Monday, January 28, 2013
The Limitation Of Western Medicine Thinking
Scientific beliefs rest not just on facts, but on paradigms-broad views of how these facts are related and organized. Differences of opinion between groups of researchers are at least partly a reflection of the different scientific paradigms each group uses.
This understanding may provide some insight into the ongoing conflict between quantitative and qualitative researchers, nursing and medical researchers, Western and Eastern researchers, and conventional and alternative medical researchers. A common, yet seemingly almost invisible, presumption is that the "experts" of conventional medicine are entitled and qualified to pass judgment on the scientific and therapeutic merits of alternative therapies. However, since the paradigms of the systems are so different, they are truly not qualified. Just like the use of the therapies
themselves, understanding alternative medicine from a research perspective requires the blending of multiple techniques and points of view.
Particulate-deterministic, or quantitative, research represents the principles of Western scientific method, which include formulating and testing hypotheses and then rejecting or accepting the hypotheses. Every question is reduced to the smallest possible part. Results can be replicated and generalized. Outcomes can be predicted and controlled. Particulate-deterministic research is said to be objective in that the observer is separate from those being observed. Another part of this objective paradigm is that all information can be derived from physically measurable data. Thistype of research has been extremely effective for isolating the factors that cause disease and for developing cures. On the other hand, it cannot explain the whole person as an integrated unit.
Interactive-integrative research studies the context and meaning of interactive variables as these variables form patterns that reflect the whole. Researchers observe, document, analyze, and qualify the interactive relationship of variables. In physics, it is believed that objectivity of measurement is ultimately not possible. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the act of observing phenomena unavoidably influences the behavior of the phenomena being observed. The interactive-integrative paradigm embraces this unity of measurement and measured.
Another part of the paradigm relates to the belief that interactions between living organisms and environments are transactional, multidirectional, and synergistic they cannot be reduced.
The holistic belief that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts is basic to the interactive-integrative paradigm.
The unitary-transformative approach to research represents a significant paradigm shift. A phenomenon is viewed as an integral, self-organizing unit embedded in a larger, self-organizing unit. Change is nonlinear and unpredictable, as systems move through organization and disorganization. Knowledge is a function of both the observer and observed and is primarily a matter of pattern recognition. Knowledge is personal in that it includes thoughts, values, feelings, choices, and purpose.
Just as conventional and alternative medicine complement one another, so do multiple perspectives of research. Some research explores patterns about how little is known (interactive-integrative), while other research validates new knowledge and predicts outcomes of interventions (particulate-deterministic). Yet other research may help us understand such aspects as the mutuality of patient/healer encounters (uni-tary-transformative). All paradigms are needed to further scientific knowledge.
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