Holistic Medicine = Non-Western? or Biopsychosocial Model?

Barbara Ruth Campbell (CAMPBELL@ZODIAC.BITNET)
Thu, 21 Jul 1994 14:18:27 -0400

Dear Anthro-L Colleagues,

Several of you have been very kind in corresponding with me about
non-Western medicine and medical models in general. I've added
several pages to the draft of my dissertation and am at a point where
I think I have enough to contrast Chinese medicine as practiced at the
Beijing Institute of Traditional Medicine (as opposed to Chinese folk
medicine or variations in acupuncture techniques and philosophy
employed in other parts of China or Asia), the Ayurvedic system
both in the traditional sense and in its practice by Deepak Chopra and
the Maharishi Ayurveda school, with some handle on naturalistic,
humoral and folk medical models outside of the mainstream biomedical
system of health care most of us think of as "Western", BUT

I've come across the work of George L. Engel (retired professor of
internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Rochester) and
his biopsychosocial model.

My question to all of you is:

Have any of you read much about Engel's Biopsychosocial Model?

And if so,

What do you think of it? How does it compare with what others call
the holistic model (although not to be crude in an electronic forum
but one psychiatrist at UMDNJ who's wife is my best friend says most
holistic is assholistic because it doesn't include the biomedical

Is holistic medicine equivalent to the non-Western medical model
assuming that there are enough elements present within the Ayurvedic,
Traditional Chinese, and indigeneous/folk models to link together
as a model to constrast against the biomedical model taught as
mainstream Western medicine?

Extracting the non-Western types of alternative medicine (as listed as
unconventional therapies by David Eisenberg et al. in the New England
Journal of Medicine January 1993 issue) does it make logical sense
to anthropologists to make the claim that the models used have
more in common than not?

Considering the fact that every time I turn on the TV or pick up
a newspaper I find something about the health care debate, what
do you all think of the debate as it pertains to folk medicine,
alternative medicine (complementary, unconventional or whatever
term you prefer) and indigenous medicine (i.e. shamanistic, Native
American herbalists, etc.)?

For those outside the U.S., is this an issue elsewhere? Homeopathy is
accepted in England and France, anywhere else? Homeopathy is not
a non-Western tradition but I'm just throwing out suggestions for
general comments.

Anymore thick descriptions of first-hand encounters with non-biomedically
trained health care providers? Does "non-biomedically trained
health care provider" sound too PC or does the term work? Semantically,
this is not an easy topic to navigate!

Any and all comments will be most appreciated.

Thank you.

P.S. If anyone is interested, my reference list is flowing over as
are the passages stating that the biomedical model is failing, if
you wish I could post some.

Barbara Ruth Campbell