The mind body environment link

8 months ago by Dr David Owen

Our understanding of ourselves has, through the lens of ‘modern’ science, focused largely on the framework of hierarchical cause and effect. Seeking to use predominantly linear processes to describe the complex ‘flow diagrams’ that we are subject to and in an attempt to reliably and objectively explain how parts of our whole might and do interface. While this dissection of our lives has usefully mapped many of these interactions in what we might call an anatomical and biochemical map of our body, it has been less useful in mapping our psychological connections or in understanding how our thoughts and feeling both influence and are influenced by and in turn influence our physical body and our more individual susceptibility to our environment. When wanting to integrate psychological and lifestyle variables into a personal narrative of a patient we seek some matching or pattern recognition of the individual to both describe a ‘constitutional picture’ and to enable a meaningful reaction or response to this susceptibility.  When we can describe a patient's constitution and the patterns of behaviour behind this we open the door to a more dynamic language of diagnosis that gives a sense of development and possible rebalancing for this person.

Different medical systems shaped by the cultures and tools available in them give different ways of exploring these narratives.  Although there are strengths in collaborative and shared models and narratives there are also limits both in enabling a patient's expression of their unique and individualised experience of health and for health practitioners seeking a language that allows the broadest inclusion of their personal experience and sensitivities. This might range from the duality of yin/yang, the triad of three miasms, the four humours, the five elements, seven chakras etc.  In each of these maps there are both physical identifiers or attributes but also a subtle non material quality that carries an echo of the material anchor but often gives language to describe psychological types and environmental preferences.  Blending, what has historically been described as alternative medical tools with a good biomedical grounding, we can enable what we consider a more holistic approach. A few of these as we practice them at The Natural Practice are touched on in our December 2023 newsletter.