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Up to the last 20-25 years, western and East Asian societies viewed the body as one entity that is inseparable. According to Seem, the traditional Chinese view the functionality system of the bodymind as one single entity. Seems explains that interrelations in energetic systems portray the body as a microcosm of the forces of the universe with man stationed between the heaven and earth. The body as a living organism constitutes dynamic series of fluctuations that works on human organism from below and above as manifested in the opposite and alternating changes in all aspects of human life.
The Acupuncture-energetics is based on the YinYang concept- in which opposite forces in the natural world are interdependent and interconnected giving rise to each other in alternating cycles- and the view that man with his body and mind is part and parcel of nature. Acupuncture is founded on the core philosophy that human beings are dynamic energy systems (body/mind/spirit complexes) reflecting evolutionary models of growth of their souls(Seem, 21). As such, acupuncture theorists assume that illness and health originate in subtle energy systems that coordinate the physical body and the force of life. These subtle energy systems are controlled by spirituality, nutrition, emotions as well as the environment. To this end, Seem puts it that the state of the mind will undoubtedly have its effect on the body in line with the acupuncturist's theory but falls short of stating the difference (Seem, 21).
While it is true that physical diseases may result from bad mental/psychological state as a result of the strains and stresses of modern day living, it is difficult to differentiate between somatoform disorders-which are primarily caused by mental factors- and psychosomatic ones( those which mental factors play a significant role in their expression, development and/or resolution). For instance, according to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, peptic ulcer was originally known to have been caused by stress only. Later findings from research showed that 80% of such was caused by Helicobacter pylori. This is despite the fact that 4 out of 5 people with the bacteria do not develop ulcers. The academy concluded that mental factors play a significant role in development of the ulcers. This shows that the state of the mind is directly associated with that of the body(Wise, 196-197).
The early western science concerning mind and the body largely considered them as separate entities (Hull, 276). According to Howard Hall, there is a two-way flow of information between the mind and the body at any given time. In his words, there is great collaboration between the functioning of the body and mind. Neurotransmitters and neurotransmitters from the brain control the mood by sending messages from neuron to target cell and from neuron to neuron respectively thus prompting changes in the body. This shows a strong relationship between the mind and the body exists for the immune and endocrine systems to work effectively. These chemical messengers act as substances of information linking the body to the brain and vise-versa. There is a flow of emotions and information in non-material sense (called the mind) viewed as a communication medium between brain and material body. This leads to the acknowledgement that both the body and mind are in close communication in coordinating activities of a human body. All manifestations of the body are due to the consciousness of the mind (Hull,277-278) .
According to Candace Pert, the mind doesn't only reside in the brain but also in the body. The vehicle that the mind and body use to communicate with each other is the chemistry of emotion. The chemicals in question are molecules, short chains of amino acids called peptides and receptors, that she believes to be the biochemical correlate of emotion(Pert 54). The peptides can be found in your brain, but also in the stomach, muscles, glands and all other major organs, sending messages back and forth. After decades of research, Dr. Pert was finally able to make clear how emotion creates the bridge between mind and body. Emotions acts as receptors and neuropeptides carrying information that links the key body systems into one unit called the bodymind". According to her, human beings no longer consider emotions to have less importance than the physical or material substance, but seen as signals involved in translating information to physical reality and accurately changing mind into matter. if you imagine biting and slicing a juicy apple, you probably find yourself salivating meaning your thoughts has generated a physical response in body(Pert, 62).
According to my opinion, mind and the body is one inseparable thing and the activities performed by both are interconnected. For us to react physically, the initiator of the act is first our brains and thereafter the appropriate part of the body that will do the effective action. There is also a great relationship between the Western and East Asia perspectives pertaining to bodymind. In the early years, the western perceived body and mind as two separate entities working differently. Due to the extensive research performed in both cognitive psychology and neuroscience, the results have shown a strong bond that exists in these two entities. This applies to East Asia perspective whereby there is strong relativity between the mind and the body. Classified as Yin and Yang, they function in pairs and interconnected.
The bodymind continuum
Mark Seem examines the body's energetic view from two angles; from ancient acupuncture-energetic perspective that treats and explains various precise patterns of imbalance and from classic and modern psychosomatics viewpoint with conception of psychic energies. The results view the bodymind as energetic phenomenon termed as bodymind energetic approach (Seem, 187). In the concept of bodymind continuum, Seem asserts that Western practitioners in medical field and clients must learn to recognize their individual relative position in either part of mind (psyche) as well as part of the body (soma).
Taking a scenario where a client is seeking medical help may discuss the disappointments, traumas, pain and burdens in his or her initial consultations. Such a client is closer to psyche side in his or her own bodymind experience of the world. This is different from a client who is also seeking the same medical attention pinpoints with accuracy the affected part of the body and the pain duration. Likewise, one practitioner focus more on the nature of the body in question noting muscular weakness and rigidity, hotness and coldness of the body and moving closer to the side of soma. Another practitioner notes the client's and the inner workings of the emotions and drives thus moving closer to the side of the psyche.
