A Case for Holistic Healing.
Fellow writer and Yogi Ben Ralston refocused my interest in secondary gains, a concept in the medical community that, according to his article, is defined as a hidden benefit that is derived from the problem’.
In his piece, Ben outlines secondary gain as the idea of underlying psychological “advantages” one may gain from an illness, disorder, or disease. He also suggests that, as a reason for why they may be less effective than medical treatments, alternative therapies and medicines haven’t “woken up to” this concept. While I cannot speak to the effectiveness of alternative therapies in and of themselves, I would like to offer that alternative healing approaches, including Eastern medicine, spiritual practices, and meditative disciplines, can offer a great, if not greater “chance” for a patient to move into a self-explorative attitude and thus awareness of their secondary gains.
Unlike many medical treatments, alternative therapies often encompass a relationship between mind, body, and emotions: holistic healing. The fact that the patient has embraced this offers a greater chance for them to become aware of their emotional or psychological holdings, and the possibility of secondary gain regarding their condition. The term “secondary gains” might not be present, but the concepts are, with words such as awareness, self-inquiry, and mindfulness, among others.
My personal experience with a naturopathic doctor led me to observe my own secondary gains. As my doctor investigated my situation and worked with me through chiropractic care, acupuncture, and herbal and natural digestive support, he brought to my attention the possibility of my emotional response being strongly linked to my digestive woes. After reading Deb Shapiro’s Your Body Speaks Your Mind, this mind-body relationship was brought to a convincing light, and I explored in myself what Shapiro terms “Fringe Benefits” when asking her suggested questions:
“Illness can give you permission to avoid a difficult situation or to offload responsibilities. Does your condition distract you from dealing with other situations? Does it provide a way of avoiding your feelings?”
“Is your illness an unconscious cry for love, a longing to be looked after and nourished?”
(But, what are the fringe benefits of a healer who fails to suggest the possibility of secondary gains to a patient? Well, they would have a greater chance of keeping their patient, and their income! Yikes. Maybe this is an insight into why some healing practices don’t seem to “help” a patient progress?)