Clinical Psychology in Terms of Ecumenical Medicine*

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: The aim of medical education is to produce doctors who promote healing in all people. This aim can only be reached by cooperation between medicine and psychology. One role of psychology is to educate physicians as to recent developments in pre- and perinatal psychology. A truly ecumenical medicine will consider all of the factors in the environment of the patient, rather than take a narrow view of physical healing.

INTRODUCTION

"The aim of medical education", according to the World Federation for Medical Education, "is to produce doctors who will promote the health of all people, and that aim is not being realized in many places, despite the enormous progress that has been made during this century in the biomedical sciences. . . . Thousands suffer and he every day from diseases which are preventable, curable or self-inflicted, and millions have no ready access to health care of any kind. These defects have been identified for a long time, but efforts to introduce greater social awareness into medical schools have not been notably successful" [7]. That is because decisive improvements cannot be achieved only by professional medicine itself. The principle intent of this paper is to indicate that this can be done only through the cooperative efforts of medicine and psychology.

Hippocrates has already stressed the necessity of constant self-education for physicians. However, he could not predict the present rapid development of knowledge applicable to medicine. For the physician preoccupied with his everyday practice, it is especially difficult to master current scientific advances while taking into account human rights to life, health, happiness and liberty. Medicine has traditionally applied only that part of psychology that can be directly applied in the nursing, treatment and rehabilitation of a people. But this is not enough! It is the psychologists who deserve the credit for the popularization of psychological achievements among medical doctors on the one hand, and psychomedical problems among priests, educators, artists, sociologists, journalists, etc. on the other.

DEFINITION OF MEDICINE

Medicine constitutes one of the fundamental criteria of human achievement; Man, being at the same time object and subject, is extremely concerned about psycho-emotional and biological well-being. The level of health awareness of a society as well as of the individual depends on the very existence and accessibility of all the various devices of diagnostics, treatment, nursing and rehabilitation. Their availability is influenced by social, political and religious views.

Owing to the growing necessity of environmental protection, an ecological approach is coming to dominate contemporary medicine, as previously it was dominated by morphology/anatomy, biochemistry, cybernetics, immunology, or molecular biology. Ecology deals with the relationships between all living organisms and their environment. While it is necessary to stress that people as well as animals and plants constitute the subject of ecological concern, only man is able to foresee the future, to meditate on the phenomenon of life or to control consciously his own instincts and human relations. In this regard, the humanities and particularly psychology acquire a special value for medicine.

People influence each other not only through their deeds, but also through their exclusively human form of communication-words. And, what is more, the eventual effect of words has implications in mediating the emotional/affective status of a man, a status that is still difficult to explore and recognize. Reciprocal tolerance and respect, kindness and compassion, responsibility, samaritanism and the will to promote the good and combat the evil; these are features which among others inform ecumenical medicine. Such features also distinguish it from medicine understood only in narrow, ecological, terms that are more suitable, perhaps, for veterinary medicine [21]. …