THE NEUROLOGIST AND THE INDIAN

Written By Jack Sholl

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Excerpts

Pembroke ordered another martini from the barman. His hands shook. He was sweating profusely.

“The brain isn’t everything, if I may say so, sir,” the Indian said.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s consciousness, sir.”

“Oh, sure, that’s right, there’s the body and then there’s the mind. But since Descartes never shall the twain meet. All mental activity and its illness have a mechanistic basis. Find the biological pathway, intercede and cure. All modern medical science is based on this. That’s what I was taught in medical school.”

“Permit me, sir, if I could speak to you for a few minutes. This is a particular interest of mine. If you’re not going to eat, perhaps we may talk. Let’s sit over there.”

They took a table at the corner of the bar, under a gold-plated painting of the hydra-headed god Vishnu.

“When I was in India, sir, I was a doctor but in Indian medicine, I would be more properly described as a healer. I came to this country too late in life to take a medical degree, although I am not sure that I would want to, anyway.

“The human being is a whole, not a composite of several parts. The reason I didn’t want to pursue medicine here in the United States is for the precise reason you state. There’s a forced dualism between the brain and the body. On the one hand, there’s the soma, the body, and on the other, the mind, the consciousness. In the middle is the psyche, or spiritual realm, which overlaps with the other two. They all must be in balance and harmony, as one affects the other.  Western medicine concentrates on the soma alone. This, I believe, sir, is an unbalanced approach.”