The Dominant Healthcare Approach vs Marginalized Alternatives

This is less than a 2 minute read

In our culture, control and separation are given more importance than compassion and relationship.

To illustrate what I mean, here's a comparison between the dominant approach to healthcare and the marginalized, "alternative" approaches.


Recently I went to see a medical doctor. 

The first thing the staff did was collect my data. They weighed and measured, poked and prodded, writing every thing down in a form as they went.

Then, suitably reduced from a human being to numbers on a sheet, I was ushered into the next room to wait for the doctor.

The doctor spent more time looking at the computer screen than at me, entering data and analyzing it. Even when she asked questions, she kept looking at the screen while I answered, adding my responses to the information in “my” file.

(I use inverted commas for “my,” because I know I have no control over that file.)

Less than fifteen minutes later, I was ushered out again with an order for blood tests and instructions to come back in 3 months for more testing. (The doctor also suggested a pharmaceutical prescription, but I politely declined it.)

Conversely, here’s the kind of experience I’ve come to anticipate when I go to a healer with a more holistic approach – one who sees me as a unique individual rather than as a case study, and who approaches the business of helping me with deep humility and compassion.

First, the healer looks into my eyes, and I feel safer immediately. Then, for an hour or more, she listens to me. Really listens.

I’m nourished by her undivided attention and unconditional acceptance. She listens to my story, rather than taking my data. She asks questions that draw parts of the story out of me that I had not previously recognized. This in itself is deeply healing.

And when finally this healer prescribes, the prescription is full of nourishment for both body and soul. Real food. Rest and renewal. Connection with family. Time in nature.

As well as nourishment she may prescribe supplements, homeopathy, or other remedies, and she sometimes also calls on modern scientific medicine, but all these are secondary to the nourishment; they don’t replace it. 

If you enjoyed this, you may also like this previous article, which describes how pharmaceutical medicine is the medical equivalent of fast food – its fast, its convenient, and it erodes our health over time.

There is also a companion article which compares commercial, profitable medicine with natural, local, not-for-profit medicine.

Please leave a comment...

Do you use "alternative" approaches to healthcare? What led you there, away from the dominant, pharmaceutical approach?

  • Thank you for sharing your experiences with such clarity. Medical training has left out so much of importance, that it is no wonder it is not always very effective. My health journey started with chronic fatigue 30 years ago, when a doctor told me the diagnosis and that I would have to live with it. Life with 2 toddlers and no energy was difficult and depressing. However a friend with an interest in alternative medicine and healthy eating gave me good advice that worked and led to me studying naturopathic nutrition and consulting with alternative practitioners. This path has kept me strong and healthy into my 60’s, but I could afford this type of medicine, had the time and the education to explore alternatives. How do we get nourishing medicine to people on low incomes? How do we support people working 12 hour days to cook healthy meals for their families? Like so much in the world, especially now, the divides between those of us who have been privileged with education and money, and those who do not have either, are growing exponentially, showing a greater disparity. Is there a solution?

    • Hi Helen, thanks for commenting and I apologize for taking a day or two to respond… I had to think about how I might answer your question, because it’s a difficult one. But I do have some related thoughts that might be helpful which you can read here.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}