THE MECHANIC AND THE GARDENER: Making the Most of the Holistic Revolution in Medicine by Lawrence LeShan

THE MECHANIC AND THE GARDENER: Making the Most of the Holistic Revolution in Medicine

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Holistic medicine with caveats--and, for the medical readership, a slew of (more) interesting case histories. Research psychologist and therapist LeShan wants to impress upon us, first, that approaches to healing and to health involving nutrition, exercise, meditation, or psychotherapy are adjuncts to medicine, not alternatives. (And anyone touting a new path as an exclusive cure is either a quack or a fraud.) In early chapters, he takes his examples from physical science, saying in essence that there are many domains and fields of reality. Just as the rules of quantum mechanics change as we look at the very small, so must the rules be altered as we move from medicine to health. To evaluate signs and symptoms, we need objective tests and sophisticated observations; health, on the other hand, is a state of mind that goes beyond measurable attributes. In the imagery of the title, we need a mechanic when the plumbing isn't working--but a gardener to cultivate all our forces for getting better and staying healthy. To illustrate the pragmatic, eclectic approach he advocates, LeShan provides case histories of individuals who faced life-threatening illnesses, or psychological crises, that left them confronting the barrenness or meaninglessness of their lives. These people, we hear, shopped around for the right kind of therapist, exercise, diet, or spiritual guide--all the while following medical advice for their primary illness. They thus embody LeShan's multi-level, multi-dimensional approach. One does wonder, nonetheless, how this custom-tailored holism might apply to those with neither the time, the money, nor the wits to seek out the right yoga, natural foods, or whatever. Still: some salutary alternative/mainstream balance (at somewhat undue length)--plus some unusual personal stories.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston