Title: Examining Holistic Medicine
Author: edited by Douglas Stalker and Clark Glymour
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Debunks common alternative treatments
Provides historical background for current beliefs
Attempts to deal with broad arguments heard for all types
Disconcerting, if you use alternative medical treatments
History and background of holistic practices
Common arguments supporting alternative treatments examined
Refutations of specific practices commonly used
What are holistic therapies, anyway? They include treatments like acupuncture, threaputic touching, visualization therapies, Rolfing, reflexology, homeopathy, herbal medications, chiropractic treatments, aroma therapy, colonics, macrobiotic diets, iridology, and much more. They rarely have very much in common technically (although advocates rarely try to compete with each other), and they all claim to be alternatives to traditional scientific medicine.
What does it mean to be holistic? Practitioners of such treatments claim that they aim to treat the mind, body and soul of their patient. This is unsurprisingly appealling to most people, considering the fact that any treatment does better when the patient feels a personal connection with their physician and believes that someone actually cares about them.
Strangely enough, despite the label holistic, many of the treatments which are placed in that category rarely are holistic after all. Holism assumes a total unity of mind and body, whereas most alternative treatments are actually dualistic they assume a division between the two, even though there is considerable interaction. True holism can only be found in philosophies like Christian Science: they maintain that the only thing which really exists is the mind, and so disease is simply just a state of mind.
Why has this book collected such a variety of articles from distinguished scholars and scientists about these treatments? The fact of the matter is, belief in these ideas has serious social ramifications. The most obvious of these involves the issue of public health if the treatments dont work, a serious strain is can be put on medical and insurance resources.
Another, less obvious, problem is the effects upon the respect for basic scientific principles and methodology. Holistic medicines never demonstrate their effectiveness scientifically, and indeed usually display great contempt for scientific studies which are designed to weed out the good from the bad treatments.