What is Life Medicine?
Life Medicine is a fundamentally new philosophy of medicine and an unparalleled ‘paradigm shift’ in our most basic understanding of the nature of health, medicine and the human body itself. It is based on the recognition that behind every illness lies a particular life story or experience and that illnesses and their symptoms are bodily symbols – one way in which our subjective experiences of the world is constantly embodied and our life story constantly ‘inscribed’ in a bodily way. Life Medicine does not see the human body as a biological machine but recognises it as a fleshly text of the human being. Seen in this way, the body is like a book – whose visible physical marks and form all express invisible dimensions of meaning.
Does the fact that Life Medicine sees illness symptoms as bodily symbols expressing subjective experiences mean that they are just ‘imaginary’ or ‘in my head’?
No. It means that illness symptoms are a very real expression of your life. Life Medicine understands the ‘subjective’ dimension of life – experiencing – as something that is in no way limited to or contained in our ‘heads’ or ‘minds’ but instead pervades our entire body and embraces our entire world. In fact it affirms that subjective experiencing as such is fundamentally more real than any aspect of it which we turn into a mere physical or clinical ‘object’ with our heads and minds.
Does Life Medicine reject the knowledge of modern medical science and all its specialist fields?
No. Instead it both ‘reads’ and makes use of this knowledge in a different way – seeing every detailed or specialist field of medical knowledge as something which itself bears deeper and more detailed levels of symbolic meaning all of which can help to understanding the human body and illness subjectively rather than reducing it to a clinical object.
Does the philosophy of Life Medicine mean that individuals are to blame for their own illnesses?
No. We can only ‘blame’ ourselves or others for something that is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. Yet an important principle of Life Medicine is precisely that it is does not see illness as something intrinsically ‘bad’ or a sign that there is something ‘wrong’ with us. Writing a book about distressing life experiences or events is not something bad but something creative and potentially healing. Similarly, inscribing such experiences in our bodies in the form of illness is also a creative act and a potentially healing one too – if we learn to ‘read’ different illnesses and their symptoms in a new way and understand their symbolic nature.
If “the illness is the cure”, why is there need for any form of medicine or healing at all?
Precisely because so few people have learned or been taught to ‘read’ their symptoms in a way that allows their illness to become what it essentially is – something that can help to bring about a healing transformation or ‘cure’ of an aspect of their lives, life world, life experience with which they are ill-at-ease, and/or a way of living and responding to life that is the continuing source of a felt ‘dis-ease’. Understanding illness in this way is not blaming the patient but offers a way of ceasing to see ourselves as arbitrary victims of illness. Instead it turns the questions ‘Why me?’ ‘Why now?’ and ‘Why this particular illness or symptom and not others?’ into a deep source of insight into ourselves and our lives.
Can Life Medicine help prevent death through terminal illness?
Yes, but it recognises that, like illness as such, death due to illness can also in certain circumstances ‘be the cure’ – death being by no means the end of the individual’s life but a new beginning to it, a rebirth into other, pre and trans-physical dimensions of experiencing.