Review of Eve Wood’s “Medicine, Mind, and Meaning”
Medicine, Mind, and Meaning, by professor and speaker, Dr. Eve A. Wood, is a step-by-step guide that combines traditional psychiatric approaches and spiritual principles. For Wood, former faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and presently Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine, development of one’s spirituality is a necessary component in healing. Accordingly, the book provides resources and exercises for the use of belief to further the healing process. Among these resources are numerous appendices that engage common psychiatric illnesses, detailing their cause, evaluation, and treatment. These appendices can also be found online at www.MedicineMindandMeaning.com.
Foreward by C. Everett Koop
I first met Eve Wood at a Spirituality & Crisis Conference in 2003, sponsored by John Hopkins Medicine Institute. For over fifty years Johns Hopkins Medicine has been hosting an annual spirituality and medicine conference dedicated to the discussion of ministering to both the physical and spiritual needs of patients. The conference includes clergy, physicians, surgeons, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, as well as many others who deal with the physical, mental, and spiritual well being of our culture.
I gave two talks at that conference. The first was a professional perspective on Spirituality and Crisis, and the second was a personal perspective on the same topic.
Eve Wood approached me after my first lecture. I was seated at a table with other keynote speakers, meeting and greeting the attendees. After waiting some time to speak to me, she approached to tell me how much she had connected to what I had been saying during my talk. She explained that her clinical work was about the integration of traditional psychiatric practices, as well as more avant-garde spiritual ideas and that my lecture had resonated with her own experience. We spoke for a little while, and then she asked if I would be willing to read something she was working on, and if it was at all possible for me to give her some feedback on it.
I explained to Eve, that although I was flattered, I tended not to do that. I find it rather difficult to accommodate all the requests I receive, and have made a practice of declining those where I have not personally been involved in the work or manuscript itself. Eve, ever gracious, said she understood this entirely.
Nonetheless, we continued to talk, touching upon a number of different topics, including our respective ideas about medicine and healing. Apparently, one of the experiences I had shared in my lecture had reminded her of one of the patients she had been treating in her clinical practice.
The story I had shared was about an infant, but a few days old, whom I had treated 30 years before while I was Surgeon-in-Chief of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The parents had brought the baby to me in what seemed like a last ditch effort to save their child’s life. The little boy suffered from multiple congenital abnormalities, several of them incompatible with life, and his parents had been told by four other surgeons that it was absolutely impossible to save him. Indeed, the parents were advised to let their child pass away peacefully in the corner of the hospital nursery. They were clearly distraught and devastated by the news, but still found the resolve to continue looking for a surgeon who was at least willing to try. They asked me if I would be willing to operate on their baby, and if it was possible to save his life.
I examined the infant, and realized that this was a serious undertaking. While any one of these anomalies was repairable, there were so many of them that it did seem unlikely that the child could be saved. And yet, I wondered, why it wouldn’t be possible to treat the child step by step-operating on the most threatening issues first, and slowly but surely correcting all of the abnormalities over a lengthy period of time. I explained the risks involved in such an endeavor, and how I would have to bring in other doctors to do procedures that were outside of my expertise. The parents decided to proceed.
It took over fifty operations, spanning the course of many years, but the child lived. In fact, that child went on, after college, to graduate as a minister from Westminster Theological Seminary. I have followed his education closely. I contacted as many of the surgeons who had helped me in this process as I could find. I wanted them to know the wonderful turn of events and recognize the role they had played in saving the life of that little boy.
For Eve, this story reminded her of her patient, Gillie. As you read this book, you will likely see the similarities as well. Like the little boy I treated, it seemed that few of Gillie’s therapists had actually tried to cure her. Instead, they seemed to accept that her biology and circumstances were her destiny, and while surely trying to make her life more comfortable, they continued to treat her for years without believing there would ever be an end to her suffering.
As Eve told me about her experiences with Gillie-the many challenges, as well as the many rewards-I realized that she and I were very similar creatures. Neither of us were afraid to risk our reputations if it meant helping a patient; nor did we take our task as physicians lightly. Both of us tend to look past the diagnoses and illness, in order to see and realize the potential for a healthy, happy life. We do not choose to become mired in the challenges of a task, but rather look for intuitive, creative ways to find solutions, irregardless of how daunting that task might be. Finally, Eve and I share the sense that there is something larger than ourselves involved in the healing process; and that faith belongs in the doctor’s bag as much as a scalpel, a stethoscope, or a prescription pad.
