Holistic Thinking vs Rational Thinking – What is Your Style?

October 3, 2012

As I am currently a student of a classical medicine with the Institute of Classical East Asian Medicine (ICEAM), I am confronted with many paradigms. Following the classical approach means that most what I have learnt in a Western Chinese medicine course has to go out the window! This is tough, as in clinic, it doesn’t leave me with much to work with – well at least not at this point of time.

The classics truly embody holistic thinking, looking at the human as part of this universe rather than looking at individual areas of the human body. This view changes proportions tremendously and it also means that we are treating a person energetically, we treat a condition in relation to their internal and external environment and how those two spheres interact with each other. Ultimately, this is what I am aspiring to do as – although not everything is well understood by my mind – it makes total sense!

Everything is connected and so it allows us to treat it energetically. We support energies or impacts that are favourable to our system or the opposite; we diminish or clear energies that are damaging to our system.   

Hang on; what am I going to do with the way I have learnt? And further on, what am I going to do with science? Do I disregard the research and findings on certain (isolated) herbs or Acupuncture points that work well for a specific condition? As it seems, information that is vital in supporting the existence of our medicine?

As there are different energies present throughout a year, a day an hour or otherwise there is different thinking in different eras. When we do read a classical text such as the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage) or Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential prescriptions of the Golden Coffer) it becomes apparent that things were done differently.

How much do we take on? Do we combine the old (holistic) and new (rational) thinking? Or do we have to make a decision to go with one?

I haven’t found an answer to this question – yet. But I do anticipate that one day; I will be making a decision based on more and more information being revealed and becoming accessible to me. This could not be achieved without the help and assistance of a great and inspiring scholar, teacher and clinician (Arnaud Versluys) who is going to facilitate this process tremendously. 



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