If we understand illness in the framework of Life Medicine, i.e. as a life process comparable to gestation, then all forms of medical treatment or ‘cure’ are equivalent to an attempt to medically ‘terminate’ or ‘abort’ the new bodily sense of self or ‘body identity’ that is pregnant in the patient’s dis-ease. Such premature medical termination or abortion of an illness has the immediate ‘side effect’ of preventing the patient from taking time to explore, understand and identify more clearly the new sense of self they are gestating and pregnant with – and to find ways of giving birth to it through a new way of living and relating. Abortive biomedical treatment may and does also frequently ‘miscarry’ in several others ways – not just through other side effects but also through actually intensifying the ‘illness process’ – the process by which a felt dis-ease is ‘somatised’ and as a result may take the form of ever more chronic or acute medical symptoms and diseases. Finally, even if a disease or its symptoms are cured – whether through conventional medicine, alternative medicine or ‘spiritual’ healing – if the underlying dis-ease behind it is not explored, the result may well be that the patient simply gives expression to this dis-ease through other symptoms or another disease – one that may be worse or more serious than the one supposedly ‘cured’.
The ‘health process’ is a process of giving ourselves time to feel ourselves more deeply into a felt dis-ease with the aim of sensing it as an expression of a different bodily sense of self – rather than simply seeking to counteract or cure, suppress or exorcise its symptoms. Since so few people are able to approach any felt sense of dis-ease in this way however – through ‘the health process’ – this dis-ease may need to take the form of ever more acute or chronic disease symptoms for them to begin to do so. The illness process therefore, can also provide a spur for the health process. Yet if, through the illness process, an individual’s dis-ease has already reached the point of transforming itself into a serious biological disease, then some form of biomedical intervention may be unavoidable, if only to alleviate its symptoms.
This is precisely the point at which Life Doctoring becomes so vital and relevant – even if conducted in parallel with medical doctoring. For only Life Doctoring can ensure a true ‘healing process’ is set into train. Here the role of the Life Doctor is to serve as midwife for the patient – helping them to give birth to changes in their sense of self or body identity and not just their body, and to changes in their life as a whole and not just their bodily life.
Life Doctoring sessions serve to support this healing and birthing process by offering times and ways for the patient to step back from purely biomedical diagnoses, prognoses and treatments of their illness and by helping them both feel into and come to understand the deeper meaning and purpose of their illness – thus restoring the health process in place of the illness process. The Life Doctor can also play a vital role in helping the patient to consider more carefully and if necessary reject potentially dangerous or high-risk forms of diagnostic testing, treatment or surgery. For the danger is that these may either miscarry, worsen the patient’s symptoms or hasten the progression of their disease – and in any one of these ways result in their premature death. On the other hand, even if medical treatments for serious or terminal diseases are ‘successful’ in purely biomedical terms, they may massively reduce the patient’s quality of life – merely to extend that life for what is often only a very minimal period.