Dr. Bernie Siegel, is an internationally acclaimed holistic thinker, teacher, and author and has been honored by the Watkins Review of London, England, as one of the Top 20 Spiritually Influential Living People on the Planet. As a physician who has cared for and counseled innumerable people whose mortality has been threatened by illness, Bernie embraces a philosophy of living and dying that stands at the forefront of the medical ethics and spiritual issues our Society grapples with today.
CureJoy caught up with the ever-effervescent Dr. Siegal, chatting up on a variety of topics, ranging from what ails medical science today, to patient empowerment, and why the views expressed in his new book “The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing”, should be an integral part of the training for medical practitioners.
Q1: Dr. Siegel, coming from a medical background yourself, what pains you most about the diagnostic approach of most practitioners today?
The fact that they are oriented towards diagnosing, treating the disease but not treating the patients experience, and what could have contributed to the illness that could diminish their ability to recover. When you help the patient to live and heal their lives, many physical benefits are derived. Self induced healing is an entity that must be understood, and not seen as a spontaneous remission, but an act the patient participated in.
Q2: Having campaigned for this mindset change, from ‘treating diseases’ to ‘healing people’ for so many decades, are you satisfied with the level of acceptance of your philosophy?
NO. We always seem decades behind where I would like us to be. We need to train doctors to know themselves, see the people before them as people, and not feel like failures if they can’t cure their disease. We need a true education and not just information during our training. When you help people live you are successful, and both doctor and patient benefit. Doctors need to be trained in communication skills so their “wordswordswords” do not become “swordswordswords” which kill, but scalpels which can cure.
Q3: Does modern Medical Science’s aversion to acceptance, stem from a lack of knowledge, or fear of losing business?
I think it is a lack of knowledge. What you are not exposed to during training is not accepted as true or a part of medicine. I live by my experience and not by preconceived beliefs. I heard that all the time, “I can’t accept that”, when I would tell a true story about a patient. I became a story teller to avoid conflict over poorly controlled, not a good journal when I cited studies and others didn’t want to believe them. Anecdotes changed people because it opened them to their patients’ experiences too, and allowed them to listen to their patients. When doctors disbelieve, patients do not share their experience with them, and then get treated rudely by a disbelieving doctor. The best doctors are criticized by patients, family and nurses. Why? Because they listen and don’t make excuses and learn from their mistakes and the experience of others.
Q4: Whose contribution, do you feel is critical for faster adoption? By Medical practitioners or patients?
Changing the training of medical practitioners so that they understand the patient’s experience, and that they are to treat people. When I ask doctors and students to draw themselves working as a doctor, the vast majority do not put patients in the picture, but just desks, instruments and diplomas.
Q5: What new dimensions does your long-awaited, new book “The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing.”, explore as compared to its predecessor?
This contains seventy drawings showing mind-body communication, through consciousness via dreams, and drawings. Jung diagnosed a brain tumor from a patient’s dream. No doctor is told that in medical school. There is much of my experience, the role negative memories play, and how they are stored in our body and take their toll. There is so much there that I can’t describe in this short answer. I just hope the contents become a part of medicine.
Q6: It’s always been a pleasure talking to you, Dr. Siegel and CureJoy is privileged to have you on our Experts panel. Some final thoughts, for our readers, till we interact again?
Love your life and body. Accept your mortality and enjoy the gift of today as difficult as life is. Realize disease is not God punishing you, but a loss of health, so get help looking for what you have lost. Meditate with a mantra like mine: “Thank you for everything. I am happy. I am healthy. I love my life. I have no complaint whatsoever”. Learn from the healed. People like Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and the sages who have preceded us. When your mind is like the still pond the true reflection of life will be made clear.