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Man or Machine: The Vitalistic Model of Health

November 20, 2004 | 24,208 views

By Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Rob Schiffman

Our recently elected California governor is perhaps best known for his reinforced rubberized skin, mechanical endoskeleton, human-like features and his robotic-Prozac style emotions. As the Terminator, Arnold was the image of a man in the body of a machine. In the movie, using various techno parts and lasers, Gov. Schwarzenegger could heal (fix or replace) any damaged, broken or blown up parts. This is something most people envision as the state of health care of the future.

Health care today is moving towards one of two directions. These directions are: "Man or Machine."

The Machinery of Conventional Medicine

Medical technology tends to move towards "Machine." We search technology, chemistry and, yes, machinery for the solution to our problems. As for humans, this makes sense, as we do not know how to make a body or create life. Therefore, our knowledge on how to fix a body or preserve life is limited to non-existent. We do know, however, how to make high tech equipment. As a result, we look to apply our high-tech, mechanical solutions to the care and treatment of "Man." Unfortunately, our understanding is based on our ignorance, which creates quite an obstacle for success along with many pitfalls.

"Man" is the Center of Alternative Medicine

Natural or alternative forms of technology move in the other direction, toward "Man." In this system, our ignorance is based on understanding. We understand that we cannot make a body or create a life. Therefore, we educate ourselves on how to work with life and the human body and not interfere or manipulate it. To work with the understanding that we are "Man" and not "Machine," means we embrace the vital miracle that is life and support functions of the human body. This can also be called "Vitalism."

Three Definitions of Vitalism

Vitalism is defined as the doctrine that life cannot be explained solely by materialism. Often, the non-material element is referred to as the "vital spark" or energy. Some believers in vitalism equate this element with the soul.

Another definition of vitalism is the metaphysical doctrine that living organisms possess a non-physical inner force or energy that gives them the property of life. Believers of vitalism agree that the laws of physics and chemistry alone cannot explain life functions and processes. Vitalism is opposed to mechanistic materialism and its thesis in life emerges from a complex combination of organic matter.

Webster's dictionary simply defines vitalism as a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physiochemical forces.

In the late 20th century, the scientific understanding of vitalism was increasing, along with the understanding of biomechanical processes. The awareness of these processes distinguished living from non-living matter and the realization of these processes were complex and incredibly complicated.

Chiropractic -- the Vital Approach to Balancing our Bodies

A vitalistic approach to health and wellness is chiropractic. Chiropractors distinguish and understand that vital energy or an innate God-given intelligence could be interfered with by chemical, mental or physical stresses. Chiropractic adjustments, techniques, nutrition and lifestyle issues can aid in eliminating the contributing factors to poor health and advocate changes in one's lifestyle. The changes that are usually encouraged are ones that allow the healing process to take place while respecting the body's normal processes.

Chiropractic is in this category because of the belief that the life processes are radically different than the processes in non-living matter. This has also helped with directing the needed attention to understanding health. Another reason is to use this information and emphasize its role in both the cause and treatment of disease and maintain the balance of our bodies.

When we understand the way healing happens, we will see health and wellness prevail over sickness and disease.

The movie, The Terminator, depicts a time when our full reliance on machine technology results in man's near complete annihilation. It makes sense because, when you eliminate the human element from life, common sense is lost and morality and life no longer has any value or meaning.

We are man and not machine. If we ignore our vitalism and manipulate it with technology only, without regard for the short- and long-term effects and forget the natural alternatives that promote life, we can expect a Terminator-like outcome to our health future. This, of course, would not just be individually, but on a full-scale battle that would resemble a movie our California governor could star in.

Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Rob Schiffman along with Dr. Greg Loman own Teach The World About Chiropractic, a Chiropractic coaching and seminar company. Dr. Ben Lerner was the Chiropractor and a Fitness Consultant for the U.S. World and Olympic Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling teams for 6 World Championships and the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He is the author of the New York Times, Wall-Street Journal, and Christian Bookseller's Association Best-Selling book Body by God; The Owner's Manual For Maximized Living.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

After meeting Dr. Lerner earlier this year, I'm convinced he is an authentic leader in the health field. He is incredibly fit and nearly made it into the Olympics as a wrestler. His passion is to improve other people's health. Through his work with thousands of patients he discovered a proven pathway to build health instead of merely treating disease, which is a major part of my vision of this Web site.

His book, Body By God: The Owner's Manual for Maximized Living, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to improve his or her health through the following principles:

  • Maximizing your life
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Stress management
  • Time management

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