Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD – There is no doubt that today more and more people are turning to a whole person model of care for their health concerns and disease prevention. But what is the definition of whole person healthcare? And why is it better?
This popular movement, winning one out of every two Americans as converts, may seem to some like a new idea or a “health revolution”. In reality, it is in a return to period in time, over 400 years ago, when health was seen from a more whole person, integrated and even spiritual perspective.
Until the early 1600’s, the realm of human health was believed to represent a person’s spiritual state. If one was healthy that meant they bore not demons. If one was sick, that meant they needed to purge sickness, which was seen as “possession” or a spiritual incorrectness that had to be remedied. The prevailing church of the day, ruled by the Vatican, exerted a huge influence over the medical community and how people viewed the cause and cure of their disease.
A New Whole Health Perspective
In 1612, physician Rene Descartes, a powerful, influential physician and scientist, declared, “I think therefore I am” , stating that the mind and body were two separate, unrelated parts of a human being, and as such the study and treatment of the human being needed to be separated into the mind or spirit portion and the physical bodily portion. Descartes lead the political movement to separate the body from the soul, a separation in which he and his peers literally brokered a deal with the Vatican, which was reluctant to give up control over its flock.
However, the “scientific revolution” was gripping the culture and the church knew it was prudent to agree. Thus, the division of mind and body began and the practice of medicine started down the slippery slope to where we find ourselves today. Since this division set up a medical system that treated only physical health, it became considered, by the mass majority, that this form of medicine was the only legitimate form of health care. However, over the course of the past 50 years people have grown sicker and increasingly dissatisfied with the medical system.
The Start Of Whole Person Healthcare
This led to an increase in the use of “untried” remedies and treatments which offered success and often cures for varied ailments. These “alternatives” treatments attempt to address the whole person rather than just the physical body. Because of the success of alternative treatments, and their resultant popularity, we are currently experiencing a renaissance of the “whole-person” healing. Whole Person Healthcare is a model of care that addresses all aspects of wellness–emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual needs.