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The Sun Magazine

Body and Mind

Alternative Medicine

The Sun Interview

An Open Mind

Sera Davidow Questions What We Think We Know About Mental Illness

I’ll tell you what we don’t do: we don’t call the person’s doctor, or dial 911, or drive people to the emergency room. We ask what’s going on for them — not what’s “wrong” with them or if they have been given a diagnosis. If they do mention a diagnosis, we ask what it means to them. If they talk about voices, visions, suicidal thoughts, or injuring themselves, we meet this with calm curiosity. We’ve found that what helps people move through such feelings is being able to talk openly about them. Unfortunately many people don’t talk openly in clinical environments for fear that alarms will be sounded.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Garlic In My Ear

In our culture, when you have a medical problem, you visit a doctor, who writes you a prescription; then you drive to a pharmacy and pay thirty-two dollars for a medication. There are few surprises or slip-ups. But if you decide to single-handedly reconnect with a lost ancient lineage of herbal wisdom, you may end up with a short spear of garlic bearing down on your eardrum.

The Sun Interview

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Daniel E. Lieberman On How Civilization Makes Us Sick

There’s growing attention to the importance of nutrition and physical activity, which is a cause for hope, but my concern is that these trends are very much class driven. Wealthy people tend to be able to afford to be physically active and to eat healthy foods and to reduce stress and to get enough sleep and to stop smoking. There have always been disparities in health between classes, but I worry they are going to widen. Just as we have income inequality, we’re heading toward a world in which we see an increased burden of noninfectious chronic diseases in the lower classes.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Miracle Cures!

I first became interested in alternative health practices as a teenager, when I began practicing yoga. I was also a drug user. My father thought this was a contradiction, but I said they both were about feeling good. When I took speed, it was easier to get into difficult yoga positions — although I didn’t have the patience to hold them for very long.

The Sun Interview

Living Medicine

Stephen Harrod Buhner On Plant Intelligence, Natural Healing, And The Trouble With Pharmaceuticals

When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

The Sun Interview

The Voices Inside Their Heads

Gail Hornstein’s Approach To Understanding Madness

We must remember that no matter how serious someone’s emotional difficulties have been, they can completely recover. It’s crucial for them and their friends and family to know that. No expert knows enough about mental illness to say that you can’t improve. You might not know how to get better at this moment, but you have to start by knowing that it’s possible.

The Dog-Eared Page

The Mysterious Placebo

excerpted from
Anatomy Of An Illness As Perceived By The Patient

Over long centuries, doctors have been educated by their patients to observe the prescription ritual. Most people seem to feel their complaints are not taken seriously unless they are in possession of a little slip of paper with indecipherable but magic markings. To the patient, a prescription is a certificate of assured recovery.

The Sun Interview

Vital Signs

Dr. Andrew Weil Diagnoses Western Medicine

The Western scientific paradigm is materialistic, meaning that scientists do not believe in anything that cannot be perceived or measured. Look how restrictive that belief is. It’s the reason for the limited acceptance of mind-body medicine. The nonphysical causation of physical events is not allowed for in the reigning scientific paradigm. If you talk about nonphysical causes of changes in physical systems, materialists either ignore you or make fun of you or, if you keep at it, get angry with you.