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by Andrew Weil MD with the Executive Director and the Fellows of the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine
Sounds True, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Feb 3rd 2002

Integrative Medicine When I have seen Andrew Weil on PBS fund-raising specials, I've always been impressed by how articulate and smart he is, and he is just as convincing here. His contribution to this three CD set is a 25 minute discussion of the role of medical education in the future of integrative medicine. His criticisms of current medical education are very well made, and seem as valid in 2002 as they have been for most of the last quarter century that Weil has been doing his work. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him on this CD talk about the terrible state of hospital food and the wrong-headedness of so much of current medical thinking.

Weil and his colleagues give presentations to a live audience about various elements in what is sometimes known as alternative or complementary medicine. Other physicians on these CDs address the mind/body continuum, nutrition, botanical medicine, Chinese medicine, and a question and answer session, as well as providing a guided meditation and an exercise for contemplating your personal health.

The other speakers are not as articulate or as impressive as Weil, and there are some problems with the sound quality - there is some distortion of the sound in several of the talks. The information the speakers give will be mostly familiar to most people who have done some reading in the area already, but it could serve as a good introduction for those who are new to these ideas.

On the second CD, Victoria Maizes and William Benda go in for some rather tiresome Descartes-bashing, saying that Descartes' separation of the mind and body was a terrible turn of events for our self-understanding. This attributes too much influence to Descartes, since he was not able to influence the thinking of the whole of western medicine, and it also misunderstands Descartes' philosophy, since he was very concerned to emphasize how much interaction there is between mind and body. A serious attempt to discover why medicine started to forget the ability of the mind to influence the health of the body would need to look far more carefully at the history of western medicine.

Despite such flaws, the general ideas behind integrative medicine, that doctors should be open minded about the many ways there are to treat health problems, and that methods such as meditation, nutrition, exercise, and the medicines of other cultures are effective, are explained well here. Only a small amount of time is spent on mental health problems; the main ideas mentioned are the beneficial effects of exercise on depression. So this CD package would not be very useful for those looking for clear guides to non-traditional ways of improving one's health. But it could be a useful starting point for people curious about these issues.

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© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.