Who doesn’t want to be more in control of their health?
Who is ultimately in control of your health? Is it your body, driven by hormones, or your mind/spirit which is your soul, your thoughts, your intellect, and your free will? What is the role of your mind in healing your body?
Religion and medicine have wrestled with the mind-body question for thousands of years. It has only been since the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment that the split between religion and medicine became final and complete.
The Roots of Western Medicine
Modern Western medical practices are based upon the views of René Descartes (1596 – 1650). Descartes’ theory of the fundamental separation of mind and body remains today as the foundation of Western intellectual thought and Western medical science.
In his treatise on man, De Homine, Descartes declared that both animals and humans are wonderful machines. Because modern Western medicine is grounded in Descartes’ writings it is important to understand some of the history behind the publication of his writings.
The first of Descartes’s writings were completed in 1633. A friend of his, Maron Mersenne, wrote to him of Galileo’s fate, that same year, at the hands of the Roman Inquisition. Galileo was threatened with torture and convicted of heresy. He was placed under house arrest for life – his crime, you might recall, was stating that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the universe.
Descartes immediately suppressed publishing his own treatise, until he came to an agreement with the Pope – his writings would not have anything to do with the soul, the mind, or the emotion. The mind remained the jurisdiction of the church. Medicine and science would deal only with the physical body. [continue reading]