The Problem of Dualism in Modern Western Medicine

Mens Sana Monogr. Jan-Dec 2016;14(1):141-151. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.193074.


Dualism is historically important in that it allowed the medical practice to be divorced from church oversight. The reductionist approaches of modern Western medicine facilitate a dispassionate and mechanistic approach to patient care, and dualist views promoted by complementary and alternative medicine are also problematic. Behavioural disorders are multifactorally realizable and emerge apparently chaotically from interactions between internal physiological systems and the patient's environment and experiential history. Conceptualizations of behavioural disorders that are based on dualism deny the primacy of individual physiology in the generation of pathology and distract from therapies that are most likely to produce positive outcomes. Behavioural health professionals should adopt holistic models of patient care, but these models must be based on methodologies that emphasize radical emergence over the artificial separation of the "physical" and "mental." This will allow for the humanistic practice of medicine while simultaneously maximizing the likelihood of treatment success.

Keywords: Dualism; Emergence; Medicine; Nonduality; Physicalism.

Publication types

  • Review