Re: Non-Western=Holistic Medicine?

Anj Petto (ajpetto@MACC.WISC.EDU)
Fri, 22 Jul 1994 07:57:16 -0600

In his feistiness, John McCreery writes:

> In hopes of stirring some discussion, let me say bluntly that
>to me "the non-Western medical model" has about the same intellectual
>standing as "primitive religion"... They represent, shall we say, an
>(following Said) Other in terms of which critics of "Western" medicine
>belabor what they see as its flaws: impersonality, false objectivity,
>overspecialization, etc.

He refers to what I believe is a general phenomenon, at least in the US, of
looking to other, especially "eastern" cultures as insitructions for a
better way of living in harmony with the universe or some other entity.
What we see of Western medicine is "up close and personal" as they say, but
what we generally see of other healing traditions is the big picture, the
ideal, the philosophy, and we do not have the same sort of experience that
the "patient" in these systems has.

In a similar vein, I have been trying to talk sense into animal rights
activists who say that if we just practiced the ways of the American Indian
cultures (who "respect" animals for more than just their utility to humans,
is the way they describe this), then the animals we live with would be
better off. When I point out that, notwithstanding this "respect", these
peoples regularly hunt and kill these animals for food, clothing, shelter,
religious ritual, healing, etc. I am accused of a whole variety of
intellectual dishonesty.

Sort of like the line in the US pledge of allegiance "freedom and justice
for all." It is our guiding principle, and I hope I live to see it!


Andrew J. Petto, PhD
Associate Director
Center for Biology Education
660 WARF
University of Wisconsin
MADISON WI 53705-2397

Voice: 608.263-0478
Fax: 608.262-0014
Bitnet: ajpetto@wiscmacc