What I see happening in California is creating more negativity in an already hostile environment.
The debate that has been magnified by Assembly Bill 1943 in California greatly concerns me as a future practitioner of Oriental medicine.
I see the relationship of Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine to be like that of a marriage. In a marriage, there is a great need for understanding. If the people in the marriage spend their energy competing with one another about who is right, then there is no cooperation and no togetherness (and really, no relationship). However, if even one of the partners takes the time to really understand where the other is coming from and makes an effort to listen to and be compassionate, then there can be understanding and the relationship can work. It is even better if both can put aside their need to be right and together they can create cooperation.
For TCM to ever be accepted by the general public as a viable medical practice, and if one of the goals is for TCM to be accepted by practitioners of Western medicine, then the community of healers practicing TCM need to create an atmosphere of cooperation. Only then will there be any significant steps forward in integrating TCM in our culture and in our medicine.
It is surprising to me that so many leaders in the field of acupuncture are allowing themselves to be engaged in "fighting for what is right." After all, it is still fighting. Part of the "magic" of TCM is that it is working with universal truths, all of which are found in nature. To try and forward a practice based in these concepts by engaging in competition about who is right and what is the right way to move forward as a community of practitioners is not only feeble, but ridiculous - and ultimately, it will not work.
Rather than focusing the time, energy and money of our spokespeople on details of hours and other minutia, these people and valuable resources need to concentrate on working with the leaders in Western medicine, working toward understanding their needs and misconceptions and seeing how we as a community can cooperate for the common goal of health and healing.
I can already hear someone responding to this saying, "He obviously doesn't realize how much time, energy and money we are already spending on educating and working toward cooperation. That person would be right - I don't know. What I do know is that what I see happening in California right now is a losing battle and not only a waste of energy, but it is creating more negativity in an already hostile environment. And I am sure that this debate is just a reflection of TCM practice in the U.S. right now.
Robert Ferguson Future practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine Seattle, Washington
Bravo, Ms. Allen! I salute you for taking the less popular road of complete accuracy rather than accepting the spurious, short-term positive spin. Like you, I was puzzled as I unsuccessfully tried to find Dr. Zusman's study in JAMA (editor's note: see "The Power of Misperception" in the April issue). If acupuncture is to gain solid credibility in this country, we must first make sure that we, as students and a profession, are trained to discriminate between fact and faction.
Greyson Ross Santa Barbara, California
Dr. Smith's Articles "Very Timely"
Please send my deep thanks to Dr. Emmett Smith for his very timely articles on traumatic dai mai obstructive disorder. I have been healing from a car accident back in March and was very discouraged about my lack of progress and constant headaches. The first article described my predicament exactly. From the very first treatment, I began to have success. After three treatments, I am now pain-free and on my way to complete healing. What a relief! I have also passed the article on to other colleagues who are struggling with patients (that are) not making progress.
Wendy Goodwin, LAc Carlsbad, California
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