Health, the Individual, and Integrated Medicine: Revisiting an Aesthetic of Health Care

Health, the Individual, and Integrated Medicine: Revisiting an Aesthetic of Health Care

Health, the Individual, and Integrated Medicine: Revisiting an Aesthetic of Health Care

Health, the Individual, and Integrated Medicine: Revisiting an Aesthetic of Health Care

Synopsis

How do we decide on the most effective way to heal ourselves or our patients? Complementary therapies are a vital part of any integrated approach to health which incorporates specialist and layperson knowledge. In this book, David Aldridge examines cultural understandings of illness and medicines. He provides a critique of orthodox methods used to assess treatment, and advocates a more pluralistic approach to medical research and practice, encompassing the physical, psychological, spiritual and social dimensions of a person's life.To assess medical research in a range of situations, Aldridge examines how asthma can be treated by acupuncture, how communities cope with terminal cancer and how music therapy and spiritual healing can be used. In a positive move to improve current healthcare systems, Aldridge suggests guidelines for medical education and research. Doctors and other healthcare professionals, academics, students and people undergoing treatment themselves will be inspired by this direct, thoughtful and practical guide to research in current healthcare practice.David Aldridge is the author of a number of books within related fields such as Spirituality, Healing and Medicine: Return to the Silence and Music Therapy Research and Practice in Medicine, both published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Excerpt

My research career began as an angry response to my own lack of knowledge and to the recalcitrance of modern medicine to the needs of the people that I was counselling. Turning the energy of that emotion into the flame of motivation fuelling the research endeavour has taken some time. Apart from a few burnt fingers over the years, I hope that the heat has generated a little light in the realm of understanding what it is to fall sick and be a part of the process of healing.

The story begins in 1980. I had been working voluntarily for the Samaritans on the night shift. It was the usual Friday night with the regular callers and some new voices requiring comfort during the dark hours of the morning. As the shift closed, a colleague came into the centre from her nursing shift on the ward of the local hospital. There had been five new admissions for attempted suicide in the night. From their ages, and what she knew of them, it was clear that none had called the previous night. Either we were failing in our service to provide adequate counselling or the service itself was missing a group of young people completely. Most of my callers had been older and known to me. I then began a search to find out why we were missing such distress in what was a rural community where it should have been easy to coordinate our initiatives. By asking doctors and psychologists, nurses and social workers, priests and teachers, it was clear that a need was easily recognized, but we were all at a loss about what to do. Then the breakthrough came: ‘Why not ask the patients themselves?’ This perspective has been at the heart of my research since then. We know it now as qualitative research, but as far as I knew then it just seemed a sensible way of finding out what we needed to know. Ask and people will tell you. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this would be seen as a rather unusual stance to take.

At the same time as this personal methodological breakthrough was taking place, I also realized how angry many of us were that we were so helpless in the . . .

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