MEDICINE of the Person
What is MEDICINE of the Person?
Doctors today look more and more at their computer screen and less at their patient's face.
“Medicine of the Person”, founded by the Swiss physician Paul Tournier in the mid-twentieth century, is an approach to Medicine that seeks to treat the patient as a whole person, not just their sick parts. It sees in each patient a unity of body, psyche and spirituality which, in turn, cannot be separated from their life story.
Modern medicine, with its super specialization and high technology, splits the person in isolated pieces and neglects the whole. Patients complain that their physicians “only care about my kidney or my liver”. Doctors today are highly skilled with the technical treatment, but almost illiterate in the human treatment, missing thus that kind of relationship that also heals.
The person comes before the illness. For this reason “Medicine of the Person” treats each person as a human being of great value. We cannot always cure, but we can always care and listen. This is why a close doctor patient relationship is one of the key therapeutic tools in this approach.
Paul Tournier, being a family doctor, realized that conventional treatments were not enough to relieve many of his patients. There was a deeper level -a sort of “cellar”- where drugs and psychotherapy could not reach; it is the level where “the problems of life”, as he called them, are harboured. Each person has a story with bright pages, but also with many pages full of pain, frustration, broken dreams, anger, guilt, or difficult relationship that leave scars and make you more vulnerable to any disease.
Health is much more than the absence of illness, it is a state of well-being and inner harmony. For this reason, understanding your own life, finding an explanation for events you did not understand before, healing wounds, putting order in your inner life and, above all, discovering the meaning of your existence are some of the goals of “Medicine of the Person”. When this is achieved, the foundations have been laid to prevent and treat any disease, whether physical or emotional.