Medicine as a Philosophy of Care
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
I recently started taking an eight-week webinar (on Zoom, which makes this study more accessible) with my absolute favorite Chinese Medicine teacher/academic crush Heiner Fruehauf. Heiner Fruehauf is a German Sinologist (studier of Chinese history, literature, arts, and language) turned Acupuncturist and Herbalist, who also happens to be from a prominent family of German nature care physicians.
Because he can actually read and speak classical Chinese, he offers an incredibly authentic, poetic, naturalistic, and Daoist (Chinese Medicine is based on observation of the unity of the natural world) grasp of the medicine I practice. He understands and can offer to us the very roots of the medicine that has truly changed my life and my wellbeing.
During the first webinar, I heard him say something like this (this is my paraphrase/integration, not his actual words):
Medicine is philosophy, an attitude or a way of thinking through which we can bring to each other the wisdom of ancient times.
Medicine is not just the point prescription I choose for each patient but more importantly the relationship I have with myself, with each of my patients, and with the source material I draw from to make a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Healing happens in context.
A big part of my own philosophy of what medicine is is based on the many personal experiences I’ve had in receiving medical care. My first surgery was at age 5, and I’ve been under anesthesia more times than I care to count.
I’ve had excellent doctors and, at times, I have also felt alienated, rushed, overlooked, or even annihilated by some of the interactions I’ve had within the (mostly) Western medical sphere. I won’t pretend that all “alternative” practitioners are patient and kind. I’ve had a few cringey interactions in that sphere too.
These experiences were painful but incredibly valuable for me. And it’s no joke that this vast databank of experience has allowed me to care for others with a true commitment to compassion, acceptance, and careful reflection.
Part of my philosophy of healing is a belief in the possibility of health and wellbeing. I know that my own body and spirit have bounced back time and time again and I also believe that yours can too.
Though I’ve been diagnosed with 2 (& possibly 3–we seek certainty, but many diagnoses are somewhat inconclusive) autoimmune conditions, I have no autoimmune markers in my bloodwork today. This good fortune doesn’t mean that I slack off in my self-care. I know that I need to eat well, sleep well, care for myself in order to be well and to take care of you, if that’s what you choose.
Some practitioners/physicians are more interested in pathology than people. I’m more interested in people than pathology. That does not mean I don’t care about your symptoms. It means that I care deeply about helping you define and move towards what wellbeing looks like for you and for your unique vision of health. I also want to support you in figuring out how to live with more freedom and ease.
Wellbeing is always within reach. That doesn’t mean that you will be completely cured or that you will never be in pain again, but it does mean that you feel empowered, encouraged, and in sync with yourself.
I encourage you to think about the attitude you want to cultivate towards your own wellbeing and begin figuring out how you can get there. What is your philosophy of medicine? What ways of thinking bring you into wisdom and self-support?
Need some help in understanding and aligning with your own vision of health? I’m still offering 30-minute Self-Care Strategy Sessions (my Telemedicine service) over a HIPAA-compliant video platform if you think you might benefit from discussing your own philosophy of care with someone who knows that you too are capable of greater wellbeing. Contact me for more information or if you would like to schedule.