The Illness is the Cure: An Introduction to Life Medicine and Life Doctoring – a new existential approach to illness by Peter Wilberg

> What if ‘explaining’ an illness is one thing, but understanding it is quite another?

> What if illnesses have life meanings and not just scientific ‘explanations’ and biological ‘causes’ or ‘cures’?

> What if the biology of the human body cannot be separated from the biography of the human being?
> What if the life of the human body cannot be separated from the life of the human being in all its existential dimensions – personal, social and economic?
> What if every bodily state is at the same time a state of consciousness and vice versa – thus making nonsense of the separation between ‘body’ and ‘mind’, medical treatments on the one hand and psychological therapies on the other?
> Last but not least, what if ‘the illness is the cure’ – and not something to be cured?

In a way that is clear and practically helpful to both lay readers, patients and health professionals alike, this book challenges the most basic assumptions of almost all forms of medicine – ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’, ‘scientific’ or ‘spiritual’ – namely that illness is something to be cured rather than being the cure. To do so it draws on the work of Illich, Heidegger and many others to introduces a fundamentally new approach to health and illness – ‘Life Medicine’ and ‘Life Doctoring’.

Life Doctoring is a new form of non-biomedical therapy for serious and chronic illness. Instead of employing standard forms of medical testing and treatment the Life Doctor is there to help the individual come to an understanding of the ways their own particular illness ‘is the cure’ – how it is a potential source of new healing understandings of themselves and of a healing transformation of their lives.

Life Medicine is a new understanding of health and illness that does not separate science and life, biology and biography, the life of the human body and the life of the human being. Instead its focus is on the larger life context and specific life meanings that particular symptoms and illnesses hold for the individual patient.

For as Marx wrote: “The idea of one basis for science and another for life is from the very outset a lie.” This ‘lie’ unfortunately has dire consequences. For as research by the medical establishment itself has confirmed, conventional biomedical diagnosis and treatment through drugs and surgery is itself the leading cause of premature death – ahead of both cancer and heart disease. By offering an entirely new framework for understanding the essential nature of ‘health’ and ‘illness’, Life Doctoring can help patients understand the underlying sense of ‘dis-ease’ in their lives that lies behind their clinically diagnosed illness or ‘disease’.

In this way it can also serve to (a) prevent an individual’s ‘dis-ease manifesting as clinical ‘disease’, and (b) educate patients about the possible dangers and potentially sickness-causing or ‘iatrogenic’ effects of many standard forms of biomedical testing and treatment. The continuing monopoly over knowledge of the human body that biomedicine claims has one basic reason – namely that it is not actually ‘science-driven’ but ‘money driven’ – turning illness into a source of vast profits for Big Pharma and the corporate health industry as a whole.

Many people are angered by the global trend toward the privatization of medical care or else concerned about the rising costs. Yet the roots of this trend lie in the fact that illness itself has long been ‘privatized’ – seen as bearing no relation at all to the social and economic ills affecting the patient and to the sicknesses of society itself. To argue that ‘the illness is the cure’ is also to recognize that illness is also an expression of a fundamentally sick world. Through Life Medicine and Life Doctoring, illness can also help us to recognise and respond in new ways to this world and its politics – and in this way help to heal it. “The first task of the doctor is … political…” Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception

Peter Wilberg (born in London in 1952) is an independent thinker and author of ethnic German and Jewish-German background.

Though he holds an MA in Philosophy and Politics (Oxon, 1994) and in Humanistic Psychology (Antioch, 1980) he has since pursued his lifelong research, work and writing outside the framework of academia and without any form of institutional support or funding.

As well as writing, Peter Wilberg gives individualised philosophical and experiential counselling, mentoring, supervision, teaching, therapy, meditational training and ‘life doctoring’ at his U.K. home in Whitstable, Kent.

His work has given rise to a wide range of both original philosophical insights and pioneering practices in the areas of phenomenological science and research, therapeutic listening, existential and phenomenological medicine, consciousness studies, the nature of music and tonal awareness, semiotics, non-dual and focusing-oriented therapy, awareness-based ‘cognitive therapy’, aware and embodied relating, gnosticism, yoga and tantra – leading to both individual and shared, bi-personal meditational and metaphysical experiencing.

The philosophical foundation of Peter Wilberg’s work is a new ‘field-phenomenology’ that he calls ‘The Awareness Principle’. This is the recognition that awareness or ‘subjectivity’ has an essentially universal and field character. As such, it is neither the product of any thing or body nor the private property of any individual ‘subject’, ‘ego’ or ‘being’. Awareness, in other words, is nothing that is ‘yours’ or ‘mine’. Instead all bodies and all beings are individualised portions and expressions of potentialities latent in a universal awareness field – one that is the very essence of ‘the divine’. Every ‘being’ or ‘body’, ‘thing’ or ‘phenomenon’ therefore, is not just something we are or can be aware of. It also is an awareness or ‘consciousness’ in its own right -manifesting unique field-patterns and qualities of awareness latent in the universal awareness field that is its source. What is called ‘God’ then, is neither a being nor Being, but Awareness as such, all-encompassing and all-pervading.

“The Being of all things that are recognised in Awareness in turn depends on Awareness.” ~ Sri Abhinavagupta

Click here to take a look inside.

What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us About Consciousness and the Concept of the Self – Sam Parnia

The New York Academy of Sciences – June 22, 2010
Shifting Realities: Myths, Models & Morality
Life, Death & the Pursuit of Morality

What Near-Death Experiences Contribute to the Concept of the Self
Sam Parnia, MD, PhD

How does our understanding of the concepts of life and death affect our moral sensibility, decisions, and actions? This symposium engages scientific and humanistic focus upon the ways in which human finitude can, and perhaps should, impact moral character.

Becoming Conscious: The Science of Mindfulness

Many of us go through daily life on autopilot, without being fully aware of our conscious experience.

Neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha join clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn to explore the role of consciousness in mental and physical health, how we can train the mind to become more flexible and adaptable, and what cutting-edge neuroscience is revealing about the transformation of consciousness through mindfulness and contemplative practice.

This event is part of The Emerging Science of Consciousness Series, which brings together leading experts from various fields to discuss how the latest research is challenging our understanding of the very nature and function of consciousness in our daily lives.


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