Recently, I led a teleclass with Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology Of Belief and The Honeymoon Effect, as part of my Whole Health Medicine Institute MD training. During the class, we talked about the role of the doctor, and Bruce told the Whole Health Medicine Institute doctors a story about a physician who claimed that his job was to help his patients maintain the status quo in their lifestyles- even if that lifestyle was, for the most part, unhealthy. In other words, he was willing to address diet and exercise lifestyle issues if he felt it would benefit the patient, but he believed it wasn’t the physician’s job to get involved in whether a toxic relationship might be making the patient sick- or whether a soul-sucking job might be causing symptoms in the body- or whether an illness might be the result of a thwarted dream or a financial worry.
The doctor believed that his job was to medicate the symptoms so the patient could stay in the bad marriage or the unhappy job, so they could keep thwarting dreams and worrying about their finances- symptom-free. He believed his role was more that of pharmacist than therapist, and that the role of intruding into the personal life of the patient belonged more to the therapist than to the physician.
The Doctor As Mirror
Bruce and I both blatantly disagree. In fact, the nature of the doctor-patient relationship is at the core of what I’m teaching to both patients and health care providers in Mind Over Medicine. I believe it is ESSENTIAL that the health care provider hold up a loving mirror to help the patient address lifestyle issues that may be causing or exacerbating physical symptoms. To view the body as solely a biochemical organism, separate from its environment and the factors that threaten its homeostasis is careless and ultimately ineffective. The body’s biochemistry may be important to address, but the mind and the soul and the context of how they interact with the world are just as important.