Parts and Wholes

"The cure of the part should not be attempted
without the treatment of the whole."
The words of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato may be more worthy of consideration now than ever before. We live in a time when the idea of the whole person is finally coming of age.

Wholeness is obviously important when addressing the ills of a human being. Unfortunately, that is often not the actual case even in our more enlightened times. "The cure of the part" is too commonly the only goal of most patients and physicians.

Consider the abundance of eye doctors and skin specialists and bone surgeons. Modern medicine is replete with specialists and subspecialists who focus on smaller and smaller, narrower and narrower ranges of work so that they can know their fields more acutely and accurately. Too often this comes at the expense not of the part but of the whole being.

An aphorism which passes around medical circles goes, "Family physicians know nothing (about everything) and do nothing. Internists know everything (about one thing) and do nothing. Surgeons know nothing and do everything."

The latter remark fits in with another claim which I have heard direct from surgeons' lips: "We cut to cure." The idea and hope may be laudable, but the fact is that a cure may be beyond reach especially when the whole is not taken into consideration.

You and I are whole beings, body and emotions, mind and spirit. We are not merely machines which need new rotors or motors, tires or wires at times. We have parts - and dimensions - beyond those which the automobile or the computer or the television possess.

Whenever an ailment, trauma or disability arises, the whole being demands attention. Else treatment results will fall short of real and last success. The desired success is more than a cure. It is a healing. Healing or wholing is what a whole being needs.

Next time your part is aching, don't forget your wholeness needs attention, too.

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