts. I have seen it occur in my daily life. I have witnessed it in the lives of others. I believe that the average person believes that the mind definitely influences the function of the body. However, trying to tell someone that their back pain might be psychologically-motivated often has the same result as telling them that they might be from Mars. The reaction is almost universal…
“Oh, I have heard about that. I believe it too… But, not me… I am really hurt! My pain is real!”
As long as the psychological back pain stigma remains, this will be the unfortunate reality for countless millions of back pain patients. The lucky few who can see the truth of their conditions should consider themselves blessed. They are among the minority who have beaten the epidemic.
I have written a book all about the use of mindbody practices to cure back pain and a wide range of other chronic pain issues. You can learn more about this revolutionary cure for back pain here.