12 BASIC PRINCIPLES

1.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE does not separate illness from life, biology from biography, the life and health of the human body from the life and health of the human being and the life and health of their life world.

2.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE recognises the human body as an embodiment of the lived experience of the human being, in particular their lived relational experience and relation to their life world as a whole.

3.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE recognises basic organic functions such as respiration, digestion and metabolism as embodiments of our capacity as beings to take in, digest and metabolise our life experiences.

4.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE does not see the body as a biological machine in need of repair when it goes ‘wrong’ but as a living language  of the human being, with illness serving as a form of somatic metaphor.

5.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE understands the subjectively experienced or ‘lived’ body as the very life and essential soul of the ‘physical’ body –  which itself is but the lived body perceived from the outside as an object.

6.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE entirely rejects the separation of ‘psychotherapy’ from ‘somatic’ medicine – recognising instead that all psychical states are also experienced states of our lived body – and vice versa.

7.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE rejects the ability of any purely secular, dis-ensouled and de-spiritualised form of ‘science’ to understand the fundamental nature of life, death and the human body.

8.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE does not understand illness normatively – as an abnormal or unnatural deviation from some normative ideal of bodily ‘health’ – an idea that turns illness into a form of deviance.

9.       EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE does not judge symptoms as a signs of something ‘wrong’ to be made ‘better’ as quickly as possible – but accepts them as entirely valid and meaningful modes of bodily self-experiencing.

10.   EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE understands illness also as a natural and potentially curative response to unhealthy, unaware and unthinking ways of being and relating fostered by a fundamentally sick world.

11.   EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE understands the aim of medicine as discovering the ways in which the experience of illness is there to cure the patient –  to transform their way of being in the world and relating to others.

12.   EXISTENTIAL MEDICINE rejects all forms of medical treatment which are not based principally on exploring the meaning of a patient’s illness in the context of the patient’s life and life world as a whole.




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