If you go deep enough into the details, sooner or later you end up back at the big picture.
Medicine is now making this realization. Investigators today have extraordinary tools for plumbing the depths of matter, from tissues and cells, through genes, even down into subatomic structures. At the end of that microscopic long view we find ourselves looking at energy, codes, information patterns. In the beginning was the Word.
Data emerging from the realm of "mind-body" medicine show that the whole of human experience is a continuum of signals and informational patterns: from ecosystems through social systems, beliefs and behavior, down into endocrinologic and immunologic signaling. As Dr. Antonio Damasio pointed out in his keynote lecture at the National Institutes of Health, consciousness is a biological process, albeit a highly complex one. At the same time, it is more than simply the chemical processes of the brain. It is a mysterious "something" that links us to what is larger than ourselves.
Health and illness encompass the entire human organism: what affects the body affects consciousness and likewise, the state and contents of consciousness influence the body. They are intimately entwined. The future of medicine is in understanding how they interact. It is a promising future, indeed.
May you have a joyous and healthy summer,
Erik L. Goldman
Editor in Chief