Apr 26, 2010

True Healing

Rachel Naomi Remen is a medical doctor who opened a practice where she speaks to seriously ill and suffering people and through her wisdom and caring guides them towards emotional healing.  In "Kitchen Table Wisdom" she describes a woman who was intensely grieving the loss of the love of her life.  Her grief was so acute, way beyond the norm, that a psychiatrist diagnosed her as having "reactive depression" and he treated her with progressively more powerful antidepressants which did not work.

She had several sessions with Dr. Remen in which she opened up about her pain which enabled her to move forward.

That's the chapter in a nutshell.  I won't repeat what the woman's thought process was and how Dr. Remen's suggestions broke through her numbness.  What outraged me about this episode is how the medical community, psychiatrists in particular, seek to label symptoms and drug us rather than heal us.  What the grief-stricken woman needed was not drugs to mask her symptoms (and give her numerous side effects to suffer from) but someone to truly listen to her and show her that she had the choice to move on.

We have numerous statements in Torah sources about the mind-body connection and yet we too, in the frum world, have fallen prey to drugging symptoms in children and adults.  We need wise people amongst us whom we can turn to; people who don't view coping mechanisms as medical illnesses; people who can listen and provide wise guidance within a Torah framework to those who are suffering; people who will talk about emuna and bitachon and simcha rather than diagnose syndromes and disorders.

1 comment:

  1. What sometimes happens is that the ill person who needs spiritual and emotional help rather than drugs, takes matters into their own hands and rather than seek out someone who can listen and guide, seek out a quick fix. Sometimes that is fine, such as the dentist who pre-medicates anxious patients with valium. The person just seeks relief from an isolated fear and is not intending to remain on valium. The problem comes in when valium now needs to be given for the mother-in-law visit, tax season, and final exams. Soon the person is accustomed to swallow something, be it alcohol, pain medication, illegal drugs, or prescription anti-depressants instead of healthier approaches.