Seeing Health Through a New Lens

Seeing Health Through a New Lens

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

While serving as a public school administrator, I dealt directly with district leadership who would often direct teachers to take care of all educational instruction. Homework was generally discouraged because it was thought that parents might confuse students, since new methods were unfamiliar to parents. Remember modern math versus traditional math, look-and-say reading programs, whole language instruction, and modern physics? But many experienced teachers knew that these programs weren’t going to survive. And they didn’t.

Why? For many reasons, but mainly because these curriculums only addressed program content and not the wide range of needs of the students. This left the teacher without resources to teach and explain the programs. To add to the problem, tests still measured content from the former programs and sent mixed messages, leading to confusion.

In many ways we have the same condition existing in health care today. Medical professionals and the drug industry are advocating a regular regimen of screening, prevention, and diagnosis – to address healthcare needs. It resembles the one-size-fits-all thinking and disregards patient choice, which may involve treatment by alternative therapies (including prayer) as well as traditional western medicine.

However, the public is taking a closer look at health care practices. What are they discovering? Here are three things:

Over diagnosis:

In a New York Times article, H. Gilbert Welch described recent rumblings by the medical community of waning enthusiasm for early diagnosis. His article “If You Feel O.K, Maybe You Are O.K.” aptly states his findings. He continues with the message that the basic strategy behind early diagnosis is to encourage people who are well to get examined to determine if they are not, in fact, sick. But is looking hard for things to be wrong a good way to promote health?

Mind-body-spiritual connections:

The large number of studies dealing with how important these connections are is fascinating. Deepak Chopra in, “Medicine’s Great Divide – The View from the Alternative Side” is a watershed article on this subject. He unrelentingly presents his view that traditional western medicine (drugs and surgery) must blend with alternative medicines – sometimes called complementary alternative medicines. (The most used alternative therapy by the way is prayer, according to an NIH study.) At the end of his article, Chopra states what needs to happen: “The mystery of healing remains unsolved. If we combine wisdom and science, tradition and research, mind and body, there is every hope that the mystery will reveal its secrets more and more fully”

The placebo effect:

CBS’s 60 Minutes covered a story on placebos as they relate to antidepressant drugs. Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School was interviewed on the program. Kirsch makes the statement that the difference in the effect of the placebo and the effect of an antidepressant is minimal for most people. The patient’s thought about the drug appears to be the determining factor.

The Wall Street Journal also described a study in which thought affected the outcome. This study described how hotel room attendants were told that their jobs provided good physical exercise, which caused them to show significant weight loss. Other employees did the same work but were not told about the potential benefits. These people showed no significant change in their weight because they did not expect this effect.

Over diagnoses, mind-body-spiritual connections, and the placebo effect are all important findings; especially considering that the mandated Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reaches into every community and home. It’s important that each individual has the freedom to choose what type of health practices work for him and that the insurance industry is able to provide insurance coverage for those choices, whether they are traditional western medicine and/or alternative therapies.

Article previously published March 26, 2012.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.


  1. Adrienne says

    Thanks for writing and giving us this info…it just reminds me again that drugs and medicine are large/mega businesses and need sales to survive.

  2. Anne Hughes says

    Refreshing to remember that we do have a choice about how we think about our health, and we always have that choice, even in the midst of all the health insurance hubbub. Obviously more work (and prayer) is needed so that the health insurance we pay for reflects our choices better. Let us keep praying while our country tries to better serve the needs of all its citizens. Too many have been left out for too long.

  3. Belle says

    Sounds as though as the human support systems fall by the wayside, we’re left with the original model which worked well…the New Testament still tells the story.

  4. Evelyn, Laguna Hills says

    This is important information. Thank you. Standing in the aisle of a mega-store recently I was nearly overwhelmed with the huge display of over-the-counter medicines that people could buy and apply themselves. But how does one know if they are the right ones, or will solve the problem? I couldn’t help but suspect that, seeing all of these “remedies” might encourage the very problems they were offering to cure.
    Are we self-medicating to fix unknown maladies? Turning thought to things that are known to produce health would certainly be a good starting point.

  5. Anne says

    The field of medicine and surgery has been so firmly ingrained in the psyche of most people for an eon, that it is refreshing to see that there is a desire to explore other avenues for health care. Exercising the freedom to investigate other methods is a sign of mental expansion, leading to the best solution for each individual.

    And I appreciate how we can share our alternative experiences with others. A system for health care that has proved to be a healing one for us may just be what someone else is seeking.

    Spiritual solutions through prayer have met my health care needs for many years. As I’ve practiced acknowledging God as my great Physician, I’ve experienced trust in the Almighty and His ability to heal. And that trust has increased my faith and established harmony in my life. I’ve found that when fear has been eliminated then healing takes place. It’s proved to be a beautiful way to think and live with positive results.

    Thank you for the insights in this post.