Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians

Reductionism and Holism in Health, and why you should care

Revisiting the pain discussion from Monday, there are two main models in healing: Reductionism and holism.  You can probably guess where this going, but reductionism believes that a structure is a sum of its parts, which can work independently.  We see this in western medicine all the time, when we have specialists in incredibly specific and detailed areas working independently.  Holism once again looks and finding and treating the cause, not the symptoms.  Here's why you should care:

When we stick with the reductionist model, we look at a small piece of the whole body to find an answer, which may not be there.  The advantages of this is that we know more about the infinite detail of the body than ever before.  The disadvantage is that it can be myopic and not connected to the rest of the body in application. With holism, there is a belief in interconnectedness within the body systems, and that your nutrition, sleep, movement patterns and choices affect everything.  Basically, the idea is that the body is more than a sum of its parts. Although western (reductionist) medicine often feels that it is at odds with holism, the two views are actually complimentary.  You want to have both approaches in dealing with an injury.

1.  Reductionist: Identify the problem, treat the localized problem.

2.  Holism: Identify the cause, treat the cause. Treat the localized pain.  Prevent future reinjury.

While there is more complicated philosophical discourse that goes on in these two perspectives, this is just a general overview of them.  One can see how treating the cause would be beneficial but would not necessary change the problem or pain, and if one solely treated the problem, the problem or issue could conceivably come back.