Research: MELZER and SALLER,

Listed in Issue 142

Abstract

MELZER and SALLER, Institut fur Naturheilkunde, Depart. fur Innere Medizin, Universitatspital Zurich, Ramistrasse 100, 1091 Zurich, Switzerland, joerg.melzer@usz.ch, have thought about how complementary therapies view human beings.

Background

Practitioners and users of naturopathic therapies claim that one of the assumptions underlying their work is a holistic understanding of the human organism. The aim of this study was to investigate whether one specific such understanding of human beings exists in present-day society, and what this might mean.

Methodology

Database and literature research was performed of the use and meaning of the term “view of man”, and the results were analyzed descriptively.

Results

The term “view of man” (German: Menschenbild) is neither timeless nor related to a specific subject area. Its meaning is connected with the state of knowledge of the respective epoch as well as its reception in science and society. The discourse concerning the term “view of man” in the 2nd half of the 20th century in German literature shows a shift towards a pluralistic understanding of man. This pluralistic view exists in medicine as well. On the one hand, conventional medicine, under the influence of the reductionism of natural science, has widened its worldview due to the input of different disciplines such as psychosomatics, psychotherapy or social medicine, towards a more complex perception of man. On the other hand, traditional European Naturopathy, too, claims to consider aspects of the “body-mind-soul-unity” in its understanding of man. Clinical experience with the authors’ patients reveals aspects characteristic of today’s pluralistic naturopathic understanding of man that could also be useful for conventional medicine. The recognition of patients’ expectations, participation in the therapy planning and Naturopathic modes of therapy (e.g. start of therapy at healthy parts of the body) are examples of such concepts.

Conclusion

There are various different understandings of human organisms which originate from multiple subjective and socio-cultural perspectives of patients and therapists, and which require openness on both sides and communication about health, illness and therapeutic settings.

References

Melzer J, Saller R. Does there exist one specific “view of man” in naturopathy / complementary medicine? Forschende Komplementärmedizin 13 (4): 210-219, Aug 2006.

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