Medicine is as Close to Love as it is to Science

in #science7 months ago (edited)

amberjyang_minimalistic_Oil_painting_of_hands_reaching_out_to_t_ba78f46a-e051-41f6-93be-d562624cc4eb.pngMidjourney AI prompt, "Hands reaching out to touch each other, big pharma pills in the background"

For my work at and PEERS, I recently sent out a newsletter that focuses on the work of medical doctor Rachel Naomi Remen. A physician for 40 years, a counselor for end-of-life and cancer patients for 20 years, and a medical patient herself for 60 years, she spent most of her career working to heal the toxic culture within medical training and the overall healthcare system.

She suggests that most doctors have been trained to help their patients through a curing relationship, based on static, reductionist models of the human body and spirit. Most doctors have not been trained to be in a healing relationship with the people they serve. Healing prioritizes human connection, meaningful patient-caregiver relationship, and humanistic psychology principles: understanding loss and grief, spiritual self-care practices, the power of storytelling, healing touch, learning how to hold space for others, being in the mystery of life.

When I was an intern, first-year doctor ... we had a man come into the hospital to die. And people used to come into the hospital to die — there wasn’t a hospice movement then. If your care was too difficult to achieve at home, you were admitted to the hospital to die. And this man came in riddled with cancer. He had an osteosarcoma, and his bones looked like Swiss cheese; all these lesions were cancer, and there were big snowballs of cancer in his lungs. And in the two weeks or so that he was with us in the hospital, all of these lesions disappeared, and they never came back. Now, were we in awe? Certainly not. We were frustrated. Obviously, someone had misdiagnosed him. So we sent the slides out to pathologists all over the country, and the pathologists sent back the slides, saying, Classic osteogenic sarcoma. So then we had a grand rounds. And the slides were shown, the X-rays were shown, the man himself was shown — and the conclusion of this large group of doctors was that the chemotherapy, which had been stopped 11 months before, had suddenly worked. Now, the embarrassing part of this story is that I believed this for the next 15 years. I never questioned this conclusion. I think too great a scientific objectivity can make you blind.

I think that that was one of the purest encounters with mystery that I have ever had in my life. It makes me wonder about who we are, what’s possible for us, how this world really operates. I have no answers, but I have a lot of questions, and those questions have helped me to live, better than any answers I might find.

Remen's book Kitchen Table Wisdom features countless stories like this in which her years of medical training could not explain. Yet through all of her experience, the one thing that became clear to her is that living well and healing often result from the power of human connection, and other qualities of life that can't be objectively measured.

I remember watching my sister's White Coat Ceremony at John Hopkin's University when she began her Master's in Nursing. I found myself tearing up at the meaning behind the Hippocratic Oath, which is an oath that medical students must take when entering med school. Medicine used to be rooted in qualities that weren't necessarily scientific: compassion, do no harm, service, reverence for life, courage, and love. They are the qualities of human relationship. The biomedical-business model that our healthcare system has become has turned the Hippocratic Oath into a symbolic idealism, an espoused value, rather than a real practice that reminds healthcare practitioners of the lineage of medicine they are a part of.

We can largely thank the Rockefeller family for monopolizing the medical industry, and turning it into a curing business rather than a healing profession. Back in the early 1900s, a wide range of healing modalities existed: naturopathy, homeopathy, holistic medicine, herbal medicine, etc. John D. Rockefeller, who gained control of over 90% of oil refineries in the United States, wanted to eliminate competitors of his approach to medicine, which was largely petroleum drugs and radiation treatment that he could produce and profit from.

The Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in New York City funded the Flexner Report of 1910, to restructure medical education in the US. The report concluded that there were too many doctors and medical schools in America, and that all natural healing modalities that existed for thousands of years were "unscientific quackery." The report called for the standardization of medical education, which would only grant medical school licenses to those who practiced allopathic medicine, which emphasizes drugs and medicines.

Sadly, Congress implemented changes based on these recommendations. Rockefeller’s petroleum monopoly, helped to systematically remove any mention of natural treatments along with teachings on nutrition and diet from medical education curricula. Supported by Rockefeller’s influence on the media of the time, homeopathic and natural medicines were quickly discredited and demonized.

Modern medicine, shaped by the corrupt, money-powered interests of the Rockefeller family, continues to cause detrimental harm. Our health as a society has deteriorated drastically over the years, with more than half of children now having a chronic health illness. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, dementia, and obesity have become the norm. Many of these conditions are linked to our lifestyle choices and the toxic ingredients in common products and foods. Incentivized by Big Pharma, doctors and healthcare practitioners respond to this health crisis by prescribing medication with questionable studies backing its efficacy and long-term safety.

Covid public health policies were focused on untested vaccines, masking, and "social" distance. Yet very little discussion was on the obvious role that immune-enhancing support plays into our health, like vitamins, exercise, healthy diet, stress management, etc.

So, what is the task of the medical system? Our modern view of disease is that disease is centered in the body. The older view of disease is that it is soul loss, a loss of connection, of meaning, of purpose, of essence. If this is so, the real task of the medical system is to heal soul loss, to aid in the retrieval of the soul. The entire culture is ill with soul loss. - Rachel Remen

We live in a society in which healthcare practitioners are trained to be detached, bureaucratic robots with minimal understanding of the holistic nature of the human body. No wonder burnout and suicide rates are so high among doctors and healthcare workers. This implies that most people in the medical field feel a sense of disconnection and loss of purpose with what they're doing.

