The Problem With Our Society – Gabor Mate (Toxic Culture)

The Problem With Our Society – Gabor Mate (Toxic Culture)

I'm look around this society and from the perspective of health or do BC we see that 50% of adults in this society which considers itself the most successful society in the history of the world actually suffers of some chronic illness heart disease high blood pressure cancer whatever autoimmune disease whatever it happens to be 50 percent of adolescents today are enough set to meet the diagnostic criteria for one or another mental health condition there are three million three and a half million children in this country or receiving stimulant medications for ADHD in my own country Canada the number of prescriptions for ADHD has gone up 43 percent in the last five years there are half a million children in this country who are receiving antipsychotic medications not because they have psychosis but because they are upset and their behaviors are problematic what we have here is the massive experiment in the chemical control of children's brains without knowing largely the long-term effects will be I know that in Vancouver British Columbia where I live and work there's a clinic at the Children's Hospital specifically to deal with the side effects of antipsychotic medications on children in the United States the antipsychotics risperdal encircle I think are in the top four or six four to six prescriptions given up in this country not to mention the antidepressants now how do we understand all this in this very successful society well medicine mainstream medical perspective in which I was trained basically looks at it from a very strictly physical point of view mainstream medicine separates two areas that can't be separated one is separates mind from the body so we treat the body as a discrete entity without reference to people's emotional and spiritual lives number one and number two we separate the individual from the environment as if the individual was not affected by the environment now I'll give you three examples of how that's simply not the Cabal it's been studied now and well-documented that children whose parents are stressed or more likely to have asthma from polluted areas where the air pollution itself acts as an irritant and therefore increases the risk of asthma which represents an irritability of the Airways it's the children of parents were most stressed or most likely of asthma in other words the psychological emotional states of the child of the parent I should say affects the physiology of the child's lungs and how do we treat asthma and guess what we treat them with stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol but we never ask ourselves does stress have something to do with causing these kids asthma in Australia to give you another example of what I mean by the biopsychosocial nature of human beings which is to say that our biology is shaped and affected influenced for a lifetime by our psychological and social interrelationships in environment in Australia they looked at 500 women or so with breast biopsies for suspicious lumps now before the results came back these women underwent a psychological into you it turned out that if a woman had been emotionally stressed prior to the onset of that lump that bite saw did not increase the chance of that lump being cancerous zero effect similarly if a one was emotionally isolated that had no effect either zero but if a woman was emotionally isolated and stressed the risk of that lump in cancers was 9 times as great as the average though the physicians couldn't figure this one out because logically speaking how to zero and zero right up to nine part of zero and zero multiply to nine but if we understand that human beings physiology is affected by their relationships then we see that when stress happens cortisol elevates in the body which is a stress hormone which should suppress the immune system adrenaline increases in the body which disorganised the nervous system in a short term to help you fight back here to escape with no long term they actually can suppress the body no wonder then that people are isolated and stressed or more likely to develop disease which is to say that the disease is not simply a manifestation of some physical process unique to them but it reflects the particular lives in a particular environment in a particular culture and finally at the end of life study in a young Journal of Medicine some years ago showed that a couple who've been together for a long time when one of them is hospitalized the other one has a significant ease increase the risk of dying which is to say that the physiology of us human beings is very much affected by the environment and that is what may be called and I referred to as a biopsychosocial perspective we think that may be new while it's revolutionary as far as mainstream medicine is concerned but it's certainly not new the Buddha said 2500 years ago he talked about the interconnection of everything the what he called the interconnected core arising interdependent co-arising the phenomenon so he said look at a raindrop it doesn't just contain itself you can't just understand it as an isolated entity in fact it contains the the sky look at a leaf it contains the sky in terms of the irrigation it contains the earth in terms of the materials that go into it and the Sun in terms of the light that's needed to make it grow and he said that the birth and death of any phenomena are connected to the birth and death of all other phenomena the one contains the many and the many contains the one without the one there cannot be the many without the many they cannot be the one and that was said 2500 years ago a lesson we're still trying to integrate and to understand and to apply to our lives now I know that at a conference such as pioneers the emphasis is very much in the physical environment particularly what we're doing to nature and that's valid and necessary but I think we need to broaden our view to the air of the environment to actually include also the social relational interactive and cultural aspects as well now to and also and also the economic ones so for example a study little while ago showed that when women who are pregnant breathe in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons their children are more like to have behavior problems by school age so we think this is simply a physical environmental problem no it isn't it's also associate canonic one sense it's poor women who tend to live in more polluted areas and therefore the medical scientist who did the study at mont sinaï university school school of medicine once an High School of Medicine in New York said this is really a paper about social justice for people have more exposure to these things on all accounts whether they're bad air or psychosocial stress and other things that's a societal problem and the changes are not going to be on an individual level they're going to be on a societal level you can't separate individuals for an environment or to take another example we know that lead exposure actually disturbs the nervous system leading to learning and behavior problems but amongst poorer kids who have an iron deficient diet that promotes the absorption of lead so it's not just a lead problem it's a socio-economic problem on account of the poor diet that these children have so when I talk about the toxic culture that a materialistic society offers its members what am i referring to well materialism is really a system of belief or behavior which considers material things and particularly the control and possession of material things is more important than human values such as connection love or spiritual values such as recognizing the unity of everything and that's the kind of culture we live in understand me enough the religious right in their opposition to the very idea of climate change or to the idea that the environment is important to look at they will quote the old testament where man is given stewardship over the earth and all other creatures but