Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Healing of Persons: The Knowledge of Man

Man is not just a body and a mind. He is a spiritual being. It is impossible to know him if one disregards his deepest reality. This is indeed the daily experience of the doctor. No physiological or psychological analysis is sufficient to unravel the infinity complex skein of a human life.

He sees how little his patients understand themselves, as long as they do not examine themselves before God; how apt they are to close their eyes to their own faults; how their good will is held back by circumstances, discouragement, and habit; how little effect his advice can have in reforming a person's life when the patient's mind is torn by an inner conflict.

When I decided to devote all my energies toward acquiring this deep knowledge of man, the first precondition seemed to me to be the necessity of giving more time to each of my patients, and in order to do so, to accept a smaller number. The way our profession has developed has had the effect of turning the modern doctor into a man in a hurry. Many of my colleagues suffer from the sort of life they have to lead, in which too many patients troop through their consulting rooms, generally without leaving the doctors time enough really to get to know them. The development of social welfare plans and the standardization of doctor's fees have largely contributed to this state of affairs, which is one that must be put right.

The result is that patients see their doctors very frequently - or even a large number of doctors - without ever having time to seek the hidden cause behind the ills they suffer from. The diagnosis is arrived at after a clinical or radiological exploration, or a laboratory investigation. The patients are given advice and medicines. The recover successively from a number of illnesses. But why their resistance is weakened, why they have so many diseases in succession, why the lack to strength to live as they ought to live in order to be in good health, they only rarely have time to help to go into with their doctors.

To understand a person's life, to help him to understand it himself, takes a long time.

~ Paul Tournier, The Healing of Persons, pg 55-56

No comments: