Richard G. Petty, MD

Resilience, Misfortune, and Mortality

Much of the development of the ideas of Integrated Medicine has been driven by the idea that a truly effective holistic medicine does not simply integrate different modalities to achieve health and wellness, but is also aimed at integrating all the different aspects of a person into a coherent whole. That was the real reason for choosing the term “Integrated” medicine in the United Kingdom, though “Integrative” and “Integral” medicine are ultimately all aiming for the same thing.

This is quite different from simply adding some acupuncture, an herb or some relaxation therapy to a conventional medical program. Its aim is not so much getting someone better, as to give the whole person – physical, psychological, social, subtle and spiritual – what he or she needs to be able to get themselves back on an even keel, so as to be able to deal with future challenges as they arise. And not just deal with them, but to use challenges as springboards to growth and development.

The whole idea of this system of medicine included an extra dimension that had often been left out: the interaction between the person in trouble and the practitioner. We are social animals, but even more than that it looks as if we are highly interconnected from cell to soul. We have to take into account the impact of a therapeutic interaction on the clinician, as well as the influence of the clinician’s psychological, subtle and spiritual makeup on the individual.

The development of this system of medicine had many parents. One was the American-born Israeli sociologist Professor Aaron Antonovsky who first generated the idea of salutogenesis: the study of the factors that support human health and wellness. He was one of the first to show that people who were relatively unstressed were far more likely to be able to resist illness, compared with stressed people. His interest was not just in what causes disease, but what are the roots of health.

He returned to and discussed, developed and applied an idea that had been around since the work of Sigmund Freud and Roberto Assagioli: that was that our experience of well-being constitutes a Sense of Coherence (SOC). He defined the sense of coherence like this:

A global orientation that expresses the extent to which one has a pervasive, enduring though dynamic feeling of confidence that one’s internal and external environments are predictable and that there is a high probability that things will work out as well as can reasonably be expected.

Two recent studies seem to indicate that this concept of coherence is fundamentally correct.

Researchers in Cambridge in the United Kingdom have reported a population-based cohort of 20,921 men and women completed a postal assessment of their lifetime experience of specific adverse events and a measure of their sense of coherence. Those with a weak SOC reported significantly slower adaptation to the adverse effects of life experiences, compared with those with a string SOC, and were more likely to die prematurely. Although the size of the effect was not large, the results suggest that SOC is a potential marker of an individual’s adaptive capacity to deal with social stress, which is predictive of mortality

The second study was a systematic review from Finland. I like the way in which the study was done, and it came to this conclusion:

“SOC seems to be a health promoting resource, which strengthens resilience and develops a positive subjective state of health. Salutogenesis is a valuable approach for health promotion.”

So what does this mean for you?

Developing a sense of coherence is a most critical factor in creating and maintaining robust health and ability to adapt to change, be it in health, stress, your relationship or at work.

How do you do that? Healing, Meaning and Purpose spends over a hundred pages or several CDs explaining the most up to date ways of doing exactly that using a process known as Creative Self-Integration.

I do hope that you take the opportunity to sample some of the techniques for yourself.

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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