but they talk about stewardship they mean control and dominance there's another way to look at stewardship which is caring and nurturing for looking after and in the materialistic sense it's that control and ownership that we look at and that means that the culture itself quite apart from the physical toxins that we spew into the environment and the way in which we altering the very air that would be then the very Sun that beats down on us that shines on us we're actually are affected also by the toxicity of human relationships or the lack of human relationships that this kind of a society that emphasizes material values teaches us to pursue and from that perspective we have to understand that medicine is not simply a science it's much more than that it's also an ideology it's also an ideology it's a way of looking at human beings so when we look at human beings as individuals without understanding the importance of the social relationships and their emotional psychological interactions with others that's actually a manifestation of the individualistic perspective of the entrepreneur who says that only I matter and what I gain or what I control matters and we're all in competition with one another so you see that economic ideological perspective also showing up it's an own particular way in the practice of medicine well reality is totally different reality tells us that we can't be separated and this begins already in pregnancy so a study out of Johns Hopkins University in 2004 for example showed that the reactivity to stress of the fetus is affected by the stress depression or anxiety of the mother so when you look at the heartbeat and the movement of infants in the womb whose mothers are stress depressed or or anxious you see different patterns of activity and that will have lifetime effects the studies reflect this this paper says growing evidence that stress and depression can have and lasting effects on the child life including increased behavior problems including learning problems and we also know that if you stress pregnant animals in the laboratory their children will be more likely to use drugs as that we have sued themselves once they've grown up so this mind-body unity and this interaction of our environment and the individual begins already in the womb and therefore how we treat pregnant women how we provide an environment that's either supportive or possibly stressful has a huge impact on the long-term development of their yet unborn offspring and this of course happens in doing infancy as well because that's a crucial period of brain development so that the infant's of healthy mothers have very different cortisol stress hormone levels than those of mothers with postpartum depression and if you look at the electroencephalograms of infants with postpartum mothers I'm sorry the electron-electron two telegrams of the infants of mothers who have postponed depression you can tell from the e-z of the child who's depressed and who isn't so the child's electrical circuitry is already affected at six months of age by the mood of the mother now in this society 20% of women suffer postpartum depression and another 20% have some symptoms of it and that's not because of an individual problem with the part of the mother depression is not an individual issue it reflects your relationship with the environment and therefore in this successful society we're managing to depress 20% of women who give birth to babies and that will have an effect on the child's brain hormone levels and neurotransmitter levels like dopamine and serotonin and on the child's ability to respond to stress in a positive or in a highly charged and dysfunctional way a report out of Harvard earlier this year talked about the impact of toxic stress on children and these children who experience toxic stress on the part because the environment was stressed because their parents were highly stressed or dysfunctional or abusive later on in life there is significant risk of heart disease obesity diabetes mellitus high blood pressure and a whole list of other medical conditions not only that how does an infant and a young child adjust to stress well by certain coping mechanisms if you're very stressed but you're helpless in the face of the stress and you can't escape it or to change it one of the ways you respond is by tuning it out by dissociating by throwing your mind somewhere else so you don't have to suffer the discomfort and distress of the pressures that the environment is placing upon you but if you're doing that when you one or two years old then your brain is developing then tuning up becomes wired into your brain and guess what eight years later they're gonna diagnose you with ADHD and give you medications and if you're looking at the preponderance of all these childhood conditions that are just burgeoning in our society autism Asperger's ADHD officers should not define disorder whole range of childhood disorders what are we seeing not genetic problems not individual problems but the effects of a high-stress environment on parents which are then passed on to their children despite the parents love and despite the parents best efforts other studies have shown similarly that early childhood adversity significantly increases the risk of addiction obesity autoimmune disease mental how the servers and so on a simple fact such as parental divorce has been shown to increase the risk of strokes by a factor of two doubles them 50 67 years later so this is and I'm thinking we're talking about divorces which have a lot of rancor and stress associated with them so what happens early has a huge impact later on down the line the good news however is that similarly if you understand the biopsychosocial perspective here we look at a study about stroke victims in their 60s and 70s if they're surrounded by a loving supportive community their risk of sorry they're there their chances of recovery are far greater than those who suffer stroke and are emotionally isolated which again points to the importance of community and the importance of the environment from the psychological social and cultural perspective well where does that leave us it leaves us first of all looking at the economic issues and what we know is that growing up in a low socioeconomic background can actually impair the working memory and the size of different parts of the brain of the adult so poverty in this country is far from simply an economic question it's also a question of human development and what kind of consequences that'll have on people's behavior capacity to respond to stress and therefore to get ahead in a society and we just getting ahead is the highest value and if you don't get ahead you're left behind similarly children who were stretched early will have problems with impulse regulation later on impulse regulation means that the capacity to anticipate consequences and to respond calmly to the environment is impaired and that means they're also going to be at a greater risk of addiction now if you look at addiction so what are we looking at we're actually looking at two factors we're looking at number one the desperation to escape from the pain and distress that the child has experienced early on in life which then become programmed into his personality in his heart and his brain and how do you escape well one way to escape is to addictive behaviors whether that be drugs or the internet or sex or food or shopping or whatever else and number two since as I've already mentioned brain development early in life early in life is affected by the environment people who are traumatized early in life especially those that are traumatized their brain development is impaired and that their brain circuits and neurotransmitters not the chemicals in the brain are actually at a disadvantage so when they do the drugs they feel complete and whole and feel good for the first time in their lives their addiction is not a matter of choice it's a matter of a coping mechanism that is a response too early stress now if you look at what stress