Author: Virgil Seutter
Date:     October 8, 1997
Parent Node:

6.0   Is it Biomedicine or InfoMedicine? (6.0)

6.1. The emergence of alternative medicine as a viable methodology in health care has transfixed the attention of paradigmatic biomedicine to a more liberal holistic paradigm. The latter, while not yet definable, encompasses an array of procedures that challenge the reigning paradigm of biomedicine. The cultural endorsement of holistic health care suggest that a scientific revolution (Kuhn, 1962) is underway leading to a paradigm shift that addresses the anomalies of classical medicine. How medicine (and chiropractic) address these problems depends upon the viewpoints from the different thinking that has emerged in recent years.

6.2. Some of this thinking has focused on a conceptual shift away from biological systems infrastructure to that of a self-organizing infrastructure. This latter position deals with the concept of information from multiple sources (body, mind, culture or psycho-social interrelationships, and environment) and less from the somatic biological model. This viewpoint is expressed by Foss and Rothenberg who see the transition from "biomedicine" to "infomedicine" as part of a "Second Medical Revolution." They view the single causal links (initial trigger) to disease as a problem. The mechanistic process cannot account for feedback that demonstrates itself as an open system of information exchange and entropy transfer. This portrays a nonlinear interconnectedness that identifies a "cybernetic circularity" in which the physical body cannot be accepted as a passive machine. Rather, it appears to display a "self-organizing (cybernetic) unity which, as a complex system, can internally interact." This boldly translates into the idea that mutual causal loops operating within the system can "increase structuredness within the system. (6.0)"

6.3. This latter observation becomes interesting from the perspective of holistic claims. The idea that the body responds to multiple influences in its environment might be understood from an information perspective. Furthermore, for the chiropractor, claiming that physical, chemical, and spiritual (mind) elements contribute to structural changes (subluxations) within the system is interesting in view of the above. Expanding the idea a little further, one might conjecture whether the existence of mutual causal loops predetermine the structuredness of the system (body) as a manifestation of disease (or health and healing) in a brief time period or acts as a predetermining causal relationship in long term (evolutionary) changes in the system?

6.4. Either way, the insurgents (holistic, behavioral) approach as a countermovement to reductionist, classical medicine cannot be viewed as anything more than tautological. Holism has not fulfilled Kuhn's invocation that paradigmatic changes are projected on "accepted examples of actual scientific practice---examples which include law, theory, application, and instrumentation together---[and] provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research. (6.0)"

6.5. Holism, and particularly chiropractic, has not contributed beyond the theory and the application. Its fulfillment as a law remains in limbo depending upon the ability to articulate the argument and refine the research to accommodate the application and the determination that a process [for chiropractic, the subluxation] is, indeed, instrumentive in disease causation. If holism follows the biomedical legacy of reductionist inquiry it supports the predominantly pathophysiological model in establishing diagnostic laws. On the other hand, if holism (and chiropractic) attempt to establish a research parameter invoking the information paradigm, the search requires a strategy that translates structure into function (control and communication within information exchange).

Seutter, V. "Commentary: Holism, Alternative Medicine, and Why Chiropractic Embraces It. Is it Biomedicine or InfoMedicine?" Chiropractic Resource Organization. 8 Oct 1997. ChiroZine ISSN1525-4550
(c) 1997-2001 All rights reserved.

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(c) 1997 Chiropractic Resource Organization. All Rights Reserved. Reprint by permission.

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