Acupractitioner21 is the sequel to the underground hit Acustudent21, from one of the periods when I was training in Chinese medicine. This blog will focus on Classical Chinese Medicine, CCM, the old system, and on what it´s like to practice acupuncture in the West in the 21st century. The name might have changed, but like everybody in old Chinese medicine, I am still a student.
fredag 27 december 2013
Explaining Chinese medicine to The One Grumpy
don´t believe in Chinese medicine. The evidence says it´s only good
for pain relief.”
is a common personality-type in the West. When I lectured in the NHS
in Sweden, I counted on having at least a couple of these in the
crowd for every lecture – usually three out of ten, with one of
those being openly disrespectful to other people (the question above
is diplomatic compared to some versions). Of the rest of the
audience, five would either have been treated and know it helped them
or relatives to them, or they would realize they didn´t know enough
to judge another system of medicine. Two out of the ten would have
the ability to see the potential for helping patients through
techniques that their own system of medicine didn´t include.
many lectures, there were always stragglers, often doctors, who would
come up afterwards and say ”Yes...I can see the potential in this,
I´ve heard of things it treated that I can´t right now, but...the
system is tying my hands to follow the rulebook no matter what it
says. I might lose my license if I don´t. Sorry I didn´t say
anything during the lecture.” Many of those were long-time
biomedical doctors, who simply had seen what was possible or not in
their own medical system in real life, over decades of practice,
instead of learning it from textbooks.
if you meet The One Grumpy,
what do you do?
of all, you have to decide
whether you are interested in investing time of your life to feed
them. Most One Grumpies have little or no actual training in Western
science. It is very rare that they are at research level of Western
science. Interestingly, it seems quite common that some people who
have very little training in Western science misunderstand this as an
excuse for them to ask questions that everybody else has to answer.
It is of course your choice whether you want to invest energy from
your life and time on this planet to answering them instead of
investing that time into, say, treating a patient who really needs
can give you some ideas and views here, but the choice itself is up
you have to answer?
Nope. My choice during those lectures would be based on how the
person asked the question. Sometimes you can hear and see that they
actually really do want to know but don´t have the mental vocabulary
to ask the question in a polite way. Then it might be more worth
taking your time to inform them. If it is someone who´s very
demeanor, tone and attitude indicates that they don´t respect your
knowledge, and that no matter how much time and effort you put in,
they´re not going to listen, then I usually just change the subject
or refer to the reading-list. Many One Grumpies really just want to
be in the spotlight and steal time and energy from the lecture and
the group. If you are talking to a group, remember, you are talking
of them and to all the friends they will tell, not just giving time
to one person who perhaps sadly got too little attention when they
were a kid.
can be useful if you do choose talk to the One Grumpy?
You might change the attitude of that person concerning chinese
medicine as a whole. If he or she is a doctor, this might mean that
some patients down the line might get helped with health-issues
Western medicine doesn´t have the skills to deal with. If you are
interested in Chinese medicine as a whole in the West, your little
piece of information to the Grumpy might be another drop of good
information about the subject for the future.
of the times
I chose to answer the One Grumpy, I actually wasn´t answering him
(it was usually a him), but the rest of the audience. The One
Grumpies I personally encountered were nine out of ten a waste of
time and energy to engage with. They only wanted to be seen and
heard. No matter how much information or time they were given, they
weren´t satisfied. This is perhaps because they thought they were
defenders of their faith, Western science or Western medicine, which
thank god is much bigger and filled with more skilled and nice people
to ever need defending by anyone.
in Chinese medicine. The evidence says it´s only good for pain
gentler responses to this might be, ”You don´t have to belive in
it. It works anyway if you get treated with it. If you book an
appointment at my clinic I will be happy to show you.”
”What have you seen of Chinese medicine?” or ”How much have you
read about Chinese medicine?” which usually is answered by versions
on the theme of ”Nothing”. This can be followed by, ”I´d be
happy to give longer, in-depth answers, but can´t do it in this
lecture. Read some of the books recommended in the paper – ”
(remember to bring a paper with a good reading list on) ” – and
then get back to me by e-mail, and I´ll try to help you.” No
Grumpy I have met have ever wanted to actually read up on the subject
before delivering their verdict.
personally rarely quote case-studies to a One Grumpy. Chinese
medicine needs no defending and no excuses. Offering them can often
just increase the perception for the audience that it does. I have
seen many acupuncturists in the West whose entire connection with
Western science is to be on the defensive, excusing Chinese medicine
and its long experience, instead of being intensely proud of the
skills it has. I
think excusing Chinese medicine has created a lot of damage for it in
the West, and we need less of it.
into the long, complete answer to the actual question – how badly
the studies are put together and how they ask the wrong questions due
to a lack of knowledge about acupuncture and what seems to be a
complete lack of interest to learn what it actually is – will take
time and energy and patience, and will usually not pay off. But you
never know, maybe it will for you, and for the One Grumpy you choose
to invest energy in.
is impossible to explain
Chinese medicine through the current Western medicine´s views.
People occasionally try, but all that frequently happens is that they
cut off legs and one arm to explain the right hand. A more useful
version is to see the two systems as two different paradigms to be
dealt with in their own language and on their own merits. They both
have pros and cons, they both have some brilliant solutions but in
different parts of the playing field and with different views on how
life, humans and the universe works. After writing and lecturing on
this for a long time, I´ve realized that it comes down to two very
different ways of seeing the universe. The difference between them is
that fundamental. This fundamental difference, in turn, then shapes
each system´s view of health, illness, humans, and how humans fit
into nature or don´t.
you do have the huge and positive intent to lecture, I
would suggest you have some prepared answers to the questions above.
Who knows – you might even meet a One Grumpy worth investing time