is it's not just a psychological event I've already alluded to it it's a physical event it sets off a cascade of hormones particularly cortisol and adrenaline in your body which in the short term again help you escape or to fight back but in the long term damage your heart your your nervous system your intestines and suppress your immune system which then makes you more prone for all kinds of diseases naturally so when it comes to understanding something like cancer we can't just understand it in terms of the individual and as somebody very astutely said a couple of years ago in a series on cancer that the New York Times published that trying to understand cancer by studying the individual human cell is like trying to understand a traffic jam by looking inside the internal combustion engine you really have to look at you really have to look at the whole picture and that whole picture involves the lifelong environment in which we live and from that same perspective again we look at something like the obesity epidemic which has 30 percent of kids in the United States overweight now significantly overweight it's not a food problem well it is a food problem the junk foods and all that but it's mostly a stress problem because what people do is they sue their stresses like any addiction pursued their stresses with their addictive behaviors and those junk foods work in the short term because they release feel-good hormones in the brain so if you want to look at children and prevent obesity it's not enough to tell them not to eat junk foods or to get more exercise you have to say what's lacking in their lives that they're so stressed that they have to suit themselves in that particular way and what's lacking their lives of course our human relationships that are nurturing and supportive again not because the parents are not trying to do their best but because the parents have funded their best under impossible circumstances if you look at what actually trigger stress the significant factors that trigger stress or certainty lack of information and loss of control if you look at rats and you hook two pairs of rats together a to rest together yoked them together and you attach an electrode to their tails and you shock them with electricity they will have physiological stress but if one rat is a power pen that can shut after lever that delivers that stress that that little shark even though both rats get the same electrical jolt for the same period of time the rat with the paw free will have less stress hormones in their body because they have some control now what happens in a culture where the economy is going on a tube where decisions are made far away by people who don't even know you and you don't know who they are and your life is very much affected by these large forces over which you have increasingly a sense that you have no control or even influence over well that means a lot of people are going to be stressed a lot of uncertainty a lot of people going to be stressed and that stress then will lead to addictive behaviors that stress then will lead to parents passing that stress on to their children in the 19th century Kong Marx talked about alienation which is a separation of being a stranger to something and you're an alien to something and Marx said there were 44 alien nations in this culture one is related from nature well at a conference dedicated to looking at the physical and the natural environment we don't have to say much to you to show how alien that we are from nature when we're destroying nature itself the second alienation is some other people and that means we have less contact we have less intimacy we have less trust we have less of a sense of relationship and that of course as I've shown you leads to increased propensity to illness physical and mental we related from our work a lot of people we do work that has any meaning to them and that means that and since human beings are productive creatures we really are created in the image of God we're meant to create when we do work that's not creative that doesn't reflect who we are that imposes depression anxiety a sense of meaninglessness and when we have the sense of meaninglessness we'll want to substitute that sense of meaninglessness or that sense of meaning that we've lost by all kinds of other activities and then we're gonna hung up on how we look or how people feel about us what we can obtain what we can possess what successes we can achieve in other words all the false substitutes which cannot possibly compensate us for the lack of genuine meaning and of course what this society does it sells us a lot of products that substitute for that loss of meaning in fact much of the economy is based on a loss of meaning in our culture and finally and most importantly we become alienated finally and most importantly we become alienated from ourselves let me ask you a question here and unasked-for show of hands how many of you had the following experience that you had a powerful gut feeling about something you didn't pay attention to it and you were sorry afterwards please put your hand up if you have okay I think the eyes have it if I asked you the obverse question as twenty people have had a powerful gut feeling you ignored it and you were glad about it afterwards how many would not put your hand up well I'm not sure I'm seeing very few hands here well that means to say no you know what that you're telling me you're telling me that at some point in your childhood you got separated from yourself because no infant is born without gut feelings that infants are totally connected to their gut feelings have you ever made a two-day-old who didn't know how to express their gut feelings and that means that in this culture something very powerful happens to alienate you from your true self because the world couldn't stand who you really were and your parents were too stressed themselves to honor and recognize who you really were just as a parent I did that to my kids without meaning to and then we become a lien from ourselves we shut down our gut feelings and I got things are not luxuries you know they tell us what is right and what is wrong they tell us what is dangerous and what is friendly they tell us what is safe and was dangerous and they tell us what is true and what is false so Romania is from our gut feelings we have no longer of a sense of reality more than a sense of truth well the good news is the good news is that human beings can regain their sense of connection to themselves just as we can regain our sense of connection to our nature I will make just one final point here about the economics of it the Harvard study this year of story Harvard study three years ago showed that the lack of medical insurance in this country leads to 45,000 deaths annually this is not an ideological question about health care and the most recently President Bush said oh there's no problem every weekend show up in the emergency ward sure you can once you've had a stroke because you didn't get treated for high blood pressure which which you got because you were so stressed you can whatever in Seward and you get Street for your stroke but the lack of health care that's available people which is very much a social economic question it itself is a significant factor well the good news is that we can regain regain a connection to ourselves and empathy which is genuine human quality is in us we're actually wired for empathy even rats are wired for empathy when you stress that's rats in laboratory by shocking their feet with electricity they're more stressed watching otherwise being shocked than whenever locked themselves their stress hormone levels are higher that's our nature as human beings so contrary to the myth in our culture that was separated in individual aggressive competitive creatures were actually wired for empathy wired for connection wired for love right for compassion so really to move forward all we have to do all we have to do not an easy task but it's certainly available to us is to get back to a true nature

