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Redefining Illness & Solving the Puzzle of Chronic Illness

by Dr. Karen Clickner


There has been a dramatic shift in the process of illness and healing in recent years.  We are seeing more and more chronic illnesses that are resistant to the healing process causing damage to the people we love and beautiful lives. Why has this happened?  It is because of the way we see illness.  We see a picture of Chronic Fatigue, Lyme, Parkinson’s, MS or autism.  But the picture is misleading.  What we need to see is that illness is a mosaic.

Mosaics are recognizable pictures made up of many tiny colored tiles.  We can easily rearrange those exact same tiles and create a completely different picture.  In the same way, factors and symptoms of illness are common, but the combination is unique, making the patient’s story the place to start.  Each piece is a key and to find all the keys you have to know the story.  This also means that all illness has common factors or “tiles”. 

So there is no single cause and therefore there is no single cure.  It is the definition of illness as a customized condition of dysregulation. So we begin by evaluating and discovering the three groups of causative factors: Predisposing (genetics), Precipitating (pathogens, injury, grief) and Perpetuating (toxic load, stress response, poor nutrition).  These three groups define the boundaries of the illness sitting in the chair in front of us.

The mosaic philosophy was first proposed in 1950 when discussing hypertension.  Later in 1989, it was used in discussions about autoimmune disease.  But it has been a core factor of natural medicine for centuries.  This philosophy realizes that we are the sum total of our experiences coupled with our genetic factors.  So the solution to the puzzle of chronic illness is not to focus on the picture you see, but on the tiles that comprise the image of the patient. 

Redefining chronic illness in this way means that every illness is solvable once you can see the pieces instead of the picture.  Dr. Karen Clickner is a nationally registered Naturpathic physician practicing in Massachusetts. For more information visit www.consciousbodynatmed.com


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