Healing and Christianity: A Classic Study

By Morton Kelsey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Body, Emotions, and Healing

In the middle years of the twentieth century, many people in the medical profession felt confident that the nature of disease would soon be fully understood. Within scarcely a hundred years, some of the most dangerous diseases had been almost eliminated. Physicians had even found ways to repair the human heart, and organ transplants had become possible. We had gained an understanding of the human body, including the enormously complex brain, the immune system, and blood chemistry, that could hardly have been dreamed of a century before. However, in the process a mechanistic approach to the human body had been growing among medical professionals.

All these advances were realized as medicine took the one-way approach to disease discussed in Chapter Two. This approach was needed, but gradually physicians came to view the human body merely as a complex aggregation of atoms reacting to physical laws, like any other aggregation of matter. Hospitals treated sick people as if they were mere chemical reactions in a sterile test tube. But as one friend in the medical profession—a person whose quiet concern and humor have helped bring many to health—recently remarked to a group of students, “You cannot cure an ulcer patient merely by performing a partial gastrectomy, or an asthmatic patient with an injection of aminophylin, or even an ulcerated colitis victim with a removal of the sigmoid colon. The separation of the psyche and the soma can only be effected by a removal of the cerebrum, and that has not been medically accepted.”

Even mental illness came to be considered the result of some damage to, or deficiency in, the brain or nervous system. In 1913 hopes were high for finding a concrete cause of all emotional disturbances. But neurologists were able to account for only a few, like those of speech or body movements. As a matter of fact, in an autopsy under

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