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    Jesus Christ recognized the spiritually sick state of sinners and sought to turn

    Jesus Christ recognized the spiritually sick state of sinners and sought to turn them to Jehovah for spiritual healing. Hence, when criticized for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus said: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but those who are ailing do. I have come to call, not righteous persons, but sinners to repentance.”​—Lu 5:29-32.

    Treatment of spiritual sickness experienced by a member of the Christian congregation is considered at James 5:13-20. The context, which contrasts being sick with being in good spirits, shows that James was dealing, not with physical illness, but with spiritual sickness. Concerning remedial steps and their effectiveness, James wrote: “Is there anyone [spiritually] sick among you? Let him call the older men [the elders] of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him [so he can hear the prayer and show he agrees by saying “Amen”], greasing him with oil [encouraging him with comforting, soothing instruction from God’s Word, to restore him to unity with the congregation (Ps 133:1, 2; 141:5)] in the name of Jehovah [with faithfulness to God and according to His purpose]. And the prayer of faith [offered by the older men on behalf of the spiritually ailing person] will make the indisposed one [spiritually] well, and Jehovah will raise him up [as out of despondency and a feeling of being abandoned by God, Jehovah strengthening him to go in the way of truth and righteousness (Php 4:13)]. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him [by Jehovah (Ps 32:5; 103:10-14), if the individual responds favorably to the prayers and the reproof, correction, and exhortation from Jehovah’s Word given to him by the older men, and he repentantly turns around and goes in the right way (Ps 119:9-16)].”