In short, Eve had convinced me that this was a book worth looking at.
I have seldom been so moved by a book. You simply won’t find a book like this one very often. It is written by a physician who loves her patients and has come to see that life depends not on the hand you are dealt, but on how you choose to live it. As Eve says throughout, the path to fulfillment is simple; it just isn’t always that easy to achieve. Part of that responsibility rests with our cultural approach to medicine. But, there is a science for the soul as well. And if we are each body, mind, and spirit, how can we be healed if we don’t treat all three together? With Medicine, Mind and Meaning, however, we have finally been given a model that integrates the treatment of the body, mind, and spirit. To my way of thinking, it is the only model of healing that makes sense, and I have learned more from this book than I have elsewhere in a very long time.
It has been my privilege to meet Eve Wood and let her get into my mind. Indeed, we have become good friends. Throughout our correspondence, I have consistently urged Eve to get her message out to the public. I am pleased that, with the publication of this important and inspiring book, she has finally done just that.
I’m not given to hyperbole, but I do feel that this book will strike a chord for a generation that sees itself in a poor light, and all too often finds itself lost and confused. I believe this text should be part of a curriculum for any student preparing for a career as a healthcare professional-and I would especially like it to be compulsory reading for all psychotherapists. But whether you are a healthcare provider, or a fellow seeker, this book stands out like a light house in stormy weather.
C. Everett Koop, M.D. ScD
Former U.S. Surgeon General
McInerny Professor of Surgery, Dartmouth Medical School
Table of Contents: Medicine, Mind and Meaning
A Foreword by C. Everett Koop, M.D., ScD “The Blind Men and the Elephant”
Bringing Meaning and Medicine Together An integrative model of healing
Gillie’s Story: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way A dramatic example of the healing model in action
Lessons of Inspiration: How Gillie’s Tale Relates to You The healing model effects cure in even the most severe of cases
Step One: Body Getting a baseline and accepting who you are
Step Two: Mind Figuring out your mindset, attitudes, and identifying family-of-origin issues
Step Three: Spirit Involving meaning and purpose in your healing journey Step Four: Putting It All Together How to stay the course and maintain hope through the process
In the Words of My Patients What it feels like to suffer and heal
Take Home Messages and Closing Blessing A summary and call to action
II Bipolar Disorder
III Panic Disorder
IV Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
V Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
VI Social Phobia
VII Generalized Anxiety Disorder
VIII Anxiety Disorders: Resources
IX Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
X Eating Disorders
XI Addictive Illness
C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., former U.S. Surgeon General and McInerny Professor of Surgery, Dartmouth Medical School, writes the foreward to “Medicine, Mind, and Meaning” that is included below. Not typically given to publicly endorsing work that is not his own, Dr. Koop’s exception in this case marks the importance and urgency he attaches to this text. Writes Koop, “I have seldom been so moved by a book. This is the only healing model that makes sense.” The Foreward below is followed by the Table of Contents.
Dr. Koop was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in March 1981 and was sworn in as the U.S. Surgeon General on November 17, 1981. He was also appointed Director of the Office of International Health in May 1982. As Surgeon General, Dr. Koop oversaw the activities of the 6,000 member PHS Commissioned Corps and advised the public on a variety of health matters: smoking and health, diet and nutrition, environmental health hazards, and the importance of immunization and disease prevention. Dr. Koop is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including 35 honorary doctorates. In September of 1995, President Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. He has also written more than 200 articles and books on the practice of medicine and surgery, biomedical ethics, and health policy. In 1991 he was given an Emmy Award in the News and Documentary category for C. Everett Koop, M.D., a five part series on health care reform.
Eve A. Wood, M.D. (www.drevewood.com) has devoted nearly two decades to the care of troubled individuals from all walks of life. Her therapeutic approach has attracted attention and acclaim from the nation’s leading authorities in the fields of medicine, health and spiritual well being. She is the author of numerous articles for medical and professional publications and is a frequent speaker at national workshops and conferences, including the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Wood has served on the faculty of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the executive committee of the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital and has most recently been appointed Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. With a concentration in neurobiology and behavior, Wood graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a B.A. in biology. She earned her M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She currently lives in Tucson with her husband and four children.