Even as life expectancies increase, increasing numbers of people are living with chronic illness and pain than ever before. Long-term self-management of chronic conditions involves negotiating the intersections of personal life choices, community and workplace structures, and family roles. Medical Humanism, Chronic Illness, and the Body in Pain: An Ecology of Wholeness proposes an ecological model of wholeness, which envisions wholeness in the dialogic engagement of the philosophical orientations of the biomedical and traditional medical systems. Vinita Agarwal proposes an integrative premise of being whole through revising the fundamental definitions of humanism, rethinking the self/body/environment, and thereby recognizing alternative ways of organizing knowledge and human experience as this model pushes the intersections of patient-centered care and sustainable health ethics. It is in the spaces of such intersections, Agarwal argues, that we accomplish healing as an integrative relationship of the individual with the multiple cultural logics underlying chronic conditions and the competing medical worldviews of our contemporary landscape. Scholars of communication, health, and medical humanities, along with practitioners working with patients who have chronic conditions, will find this book particularly useful.
Dr. Agarwal’s book is a fresh contribution to our thinking about holistic health and the ways that individuals respond to their environment through relationships with animals, plants, and the ecology. Through extensive analysis of the dynamics of living with chronic illness, this book offers an insightful articulation of what she terms the ecological model of wholeness. Embracing a multi-disciplinary approach that speaks to patients, practitioners, and a general public, this book provides a valuable contribution to perspectives in the medical humanities. — Brian Dolan, Editor-in-chief, University of California Medical Humanities Press
This fascinating dive into the lived experience and holistic management of chronic illness is a must-read for health communication and medical humanities scholars and a valuable guide for healthcare providers. Agarwal's innovative ecological model of wholeness reimagines integrative, patient-centered communication in healthcare, vital self care, and a humane focus on addressing global health disparities. Wise, practical, and profoundly ethical, this book will top summer reading piles and course syllabi for many years to come.
“With its focus on global equity and social justice, this book has become even more relevant than it was in the recent pre-COVID era in which it was written. Both the ecological model of wholeness and the structural-economic factors that are at the heart of this unique contribution are particularly germane to today’s world. The reader will resonate to the pertinence of this perspective to the vaccination issues that public health will shortly confront in an even more challenging and controversial manner than we have experienced in recent years. We need this perspective on how healing constitutes wholeness."
“This book is an in-depth exploration into the true meaning of health and healing. In this book, Dr. Agarwal brilliantly brings together emerging concepts in medicine, as well as the guiding principles of traditional healing systems, to describe an ecology of wholeness, with the patient at the center of this ecosystem. In order to solve the epidemic of chronic illness globally, the author explains that we must consider the individual as part of a larger whole—one that includes society’s systems and social constructs, nature and the environment, personal connections, as well as an individual’s mind-body system. All parts of this whole must be healthy in order for any one of us to achieve true healing. This book comes at a time when it is needed most, and addresses all that is missing in our health care system. It is a must for anyone interested in understanding what true healing means, and what we need to address to get there."
“An important and insightful book that advances a conceptually rich and pragmatically useful wholistic ecological paradigm that integrates biomedical science and humanistic health alternatives; connects individual, relational, cultural, and environmental health; and promotes a socially just approach to understanding, preventing, and treating chronic health conditions.”