Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rogue Molecules

These are just some notes I took watching a presentation by Duke University professors Ray Barfield and Jeremy Begbie entitled, "Unexpected Intersections: Arts, Medicine, and Theology." I've included the video below if you are interested in watching it. I especially liked how Barfield presented the problem modern western medicine faces in his "rogue molecules" explanation.

Training to be a medical practitioner in a nutshell:
1. Anatomy: how the molecules are statically laid out.
2. Physiology: how the molecules move in the right direction.
3. Pathology: how rogue molecules sometimes slow down or move in the wrong direction.
4. Practicals: how to make the rogue molecules act right via surgical and medical techniques.

What medical practitioners acquire in their didactic training:
1. Definition of life: molecules moving in the right direction.
2. A vocation: human body mechanic.

What's the problem?
1. This biological reductionism is insufficient when applied to suffering and illness in human beings.
2. Practitioners speaking the language of biology and patients speaking the language of human experience aren't hearing each other clearly.
3. Practitioner burnout is high due to improper equipping for the problem.
4. Patients don't receive the help they need at the most important times in their lives.

The Bottom Line:
1. Human life and illness are so much more than molecules and biology (we have emotions, relationships, faith, etc.)
2. Treatment of illness must be enriched beyond how it is often practiced today.
3. Theology and the arts (and the social sciences) have a lot to bring to the table.

Challenge: Use story, art, music, theology, and whatever other means necessary to enrich the experience of suffering, illness, and dying with the patients you serve.

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