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.
It’s bad enough that many patients leave hospitals with sutures, a bag of pain pills, and a new diagnosis that often carries a “chronic” prognosis. But according to Harvard professor Lucian Leape, something even more insidious is happening that’s leaving patients with a bad taste in their mouth. He says, “Disrespectful behavior - our ability to tolerate it, and not do anything about it - is the root cause of the dysfunctional culture we have in medicine.”
In many of my blog posts, I’ve been suggesting that the only way we’re going to heal health care is to reclaim medicine’s heart and bring love back to the healing process. So I agree with Leape. Disrespect simply isn’t loving - and it runs rampant in hospital cultures.
Disrespect In Hospitals Runs Rampant
In a pair of papers published in July in the journal Academic Medicine, Leape and his co-authors outlined six categories of disrespect prevalent in hospitals. On one end lies the overtly nasty - the surgeon who throws the bloody scalpel across the OR, the four-letter outbursts, the bullying. More common is the systematic degradation and humiliation of medical students and residents by medical school professors, the contempt dripping from the voice of surgeons as they give orders to nurses, and the way some physicians demoralize and disrespect patients by cutting them off, negating what they say, or simply not listening.
But there are other more insidious behaviors of disrespect that permeate hospital culture: passive-aggression (harshly criticizing colleagues with the intent of psychologically harming them), passive disrespect born of apathy and burnout (“I won’t even bother to return this page from the nurse”), and dismissive treatment of patients (refusing to return their calls or answer their questions).
In Part 1 of this 5 part blog series about manifesting your dreams in a more feminine way, I discussed how pushing/ striving/ working your ass off - being “spermy” - isn’t always the most joyful or most effective way to operate when you’re trying to bring a desire into being. Instead, I examine how being “eggy” by letting what you desire come to you might be an alternate strategy. In Part 2 of the series, I examined popular “law of attraction” notions in relation to such an idea and concluded that your intentions - and whether your desires are in service to the greater good - make all the difference.
In Part 3 here, I’m writing to all you skeptics out there, who think being eggy is for sissies, that striving less, playing more, taking time off, setting goals but surrendering attachment to outcomes, and trusting that the Universe will do most of the heavy lifting for you if only you align your desires with what is in the highest good for all beings is a recipe for failure.
In this post, I’m going to tell you a story about my own eggy adventure.
I once wrote a whole book that is yet unpublished called BROKEN: One Doctor’s Search For The Lost Heart Of Medicine. It’s still unpublished, but I now know the real reason - because my role is not just to raise awareness of how broken our system is, but to be a force for healing it.
I’ve known this for many years - 7 ½ to be exact - but I’ve been so overwhelmed by the enormity of such a mission and so traumatized by the system itself that I’ve resisted this calling. Until just recently, when I’ve finally made peace with my calling and agreed to lend myself and my online platform to the service of healing my beloved profession. My upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself, as well as the TEDx talk I gave in December 2011 and the one I'm giving in November 2012, the lectures I’ve been giving around the country this year, and many of my blog posts are devoted to being a spokesperson for this vision.
The vision began as fuzzy idea, difficult to articulate and impossible to imagine coming into being. I knew it had everything to do with love and hope and healing touch, but I wasn’t sure about the cursed “how’s.” But over time, my vision has crystallized, the tribe of people who share my vision is gathering momentum, and I already see it coming true, at least in my mind’s eye and small pockets of the world, if not ubiquitous in present reality.
They say if you can’t dream it, you can’t do it. So this has been the first step - getting clear on the dream.