Some Messages for Contemporary Medicine…

A little humor for the day by Groucho Marx:

 “I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

I recently read an article written by two physicians in Greece titled, “The Modern Hippocratic Tradition: Some Messages for Contemporary Medicine.”  The article provides background information on Hippocrates and his major achievements in medicine, namely, modern medical practice of attributing disease to natural causes, and treating based on observations, reasoning, and experience.  However, Hippocrates believed and treated his clientele as psychosomatic entities, a holistic medical approach, unlike modern medicine practice which is very depersonalizing and singularly focused on treating the body – not the whole person.

There are many fine points on the state of current medicine (undesireable) and the need for the medical establishment (and healthcare in general) to return to and embrace the basic philosophy and principles of Hippocrates.  Here, I will mention a few by putting the points in quotation marks.  But, read the entire article which you will find interesting.  Source: Marketos S, MD and Skiadas P, MD.  The Modern Hippocratic Tradition: Some Messages for Contemporary Medicine. Spine 1999;24(11):1159-1163.

“…In our times, there is a tendency to forget that the patient must occupy the center of our attention, and in forgetting this principle, physicians have almost lost control of their profession.  The innovation that Hippocrates introduced to medicine was the holistic approach to the patient…he considered and treated the patient as a psychosomatic entity and not as a mere sum of organs…”

“He believed that the human body acts as a whole, so that when an organ is ill, the whole body is being afflicted.”

Hippocrates had a strong faith in nature’s healing power.  He observed the course of  the disease, trying not to interfere with nature.  This attitude should not be explained as a passive stand toward the healing process, but as a respect for nature’s power to cure.  One of his principles is, “Merely give nature a chance, and most of the diseases will cure themselves.”

“Interest has shifted from clinical evaluation of the patients to the assessment and interpetation of sophisticated procedures. In many cases, the efficacy of advanced medical means is being overestimated.  Apart from the fact that exaggerated trust in technology can lead sometimes to inevitable mistakes, this attitude tends to alienate physicians from their target, namely the patient.”

“…the fragmentation of medical science has created a type of physician who regards the patient as a disordered mechanism rather than a psychosomatic entity…”

Hippocrates believed ,”the physician must assist nature, which is the physician of the diseases.”  The natural environment is constantly and rapidly being degradated through contamination of water and food, accumulation of chemicals, nuclear pollution, and the spread of radiation.  The consequences of these environmental changes are apparent already.  Cancer and cardiovascular disease affect a great percentage of Western countries.  This undeniable reality prompts us to rediscover the principles regarding healthful behavior, the quality of life, and the healing power of nature.”

“…biomedical technology has ignored the psychosociologic aspect, treating the patient more or less as a disease and not a unique human entity.  Depersonalization of the patient and a lost sense of his or her individuality can be confronted by keeping the Hippocratic humanistic values in perfect balance with progress in technology.”

“…medicine more than ever senses the need to combine the concepts of humanistic values and the Hippocratic messages with the techonoloic ‘imperative’ (power).  This bond is necessary to the improvement of medicine in the future because, currently, the enormous biomedical technology so far has contributed little to the traditionally human fields of psychosomatic and functional disturbances, posing new dilemmas and threatening scientific problems.”

So, what do YOU think about all this…?


3 responses to “Some Messages for Contemporary Medicine…

  1. Hello Marti:
    I started a project ten years ago to help improve the psyche of patients who are hospitalized. Every day, I solicit help to move the project forward clinically, but cannot find anyone to help me. I am confused about the reasons for this resistance, because I know that these five new ideas are needed.
    I am hoping that you will be kind enough to help me with this project. You have the contacts needed to see it move forward to clinical trials etc. It does have unique ideas that would be newsworthy for a column or story idea.
    I also wanted to let you know that my KID’S CLUB unit is available for gratis donation. I cannot even give this valuable ( $1300) unit away. The project script and photos are in my Blog at : I hope that you will want to help this project, thanks very much. Duane Wyatt

  2. Martha Forrester

    Ah, another example of how life, thoughts, philosophies, practices circle round.

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