Monday, September 12, 2011

The Shaman Speaks

"All comes by the body, only health puts you rapport with the universe."

Walt Whitman, from "By Blue Ontario's Shore"

This quote--which could serve as credo for integrative medicine--is the kind of thing that occasionally reminds me why I went into psychiatry. Beyond the often questionable DSM diagnoses, the vagaries of therapy, and the imperfect biological treatments, what we are after is a state of attunement and acceptance in which a biological being achieves transcendence of the merely physical without, necessarily, any recourse to the supernatural.

It is not the work of poetry to answer all our questions, of course, and one can legitimately wonder what sorts of subjective states, interpersonal relationships, and achievements of meaning must come together to constitute "rapport." But if we say that health is merely the absence of disease (or disorder), if only to trim the ambitions of restless and overweening doctors (and their many accomplices and handmaidens in the behemoth that is the health care industry), it is nonetheless true that it is typical of consciousness to aspire to something more than just the absence of suffering. Perhaps poets pick up about where physicians trail off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That, m'dear, is exactly why when hearing about the emphasis on STEM disciplines, I always ask, "What about the poets?"