Medicine and healing is as close to love as it is to science. There’s no question that we live better through science and what we can measure. Yet to live well is going to take something more than that. Life is filled with mystery, miracles, courage, heroism, love — all these things that we can witness but not measure or even understand, but they make our lives valuable anyway. ~ Rachel Remen

The reason I decided to blog about all of this is because I received a response from one of our subscribers about my newsletter on Rachel Remen, and her work to heal the medical system. He was criticizing my use of the above quote by Remen, where he disagreed that we live better by science given that the leading cause of death in America is physician-caused and that the covid vaccine killed thousands of people.

I realized I might not have represented my or Remen's vision well. I certainly understand where he was coming from, given the massive crimes committed by Big Pharma and the corruption within the scientific research industry. The mRNA vaccine that harmed countless lives was part of a propaganda campaign under the guise of “trusting the science.”

It's unfortunate that the word "science" has been weaponized such that we don't honor the gifts that science has brought to society as a whole, beyond the biomedical-business model of our healthcare system. This includes life-saving medications, operations, and technology breakthroughs that have saved and enhanced millions of lives as well, some of which have been actively censored or covered up. As @mada says in his recent blog, "when science is used by powerful interests to support questionable policies, it ceases to be a tool for the betterment of all mankind, and instead becomes a prop in the public theater used by the control regime to trick us into complying with the regime."

Did you know that the FDA has shifted from being an entirely taxpayer-funded entity to being primarily funded by the very pharmaceutical corporations they are supposed to regulate? An in-depth investigation by Project on Government Oversight shows how special interests drive the approval of prescription drugs for industry profit rather than public health safety.

The problem with our current medical system is that it doesn’t prioritize the very principles of the Hippocratic Oath that med students are required to take an oath in. The medical system was designed to put money and centralized power over the health of the people. And good people participate in this system every day because they don't know any better. Most people become doctors because they want to make a meaningful difference and help people.

This is why Remen's work struck me. Yes, medical training is based on mostly propaganda, yet doctors don't realize how powerful their response and connection to their patients are in helping heal them. At one point, I contracted a serious bacterial infection in my stomach and lost over 30 lbs, and was unable to work or sleep. I lost faith in the medical system when most doctors I saw would discredit me, wave off my concerns, and usher me out of the room once 10 minutes were up. This was just as painful as my stomach condition. I can only imagine what people impacted by the covid vaccine feel like when their real concerns of painful adverse side effects are brushed off or deemed as an "unknown cause." Or anyone who has a health issue not easily treated with prescription meds.

Exercising critical thinking and understanding the political dimensions of modern medicine is important. Yet understanding the nature of healing and health goes beyond anything we can discuss via objective facts, research, and political activism.

To end this blog post, I've included another story that Remen shares from Kitchen Table Wisdom on a man who attended her retreats for people with cancer:

Dieter's life had been different even before his cancer. Born and raised in East Germany, he had escaped across the "no-man's-land," leaving behind him all that was familiar and dear. For years he had felt isolated and homeless, a refugee. Then he had met Lila, an American, who gathered him in and helped him belong again with her love. Shortly after he married her, he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

For some time now Dieter had suspected that the chemotherapy was no longer helping him. Convinced at last of this he spoke to his doctor and suggested that the treatment be stopped. He asked if he could come every week just to talk. His doctor responded abruptly. "If you refuse chemotherapy there is nothing more I can do for you," he said.

Dieter had felt closed out and pushed away. "When I talk about not doing more chemotherapy, my doctor becomes all business. We are usually friends, but when I mention this his friendship cuts off. He is the one I talk to. His friendship means a lot to me." And so Dieter had continued to take the weekly injection in order to have those few moments of connection and understanding with his doctor.

The group of people with cancer listened intently. There was another silence, then Dieter said softly, "My doctor's love is as important to me as his chemotherapy, but he does not know."

Dieter's statement meant a great deal to me. I had not known, either. For a long time, I had carried the belief that as a physician my love didn't matter and the only thing of value I had to offer was my knowledge and skill. My training had argued me out of my truth. Medicine is as close to love as it is to science, and its relationships matter even at the edge of life itself.

But I had yet another connection to Dieter's story: his oncologist was one of my patients. Week after week, from the depths of a chronic depression this physician would tell me that no one cared about him, he didn't matter to anyone, he was just another white coat in the hospital, a mortgage payment to his wife, a tuition check to his son. No one would notice if he vanished as long as someone was there to make rounds or take out the garbage. So here is Dieter, bringing the same validation, the same healing to his doctor that he brought to me, but his doctor, caught up in a sense of failure because he cannot cure the cancer, cannot receive it.

Really well done. That ornery fellow who criticized your newsletter did us all a service by inspiring this post.

The idea of a medicine grounded in love makes far more sense than the auto mechanic model of medicine.

Yes you make valid pints there, let's see if the world realizes what is going on in the name of medicine and science. Thanks for a good informative post, keep us informed as you find out more.

Best wishes from the south coast of Africa.

Hello from California, @julianhorack! Thanks for the supportive words. Yes to helping heal and reform our medical system.