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Feel the Bern . . . Feel the Love

John Rowland

Posted on May 13, 2018 12:42

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A man named Bernie S. has made a wonderful contribution to our humanity . . . And this Bernie S. may not be the one you're thinking of.

Feel the Bern.

Bernie S.

Bernie Sanders, right? No.

Not that Bernie S. who spent time at the revolutionary Marxist youth movement ha-Shomer ha-Tza'ir, which was associated with the Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim; not that Bernie S. who honeymooned in the USSR in 1988; nor the one who is, as some claim, a Big "C" communist.

The Bernie S. featured here is one of love.

That would be Bernie Siegel, MD, who believes that "we are here to contribute love to the planet -- each of us in our own way."

This beautiful sentiment has helped, nurtured and inspired many people through difficult times and circumstances, bringing hope to those who need it desperately. Many patients and their families maintain that Siegel's techniques have not only inspired hope but have also effected cure.

Siegel has a very impressive educational and professional background indeed.

His best-selling book Love, Medicine and Miracles deals with the mind-body connection; the relationship between a patient's distressed emotional state (feeling of powerlessness) and the condition of disease, suggesting the two are strongly correlated.

In his book, Siegel documents instances of positive effects resulting from his clinical treatments.

By emphasizing the mental, nutritional and psycho-social support elements of patient care, Siegel directly involves patients in their own healing: he teaches self-empowerment. This assumption of personal responsibility animates and motivates some, while others are put off.

Calling such methods "oppressive," individuals who oppose Dr. Siegel's approach may be too insistent on victimhood (or themselves too oppressed or convention-bound) for the kind of work his methods involve, relying instead on government and medical institutions.

And predictably, there are non-patient critics.

Siegel's methods naturally step on the toes of some in the medical-industrial complex; essentially bypassing those interests, depriving them of any associated financial revenues that are lost in the self-empowerment process. Some go on to suggest that Siegel's techniques remain largely unproven, claiming the absence of published "scientific studies."

Others get in on the hating as well.

In reviewing Love, Medicine and Miracles, Joan Borysenko of the Los Angeles Times labeled Siegel an "extremist" who views nearly all illness as psychosomatic. Commenting within the context of disease, another LA Times book reviewer called it "ultimately oppressive."

Even New York Times literary critic Anatole Broyard piled on with a silly, cheap shot, describing Siegel as "not a gifted writer." Of course, Broyard most likely isn't a gifted surgeon either -- Siegel is.

But at the end of the day, while some dismiss Dr. Siegel's approach, surely improving one's attitude toward both self and world in any circumstances can't ever hurt anything, right?

So feel the love.

John Rowland

Posted on May 13, 2018 12:42

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