    Coping With Illness. Sickness is a calamity that may befall a person even if he is materially rich. (Ec 5:16, 17; compare Mt 16:26.) Some individuals have delicious food in abundance but are unable to enjoy it because of some stomach or bowel disorder. (Ec 6:1, 2) Jesus Christ’s spiritual brothers were also spoken of as being physically sick at times. (Mt 25:39, 40) Physical sickness was experienced by such Christians as Epaphroditus, Timothy, and Trophimus (Php 2:25-30; 1Ti 5:23; 2Ti 4:20), but the Bible reports no miraculous apostolic healing of these Christian men.

    Nevertheless, when one of God’s servants is physically ill, it is proper for him to pray to Jehovah for the fortitude needed to bear his malady and for spiritual strength to maintain integrity during this period of weakness in the flesh. “Jehovah himself will sustain [such a person] upon a divan of illness.”​—Ps 41:1-3; see also 1Ki 8:37-40.

    However, if a person were to take blood into his body for the treatment of disease, this would violate the law of God.​—Ge 9:3, 4; Ac 15:28, 29; see BLOOD.

    Jehovah can remove sicknesses. (Ex 15:26; 23:25; De 7:15) Isaiah wrote of a time when “no resident will say: ‘I am sick’” (Isa 33:24) and about spiritual healing of the blind, deaf, lame, and speechless, these prophecies also giving promise of physical cure. (Isa 35:5, 6) Jesus Christ, when on earth, accomplished both physical and spiritual healing of ailing ones by fulfilling the Messianic prophecy, “He himself took our sicknesses and carried our diseases.” (Mt 8:14-17; Isa 53:4) The basis for these cures was the sacrifice of his human life, which would be the climax of the course he had been following ever since God’s spirit came upon him at the Jordan River in 29 C.E. Christians thus have a basis for hope and abundant proof that through the resurrected Jesus Christ and by means of God’s Kingdom, obedient mankind will receive, not merely temporary treatment of disease, but permanent release from sin, disease, and death traceable to Adam. For this all praise is due Jehovah, identified by David as the one “who is healing all your maladies.”​—Ps 103:1-3, Rev 21: 1-5

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    Accuracy of Scriptural Concepts. Regarding Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. who has become known as “the father of modern medicine,” it is said: “He had no connection with the temple hospitals of his time, which were controlled by the priests of Asclepius, the god of healing.” (The World Book Encyclopedia, 1987, Vol. 9, p. 227) Hippocrates was virtually contemporaneous with Malachi, but much that the Bible says about diseases was written by Moses about a thousand years earlier. Yet, significantly, it has been said: “The best informed medical researchers now doing the best work are arriving at the conclusion that the Bible is a very accurate scientific book. . . . The facts of life, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive medicine as given in the Bible are far more advanced and reliable than the theories of Hippocrates, many still unproven, and some found to be grossly inaccurate.”​—Dr. H. O. Philips, in a letter to The AMA [American Medical Association] News, published in its issue of July 10, 1967.

    Concerning the Christian physician Luke, who wrote a Gospel and the book of Acts, Dr. C. Truman Davis stated: “Where medical description is given, it is meticulously accurate. Luke uses a total of twenty-three Greek technical words found in Hippocrates, Galen and other medical writings of the period.”​—Arizona Medicine, March 1966, “Medicine and the Bible,” p. 177.

    Health benefits often resulted from observance of the Law. For instance, it required that at a military encampment human excrement be covered over (De 23:9-14), thus providing considerable protection from fly-borne infectious diseases such as dysentery and typhoid fever. Contamination of food and water was guarded against, the Law specifying that anything upon which an “unclean” creature fell in its death was rendered unclean and requiring that certain measures be taken, including the smashing of an earthenware vessel thus contaminated.​—Le 11:32-38.

    Significantly, it has been stated: “Prophylactic considerations were basic to this legislation, which when followed would go far toward preventing the incidence of food-borne polioencephalitis, the enteric fevers, food poisoning, and the parasitic worms. Insistence on the safeguarding of a clean supply of water was the most effective means of forestalling the rise and dissemination of diseases such as amoebiasis, the fevers of the enteric group, cholera, bilharziasis, and spirochetal jaundice. These prophylactic measures, which constitute a fundamental part of any system of public health, were of particular importance for the welfare of a nation living under primitive conditions in a subtropical region of the earth.”​—The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, edited by G. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 2, pp. 544, 545.

