Chinese medicine provides a tool for approaching maladies not adequately addressed in a reductionist Cartesian framework (Lyttleton, 1992). Although the two systems differ, practitioners of both modalities are enthused about merging theory and practise (Ryan & McLaughlin, 1998), pointing out that concepts such as the delicate five element balance are echoed by western constructs such as physiological homeostasis (Ryan & McLaughli n, 1998).
Chinese medical literature is littered with pronouncements of cures of psychopathology (Freuhauf, 1995), a stark contrast to the cautious conclusions of western research. Whether this reflects actual efficacy of treatment, or is influenced by research methodology or reporting conventions should be investigated.
Chinese practitoners are reluctance to identify causes of disorders since most dysfunctions are regarded as outcomes of a constellation of factors, rather than the direct result of single determinant factors (Kaptchuck & Croucher, 1986). This resonates with modern psychiatry's view on etiology, which is eschewed in favour of identifying patterns of symptoms (Kaptchuck, 1983). Absence of disease labels (Kaptchuck & Croucher, 1986), circumvents a large component of the stigma of mental illness. It has been recognised in the West that diagnosis of a disorder can actually increase symptom severity (Kaptchuck & Croucher, 1986).
Chinese medical theory provides tools to explain relationships between psych and soma. Since it starts with a concept of health and seeks to identify factors instigated by man or nature that interfere with this condition, it has preventative applications (Hammer, 1990).
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