What did Dr Chan, head of the World Health Organization, mean when she said we were seeing “the end of modern medicine”? And what does this mean for you and me? My colleague, Bob Clark from Florida USA sheds some light in my guest post today.
Watching NBC Nightly News earlier this week I was surprised to hear Brian Williams use the phrase, “the end of modern medicine”. NBC News was joined by ABC News, Huffington Post and UK’s The Telegraph, among other sources, in reporting on World Health Organization Director General, Dr Margaret Chan’s use of that phrase. She was talking about the overuse of antibiotics, their increasing ineffectiveness in controlling disease and the threatened end of modern medicine as a result.
Later, in an interview titled, “Over-Medicated”, Williams interviewed NBC’s Chief Medical Editor, Nancy Snyderman, and asked her, “Absent the invention of a new category of medicines, what are we left to do?” Snyderman’s answer was safe and predictable: only take needed medications, take them as directed, etc.
Given the almost apocalyptic terms, such as “clear and present danger” and “brave new world” being thrown around by Williams, I was hoping for something more. If it’s true that we’ve been outwitted by bacterial microbes, can no longer control the spread of disease, and are facing the end of modern medicine, where do we go from here? What, exactly, would take the place of modern medicine?
Dr Larry Dossey, author of Reinventing Medicine, just might have an answer.
Dossey is an MD, a former pharmacist and internist, combat surgeon in Vietnam and former chief of staff at a major Dallas hospital. If anyone is aware of the limitations of “modern medicine”, it would be Dossey. He describes three “eras” of medicine:
Era I, beginning in the 1860s and based on the view that health and illness are totally physical in nature.
Era II, which took shape after WWII, when physicians began to realize, based on scientific evidence, that emotions and feelings can influence the body’s functions.
Era III, which goes even further by proposing that consciousness is not confined to one’s individual body. An individual’s mind may affect not just his or her body, but the body of another person at a distance, even when that distant individual is unaware of the effort.
Maybe it’s true; we are approaching the “end of modern medicine”, as the World Health Organization predicts. And maybe Dr Dossey is right; there will be a new era moving us beyond the limiting belief that health is the exclusive domain of drug and surgery-based medicine. If so, this would perhaps not be a complete surprise for those already practicing prayer based healing. Many of us believe that we are already well into a new era of medicine and that as “modern medicine” staggers, there are other kinds of health care readily available.
Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1908) is probably the leading proponent of spiritual healing based on Christian prayer. Her Bible-based text on the subject, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has sold over 10 million copies and explains the scientific basis for spiritual healing.
It will be interesting to see where alarms about the “end of modern medicine” lead. Can our drug-obsessed but resilient and creative culture respond in a timely way with breakthrough thinking?
Alexander Graham Bell, whose radical invention of the telephone in 1876 changed everything and began a new era of communication, told us:
“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.”
More on the 3 Eras of Medicine in CAM includes the Medicine of Love