    In his book The Bible and Modern Medicine, A. Rendle Short, M.D., pointed out that public sanitary law existed, if at all, only in elementary form among nations that surrounded ancient Israel, and stated: “It is the more surprising therefore that in a book like the Bible, alleged to be unscientific, there should be a sanitary code at all, and equally surprising that a nation just escaped from slavery, frequently overrun by enemies and carried away into captivity from time to time, should have on its statute books so wise and reasonable a code of rules of health. This has been recognized by good authorities, even those with no great interest in the religious aspect of the Bible.”​—London, 1953, p. 37.

    According to the Law, the hare and the pig were among animals the Israelites were not permitted to eat. (Le 11:4-8) Regarding this, Dr. Short states: “True, we eat the pig, the rabbit and the hare, but these animals are liable to parasitic infections and are safe only if the food is well cooked. The pig is an unclean feeder, and harbours two worms, trichina and a tape worm, which may be passed on to man. The danger is minimal under present conditions in this country, but it would have been far otherwise in Palestine of old, and such food was better avoided.”​—The Bible and Modern Medicine, pp. 40, 41.

    Adherence to Jehovah’s righteous requirements as to sexual morality also had a good effect on the Israelites spiritually, mentally, and physically. (Ex 20:14; Le 18) Healthful benefits are similarly enjoyed by Christians who maintain moral cleanness. (Mt 5:27, 28; 1Co 6:9-11; Re 21:8) Observing the Bible’s high moral standards affords protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

    Paul recommended that Timothy take a little wine for the sake of his stomach and his frequent cases of sickness. (1Ti 5:23) That wine has medicinal properties is confirmed by present-day research. Dr. Salvatore P. Lucia, Professor of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, has stated: “Wine is widely used in the treatment of diseases of the digestive system. . . . The tannin content and the mildly antiseptic properties of wine make it valuable in the treatment of intestinal colic, mucous colitis, spastic constipation, diarrhea and many infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.” (Wine as Food and Medicine, 1954, p. 58) Of course, Paul suggested that Timothy “use a little wine,” not much wine, and the Bible condemns drunkenness.​—Pr 23:20; see DRUNKENNESS.

    The Scriptures recognize the psychosomatic principle, though only in relatively recent times have medical researchers in general become aware that there is some connection between pathological conditions in the body and a person’s emotional state. Proverbs 17:22 states: “A heart that is joyful does good as a curer, but a spirit that is stricken makes the bones dry.” Such emotions as envy, fear, greed, hate, and selfish ambition are injurious, whereas good and sometimes remedial effects are produced through cultivating and displaying love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control, the fruitage of God’s spirit. (Ga 5:22, 23) The Scriptures do not, of course, classify all illness as psychosomatic, nor do they rule out as objectionable all consulting of and treatment by physicians. Paul called the faithful Christian Luke “the beloved physician.”​—Col 4:14.

    Quarantine. According to the Law, a person who had or was suspected of having a communicable disease was quarantined, that is, kept away from others or isolated for a time. Seven-day periods of quarantine were imposed in tests for leprosy in the case of persons, garments, and other items, or houses. (Le 13:1-59; 14:38, 46) Also, a person was rendered unclean for seven days as a result of touching a human corpse. (Nu 19:11-13) Though the Scriptures do not say that the latter regulation was given for health reasons, some protection was thus afforded other individuals if the corpse was that of a person who had died of an infectious disease.

    Figurative Application. Judah and Jerusalem became spiritually sick because of their sinfulness. (Isa 1:1, 4-6) Although Jerusalem’s religious leaders tried vainly to heal the breakdown of the people, falsely saying there was peace (Jer 6:13, 14), they were unable to avert the city’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. But Jehovah promised to effect the recuperation of Zion, or Jerusalem (Jer 30:12-17; 33:6-9), a healing realized with the return of the Jewish remnant to their homeland in 537 B.C.E.

    The Scriptures frequently refer to illness, an unhealthy condition of the body or the mind, also to spiritual sickness, or the state of being figuratively diseased. While the Bible was not written primarily as a book of instruction on medical or other forms of treatment for various maladies, the information it presents on such matters is scientifically accurate. Significantly, it shows how to overcome spiritual sickness.

