Richard G. Petty, MD


One of the many things differentiating complementary and alternative medicine from the more conventional type, is that complementary practitioners are not much interested in a pathological diagnosis, and instead focus far more on the whole person. There are more than 500 types of complementary and alternative medicine, and virtually all work on the principle that they want to stimulate the body to heal itself.

It is not so well-known that in recent years some of the most cutting edge academic research in medicine has been breaking down artificial organs-based barriers, and focusing instead on the whole person, and look at research in a more holistic way. So a cardiologist and liver expert may be working together on the same problem.

Someone was asking me why this blog has so many categories? The reasons is that artificial barriers between illnesses, health, wellness, consciousness and spirituality are breaking down, and this blog reflects that. I was asked, “So are you interested in self-help or health and wellness?” the answer to that one is “Yes.” All of these are inextricably linked.

A second conceptual change, that is not much known outside of research centers, is that much of the current thrust in pharmacology is based on modulating the body’s responses, rather than simply blocking diseases processes.

Despite this apparent convergence, there are still some enormous differences in approach:
1.    The medical research enterprise remains profoundly reductionist, and so it tends to ignore some key aspects of what it is to be human: we are a great deal more than sets of biochemical reactions.
2.    Dismissing the social and psychological aspects of health and illness remains an Achilles’ heel of most academic research. When I was working in academia, a distinguished colleague came over form the England to give a lecture. An expert in brain imaging, he spoke a lot about consciousness and free will. As one of my American friends said afterward: he sound just like you in our research meetings!
3.    Complementary, alterative and now integrated medicine remains firmly focused on relationships as a key to healing. Not just the relationship of a client and their family, but the relationship between client and therapist. And there is a third arm to this. When, in the mind-1980s, we first started putting together the principles of this new Information Medicine known as Integrated Medicine in the United Kingdom or Integrative or Integral Medicine in the United States, a key component of it was the insistence that the therapeutic encounter would require the therapist to do more than just show up and do something technical. But that the therapist would also be aware of the impact of the encounter on them, and the importance for the therapist to be involved in growth work themselves. There was a time when psychotherapists would remain in therapy throughout their careers. That may not now be feasible. But it is entirely feasible for a therapist to take a bit of time each day to calm themselves; to reflect on what is going on inside them and in the subtle currents of the interactions between them, the person who has come to them for help and guidance, and all the other people involved in the situation. This is the way in which medicine is going to develop in the future.

The extraordinary advances of biomedical research can be an incredible boon to humanity, but they need to be leavened by an understanding of the context within which they are developing.

“A physicist who rejects the testimony of saints and mystics is no better than a tone-deaf man deriding the power of music.”

–Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Indian Philosopher and, from 1962-67 President of India, 1888-1975)

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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