Please visit the Courage & Renewal Blog to view Re-humanizing Medicine and many other great books of 2014!
Please visit the Courage & Renewal Blog to view Re-humanizing Medicine and many other great books of 2014!
Follow this link for an 8:30 minute interview with Dave Kopacz on KUOW public radio: “Doctor’s Push To Get People Talking About Health”
Join me for a book reading and signing
Thursday, 1/8/15 at 7 PM
University of Washington Book Store on the main campus
University of Washington Book Store
U District store
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
THURSDAY • January 8, 2015 • 7:00PM
Throughout the field of medicine, science and data reign supreme. In his new book, David R. Kopacz, MD, argues that this has resulted in a predominantly dehumanized profession. If medicine is to be effective, claims Kopacz, doctors must integrate a more holistic and human framework into their training, their practice, and their own personal understanding and self-care. To learn more about Kopacz’s impassioned challenge to the field of medicine and his map for individual and systematic transformation that has implications far beyond the medical field, join us at this special reading and signing with the author.
Reverend Dr. Karen Tate’s book Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversations to Re-Shape Our World, brings together interviews from her, “Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio Show.” It includes transcripts from such notables as Jean Shinoda Bolen, Noam Chomsky, Riane Eisler, Matthew Fox, and Starhawk. The book includes 41 interviews, divided into five parts, so there is something for everyone in this book as it includes a broad range of scholars, activists, thinkers, creators and writers.
Part I is “Sacred Feminine. Deity, Archetype and Ideal.” This section examines devotional practices with specific goddesses, such as Persephone, Kali, Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary.
Part II is “Embracing the Sacred Feminine. Ritual and Healing.” This section looks at themes such as altered consciousness, multiculturalism, equality and healing.
Part III is called “Sacred Feminine Values – Alternatives to Patriarchy. Politics and Social Change.” This section is quite interesting with Noam Chomsky’s discussion of “Feminism, Patriarchy and Religion;” Riane Eisler’s “The Essence of Good Business: Companies that Care;” and Jean Shinoda Bolen’s “Antidote to Terrorism.”
Part IV is “Rebirthing the Sacred Feminine. Sacred Activism,” which takes on topics like women in the role of the priesthood, changing the masculine pronoun language of religion’s talk of God, and Matthew Fox’s “Cosmic Christ and the New Humanity.”
Part V is a memorial to the late Layne Redmond.
In the introduction, Reverend Dr. Tate points out the imbalance in the United States that 52% of the population are women, but less than 20% of leadership positions in politics, academia, business and religious institutions are held by women. This creates a gender-biased imbalance, not only in terms of individuals, but also in a lack of representation of the feminine in the creation of cultural values and society. She writes that the dominant patriarchy “stands on four legs of a stool: racism, sexism, environmental and cultural exploitation,” (9) and she sees the Divine Feminine as a “great equalizer” to correct these imbalances.
There are a number of reasons why I chose to review this book. My own work my book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, draws on a re-valuing of many of the traditional feminine values in medicine, connection, compassion, caring, healing, nurturance, and strengthening relationships. I call for a compassion revolution and a counter-curriculum. The compassion revolution is similar to what Riane Eisler speaks her new book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy in her talk, “The Essence of Good Business: Companies that Care.”
She says that “Ultimately, the real wealth of a nation lies in the quality of its human and natural capital. I should add here that an investment in human capital is an investment in human beings,” (224). A large part of the argument for why contemporary medicine is so dehumanizing is the economic argument, but Eisler argues that caring businesses create healthier, more committed and more productive employees – so the compassion revolution in health care may result not just in better, more human care, but also in more economically viable and sustainable care (sustainably economically, but also emotionally for staff). Paul Spiegelman and Britt Berrett make this argument in their book, Patients Come Second: Leading Change by Changing the Way You Lead.
Rev. Dr. Tate writes that we “start by taking responsibility for our own educations,” (10). This is echoes my call for a counter-curriculum within medicine in health care, that in addition to learning the technical aspects of our trades, we must also take ethical and moral responsibility for maintaining and growing our humanity in the difficult setting in which we practice. While much of health care reform calls for external mandates and incentives, I call for individuals to take responsibility for their Continuing Human Education (CHE) as well as their Continuing Medical Education (CME).
Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen has written such influential books as, The Tao of Psychology, Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman, and her contribution to anthology is called, “Antidote to Terrorism.” I found this quite interesting given my recent work with Veterans that I discuss in a companion blog post to this one. She says that “the feminine principle expressed in circles and the masculine principle of hierarchy must come into balance,” (226). Just as the hero’s or heroine’s journey can be viewed as a circle, the “intention to be in a circle with a spiritual center invites the invisible world of spirit or soul to be in the center of the circle and in the center of the psyche of each person in the circle,” (228). She states that a “soldier is taught to kill, which is also what a terrorist is taught. These are not lessons maternal women want their sons to learn,” (228). Furthermore, she points out that the “Mother’s Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, was a call to mothers to gather together to end wars, so that their sons will not be taught to main or kill the sons of other mothers,” (228). I find these observations particularly relevant in regards to the step of the hero’s journey, the inner and outer union of masculine and feminine, as they show the imbalance of a lack of feminine values and influence within the military, within the individual returning Veteran, as well as, it could be argued, within the society that the Veterans return to.
Let’s now look at Matthew Fox’s “Cosmic Christ and the New Humanity.” He describes the Cosmic Christ (a term that goes back to Teilhard de Chardin) as divine presence and the holiness of all being. The “New Humanity” is the creation of the capacity for mysticism, which he defines as “multiple experiences of unity,” “our unitive experiences – when you feel at one with being, one with others, one with yourself, one with God,” (312). Fox says that a healthy community for New Humanity does two things: “it turns out lovers – it turns out mystics, the mystic in every person,” and “secondly, it turns out prophets – that is to say spiritual warriors. The mystic says yes, the prophet says no. The prophet…interferes with that which is interfering with the glory, the sacredness of life,” (315). This focus on mysticism and the ability to say yes to the human and no to the dehumanizing also has relevance for my book, which seeks to develop the spiritual capability of health care providers in order to care for the whole person of the patient, which includes the spiritual dimension.
In closing, there are a lot of different perspectives in Rev. Dr. Karen Tate’s Voices of the Sacred Feminine and there are many topical discussions not just for women, but for all human beings. The book aims to correct the imbalance in our culture and society of the domination of masculine values and the lack of equal representation of feminine values. What we worship and honor in religion and spirituality is a reflection of our behaviors and actions in our mundane lives. In attending to the Sacred Feminine, Rev. Dr. Tate does present many ideas that make us think about our current societal structures and values and these conversations do have the power to re-shape our world.
You can listen to an interview with Dave Kopacz about his book, Re-humanizing Medicine, by Mary Treacy O’Keefe on her radio show, “Hope, Healing and WellBeing” at WebTalkRadio. It is my first radio appearance for the book. It is about 35 minutes long.
You can listen to the interview by following this link.
Thanks Mary for the interview, I think it turned out great!
Also, the book is now in warehouses and I received notice from Amazon that the pre-orders of the book should start being delivered early next month, even before the official release date!
Twenty-five years ago, 7/12/89 (July 12th incidentally being Henry David Thoreau’s birthday), I set out on a 50 hour Greyhound bus ride from Chicago to Seattle. I had just graduated from college and I had a backpack full of books and other essential items. It was my trip to find myself, my vision quest – that in between time of life, between education and adult pursuits. It was one of the foundational events in my counter-curriculum of humanization and re-humanization (I hope to write more in a future blog about this concept of the counter-curriculum as described in my forth-coming book, but before I can do that, I must honor my past).
I spent two weeks in the woods, solo backpacking. It was, perhaps, where I first became aware of the dramatic swings of emotion and thought that can occur that permeate perception. I had a portable library (another feature of the counter-curriculum – always carry a variety of books), most notably Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Bach’s Illusions, The Portable Thoreau, as well as books by Alan Watts and some novels. I meditated, went hopping along on the rocks in the stream, I had ecstatic views of nature, but all this was also in the context of what I called “goddamned suffering in the woods” which was interchangeably a physical, emotional, neurotic and spiritual suffering. Physical pain was great in the beginning, with the heavy pack and my muscles getting used to climbing (I thought I was “training” for the journey by going for runs in the flat Midwest). The psychological and neurotic pain was immense in the beginning – all the little decisions became immense – should I camp here, or push on? Should I put the tent here or there? Should I relax now and push on later, or push on now and relax later? Luckily, I had some of the best meditation teachers along in my pack and I was great neurotic material to work on.
I also grappled with death and met the limits of what I could control, as I startled awake at night by a noise and wondered about meeting a psychopathic killer in the woods or being attacked by a wild animal. There is a point in the woods, where you have done all you can and you just have to sleep and not worry too much about all the things that could go wrong. This is what the meditation teachers instruct us to do – live in the present, when something happens – react, don’t worry about something that has not happened.
I have been resisting thinking about or writing about this journey of twenty-five years ago because I could not think of what to do to honor it. I have moved to Seattle now, which was the site of my pilgrimage 25 years ago, now it is home. I thought about going back to the mountains, re-tracing the same route, but that idea has no roots to it. So I have just ignored it, up until now.
On somewhat of a whim, I wrote to Kurt Wilt, about his book, The Visionary, about Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). He put me in touch with Joseph by email. I figured, what the heck, I’ll just write him and just say whatever comes out of my mouth. Joseph invited me down to visit him on the Southern Ute Reservation in Southern Colorado and I am writing this as I am on a flight from Denver back to Seattle. What a trip it was talking with Joseph. On the surface, it was to learn from him how to work with helping Veterans return home physically as well as spiritually from our wars, but it was also a spiritual journey for me, as well. And, when I realized that this trip to meet with Joseph was another “peak experience” on my journey, and that it honored my earlier trip 25 years ago – my heart sang with such joy!
I’ll write more in another blog about what I learned from Joseph, and I have a conceptual idea for another book and another class for Veterans based on our talks (I tape recorded much of our three days together). This blog entry is a more personal reflection – who was I 25 years ago? Who was that 21 year old in 1989 trying to find? Who did he become as he set off for medical school in the “big city” of Chicago? Who am I now? What am I grappling with internally? What template am I setting for the next 25 years of my life? Joseph spoke about cycles in a life, traumas, visions, “peak experiences, and events that recur on a certain cycle. What is this 25 year cycle about for me?
I had some major dreams on this trip, “big” dreams as Jung would call them. I spoke with Joseph about them, as well a “big” dream from my past. Visioning. How to envision what this next 25 years are about? I feel more confident, I have less fear, less neurosis (although that is one of the hobbies of the mind), I don’t fear death, but I am overflowing with ideas and concepts that are clamoring to come into physical form. I am just publishing my first book, I have a very rough draft of a second, an outline of a third, a brand new outline of a fourth after this weekend, as well as lecture notes from two classes that I’d like to edit into two books someday. The first half of my life was spent gathering experiences, trainings, travel, and reading, reading, reading. Now I feel the vessel is full – I have taken in a great deal, I have lived and studied, and now I have this tremendous need to move into action, to write books, to teach, to develop classes in order to metabolize, synthesize, and give back to the world what I have taken in from it. Up to this point, I have been cautious about trying to fit my writing into the mainstream of psychiatry and medicine. I view the publication of my book, Re-humanizing Medicine, as a signal that from here on out, I will seek to transform the mainstream of psychiatry and medicine. What drew me to the field was the work of psychiatrists like Carl G. Jung and M. Scott Peck, who blended the wisdom of the spiritual path with the clinical field of psychiatry. I can see that this is consistent with who I am and I see and sense a guiding pathway for how I can move forward along my path, not the path that others might say is most prudent. Another way of putting this is it has taken me 47 years to figure out who I am and what I need to address in my writing and now I feel an incredible pressure to get this all out into the world.
I feel like I should share something personal from my visit with Joseph. I’ll share this. The first morning in the hotel, I looked out at the Animas River (anima in Latin means soul), but it looked like there was a smudge on the window by my breakfast table. Upon closer inspection it was a frosted glass image of a hummingbird, and I jokingly said to myself, “look, there is my soul, flying around.”
I was thinking about the Native American totem animal, and wondering if that might be something I would speak with Joseph about. I had been reading Kurt Wilt’s section on discovering one’s animal. It turned out it was not something we talked about, which was ok. When the same bird lands on your head for no apparent reason, you don’t really need someone else to tell you that there is something to learn from the Nuthatch. Back to this story, though, the last thing Joseph did before I left was a ceremony with an eagle feather. I left his house after three super-charged days and I had some more daylight left that afternoon. The old neurosis had been raising its head – I wanted to get up into the mountains while I was in Colorado and my mind had been running through a bunch of different possibilities: Mesa Verde National Park, the San Juan National Forest, Animas Mountain, maybe that would be a fitting place to go since the Animas River ran through where the hotel was in Durango, Ignacio near where Joseph first lived, and Aztec New Mexico, where we went on a field trip to see the ancient dwellings there.
I came to accept, on a different level, what I have always viewed as my back and forth neurotic tendency. Joseph explained that with our face and our eyes, we are always entering, moving forward into experience and the world, but we also back up, which is receiving, and that these two movements must both happen and support each other. He made a big point of this movement in many of the dances, the forward and backward movement. So, now I have a different paradigm from which to view my moving back and forth, such as driving to Ignacio for what seemed like a fruitless meeting (although I saw such a beautiful sky, sun and clouds),
then driving past where Joseph lives since I had some time before meeting him, then driving back to meet him, then driving back the way I had gone earlier and turned around. This wasn’t pointless neurosis, it was also tracing out a backwards and forwards movement across the land, entering and receiving, taking in and metabolizing, coming into relationship with myself and the land. And then, even though I had made the choice to go to San Juan, I ended up not seeing the exit I had seen earlier and ended up at Mesa Verde and spent an amazing couple hours driving around the park. It is now fitting that I share some of those photos of Mesa Verde National Park, as I had been in the Olympic National Park 25 years ago.
But I never finished my story, at Mesa Verde, after the ceremony with the eagle feather, I saw, in the sunset clouds, the most beautiful vision of a vast eagle in the sunset (I was driving and couldn’t photograph it). Scientists and psychologists can take comfort in this being a projection of my mind as a meaningless unconscious association, but another explanation is that during my visit my soul had started as a little smudge of a hummingbird and grown to a glowing sky eagle with a wing span of many miles. For this next part of my life, I will choose the second explanation.
I’d like to end with a few quotes from my journal from 25 years ago:
Today I am born. I AM ALIVE. Today alone was worth the price and troubles of the trip. I am seated atop a mountain. The view is breathtaking and it is even more spectacular because I climbed up the whole damn thing! I passed snow in the shady spots coming up. Except for a couple of chirpers and a multitude of bugs…it is silent. What more could there be?
When nothing is lost
nothing is gained
When nothing is gained
things are not as they should be
Right now I am at Kyak.
Yesterday…well, there is that earlier entry. After that I went up still higher and a view opened up that was indescribable. I had been on the north face of the mountain and had been viewing the smaller mountains to the north. After I crossed over to the south side and climbed a bit higher, I could see the entire Olympic Range, along with snow/glacier covered Mount Olympus. Breathtaking is the only way to describe the section of mountain I stood on. There was about a 60 degree slope of about 150′ without trees. The only thing between the mountains and valleys beyond and myself was air. I stood and stared for quite a while. I think it would be hard to say that you had been alive if you have not seen something so spectacular.
By the time I had hiked 9.2 miles and found a decent site, I was in a foul mood once again. If I would have seen the guy who wrote that shit about nothing lost, nothing gained, I would have pushed him off a cliff. In the last dying light of the day I opened Zen Mind, Beginners Mind and the only word I could make out was “constancy.”
Yesterday was anything but constancy, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows…
When water comes to a tough spot, it yields and flows through, sure it may foam a lot and make a lot of noise, but in no time it continues on its way, calm and smooth.
I am here at Flapjack and this is the nicest campsite yet. It is on a small, sunny plain with a lot of birch trees. The river is broad and shallow here. The hike wasn’t too bad, but still my body aches, but it isn’t that bad. I saw a bald eagle soaring around today. I think I heard it earlier, but I couldn’t catch a glimpse of it. There are a lot of swallows or swifts flying about the river. When I got here it was so hot and sunny that I took off my shirt and put on a pair of shorts and wandered down to the river. I tried to wade in, but nearly fell over because all the rocks on the bottom are slippery as hell.
~ 9:30 AM: This morning is a glorious morning. I woke up a little while ago because I was hot, the 1st time since I left Illinois. The sun is shining on the side of the tent and it feels great in here. Every now and then a cool breeze comes through the flaps. There are a lot of low lying, misty clouds at about the level of the hill tops, hopefully the sun will burn those off. Today I think I will hike up the river and look for a secluded spot to take a dip, which would feel great about now. At least I will wash my hair today with my water bottle.
A battle has been going on all morning between the sun and the clouds. Right now the clouds appear to be winning, so I am just lying around camp now. I did wash my hair this morning it was cold and great!
These swallows seem to want to sing together, but always end up being a little off beat or they produce a different tone or pitch, but the effect is more beautiful than if it was planned.
Even though the clouds have carried the day, it is still beautiful out here. The greens have a more muted tone and there is a clear contrast between the lighter birch trees and the darker firs higher up. It is amazing the number of sounds I sometimes hear in the water. I don’t know if it is aural deprivation that makes me hear things or what. I often hear voices or footsteps or hollow clanking, like boats, and today I heard a Native American holy procession. It is easy to imagine how rivers and woods were thought to have spirits.
“We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.” (Thoreau)
I was sitting and reading a section of Thoreau, “On Higher Laws,” when the mist started descending down from the hills. I quickly made a fire, started my beans cooking, and put everything inside the tent. I put on my rain suit and alternately watched the fire or the mist for about an hour. It was really something to see. My rain suit got damp, but there were never any visible drops falling. I saw an eagle, flying much lower this time, go off into the mist between the hills. It would have made a great Japanese painting, if only I was a great Japanese painter. I ate my beans, they were great, and I opened up my tortillas and had a few of those. It is hard to believe, but my food is finally down to a small, manageable weight. Now I am lying in my tent, digesting my dinner. It has stopped being wet outside, but it is still cloudy.
“To be passing is to live: to remain and continue is to die.” (Watts)
“If you look at it carefully, you will see that consciousness- the thing you call ‘I’- is really a stream of experiences, of sensations, thoughts and feelings in constant motion. But because these experiences include memories, we have the impression that ‘I’ is something solid and still like a tablet upon which life is writing a record.” (Watts)
Today has been a day entirely devoid of human beings. I didn’t even realize this until just now.
Check out the very nice article that Shelly Francis put together about my book on the Courage & Renewal Blog. She excerpted Chapter 10 on “Holistic Decision-Making.”
Here is the quote from my book that the article starts off with:
“Decision-making is something that you can do with either your limited mind and ego, or by letting the choices percolate through your body, emotions, mind, heart, creative self-expression, intuition, spirituality, as well as through the dimensions of context and time – until a decision becomes clear with input from your total Self. Decisions made this way may ‘freak out’ your ego, but they can be truly transformative.”
I am very happy to see the book appealing to a larger, non-health care audience. Re-humanizing Medicine advocates for a personal growth framework for the physician to become a whole person, but this model applies equally to anyone.
Please visit the above link to see the article, you can also look at their programs, I attended their “Integrity in Health Care: The Courage to Lead in Changing Times,” and I wrote a guest blog called Recovering Hope, Poetry and Connection in Health Care that you can also visit, this was published May 9, 2013.