Does Music reside in the instrument? Does Mind reside in the brain?
When we treat the brain, does it automatically treat the mind?
Is Mental health merely a set of serum values, ECGs, EEGs and nuclear imaging reports?
Is life, like birth and death, only a medical certificate?
Is human health functional or structural?
Every time we think of modern medicine, these dormant questions come back to haunt us, more so, when we come face-to-face with the medical fraternity in life-and-death situations involving our kith and kin. These queries do not downplay the role and significance of modern medicine but our rigid schools of thought invariably negate any attempt to balance emotional and cognitive experiences in the vain attempt to highlight the import of medical science. Tragic but true!
William Osler has rightly observed, “Medicine is an art based on science; not simply a science, but also not merely an art.”
Modern medical breakthroughs are indisputably invaluable to mankind, it’s only their application that merits a sensitive and holistic approach. Luckily we still have doctors who are guided by the patient’s inherent will to live or the lack of it, not his humdrum survival. One such gem is Dr. Loknath, a gifted professional with his heart and mind in the right place, employed with the Vedant Hospital, Thane.
It was only his reassuring presence that meant everything to us while my father was hospitalized for three days at Vedant. The very fact that he rescued dad from the jaws of death on the day of admission was enough to prove his competence as a doctor but his uniqueness is way larger than his circumstantial feat for he was the only doctor in the entire hospital who was exactly aware of my dad's frame of mind. He knew my dad had come back (and was sent back) only to share a few priceless moments of togetherness with us. Else, he had long made up his mind to leave this world and no intervention - aggressive or otherwise - could dare come in the way of his unflinching conviction.
Dr. Loknath not only read my dad's mind accurately, he refrained from underlining his achievement, never once talking about the miracle he performed in my dad's case. His matter-of-fact approach to his work undoubtedly makes him one of the very best in the profession. Had he been in the US, India would have been profusely proud of him, leave alone Vedant, but since he finds beauty only in his duty, his activism goes largely unnoticed. Not that it bothers him for he's too busy to brood over, what he reckons are, non-issues.
We desperately need many more Dr. Loknaths who unconditionally acknowledge the fact that the medical profession owes its essence and credence to patients alone, who try their level best to ensure that Hospitals and Clinics are not reduced to insurance companies profiting from the fear of death and disease, who don't allow mere scientific possibilities to dictate the patient’s curative ordeal and who remind us that prompt, precise and positive communication with the patient's family is as important as the physical intervention administered on his body.
Since the medical curriculum is not designed to address the patient’s psychological management, doctors learn SOLELY through experience that the psychological treatment plays an equal, if not greater, role in the patient’s curative and palliative progress. Medical colleges and universities should design a suitable curriculum to help young professionals articulate the logic of function over structure. This will in turn help explode the myth that Psychology is secondary to Bio-Chemistry. It's high time medical science directs its effort and advancement towards the patient’s well being, not merely his disorder. Let the purists fight with the non-conformists over the relevance of the BPS model if they like, we are happy to salute and cherish genuine experts like Dr. Loknath who are doing everything possible to rescue the profession from the overpowering clutches of mindless mechanics.
PS: I must thank Dr. Mohan Agashe - Actor, Psychiatrist and Activist - for his deep insights into existential issues - especially his pioneering thoughts on the role of psychology in the patient's curative and palliative progress - that he shared with me in umpteen midnight conversations post his theatre renditions.