General Semantics, Science, and Medicine: A Quality Approach

By Fiordo, Richard | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, October 2012 | Go to article overview

General Semantics, Science, and Medicine: A Quality Approach


Fiordo, Richard, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Overview

The word ideal contains the word idea. Philosophically, ideals imply ideas (Fiordo, 1977; Morris, 1948). Ideals from the original translation into English of the Hippocratic Oath will serve as a heuristic for this paper to "prescribe regimens for the good" and to "never do harm to anyone." Whether physicians utter these words voluntarily or mandatorily, a number of oaths have been a part of medical history and practice: the Hippocratic Oath, the Oath of Mai-monides, the Physician's Oath of 1948, and the Modern Version of the Hippocratic Oath in 1964 by Louis Cesare Lasagna. Ancient Egyptians recorded diseases, their treatments, and the communication challenges Ancient Egyptian physicians faced with their patients. In short, the topic of this research has ancient roots with struggles continuing today and into the indefinite future. In this study, the author wrestles with the challenges of medical ailments and their shared (and unshared) communication between health care providers and patients.

The main pursuit of this study is to enhance the potential for quality health care being provided from healers to sufferers through general semantics principles (Levinson, 2008; Wiebe, 2010): optimally, to prescribe what is good and, minimally, not to harm anyone. This research question follows: How can it be pragmatically demonstrated that general semantics has the potential to improve quality health care? Since general semantics has been used effectively for decades in the psychotherapeutic practice of Dr. Albert Ellis' (Ellis, 2009; Ellis & Harper, 1979) rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT), the research question for this study seems promising. Instead of asking merely whether general semantics can be used to improve health care, the bolder question of how it can be used broadly seems to be in order (Wieczorek, 2010). Consistent with Johnson's (1946) original formulation of idealism--frustration--demoralization (IFD) disease and Layman's (2011) recent rendition of IFD disease, the current research involves applying general semantics to practical and attainable quality health care ideals so that health care providers experience success rather than frustration, thereby avoiding demoralization in the treatment of patients.

Prefatory Remarks on General Semantics

In an attempt to make sense of a semantically complex discipline, the term general semantics will be contextualized. Although volumes have been written on general semantics, the term would not suffer from additional disambiguation. Contextualizing general semantics would allow its use in this study to proceed with a reduction of wonderment. In his polymathic text called Science and Sanity, Korzybski (2000) introduced the world to non-Aristotelian systems and general semantics. Despite problems with its designation, general semantics became the term used to found the Institute of General Semantics. Other terms might have served as more accurate entitlements of what Korzybski intended, but general semantics has prevailed. Although general semiotics (Eco, 1976), Korzybskian semantics, physico-mathematical non-Aristotelian systems (Korzybski, 2000), sane judgment methodology (Hayakawa, 1979), or general theory of evaluation (Kodish & Kodish, 2001) might arguably serve well as alternative designations, general semantics will be the term respected in this study for historical continuity and contemporary homage. An effort is made in this study to illustrate the applied value general semantics can have in medical science, art, and practice. Korzybski's (2000) physico-mathematical non-Aristotelian general semantics can assist medical practitioners and researchers in recognizing that "our human development may be retarded, but it cannot be stopped" (p. xxxv).

Introduction

The instances to be provided in applying general semantics concepts and principles to medical practices serve only to illustrate the quality health care benefits of general semantics. …

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