Health Care: A Look Beyond

The rising cost and sometimes invasive nature of medical technology, combined with an increasingly savvy public, have sparked what is being called the Health Care Revolution. Are we on the threshold of an exciting new era in medicine? When we talked with the leading pioneers in mind-body medicine who have paved the way for public awareness of a more holistic and person-centered form of medical treatment, one message became abundantly clear: This revolution is powered by the collective vision of each and every one of us. As we take responsibility for our own health care and the kind of medical treatment we want, the health care system will follow.

Visionaries of the Year 2000

Discontent with our present health care system is being felt not only by the individuals it serves, but also by health care professionals doing their best to work with the often unreasonable cost-cutting measures imposed by managed care. People are outraged by insurance costs that have reached unprecedented highs, forcing 42 million Americans to go without coverage, while insurance reimbursements for medical care have become so restrictive that patients, doctors, and hospitals suffer under the strain. Mistrust and suspicion abound as the public becomes better informed about the hidden agendas fueling insurance providers’ policy decisions (which often ignore patient welfare) and the high profits motivating pharmaceutical companies and medical-technology industries to dominate the treatment market.

Along with feeling frustrated by the policies and politics of a health-care system gone awry, patients are frightened by the invasive medical procedures, which Dr. Deepak Chopra says are responsible for 36 percent of the deaths in this country each year. Taking charge of their health care, individuals are spending unprecedented amounts of their own money to find alternative holistic treatments that are less invasive and, in many cases, more effective. In their attempt to bring public dollars back into the system, insurance companies are mandating treatment options that often are as indiscriminately prescribed as drugs and surgery.

If revolution promises change, which direction will that change take? To find the answer, we turned to the experts in mind-body medicine, who collectively stand on the cutting edge of this medical revolution. The public has applauded the efforts of these pioneers - seen by many as the visionaries of modern medicine - to transform our health-care system into a more humanistic and spiritual practice that promotes health and personal responsibility. In recent interviews with Body Mind Spirit, best-selling authors Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey, John Robbins, Christiane Northrup, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, Herbert Benson, Joan Borysenko, Caroline Myss, Andrew Weil, Edward Taub, and Michael Samuels, shared their visions on the future of health care in this country.

  • “In the next five years we will have diagnostic precision through technology such as we’ve never known. We will be able to predict future illnesses and diagnose even the slightest chemical imbalance in its earliest stages.” - Deepak Chopra, MD

  • “Courses in spirituality and healing are now in place in eleven major medical schools in this country. These are historic developments, and they will continue. The research documenting these effects is so abundant that it will not go away. We’re going to have to deal with it, and it will find an honored place in medicine of the future.” - Larry Dossey, MD

  • “I want to undermine people’s blind faith in the medical establishment in order to restore their faith in themselves, in the remarkable healing powers they possess, and in the power of their intentions, their purpose, their choices, and their lifestyles... We often act as though health comes from the doctor or the drugstore or the hospital. We approach our physicians with a mixture of terror and worship. We view them as experts whose authority we dare barely question, rather than as collaborators, supports, and resources... M.D. does not mean ‘Medical Deity’.” - John Robbins.

  • “The ability to heal is an innate part of every human being and everything in nature. And when we align with that power, approximately 90 percent of what we currently call health care will not be necessary.” - Christiane Northrup, MD

  • “If we want to see medicine change, we have to change how doctors are educated.” - Bernie Siegel, MD

  • “It’s so much less expensive to pay for a lifestyle-change program than it is to pay for bypass surgery, angioplasty, or a lifetime of cholesterol-lowering drugs.” - Dean Ornish, MD.

  • “Self-care includes alternative methods people can learn to do on their own, such as the relaxation- response, meditation, visualization, expressive art therapy, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Right now . . . most people depend primarily on pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures. We must balance . . . by adding . . . things people can do for themselves.” - Herbert Benson, MD.

  • “What we really need in health care is a total paradigm shift, where energy is seen as primary and the physical body is seen as secondary . . . We’re energy bodies as well as physical bodies, and the two work synergistically.” - Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

  • “As energy practitioners, we have to work with our colleagues. We have to work to respect each other, to evolve into a mutual future that serves us both. Because we are not suddenly going to be able to meditate our way out of viruses. And we are not suddenly going to be able to energetically set a broken bond . . . we have to look at the fact that we need that world, and find some way that these two worlds can work together.” - Caroline Myss, Ph.D.

  • “I believe that a lot of hospitals will go bankrupt. My hope is that they will be resurrected as healing centers . . ., where people go for a week or so and learn how to eat, exercise, and use their minds to access their own healing power. This kind of treatment would be paid for by insurance. - Andrew Weil, MD

  • “. . . our body and our mind are a complete and total ensemble - what affects one immediately affects the other. Our body-mind ensemble is infused with spirit - the divine essence that is the absolute and infinite source of all life. Plato, Aristotle, Lao-Tse, Buddha, Maimonides, Muhammad, and Jesus taught us that divinity is in every living thing - that wherever we look, there is the face of God . . . We have a healing force in each of our trillions of cells that is equivalent to the presence of God. This healing force is able to reverse disease, shatter addictions, cause us to lose weight, and allow us to manage stress. - Edward A. Taub, MD.

  • “I believe that art and healing are one. They cannot be separated. I think that everyone is an artist and everyone is a healer. Through art, people can get to a place of luminosity, of pure spirit within themselves, where they can expand - change in time and space. This allows them to merge the two sides of their spirit. As the two sides of the spirit merge, people become open to their deepest truths; and by seeing and accepting those truths, inner healing can begin.” - Michael Samuels, MD

(Reprint, Body Mind Spirit, Special Issue 1997), Did You Know That.

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