According to Seem, western mind works at a greater extent with double oppositions i.e. good and evil, light and dark, object and subject or inner and outer. They perceive body and mind as another set of oppositions essential in making the world around them to have a sense and ascertaining their relationship to it. Seem suggest that taking these absolute positions presents a major challenge in their further development in approaches to well-being, health and illness. Forming those double oppositions without an underlying relativity sentiment leads to adoption of the outdated opposition of good and evil.
In early western perspectives relating to mind-body split, Descartes differentiated between mind, soul (res cogitans) and the body (res extensa). He characterized mind as something that thinks while the body by the extension of facts that occupied space therefore it had amenable measurements.This doctrine presents a limited understanding towards a human reality and undermining our ability to comprehend human suffering aspects. In recent times, cognitive psychologists and neuroscientist have nullified the notion noting that body and mind are no longer separable. The latter maintains that brain science explains fully the mental function while the former makes the case of different psychological realm that its operations similar to those of computer software that are open to scientific exploration and measurement. Human beings live in a meaningful world because when we use "mental" and "mind" to refer to the aspects of the world.
This means the locking of the aspects is not inside the physical body. According to philosopher Wittgenstein, the 'mind' is not inside but 'out there' in the center of the social world. The basis of human reality is on the social cultural context where there is free interaction of the mind and body. In East Asian perspective, an individual is fundamentally a social self. The Chinese culture developed a self-sociology rather than the psychology of the individual. The behavioral problems understood by Western as personality development psychological problems viewed in China as fundamental social problems of adjustment and adaptation. This means an individual's behaviors deviating from the norm gets referred not to psychologist or medical specialist but to communal groups that understand the problems from a social angle rather than psychotherapeutic one.
In psychosomatic medicine, three key points represents a common ground for Western and Eastern medical practice and theory. The first key point emphasizes on oriental physicians that arose in philosophical environment and Eastern religious practices. Regarding this aspect, spiritual experiences is important in the medicine practice together with their family life conduct and social relationships. The oriental theories of treatment and medicine for some time have accommodated, reflected, and incorporated principles, practices and techniques from Yoga, Zen and a variety of other meditation forms(Seem, 36).
In the West, physicians have found themselves in a more advanced mechanistic and philosophical fix. They have developed in-depth biologically sophisticated inventions to reduce the impact of diseases. Even if they had concern over the clinical relationships between illness vicissitudes and psychosocial stress, they delegated this aspect of "art of medicine" largely to the psychologists, psychiatric and social disciplines.
In the second point, during the last two decades, there has been a tremendous improvement of the neurobiological sciences with a general emphasis on functioning of the central nervous system. This is particularly regarding the psychoneuroendocrine reactions towards stress. To achieve these developments, there is a virtual demand of a bio-psychosocial model and insisting on the attention of the physicians. This has led to psychiatrists and internists in most parts of the West confronting the mysterious relationship between the brain, body and mind.
This development has increasingly presented the importance of looking for various methods that have great potential of improving psychoanalysis. Through this, more theories and methods are in place for contributing to improve psychosomatic medicine. This has presented a clear statement that the state of illness and health should be comprehended in terms of biological, social and psychosocial parameters.
The third point involves the complexity of the central nervous mechanism linking the physiologic realm with psychosocial realm concerned with the maintenance of the health. For various theoretical and empirical reasons, biofeedback and relaxation methods together with forms of sociotherapy and psychotherapy are getting an opportunity in medical research and practice in Western world. This is along with more convectional accepted practices and procedures. This has markedly reduced the gap between the eastern and western practices.
However, taking great care is important when adopting acupuncture to treat a patient as a western medical student studying East Asian medicine. Cultural differences contribute greatly to individual experiences and perceptions of self-hood. These cannot be ignored nor can anyone's experience be used to criticize another. For instance, a Chinese patient experiencing what the Western would call depression tends to explain the experience within the body rather than psychological experience. If the patient consults an acupuncture therapist or traditional physician, the patient focuses on the specific body dysfunctions such as chest tightness or closed feeling in the throat. The physician prescribes treatments that smoothens the constrained body part. This is in contrast to Western physicians who will first find the associations between their psychological state of mind and physical problems. This does not mean that one or other concept and experience of self are preferable or superior to other. The acupuncture-energetic concept of bodymind provides answers to various aspects of psychosomatic querries raised in the West concerning the functioning of the soma. Western practitioners are required to expand upon the psychoenergetic features of acupuncture to facilitate the development of bodymind-energetic theory enough to tackle the emerging health paradigms.