We are coming to understand health not as the absence of disease, but rather as the process by which individuals maintain their sense of coherence…. their sense that life is comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful.
.. Our suffering in developed countries is primarily psychological, relational, and addictive: the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. It is a crisis of meaninglessness, which leads us to try to find meaning in possessions, perks, prestige, and power, which are always outside of the self. It doesn’t finally work. So we turn to ingesting food, drink, or drugs, and we become addictive consumers to fill the empty hole within us.
There has been much focus on ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ in recent years sometimes at the expense of seeing the patient as a person and of hearing their ‘story’. However to best help our patients we need both. This is not a new debate – see the Narrative Based Medicine series from 1999 by Trish Greenhalgh in the BMJ.
Common Cause Foundation is an independent not for profit organisation. It works to place values that lead people to express concern for community, environment and equality at the heart of our cultural, political and civic institutions. You may also wish to read their Report.
The knitted glove
You come into my office wearing a blue
Knitted glove with a ribbon at the wrist.
You remove the glove slowly, painfully
And dump out the contents, a worthless hand.
What a specimen! It looks much like a regular hand,
Warm, pliable, soft. You can move the fingers.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Last month the fire in your hips had you down,
Or up mincing across the room with a cane.
When I ask about the hips today, you pass them off,
So I can’t tell if only your pain
Or the memory is gone. You knitted hand
Is the long and short of it. Pain doesn’t exist
In the past any more than this morning does.
This thing, the name for your solitary days,
For the hips, the hand, for the walk of your eyes
Away from mind, this thing is coyote, the trickster.
I want to take it by its neck between my hands.
But in this world I don’t know how to find
The bastard, so we sit. We talk about the pain.