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The Healing Round Table

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The Healing Round Table

If you’re a patient who has incorporated complementary and alternative medicine into your health care regimen, you may have bumped up against some resistance on both sides of the healing fence. Your doctor may think your homeopath is a total quack selling snake oil, and your homeopath may think your doctor is a big thug, thwacking his pharmaceutical hammer at anything that moves.

Your doctor may insist that you stop all of your herbs, cancel your acupuncture appointment, and ditch the flower essences that were lovingly prepared for you.

On the flip side, your complementary and alternative medicine providers may poo poo traditional Western treatments that you choose to pursue.

In fact, I knew a brother and sister – he was a gastroenterologist MD and she was a naturopathic doctor. Both went to medical school for four years to learn their craft, and both specialized in gastrointestinal disorders. And yet, they couldn’t discuss medicine without knock-down, drag out, screaming hissy fit fights. He thought she was delusional. She thought he was a closed-minded snob who was merely frightened of what he didn’t understand.

It made Thanksgivings very awkward.

The God Complex

I believe that much of this awkwardness between various types of health care professionals stems from wounds we’ve suffered at each other’s hands. Many doctors lord themselves over other health care providers as if they’re the gods and everyone else should bow at their golden feet, (which is why I offered this global apology to nurses, techs, and complementary and alternative health care providers here).

In fact, when I was invited by a group of acupuncturists, therapists, massage therapists, and nutritionists to come join their integrative medicine practice, they confessed that they had never invited a physician before because they didn’t want someone getting all God-Complex on them, treating them as underlings down the totem pole. They said they knew I wasn’t one of those physicians, and they invited me to come be an equal partner at the healing round table, where all health care providers were on equal footing, not only with each other, but with the patient. I was genuinely touched and honored. It was exactly in line with my own philosophy of how health care should be delivered, as I spelled out here.

And it’s not just doctor-patient relationships or doctor-alternative health care provider relationships that are suffering.

I once heard a respected physician (albeit a tired one) say to a brilliant nurse, “Let’s play a little game. I’ll play doctor. You play nurse. I’ll give the orders, and you FOLLOW THEM.”

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Read more: Alternative Therapies, General Health, Health, Men's Health, Women's Health, , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

11 comments

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5:38PM PST on Jan 11, 2012

...real healing, the thing this world needs most...

10:01AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

thanks Lissa

12:39PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thanks Lissa, glad to hear that there is dialogue here, both can work together, and if they really listen to the patient, that would be best of all.

9:12PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

You have put this so well, as usual, Lissa, and I have run into the dark side of medical care with my aging parents too much to be enthralled with either the medical Dr.'s expertise and his/her attitudes, or with the patient his/her inanities and misinformation, or worse yet, the idol worship they afford the physician. We pay a tremendous price in health, literally with our dollars and our ability to heal, because the root cause of the "illness" has not been addressed, and that is that very few physicians and very, very few patients, really want to take responsibility and make the effort for true healing, but would rather take a pill or go to the imaging place 30 times a year and still not feel or be well.

9:42PM PST on Dec 23, 2011

Thanks, I have spent the last few years arguing this point with not just the doctors in my world but people in my life. Doctors might have gone to school, and may have an understanding of how the body works, but no one knows MY BODY better than I do. Paying a doctor to tell me there is nothing wrong with me, when MY BODY is making it clear there is a problem, angered me and put me on my own path of medicine and healing. I have helped myself heal better than any of the doctors I have paid.

12:13AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

Interesting. While I am an afficiando of alternative medicines, I do have respect for open minded and capable MD's. My first doctor from 19 years old til I left America at almost 38 was an internist with an open mind to the acupuncture and flower remedies I also used. And still do. He was careful about any medicines he gave to me, which were few, usually just an antibiotic for the flu as I carried on singing and touring when I was ill. God is truly the one and only healer when all traditional and alternative methods fail. And even when they succeed. I definitely steer clear of any egoistic idiots no matter which side of the healing line they are on. Wishing all health this holiday season.

8:40PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Always a bit of sexism in medicine-old school- Men are doctors- Women are nurses.

12:55PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Hi Lissa, Thanks for your effort in bringing coherence to the health issue. As I see it my health is in MY hands , and i go for support and expertise to whom my wisdom says is the right place in the situation. My center says: Syntoms are messages, if you can´t read them or if they are so strong that they are hurting you: Go for help in attending the message and for rebalancing.

11:15AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Lisa,

Thank you for this article which resonates with my life as the family homeopath with a PhD psychiatrist brother, and two md ex-in-laws in the mix...

My brother is working in a VA Hospital so is seeing first hand how his treatments are not working--actually how the whole medical system is failing for these Vets.

I was recently at a Conference on Spirituality and Health and the MD Doctors were really complaining about burn-out and how the medical system cannot be fixed. It needs to be rethought from scratch. They were so humble--offering that the best solution was for them to stay present with the patients and to be as kind and compassionate as they can under the circumstances. This is definitely a self select group that goes to a Conference on Spirituality and Health--but the frustration and sadness was really apparent.

There seems as you point out compassion needed for all points of views and support to find ways to heal on all levels.

Keep up the good work!

Melissa Burch, CCH
www.InnerHealth.us

10:57AM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Thanks Lissa.

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