A Factory for Healing?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
A Factory for Healing?The quest for soulful medicine.
A few years ago I was feeding my two dogs, one an aged collie and the other a young and energetic mutt. I had a bowl of dog food in each hand, and when I tried to walk into the house from the porch I tripped over a doormat and fell, hitting my forehead hard on the sharp edge of the doorjamb. I was alone in the house and was dazed at first. When I came to, I saw blood all over my hands and felt a lump on my bleeding head. I sat down, not knowing what to do, since I couldn’t think clearly. At that moment my wife and daughter arrived from a shopping trip and drove me immediately to the emergency room of our local hospital. I walked into a crowded reception area and was told to wait my turn and get my insurance information out. I couldn’t think very clearly, but I had enough presence of mind to see that this visit would be good material for my book.
My first impression was not a positive one. The receptionists were too busy and rushed. Maybe they did a quick triage and decided I had minor abrasions. There were people present with serious problems. But I was treated brusquely and felt no sense of care. I didn’t feel that I was in a place of healing as much as a “factory” where the assembly line was moving too quickly.
Eventually a harried doctor came and gave me a dozen stitches. He didn’t introduce himself and I didn’t think he went about his work with a great deal of care. The scar on my forehead even today is very noticeable, while the work the plastic surgeon did on my face when he removed my precancerous lesion is impossible to detect. Maybe it was just a matter of skill—a plastic surgeon versus an emergency room resident. I suspect that the lack of soul in that place was also a factor, because ultimately it is the soul that heals, even when it is only a matter of stitches.
The soul is the invisible factor that draws people together, brings out their humanity, and gives depth and meaning to whatever they do. When you treat people as objects, as cases and syndromes and machines in need of repair, you will not be a healer, not even a doctor or nurse. You will be a technician, a human repairman, a functionary in a world of objects. Soul will not enter into your work, not into your skillful use of techniques and not into your relationship with your patients. Your work will not satisfy you, not because it isn’t worthy work but because there is no soul to give it a deep human pulse.
On the other hand, when soul is present, when you are capable of being present as a human being and making a connection to a patient, even simple applications of your skills will make your work fulfilling and bring you close in touch with the people who come to you for help.
A hospital with soul is a place of healing. A hospital without soul is a body repair shop. The depth of human feeling and care will show itself in the people, in the building and in the atmosphere. In a sense, it is the atmosphere that heals. Religion scholar Karoli Kerenyi once wrote that you sense the presence of the god in the atmosphere of a place. In a hospital you may sense the presence of Asklepios. If you do, whether or not you name him, you will know that the place has soul and that it has what is required to heal.