Several weeks ago, a father in our practice said to me, “I’m afraid not to vaccinate, and I’m just as afraid to vaccinate.” My response was not to address the list of pros and cons on either side of the vaccination issue. Apparently he had already done that. My response was instead to have him take two steps back, and understand that any choice made from fear is made from a skewed perspective and would be unproductive and unstable. Rather than building on this unstable foundation created by fear, it was more important that he define his core values in life—those essential values from which all of his decisions could be made. Once defined, he would be making a decision from a place of certainty and trust.
Essentially, there are two perspectives about healing. One is mechanistic—it defines life as a random series of events, devoid of an organized and intelligent purpose. Sickness is to be treated, symptoms are to be eliminated, and the body needs expert opinions based on human knowledge to help it heal. The other is vitalistic. It recognizes, respects, and trusts in the intelligence of life and the interconnectedness of this wisdom among all life. Processes of the body are to be trusted, not feared, and an underlying confidence for healing and proper function is emphasized. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, summed up the heart of this perspective well: “Humans are created to be healthy as long as they are whole: body, mind, spirit. People are characterized by self-healing properties that come from within—an innate healing force. Perfect health and harmony is the normal state for all life.”
It is imperative that we define our core values and consciously make our life and health choices from the perspective which resonates best with those values. It is also imperative that we choose practitioners who base their choices on the same foundation.
In pathways, we offer the perspective of vitalism—the confidence of an inherent intelligence that sustains our very existence. Our articles introduce principles built on this foundation, in the hope that parents will recognize and resonate with it. Shifting to this paradigm is sometimes challenging, especially since the majority of the healthcare industry, news media, laws, and regulations do not support this perspective. It is hard to go against the grain, and we are often met with resistance, opposition, and outright criticism, laced with fear and even intimidation.
That powerful emotion—fear—then becomes the motivating factor in our decisions. But fear is too unstable an emotion from which to make any good choices. I am reminded of the quote from Bertrand Russell: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
In 30 years of making life and health choices for our family, my husband and I have heard all of the arguments used to challenge our vitalistic core beliefs. When we started having our family, there was little to no peer reviewed evidence on natural birthing, co-sleeping, long-term breastfeeding, vaccination risks, and the refusal of drugs for symptomatic relief. We were labeled irresponsible at best. We were told our beliefs had no scientific validation.
To us, credibility did not come from this perspective devoid of any recognition of vitalism. Our validation came along the lines of an emerging science—one less known, and only sparsely integrated into the healing arts. Max Planck, Nobel Prize–winning physicist and the father of quantum theory, acknowledged this new science well in a 1944 speech: “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
Since then, and now in the 21st century, the relationship between this emerging science and health is becoming more accepted. Although promoted over 100 years ago by the founder of chiropractic, D.D. Palmer, the recognition and practice of healthcare from an inherent trust of our amalgamation with a greater intelligence is finally being embraced. Deepak Chopra, M.D., sums up this principle well: “There is an inner intelligence in your body, and that inner intelligence is consciousness. It’s the ultimate in supreme genius, which mirrors the wisdom of the universe.”
As for the father and what he chose for his child—I don’t know for sure. I do know, however, that he understood the importance in parenting of connecting with his wife, going within, and embracing what they know to be true. My appeal to all parents when making life and health choices for their families is to do the same. First, gather the information available in regard to the decision at hand. Then, put all of it aside and recognize the core of your own beliefs. Once you’ve identified these life principles, weigh your choices from this place of knowing. Choose from a state of trust and conviction consistent with these essential values. They are the connection to your strength. From this place of certainty, you will always choose correctly.
Jeanne Ohm, DC
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #22.