    Disease is a consequence of the imperfection resulting in death that was passed on to the human race by the sinner Adam. (Ge 3:17-19; Ro 5:12) Yet, Jehovah directly “touched Pharaoh and his household with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” (Ge 12:17) God was responsible for the “boils with blisters” that broke out on man and beast during the sixth blow he inflicted upon ancient Egypt. (Ex 9:8-11) He struck presumptuous Miriam with leprosy (Nu 12:9-15), dealt a blow to the illegitimate child of David and Bath-sheba so that it took sick and eventually died (2Sa 12:15-18), and “gave a pestilence in Israel” in David’s day (2Sa 24:15). All these acts of God were in upholding his name and law, and for the protection, liberation, or fatherly disciplining of his chosen people.

    However, by Jehovah’s permission, Satan “struck Job with a malignant boil from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:6, 7) This allowed Job to stand as an example for God’s people in the matter of keeping integrity. Job was later healed by God, and his life was extended 140 years for his faithfulness. (Job 42:10, 16) Demons were sometimes responsible for infirmities, as in the case of a demon-possessed blind and speechless man cured by Jesus Christ. (Mt 12:22) But the Scriptures differentiate between normal maladies and those caused by demon possession.​—Mt 4:24; Mr 1:32-34; Ac 5:16; see DEMON POSSESSION.

    Failure to obey God’s Word, as in matters involving sexual morality, can lead to illness and even death. (Pr 7:21-27) The Israelites were warned that if they disobeyed Jehovah, he would strike them with various diseases.​—De 28:58-61.

    The Bible mentions a number of diseases and afflictions. For example, the Israelites, if disobedient, would suffer with such disorders as tuberculosis, boils, piles, eczema, and madness. (De 28:22, 27, 28, 35) The Law furnished information on diagnosing and handling cases of leprosy. (Le chaps 13, 14) A descendant of Aaron who had ringworm was barred from performing priestly functions, and an animal with it was unacceptable for sacrifice. (Le 21:17, 20; 22:22) Jesus Christ, by God’s power, cured congenital blindness (Joh 9:1-7), deafness (Lu 7:22), dropsy (Lu 14:1-4), leprosy (Lu 5:12, 13), epilepsy, paralysis, and other diseases and infirmities (Mt 4:23, 24). On Malta, Paul healed the father of Publius, who was “distressed with fever and dysentery.”​—Ac 28:1-8.

    Present-day researchers sometimes endeavor to be more specific than the Bible in describing the symptoms and the maladies it mentions, but often their views vary considerably. However, since the Bible is the inspired Word of God, when its writers named a disease they were accurate. Yet at times they left afflictions unnamed. For instance, the Bible does not name the sicknesses that took the lives of the two boys thereafter restored to life by Jehovah through Elijah and Elisha. (1Ki 17:17-24; 2Ki 4:17-37) It does not reveal the nature of “the sickness with which [Elisha] was to die” (2Ki 13:14, 20) or disclose the illness that resulted in the death of Lazarus.​—Joh 11:1-4.

    Treatment in Ancient Times. Physicians, practitioners of medicine or various healing arts, were common in ancient Israel and other Biblical lands. In Egypt “the physicians embalmed Israel,” deceased Jacob. (Ge 50:1-3) The disciple Luke is called “the beloved physician.” (Col 4:14) Mark tells us of a woman who was “subject to a flow of blood twelve years” and who “had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse.”​—Mr 5:25-29.

    Hebrew physicians apparently used some herbs and perhaps certain dietetic remedies. ‘Balsam of Gilead,’ a scented oil obtained from plants in ancient Gilead, was sometimes applied to wounds, perhaps to serve antiseptic purposes or to produce a soothing effect and lessen pain. (Jer 46:11; 51:8) The use of some leaves for medicinal purposes seems to be indicated. (Eze 47:12; Re 22:1, 2) Apparently poultices were used. (2Ki 20:7; Isa 38:21) Oil was sometimes applied to soften wounds and bruises (Isa 1:6), both oil and wine at times being applied to wounds. (Lu 10:34) Moderate drinking of wine was occasionally recommended for its cheering effect and for its medicinal properties.​—Pr 31:6; 1Ti 5:23.

    Medicine and surgery were practiced by the ancient Egyptians, about whom the historian Herodotus wrote (II, 84): “The practice of medicine is so divided among them, that each physician is a healer of one disease and no more. All the country is full of physicians, some of the eye, some of the teeth, some of what pertains to the belly, and some of the hidden diseases.”

