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What Heals?

(an excerpt from “What Causes Disease and What Heals” by

“It is important to realize that drugs, powders, potions and lotions don’t heal. Nor do chiropractic, medicine, acupuncture and psychotherapy. Doctors don’t heal. Only the wisdom of the body heals.”

Scott Walker, D.C.

Two Schools of Thought – Mechanism vs. Vitalism

The doctrine of mechanism holds that ALL natural phenomena can be explained by material causes and mechanical principles. Most mechanistic practitioner today use drugs and surgery. These methods FORCE the body to change. The doctrine of vitalism holds that life processes are guided by non material vital principle and are, thus, unable to be fully explained as physical and chemical phenomena. Most vitalistic practitioners today use natural methods which ALLOW the body to change itself.

In his book, “Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought,” Harris L. Coulter, Ph.D., observes that over the thousands of years of recorded history, two main philosophical camps of practitioners have repeatedly clashed over this exact question, “What heals?” This brings to mind another question, which must be answered first, “What makes or usually keeps the body healthy in the first place?” The two camps are “Mechanism” and “Vitalism.” Each viewpoint has had its peaks and valleys of popularity and usage. In this last century, mechanistic practices (allopathic medicine) have peaked and are now falling, as Vitalism (alternative health care) ascends.

Thus, we have the health care revolution we are now witnessing. To underscore this revolution, a study by D. M. Eisenberg (JAMA 1998 Nov 11; 280 (18): 1569) stated, “Extrapolations to the US population suggest a 47.3% increase in total visits to alternative medicine practitioners, from 427 million in 1990 to 629 million in 1997, thereby exceeding total visits to all US primary care physicians.”

Although there is some cross over, most “US primary care physicians” are in the camp of Mechanism. Most alternative health care practitioners are in the camp of Vitalism.

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