There is a revolution going on in American healthcare today. I am not talking about the technological advances that are bringing us more amazing treatments for illnesses, or the extraordinary new medical imaging devices that allow doctors to view inside virtually any area of our bodies. Neither am I referring to the explosive progress in the field of genetics that has cracked the human genome and soon promises cures for diseases for which no effective treatments exist.
I am talking about the revolution in alternative health. This term encompasses much more than alternative practices such as acupuncture and naturopathic medicine. It goes well beyond vitamins and herbs, visualization techniques, and aromatherapy. It fundamentally involves a profound change in the way Americans perceive their own health and the established medical healthcare system.
Americans no longer trust their healthcare system. They have come to question what their doctors and the medical establishment have been telling them all these years: things they have always accepted on faith without questioning. Increasingly, they see their physicians as being too busy to take a personal interest in their health. They recognize a medical establishment that has shown itself to be all too eager to sell them on the latest prescription drug or invasive procedure, only to take their money and run. All too often, they find themselves left with no substantive improvement in their health. Worse yet, they are plagues with the harmful side effects of medication or surgical complications, which lead to the necessity of greater reliance on a healthcare system that failed them in the first place. Ultimately, they find themselves left with a bewildering array of healthcare choices and no one they can trust to for help in navigating this maze.
People are taking more responsibility for their health. They are becoming informed consumers when it comes to their healthcare choices. They are looking beyond conventional medicine for answers to their healthcare needs. This, area beyond medicine, is sometimes referred to as alternative health, or complimentary medicine. But it is much more than just that. It is the world of all things implied in these terms, to be sure. But more fundamentally, it is a world of choices, which give us far greater freedoms and almost frighteningly complex options to control our own health potential, and ultimately our own lives. Traversing this world leads to a new way of perceiving ourselves, our bodies, and our relationship with the world around us. The old models of living the American dream, getting regular check-ups with the family doctor, and growing old gracefully no longer seem to be relevant. People are seeking to redefine their relationship with this world of health choices, but they are finding it difficult to know where to begin, what it is that they really want, or what they truly need.
This blog explores this world beyond medicine. We begin by exploring the nature of reality and the realms that define our relationship with the world around and within us. You might wonder what a philosophical discussion like this has to do with illness and health, The answer is everything.