    In Egypt surgical techniques included cauterization to control hemorrhage, and elevating a fragment of bone that might be pressing against a person’s brain in cases of skull fracture. Splints were used for broken bones, some mummies even having been discovered with splints made of tree bark fastened with bandages. (Compare Eze 30:20, 21.) That early Babylon had some surgeons is indicated in the Code of Hammurabi, which set certain fees of physicians and made references to “a bronze operating knife.”

    Dentistry was practiced in Phoenicia. One specimen of dental work found involved the use of fine gold wire to bind together six teeth in the lower jaw. In another, a gold wire prosthesis served to “bridge in” teeth taken from another person.

    Influence of Magic and of False Religion. Concerning Egypt’s physicians and their remedies, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. IV, p. 2393) states: “From the ancient medical papyri which have been preserved, the largest of which is the Papyrus Ebers, we know that the medical knowledge of these physicians was purely empirical, largely magical and wholly unscientific. In spite of their ample opportunities they knew next to nothing of human anatomy, their descriptions of diseases are hopelessly crude, and three-fourths of the hundreds of prescriptions in the papyri are wholly inert. Even their art of embalming was so imperfect that few of their mummies would have remained in any other climate than that of Egypt.”​—Edited by J. Orr, 1960.

    French physician and scholar Georges Roux (in his book Ancient Iraq, 1964, pp. 305-309) states: “The diagnosis and prognosis of Mesopotamian physicians were a mixture of superstition and accurate observation.” There were trained professional physicians who believed that most diseases had a supernatural origin but who also considered other causes, such as contagion, food, and drink. The physician sometimes referred patients to a diviner, the baru-priest, who sought to uncover the concealed sin responsible for a malady. Or, the physician sent the sufferer to the ashipu-priest, who employed incantations and magical rites to exorcise demons. Roux observes: “The physicians of Mesopotamia, like her astronomers, founded their art upon metaphysical doctrines and thereby closed the door to a fruitful quest for rational explanations.”

    The Babylonians regarded Ea as the principal god of healing. As a protection against evil spirits, they wore objects such as amulets and charms. The Greeks thought Hygeia was the goddess guarding health, and physicians in ancient Greece drew inspiration from Asclepius (Asklepios, Aesculapius). The Romans associated certain deities with the curing of particular afflictions. For example, for fevers there was Febris. Interestingly, a staff with a single snake wound around it was a symbol associated with the Greek god Asclepius. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 530) The somewhat similar caduceus, a winged staff with intertwined serpents, which is a medical emblem, is a copy of the staff shown in Roman art as being carried by the god Mercury.

    Concerning ancient pathological concepts in general, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 847) states: “Among primitive races, disease was either regarded as the result of hostile magic gaining a hold upon a person, or else its incidence was ascribed to the violation of a taboo. In either event a background of magic, sorcery, and witchcraft was presupposed where cases of intractable sickness were encountered, and such remedial measures as were undertaken inevitably involved the shaman, or medicine man. It was his function to divine the supernatural cause of the disease, and attempt to banish it by the use of spells, charms, drugs, and incantations.”​—Edited by G. Buttrick, 1962.

    The Scriptures show that Satan afflicted Job (Job 2:7) and that demon possession has occasionally been linked with disease. (Mt 17:14-18) So the ancient pagans had a basis for associating at least some illness with demon possession. But, unlike them, never did faithful Hebrew priests and physicians resort to magic in an attempt to effect cures. (De 18:9-13) No magical incantations were uttered by Jesus Christ or his true followers, even when expelling demons in effecting cures. Upon embracing Christianity, onetime practicers of magic abandoned such demonistic activities, and certainly a Christian physician would neither employ occultism nor send a patient to a practicer of magic.​—Ac 19:18, 19.

  5. Beautiful message about how we need let go of societies lies and reconnect to our shared sense of worth and dignity in just being human so we don't keep destroying ourselves and our world through living out of our fears and insecurities.

  6. "We are wired for empathy" Not everyone is. Some people, very few fortunately, are anything but. That is why we have prisons.

  7. Battling everyday with family members who are stressed over financial concerns to the degree that they have cast themselves into psychological hell, seems that money is their drug, without it they go completely nuts… sickens me to the core… we live in a society of overgrown children, there is no initiation rites which would set most free from the ignorance which is holding their spirit hostage…. instead we are encouraged to drink ourselves sick on alcohol once of age , thereby welcoming us into the brotherhood of spiritual serfdom…




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