Getting the Care into Healthcare

a Pathways Magazine Article

by Dr. Michael Goldman

During a time when contemporary healthcare is being challenged on many fronts, both governmental and private, scrutiny has never been more intense. Pressures from the political and business sectors have empowered the insurance industry to heavily impact delivery of all forms of healthcare. People are becoming disenchanted and alienated by the increasingly impersonal and insensitive healthcare delivery system, while practitioners are becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by the burdensome intrusion of government and business controls and regulations. Hard choices are needed if a healthcare professional is to take a road less traveled.

A basic question is raised. Can a healthcare practice function the way patients would like it to and still survive in today's highly competitive marketplace? I think the answer is Yes! The key is attitude. What I mean is that if I made a list of the techniques and the equipment used in practices on both sides of the caring spectrum, the lists would look more alike than different. To really see differences in this world we need to pay increasingly more attention to the subtleties. Readers of Pathways should, I think, easily understand that idea. It seems to me that if there is one common bond connecting all the seemingly diverse ideas filling the pages of Pathways, it has to be a heightened awareness of the importance of what is behind the surface appearance of things; i.e., the subtle qualities of life.

With that in mind we have to consider not quite so much what is done as how it is done. And by how, I am referring not so much to technique as mindset. You can go to two different care providers that do the same procedure, but if one does it with caring and the other doesn't, somehow we can seem to tell the difference. How and why we can tell the difference is not so easy to understand, except that we just somehow know...

Many years ago the term holistic was created to try to describe an emerging paradigm of care based on sensitivity to the whole and holy complex of parts that make up each of us. The term holistic has been so badly mistreated, however, that it is hard to know what it means now. Too often we get caught in the very trap we are trying to get out of in that we live lives so dominated by technology, that we can easily mistake new technology for new consciousness. I think there's a need for new technologies, but what's needed even more is an evolving paradigm - a new consciousness in healthcare.

As a dentist, for example, I see many people that want to get their mercury fillings removed because of the possibility that they may be experiencing toxic reactions to them. If I replace them using the new tooth-colored, bonded composite fillings, is that caring and holistic? Maybe...and maybe not! If I do it really well and with caring, it may be, but if I don't do it well, it certainly is not, because it will probably cause further damage to the teeth and gums and perhaps beyond.

The term "hol-istically oriented" to me implies more than just a comprehensive set of procedures for the care of the body. I think it includes care of the non-physical parts of us...the soul perhaps. There's something hol-y about that.

More recently the term alternative healthcare started to be used to suggest departure from the norm of contemporary practices. Alternative at least implies that there is an effort being made to find new ways of approaching old problems. The problem is that it is not enough all by itself. Just because something is new and different (or ancient and different), doesn't make it good!

If the alternative technique is truly helpful and is less likely to do harm than conventional methods, and if it is accomplished in a caring way, then I would say it comes closer to the ideal. But to really make my point I have to say that I think many conventional techniques done in a truly caring way might just be a whole lot more holistic than some alternative techniques that have come along that have been done carelessly. That's an interesting word, care-less. We usually think of it as describing how something is physically handled, but it really refers more to the amount of attention - care-ing - that accompanies an act or thought.

For healthcare providers it is hard to escape the limitations and prejudices of the highly technologized training especially in the contemporary fields of medicine and dentistry. It all seems to be so well documented and proven that to question basic assumptions seems pointless...like, is it even possible that the mercury in "silver" fillings could be harmful? One big influence was my own personal contact with chiropractic and osteopathic treatment for upper and lower back pain, which tends to be an occupational hazard for us dentists. As the result of frequent visits to a local osteopath, we became friends and to satisfy my endless questions about what he was doing - which made no sense from the point of view of my dental school training - he recommended a continuing education course. I flew to San Francisco and got some training in basic Cranial Osteopathy. The course and the instructors basically blew my mind! I was impressed by a point of view so compelling and new to me and so stunningly different from the western medical model of how the body works that had so completely dominated my dental training, that it forever shifted the way I would view the problems my patients came to me with. From then on, I was really open to input from all sorts of alternative healthcare providers. Today it is a special pleasure to work with people that are simultaneously receiving care from some other alternative field, especially when there is a good rapport with the other provider with mutual respect. We are so lucky in the Washington DC area to have access to so many wonderful, and really caring, providers in these other fields that work to bring balance to the mind-body-spirit totality that we all are.

Western healthcare seems to be such a physical kind of therapy compared to more energy-based therapies like yoga, or bio-energetics, or acupuncture, which seem to deal more with the body's electromagnetic energies. The differences may have more to do with mindset than technique. Rudolph Steiner said, I believe, that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. To me that means that everything we do really is only happening on an energy level. In spite of all the noise, not very much really goes on anywhere else. It just looks like it does!

I think this brings me full circle, because I think it is our intention when we do whatever it is that we do, that determines what is really happening on an energy level. I think if someone lovingly prepares a meal for you there's a lot of love coming in with that food. If the same meal is prepared with resentment or anger or fear, I think it's potentially a very different sort of nutrition. The physical food might look the same, but the physical food is only a packaging, a carrier, for the energy. I think that's one of the main reasons why we have always been encouraged to bless food before we eat - to uplift any negative energy in it, with our own good intention. That gets back to the intention or caring of the healthcare people we entrust to help us; these bodies are just the packaging or carriers for - the manifestations of - the energy that we really are.

When a healthcare practitioner begins to hold that mindset, a shift begins to occur. It may be subtle at first but it doesn't take long before everybody involved - the practitioner, the helping staff, and the patients - all begin to notice a very nice change. It may be difficult to pin-point and intellectualize about it, but it will be felt! The health-care will be directly experienced.


Dr. Michael Goldman practices General and Cosmetic mercury-free dentistry in a home-office in Chevy Chase.



Holism in dentistry is an approach to dental treatment, primarily  caring for  patients' health and safety from both a conventional as well as  "alternative healthcare" point of view.   It is sometimes called "biological" dentistry or "biocompatible" dentistry.  In it's fullest sense, I believe it   acknowledges and deals with  the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "teeth".  See Topics / Info.....

Cosmetic dentistry is about doing   quality , esthetic dentistry in a way that looks natural to begin with, and furthermore,   can even  improve  one's  attractiveness through techniques such as bonding, bleaching, veneers, caps, implants and more.  It can   be like "instant orthodontics" in correcting  crooked, twisted or misplaced teeth in many instances.  Dark or misshapen teeth can be restored.   Smiles that lack youthful vigor or beauty can be revitalized! See Topics / Info..

Bleaching, veneers, bonding, caps, bridges, and implants  are cosmetic dentistry treatments that are also  discussed in  Cosmetic Dentistry, and more...