Monday, March 08, 2021

MO-5. Disease is not a dysfunction. It's the body's healthy way of handling major challenges

In my current work on living systems, a new understanding of disease is up. Disease is traditionally understood as something negative, to be avoided and gotten rid of. 

However, if we see organisms as naturally venturing into the world and encountering challenges from the environment, disease may be seen as the body attempt to deal with challenges that are just too large for regular processing.

Your body wards off bacteria all the time, but if their concentration exceeds a certain threshold, or your threshold has been lowered due to low vitality or suchlike, then the body marshals special resources and puts the body to work, serious work (think inflammation, infection). 

Medium-sized challenges the body can handle, pneumonia it may not, and your good doctor steps in with antibiotics to kill off the large challenger which might otherwise have overcome you.

Disease is the integrative tendency at work, trying to heal you from the insult suffered by your body (or mind, as in psychological trauma after physical abuse). States an editorial in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 5(6), p. 497: "Disease ... can be viewed as the healthy response by which the organism builds immunity and sequesters toxicity..." 

In my terminology from blogpost MO-3: Disease may by subintegration in action, a process by which a living system seeks to (re-)establish integrity and wholeness under restricted and constraining conditions, namely, those imposed by the environmental presence of the toxin, the threat, the dangerously large challenge.

Or disease that heals the patient completely is really a process of integration (not subintegration). In that case, the signs of the disease, the symptoms, only indicate that were in the process of dealing with a major challenge. Usually, the body can deal with it, like in the flu, minor infections, cuts and bruises, etc. 

The fever, the swelling, the tenderness are all signs of regeneration, telling you the body is humming along, working to restore you. Suppressing symptoms with medicine is often beside the point, although painkillers may soothe.  

So, we have an interpretation of disease that matches that of alternative medicine: Disease is your body's way of healing you. It's an unpleasantness to be accepted, given that you exposed yourself to threat. Normally the organism knows what to do, unless the challenge is close to overwhelming you, in which case: Call 9-1-1. 

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