The History Of Spirituality’s Role In Health Care
Medicine and health care in most traditions started out with healers who used spirituality as the way of curing medical conditions. These traditions, however, were taken into the backseat during the era of scientific medical revolution. In the next years following the revolution of science and medicine and with the newest innovations and scientific researches in medical technology, there is little view of how spirituality can play a great role in health care.
In the early 1400s, Greek philosophers and healers had a holistic view of medicine. This meant that a person can only be cured of his illness if his mind, body and spirit are all in good health. This kind of belief was widespread throughout the 15th century. The same belief was prevalent all over Europe and Christianity at that period also employed the idea of spirituality as a part of the healing process. However, between the 1400s and the start of the 1600, the establishment of the Catholic Church became more strengthened. During this period, medical discoveries were also beginning to resurface. But since the Church had opposing views with the sciences, the medical world was split into two beliefs and thus, science and spirituality were never combined in early medicine. Because it was believed that spirituality can never become a part of healing and health care, it was also during this period when witch trials became more pervasive, and even midwives who assisted women during their childbirth were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stakes.
During the 17th century, another concept was introduced to the world- dualism. Thus, spirituality was recognized as a tool for healing. However, the boundaries of spirituality as a medium of healing was only limited and focused towards the restoration of the mind and the spirit. Physical health care and treatment were still under the monopoly of science and medicine. It continued within the end of the 19th century when Churches still consider autopsy as blasphemy and at the same time, medical innovations and discoveries were all concentrated towards the scientific aspect of health care, leaving spirituality as a subject that should be tackled by the Church alone.
It was only during the 1950s when Albert Einstein, along with other great minds, formulated the theory of relativity and the concept that all matters and space actually possess an interrelation with each other. With these ideas, noetic science was born. In this area of medicine, it is suggested that a person’s spiritual and religious beliefs as well as his spiritual history can influence and affect the physical aspects of his life. Because of the introduction of this new area of medical science which explores the inner experiences of a person rather than merely his physical attributes, it paved way to medical researches which showed how spirituality can pose a great effect in a person’s health.
Today, the reunion of spirituality and health care is still under constant tension and discussions. It cannot, however, disprove the fact that spirituality plays a crucial role in improving a person’s well-being, not only in the emotional and mental facets, but in the physical aspects as well.
Spirituality in health care today is considered as one of the most traditional and ancient practices, although employing spirituality in medicine has faded during the boom of scientific innovations. Because of its efficacy in improving some health conditions, spirituality in health care is now being introduced yet again in the medical practice.
Spirituality in Mental Health Care
Spirituality and faith can play a crucial role when it comes to dealing with a person’s emotional and mental health. When a person is under a mental or emotional struggle, the only area that he can find solace in is his faith. When it comes to dealing with mental health, medical research has found that spirituality can affect a person in coping with his illness. Another study showed that patients who have stronger connection in their religious beliefs have higher possibility to recover from their disorders. Additionally, keeping a strong spirituality can instill optimism and positive energy even when a person is being treated with health complication. These two effects of spirituality serve as key factors in reducing the depression that a person can experience when he is ill.
Spirituality in Physical Health Care
Traditional Western medicine often deems spirituality and physical health as two aspects that might not complement each other. However, there are certain studies that also showed how faith can actually help while a patient is being treated from a certain disease. One study which was conducted among elderly and more mature patients showed that patients who exhibit stronger connections with their spiritual and religious life are less prone to experience depression and they have a lower rate of deterioration in their physical health. Additionally, they have healthier immune systems and lower blood pressure.
A supplemental research also showed that religious and spiritual patients who underwent open-heart surgeries had higher chance of survival than patients who had no connections with spiritual groups. Patients with strong spiritual lives who are diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases also cope better and have higher chances of recuperation. In programs for alcoholic rehabilitations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, experts observed that spirituality can play a huge part in educating the patients that they can avoid substance and alcohol abuse if they turn to prayer and meditation instead.
The reason for these might be that spirituality teaches how to maintain strong faith, nurture relationships and help patients in focusing their energy to more worthwhile activities such as meditation, prayer, conversing with positive people and doing volunteer work. These activities prevent them from focusing on their health problems and eliminate looming possibilities of anxiety and depression