Question – Compare and contrast the dualistic and holistic philosophies of health
Subject: Healthcare Philosophies: Dualistic and Holistic
Two distinctly different health/health care philosophies determine the scope of health/health beliefs and practices: dualistic and holistic.
Each of these philosophies espouses effective methods of maintaining, protecting, and restoring health/health, and the “battles for dominance” between the allopathic and homeopathic philosophies have been hard fought in this country over the past century. One manifestation of these struggles is an emerging preference for homeopathic or holistic, complementary, integrative, or alternative medicine among people from all walks of life. The dominant healthcare system in the United States is predicated on the allopathic (dualistic) philosophy. The word allopathy has two roots. One comes from the Greek meaning “other than disease” because medications are often prescribed on a basis that has no consistent or logical relationship to the symptoms. The second root of allopathy is derived from the German meaning “all therapies.” Allopathy is a “system of medicine that embraces all methods of proven, that is, empirical science and scientific methodology is used to prove the value in the treatment of diseases” (Weil, 1983, p. 17). After 1855, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted the “all therapies” definition of allopathy and has exclusively determined who can practice medicine in the United States. For example, in the 1860s the AMA refused to admit women doctors to medical societies, practiced segregation, and demanded the purging of homeopaths. Allopaths continue to show little or limited tolerance or respect for other providers of healthcare, such as homeopaths, osteopaths, and chiropractors, and for such traditional healers as lay midwives, herbalists, and American Indian medicine men and women. The allopathic healthcare system, the modern healthcare system, is further discussed in Chapter 8. The Homeopathic (Holistic) Philosophy is the other healthcare philosophy in the United States. Developed between 1790 and 1810 by Samuel C. Hahnemann in Germany, homeopathic medicine is extremely popular in much of Europe and other parts of the world. It is becoming, once again, more popular in the United States.
Homeopathy, or homoeopathy, comes from the Greek words homoios (“similar”) and pathos (“suffering”). In the practice of homeopathy, the person, not the disease, is treated. This system has not been “tolerated” by the allopaths, yet it continues to thrive and is used by countless people. It espouses a holistic philosophy—that is, it sees health as a balance of the physical, mental, and spiritual whole. Homeopathic care encompasses a wide range of healthcare practices and is often referred to as “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine.” Complementary, alternative, unconventional, or unorthodox therapies are medical practices that do not conform to the scientific standards set by the allopathic medical community; they are not taught widely in the medical and nursing communities and are not generally available in the allopathic healthcare system, including the hospital settings. These include such therapies as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic medicine. Presently, this situation is changing, and the use of services such as acupuncture is more widespread in modern healthcare settings. Table 5-3 demonstrates the health/health care choices, or pathways a person may follow when an illness occurs. The allopathic system comprises the conventional or familiar services within the dominant healthcare culture—acute care, chronic care, communtiy/public healthcare, psychiatric/mental health, rehabilitation, and so forth. Two types of care in the holistic system are classified as complementary. These break down again into two categories, either alternative or integrative, and traditional or ethnocultural. Modern or allopathic therapies were discussed in Chapter 4. Alternative, or integrative, therapies are those that are not a part of one’s ethnocultural or religious heritage, interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in U.S. hospitals and other healthcare settings; traditional therapies are those that are part of one’s traditional ethnocultural or religious heritage. In other words, a European American electing to use acupuncture as a method of treatment is seeking alternative treatment; a Chinese American using this treatment modality is using traditional medicine derived from his or her heritage.