History of Medicine Trephining in Ancient Peru (Small)

“letting out the bad spirit” caused by a head wound with an adz while in battle

From a teaching collection.  See http://www.trowbridgegallery.com.au/john-gould/trephining-in-ancient-peru

I finally reached the point where I have been able to analyze religious philosophy and relate it to health and medicine practices.  Religion is not a single philosophy or even a set of philosophies of similar form and content.

Religions vary because their philosophies are different.  But just because two religions are distinct from each other doesn’t mean the way they look at health is different from each other.  Alternatively, when two religions are in the same major belief system, using the same books or sacred writings, basing their philosophies on the same mystics, saints and writers who produced these books, this also doesn’t mean they think identically.

Religions have a topology or distinction from each other, and the ability to merge together to form similar groups with seemingly quite different theological ideologies, because certain features of their philosophy and discipline relate them to each other.  Fundamentalists in the major religious sects of the work, for the most part, belief in some of the same things as each other, enough to lead them to have  similar experiences about being ill, and about how that illness can be made to dissipate or go away.

Similar, people who are completely devoted to the science of health, in either the physical and or behavioral science way, believe in theories that are used to describe how the health of a patient comes to be.  There are certainly differences between the purely physical science idealist, and the behavioral science only idealist (you are or become what you think).

With regard to religion, if you don’t belief in religion, but believe in something akin to some of the beliefs of religion, such as this higher power, your “religion” is what I have termed natural theological.  You belief is some higher power, but not so far out on the edges that it isn’t religion at all that your are thinking.  Two prime examples: Quakerism and Shakerism.

To some writers of religious philosophy, out pragmatism makes us become who and what we need to become, and many of our thought processes relate to this process of behavior and personal development.  We become whom and what we are for a reason.  That belief is very much akin to religion, with the exception that we place the total responsibility for who and what we are on ourselves first, and nature second, and the effects that nature has on us, either as some truly scientific form of nature, or as a nature with this possible “force” that we must learn to control to help define and determine out own long term fate.  This kind of religion I call “natural theology” because the “universal concept” it depends upon is that universal power, energy, being, or field of change and existence.

The universal energy belief that is attached to certain religions is a simple, less anthropomorphic version of the extracorporeal God concept.   For example, the “God within” that we allow to exist, we decide to accept as being potentially useful, and usually approachable, with the hopes of gathering it enough to produce a consequence.  The individual who believes in the Godlike power of prayer, universal energy, waving the cross over the head of a “possessed child”, but without abiding by a traditional global religion based version of this philosophy, is one of those universalists who pay heed to universal power, which in turn is interpreted as the “universal god”.

There is also a slightly less universal-minded philosophy that approaches more the physical science, neurochemical interpretation of the mind, and God as a state of that mind.  This religious group, although we hear about it quite a bit, doesn’t seem to pop up in the medical records as much as a new researcher of religion in the local community appears to exist.  Only the big groups tend to show up in the medical records it seems.  Patients are still quiet about their universal energy ideology borne by the religion of Scientology or Christian Science.  We know they exist, but may not be indicated as such in the medical documents.  A modern term for these beliefs, and their reliance on “logic” is philosophical realism.  Belief is everything, no matter how many parts the brain has and how they are divided from each other.

Religion is also defined by culture, and culture in turn is defined by countries or nations, and nations and countries often have relationships to the majority of people within that nation.  So a nationally-definable single religion does not exist, but certain religions do seem to relate to specific cultures, and those cultures in turn to specific countries.

Even though a single religion in related countries is not universally the same across all those countries, there are some culturally defined life patterns and personal, family and community behaviors that define the roles that a particular religion may play in producing, supporting or helping an individual’s health.  Asian cultures are quite different from each other, and the religions harbored by certain parts of the world vastly different from each other in when they were born, who their founders were, how they interpret disease and discuss it via the religion writings, and how they react to disease, feed the child, treat the very sick, tend to the very poor and needy.   Buddhism, Hinduism and Bahai faiths are very different.  Yet their attentiveness to self, relatives, family, neighbors, community, foodways, beverage consumption, cooking practices, sleeping and prayer techniques, hope and prayer for the ill, are very similar in how they impact the ill person, because the families tend to display the same human reaction to poor health, in spite of their religious and cultural upbringing differences.  What brings them together into a single group is my observation that these followers often place more trust in the self and the philosophy this other culture is teaching them.  With the exception of one Caribbean group, the bulk of these beliefs systems are Asian or Asian derivatives.  The reason to group them together pertains mostly to the faith that they hold in their traditional beliefs, not primarily the teachings and philosophy of Western medicine.

So, beginning with approximately 160 religious types, after a few days of thinking and analysis, mostly reflecting back upon the years of readings I engaged in about religious philosophy and the meaning of disease, I developed three classification systems for religion, and in the end, for now, allow the following to be used and evaluated in relation to how disease, state of illness, religious behaviors, personal religious philosophy and community or family belief practices, play into the health and well being of each individual, at the preventive health level as well as with the recovery process and exceptional cure (“Miracle”) process of recovery.

For now, the following ten religions are used to analyze the interplay of health, religion and culture/ethnicity or race on how patients survive and experience their diagnoses.

  1.  Catholicism
  2.  Christianity
  3.  Christian Sects
  4. Judaic or Jewish
  5. Islamic or Muslim
  6. Natural Theological
  7. Cultural (the Chi, the higher power)
  8. Contemporary Spiritualists (higher power is scientific; i.e. Xian Sci, Scientology)
  9. Modern and Postmodern (atheists, agnostics)
  10. The undefined (no answer given)

In the next few months I hope to see relationships between certain disease and health states, and the entry within medical records that defines your personal ideology or philosophy.