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Volume 4, Pages 286-294
Research Article

Clinical Holistic Medicine: Social Problems Disguised as Illness

1The Quality of Life Research Center, Teglgårdstræde 4-8, DK-1452 Copenhagen K, Denmark
2Division of Community Health, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel
3Faculty of Social Science, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Academic College of Judea and Samaria, Ariel, Israel
4National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem and Zusman Child Development Center, Division of Pediatrics and Community Health, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Received 30 November 2003; Revised 22 March 2004; Accepted 22 March 2004

Academic Editor: Hatim A. Omar

Copyright © 2004 Soren Ventegodt et al.


Many of the diseases seen in the clinic are actually symptoms of social problems. It is often easier for the physician to treat the symptoms than to be a coach and help the patient to assume responsibility in order to improve quality of life, social situation, and relations. If the physician ignores the signs of the disease as a symptom of social problems, and treats the patient with pharmaceuticals, he can give the patient the best justification in the world not to do anything about the situation. It is very important that the physician is not tricked by the games the socially troubled patient, more or less unconsciously, is playing. A firm and wise attitude that confronts the patient with his or her lack of responsibility for solving social problems seems to be a constructive way out. The physician can give holding and support, but the responsibility must remain with the patient. Often it is better for the patient that the physician abstains from giving drugs that can remedy the symptoms and takes the role of a coach instead. Suffering is not necessarily bad, suffering is actually highly motivating and often the most efficient source of learning. Coaching can help the patient canalize his motivation into highly constructive considerations and behavior. A holistic approach thus gives the patient learning and helps him rehabilitate his social reality. Concerning children with recurrent or chronic pain, we have observed an overuse of painkillers, where we believe part is of a psychosomatic nature due to poor thriving in the family. Here the physician has an important job helping the parents to develop as persons, teaching them the basic holding of awareness, respect, care, acknowledgment and acceptance of their child. Most of the chronic pain and discomfort with children can be improved if the physician understands how to use the holistic medical toolbox.