Chapter

Powers of Self-healing: Self-evident?

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0027
Powers of Self-healing: Self-evident?

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Both the Chinese and the Greeks knew that a certain proportion of human illness sometimes takes a turn for the better without any human therapeutic influence but only the Greeks discerned what they saw and looked beyond it for something more. In Greek antiquity, a healing power of its own was attributed to the physis, or human nature. The Greeks saw that illnesses can heal by themselves. The most terrible cancers sometimes unexpectedly take a turn for the better, without any recognizable external cause. In Greece and beyond, in contrast to China, this observation led to a significant number of theories on the reasons behind such self-healings. The ancient dictum nouson physieis ietroi says that every organism possesses its own authority, its physis, which is the true physician for the illnesses of the body. The so-called self-healing powers represent nothing other than the certainty that the body has self-interest and its own capacity to pull itself out of crisis and restore a condition of harmony.

Keywords: human illness; Greek antiquity; human nature; self-healing; natural physician; Western traditions

Chapter.  808 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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