The secret of high level wellness
“The physician, on his part, must take into account spiritual as well as physical considerations if he is to do an effective job of helping his patient toward good health of body and mind. For no person can be well physically if he is sick spiritually.”
That is a quote from Dr. Halbert Dunn, former head of the National Office of Vital Statistics for the U.S. government. Dr. Dunn said this during a speech in 1958 and apparently his thinking would significantly influence the way we think about modern day health and wellness. And, I might add, make a lot of people boatloads of money! Following are other statements he made in his speech which you can read in full here.
“Without prejudice to the importance or the continuation and support of existing medical and health programs involving preventive, curative or rehabilitative research and activities, it seems clear that many of today’s and tomorrow’s problems call for the stimulation and development of a new major axis of interest directed toward positive health-one strong enough to activate physicians, health workers, and others in devoting a substantial segment of their time, resources, and creative energies toward understanding and culturing good health in a positive sense.
One element of certainty which emerges in clear relief is that we can no longer ignore the spirit of man as a factor in our medical and health disciplines. Many of us, as physicians and health workers, have become increasingly dissatisfied with our disciplines, which are designed as though the sum total of our concern is for the body and the mind of man, leaving to metaphysics and religion the affairs of the spirit. As if we could divide the sum total of man thus! If we are to move in the direction of high-level wellness for man and society, we cannot ignore the spirit of man in any discipline. In fact, the essence of the task ahead might well be to fashion a rational bridge between the biological nature of man and the spirit of man-the spirit being that intangible something that transcends physiology and psychology.
Harmony will result when the fact is faced that man is a physical, mental, and spiritual unity-a unity which is constantly undergoing a process of growth and adjustment within a continually changing physical, biological, social, and cultural environment.
The physician, on his part, must take into account spiritual as well as physical considerations if he is to do an effective job of helping his patient toward good health of body and mind. For no person can be well physically if he is sick spiritually. It is natural for each group competent in a special field of knowledge to approach the study and care of the wellbeing of man from its own particular point of vantage, but this must not preclude considerations of the unity of man as a whole living within a constantly changing total environment. High-level wellness can never be achieved in fragments, ignoring the unity of the whole.
Dr. Dunn would later make an appeal for a pursuit of high-level wellness and it is Dr. Dunn’s idea that many others have built upon today.