Parts and Pieces

How is that the human body, a creation in this universe beyond compare, has been reduced to being treated like its parts and pieces? The answer is a complex yet interesting one. Historically speaking, man began to move away from the idea of holism in treating the ailments of a sick body at the end of the dark ages when Leonardo DaVinci and his colleagues began stealing cadavers to study human anatomy­­ which was totally forbidden by the powers that be, namely the Catholic church.

His studies, the first true studies of the subject we now know as anatomy and physiology, are still with us today. He likened the heart to a pump, the lungs to bellows, and the brain to a large switching center. His work was invaluable in understanding the workings of the human body and its diseases and was undertaken at great personal risk. Much of what he studied then is still with us today­­ including the idea of parts and pieces.

The early Christian church discouraged this kind of study and the formal practice of medicine with the avowed intention that man was imitating The Christ by healing the sick­­ and thus encouraged only the use of prayer for healing. They believed that an illness or sickness of the body was the work of the devil or demons and to interfere would only suppress the soul's journey from it's due evolution. This would cause man to turn away from his God and the church and look only to himself and his abilities for healing and salvation. Certainly this is a harsh doctrine­­ but not one of parts and pieces.

During this time there was an attempt to destroy all forms of healing and suppress the ancient knowledge of herbs and natural medicine. Fortunately, truth cannot forever be suppressed and manuscripts were secretly passed from one generation to the next within certain monasteries. These same monasteries became famous for maintaining their own herb gardens and charitable hospitals for the poor and needy­­ who seemed miraculously to stay well while others dropped dead around them.

Around the same time devastating plagues wreaked Europe. Leprosy, the Black Death, and the Bubonic Plague killed about one quarter of Europe's population. These infectious diseases were finally looked upon for what they were, ignorance and a serious lack of knowledge of cleanliness and hygiene. Since cleanliness was considered next to Godliness the existing doctrine of allowing illness to follow its natural course without interference lost favor.

Jumping forward to this century, with the advances in surgical techniques in MASH units, the invention of the electron microscope and the advent of new drugs, we began to put all our faith in our science and technology and a belief that all human pain and suffering could be conquered. If there wasn't a drug, possibly we could cut it out, eliminating the parts and pieces that were diseased. Yet wellness still eludes many and the heart and the soul remains sick and troubled. Why?

Many physicians began to think that these people don't want to be well, that it's all in their head. In a way it is. The term psychosomatic just got a bad rap. All it really means is that where the mind goes the body will follow; we can never be reduced to just parts and pieces. We must learn to treat body, mind and spirit.

This will bring wellness.

It is now readily accepted idea that all that is recorded in the brain is still there­­ yet we do not believe the body's cells have the same ability, that memory cannot be drugged away or cut away in the mind or the body. If it can, then why does the amputee suffer what's known as phantom pain­­ pain in a limb that is no longer there. Even more compelling evidence of this phenomenon is now documented by those undergoing organ transplant. In the book In A Change Of Heart, a young women tells her story of taking on the characteristics of the person she received her heart from. It makes for compelling and thought-provoking reading. I recommend it highly.

Technology has brought us many wonderful advances in the field of medicine. But let us never forget that we will always be more than the sum of our parts, that we can never recreate individual humanness­­ that indeed some of our parts and pieces may be interchangeable, the essence of who are is not.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online September 19, 1997
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