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The Illness is the Cure: An Introduction to Life Medicine and Life Doctoring - a new existential approach to illness [Paperback]

Peter Wilberg


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Book Description

15 Aug 2012
What if ‘explaining’ an illness is one thing, but understanding it is quite another? What if illnesses have life meanings and not just scientific ‘explanations’ and biological ‘causes’ or ‘cures’? What if the biology of the human body cannot be separated from the biography of the human being? What if the life of the human body cannot be separated from the life of the human being in all its existential dimensions – personal, social and economic? What if every bodily state is at the same time a state of consciousness and vice versa – thus making nonsense of the separation between ‘body’ and ‘mind’, medical treatments on the one hand and psychological therapies on the other? Last but not least, what if ‘the illness is the cure’ - and not something to be cured? In a way that is clear and practically helpful to both lay readers, patients and health professionals alike, this book challenges the most basic assumptions of almost all forms of medicine – ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’, ‘scientific’ or ‘spiritual’ – namely that illness is something to be cured rather than being the cure. To do so it draws on the work of Illich, Heidegger and many others to introduces a fundamentally new approach to health and illness – ‘Life Medicine’ and ‘Life Doctoring’. Life Doctoring is a new form of non-biomedical therapy for serious and chronic illness. Instead of employing standard forms of medical testing and treatment the Life Doctor is there to help the individual come to an understanding of the ways their own particular illness ‘is the cure’ – how it is a potential source of new healing understandings of themselves and of a healing transformation of their lives. Life Medicine is a new understanding of health and illness that does not separate science and life, biology and biography, the life of the human body and the life of the human being. Instead its focus is on the larger life context and specific life meanings that particular symptoms and illnesses hold for the individual patient. For as Marx wrote: “The idea of one basis for science and another for life is from the very outset a lie.” This ‘lie’ unfortunately has dire consequences. For as research by the medical establishment itself has confirmed, conventional biomedical diagnosis and treatment through drugs and surgery is itself the leading cause of premature death – ahead of both cancer and heart disease. By offering an entirely new framework for understanding the essential nature of ‘health’ and ‘illness’, Life Doctoring can help patients understand the underlying sense of ‘dis-ease’ in their lives that lies behind their clinically diagnosed illness or ‘disease’. In this way it can also serve to (a) prevent an individual’s ‘dis-ease manifesting as clinical ‘disease’, and (b) educate patients about the possible dangers and potentially sickness-causing or ‘iatrogenic’ effects of many standard forms of biomedical testing and treatment. The continuing monopoly over knowledge of the human body that biomedicine claims has one basic reason – namely that it is not actually ‘science-driven’ but ‘money driven’ – turning illness into a source of vast profits for Big Pharma and the corporate health industry as a whole. Many people are angered by the global trend toward the privatisation of medical care or else concerned about the rising costs. Yet the roots of this trend lie in the fact that illness itself has long been ‘privatised’ – seen as bearing no relation at all to the social and economic ills affecting the patient and to the sicknesses of society itself. To argue that ‘the illness is the cure’ is also to recognise that illness is also an expression of a fundamentally sick world. Through Life Medicine and Life Doctoring, illness can also help us to recognise and respond in new ways to this world and its politics - and in this way help to heal it. “The first task of the doctor is ... political…” Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception


Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (15 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466417544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466417540
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,199,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depression and Illness are the portals to Awareness and Healing 1 Oct 2012
By Philip J. Nivatpumin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I became familiar with Peter Wilberg's work by searching online for "existentialism" and "medicine" after I read a book by Irvin Yalom, "Staring at the Sun". I am an oncologist in Baltimore, Maryland and I have been fascinated by my patient's reactions to their illness and death, as well as my own existential dilemmas. We are so removed from illness and death as a commonplace and expected part of life. And, I think that this leads to unconscious, self-destructive behavior on most of our parts that can otherwise be ameliorated by a more aware meditation on our own finiteness.

We so rarely want to contemplate our own non-existence. There is a need for refuge in religiosity and materialism. I believe that much of the crassness of our society, our lack of care for each other and our environment, overpopulation, the medicalization of so many things that were considered normal in times past and the explosion of psychiatric diagnoses... that most of these are tied in with our disconnect from the angst at the core of our being. That without a deep feeling into the nature of our Being and the concept of our non-Being, we are doomed to try to escape it by adding unnecessary pain to inevitable pain.

Mr. Wilberg's work in his books and on his website, Existential Medicine, both strike at the heart of this. That our depression, our anxiety, our illness, our travails... they are the gateways to our freedom. That we must listen to our depression more than we listen to Prozac. That there is meaning in the failures of our bodies and minds, and that, in many ways, they are not "failures" at all... they are representations of the totality of Being itself.

The Tibetan Buddhists often advocate a daily meditation on our death as a means of liberation. I have to agree. By pondering our limits in body and mind, we tap into our limitlessness and connection to the continuum of life and nature.

We are more free, finding the freedom of the unlimited in the finite nature of our corporal body.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Impressive, Unique and Potentially Important Book By Peter Wilberg 24 Jan 2014
By Living Unbound - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend The Illness Is The Cure, as I do literally all of Peter Wilberg's books. One of the most inspirational aspects to his work and writing, for me, is that he takes essential truth, whether from sources ancient or modern, or from his own inner wisdom - and he demonstrates clearly and articulately how that truth applies in essentially every area of human living, whether in terms of direct inner experience, relationships, social and economic dynamics, and so on.

Now, with his latest book, Peter addresses how this understanding applies to overall health, as well. Even more importantly though, Peter Wilberg's application of timeless wisdom to these different aspects and areas of living shines new light, and brings important new information and perspective, to the topic areas themselves, and this new book is no exception. This approach often supplants misunderstanding, and/or fills in gaps and blind spots which currently exist in these topic areas, per the incomplete approaches of so-called conventional wisdom.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 27 July 2014
By Qbanita LA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book. It encourages a person to look at their lifestyle and make changes that promote health. Wonderful book for insight into one's own life.
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