THE HEALING ARTS by Ted & Michael Croucher Kaptchuk


Email this review


Kaptchuk is a doctor of Oriental medicine (on which he shed considerable light in The Web That Has No Weaver); he created a television series with BBC producer Croucher, from which this work is expanded, to explain the variety of medical perspectives of the world to those only familiar with orthodox Western medicine. The authors dispute the idea of ""the inevitable progression of human thought"" and argue instead that there is simultaneous development on many fronts, allowing for the ""existence of a multiplicity of systems of varying merit, but of great mutual value when taken together in their entireties."" The ancient parts of medicine are also current to our needs, say the authors: ""When they do confirm what we now experience to be true, they speak to us on the continuity of the human spirit."" Until we have an understanding of the mind-body interaction, and of the states of disease and illness, we had best leave ourselves open to many different traditions in healing: ""An exploration of the healing arts must also involve the unknown--heavy-handed certainty excludes what can startle us and possibly even heal us."" The authors thus muse along, bringing in as illustration, among others, accounts of visits to Chinese hospitals, to medical facilities in India, and the visit by Yeshi Dhonden, the former personal physician of the Dalai Lama, to Yale Medical Center: Tibetan medicine ""derives from a conference in the seventh century A.D., history's first attempt at medical unification. . .Dhonden's urine analysis is Greek in origin, his pulse-taking Chinese and his theories Indian, while this concentration-purification comes from the shaman and Buddhist world."" In common with other systems, the authors point out that in spite of our facilities, the majority of people in the West do not see a physician when they feel ill: ""self-medication is the dominant healing practice of the West, as it has always been anywhere."" One Harvard research estimate has been that 70-90 percent of healing in industrialized nations originates from such sources as TV advertisements, drugstores, and exchanges of drags and medicines among relatives and neighbors. Eye-opening and educational as well as entertaining; an in-depth ramble through the medical possibilities in the world.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster