Posts tagged ‘meditation’
It’s hard to imagine that administering routine medical tests would have negative consequences, especially when the test in and of itself is completely harmless. Checking to make sure there aren’t problems lurking in our bodies makes perfect sense. At least until the consequences of doing so are carefully examined.
Here’s what’s happening: a lowering of the threshold of indicators when tests are called for. In fact, some tests are being administered at the onset of some general risk factors that everyone will experience at some point in their life, such as their age.
Examining this issue carefully in her book Overtreated, Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, Shannon Brownlee points out that:
Today, the number of tests has exploded, and doctors no longer just treat the sick but instead go looking for disease among the well. (p. 200)
Why? Looking for disease so you can catch it before it becomes a big problem. At least that’s the argument. But it’s not the end of the story.
The increase in testing has caused another phenomenon. In his Op-Ed piece in the L.A. Times (May 6, 2011) Dr. H. Gilbert Welch argues that, not only testing but “treatment thresholds are too low.” He goes on:
We look harder for things to be wrong. We test more often, we are more likely to test people who have no symptoms, and we have changed the rules about what degree of abnormality constitutes disease.
Diagnostic thresholds that are set too low lead in turn to a bigger problem: treatment thresholds that are set too low.
This means we are treating as disease conditions which we used to consider normal. This triggers a whole host of problems for our medical system which are now coming to light. But more importantly, Brownlee points out:
…many other tests, which have their place if a patient has symptoms, have had the perverse effect of benefiting only a small minority when they are given routinely to apparently healthy people in the name of prevention — while exposing the majority to invasive, often dangerous treatment they don’t necessarily need. (p. 200)
Even the humorous comment, “Now I can do all the things I did before, but with the assurance that I am doing them while medicated,” is offset by the serious claim that health is not benefited by over treatment.
Simply put by Welch, “low thresholds have a way of leading to treatments that are worse than the disease.”
These revelations might well be disconcerting to those relying on multiple medical tests for reassurance that they are healthy. There is an alternative worth considering.
Richard Schiffman writes in the Huffington Post (January 18, 2012) that …
“regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer and staying healthy.” Schiffman discusses the underlying research and surveys that support this conclusion.
I’ve found that to be true. Regular prayer, along with well balanced living, has been invaluable in maintaining my health without a host of low-threshold medical tests. Mary Baker Eddy figured this out over 140 years ago and wrote about it in her book Science and Health. I daily use prayer and her system of health maintenance.
The test that I’ve found to be essential is an examination of my consciousness. I look to see what unhealthy attitudes are lurking there, and treat those–with dismissal. There are no negative side effects from finding and eliminating unhealthy thoughts. This process doesn’t result in a cure worse than the disease.
This form of health care can effectively achieve and maintain health. That’s been my experience for many years.
Yes, there is danger in lowering the threshold for medical tests and treatment. But I’ve yet to find that there can be too much prayer and reflection as long as it leads to real change in my thinking and my life.
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
Really now. That’s the title, and argument, of Peter Thiel’s recent article in National Review. His basic premise is this. The pace of scientific discovery and innovation in the last twenty to thirty years is not keeping pace with what’s been accomplished previously. The dominant consequence in Thiel’s article is a slowdown in economic growth. The only sectors where innovation appears to be still fast-paced is personal computing and robotics.
This month Neal Stephenson makes a similar argument in his World Policy Journal article “Innovation Starvation”. His concern isn’t so much about what this means for our future, but that it’s happening at all. He argues that scientists, government, corporate America, and science fiction writers (which he is) have lost their ability to be big picture thinkers. Our world is so complex that we have gotten mired in detail that consumes our thinking and research. And, they both add, there isn’t enough “culture clash” to force us to innovate.
In David Brooks’ discussion of these trends proffered by Theil and Stephenson, he makes an important point:
The roots of great innovation are never just in the technology itself. They are always in the wider historical context. They require new ways of seeing.
While economists tend to measure the value of innovation in terms of products and dollars, shouldn’t it be to improve life for all humanity? Isn’t it to solve the problems that have persistently prevented humankind from reaching its highest ideals? The achievement of a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction would seem like an even greater goal for innovation.
One area cited as evidence of the scientific sluggishness by Thiel is the number of pharmaceutical research centers that have been shuttered. He concludes that this is caused by a number of factors. My take is that we’re beginning to realize that more drugs don’t necessarily translate into better health. Innovation in health care is beginning to gain momentum in another direction.
Over 140 years ago the discovery that consciousness affects one’s health was a watershed event. Research is building which highlights the importance of this discovery. Take for instance the voluminous research of Herbert Benson or Larry Dossey over the last thirty years. Or recent surveys by the Pew Research Institute which show that the public is turning increasingly to alternative sources for their health care because it brings results. At the core of this innovation is consciousness and spirituality.
Medical practitioners and researchers no longer dismiss the role consciousness and spirituality play in achieving and maintaining health. Research has also shown that regular church attendance maintains health and prolongs life. Now prayer and meditation are accepted forms of medical therapy.
These trends don’t sound like the end of the future to me. Rather, they show that innovation in health care is in the midst of a paradigm shift. This isn’t science fiction. It’s real.