Subjective dimensions of meaning in the clinical encounter: unifying personhood and disease

doi 10.9769/EPJ.2015.07.01.HC

Howard Christian, Ph.D.

Abstract:The practice of biomedicine operates within a restrictive model and worldview that reduces personal identity to the sum of its mind and body parts. Using the case examples of James, a 38-year old retail manager with testicular cancer, and Bjorn, a 37-year old business owner with gastro-esophageal reflux disease, this article aims to show the limitations of treating a person’s disease when only dualist/physicalist assumptions are available and to establish an alternative, holistic framework to adequately model energy psychology techniques. At the time of their diagnoses, subjective stories of male factor infertility and a work place redundancy (James), and of losing the breadwinning support of his wife when starting a new business and expecting his first child (Bjorn) demand our attention as clinicians and therapists. Yet the reductionist and exclusionist principles of biomedicine equally demand we ignore the narrative detail in favor of physical symptoms alone. By adopting a unitary MindBody philosophy in which mind, body, disease and story are assumed to be inseparable aspects of personhood, we can recognize hitherto unconsidered meaning in each client/patient encounter, which may ultimately bring the individual closer to wholeness. Extending this further, it is the author’s contention that the same MindBody model can be applied to energy psychology and conventional psychodynamics to create a potent triumvirate of MindBody-Energy-Psychodynamics for a more effective interpersonal healing relationship and rapid emotional, mental and physical transformation.

Keywords:mind, body, holism, biomedicine, spontaneous remission, narritive

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