( By Dr Ramesh Kapadia )

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Healing System

Over the years, the medical science has identified the various primary systems of the human body : Circulatory system, digestive system , endocrine system, nervous system, autonomic nervous system and the immune system. Two other systems crucial for the proper functioning of the human body are frequently overlooked. They are the healing system and the belief system. They work hand in hand. The healing system is the way the body mobilises its resources to get well. The belief system is often the activator of the system. Ones confidence or lack of it in the process of recovery from serious illness affects the chemistry of the body. The belief system is, it must be clarified, no substitute for complete medical attention of serious illness, or vice versa. Indeed, both are essential. The belief system is not just a state of mind. It is a prime physiological reality. The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive of the body to heal itself, but that force is not independent of belief system which can translate expectations into physiological change. Everything, therefore, begins with belief. What we believe is the most powerful option of all. The main function of a doctor is to engage to the fullest the patient's own ability to heal by strengthening his belief system. About half of the people who have heart attacks never make to the hospital. An important contributing reason is that panic that accompanies the attack constricts blood vessels and imposes an additional and sometimes intolerable burden on the heart. Panic thus adds acute stress to the existing disease. It creates an environment conducive to illness and antagonistic to treatment. NO responsible physician would purvey panic, whatever his obligation to the truth. A responsible physician is only he who spurs up the patient's will to live. The treatment of the patient would doubtless be incomplete if it is confined to the diagnosis and administration of medicines or the other procedures . Indeed, it becomes complete only when the patient's own resources and capacities are fully engaged.

What is the most painful aspect of modern medical practice ? It is not whether most physicians are up to date in their knowledge or in their techniques, but whether two many of them know more about the disease than about the person in whom the disease exists. The overriding issue before medicine today is one not of proficiency but of humanity.

One of the greatest need of medical education today is to attract the students who are well rounded human beings, who will be genuinely interested in people and not merely in the diseases that affect them, who can ably comprehend reality of suffering and not just its symptoms, who prescription pad will not exclude the human touch and who will take into account all the forces that exercise a downward pull on the health of their patients.

Years before students file their applications for admission to a medical school, they find themselves pushed in a wrong direction. They tend to become drones rather than fully developed humans. They develop the habits of grade- grabbing that will get them into and through the medical school. This will not necessarily make them good doctors. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was quintessentially holistic. When he insisted that it is natural for the human body to heal itself ( vis medicatrix naturae). He believed that the essential function of a physician was to avoid any treatment that might interfere with the healing process or that might do harm ( premium non nocere). Hippocrates also said, " Save extreme remedies for extreme diseases.'I feel convinced.' Claud Bernard, a great medical researcher, wrote more than a century ago, ' that there will come a day when physiologists, poets, philosophers will all speak the same language.' The good physician is not only a scientist but he is also a philosopher. Drugs are not always necessary ; but belief in recovery always is.

It is perversion of rationalism to argue that words like ' hope' 'faith' 'love' and 'grace' are without physiological significance. Indeed, the benevolent emotions are necessary not just because they are pleasant but because they are regenerative also.

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