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Do you see any synergy between property dualism within a medical framework of Engel's biopsychosocial model as O'Leary describes?

Q. Do you see any synergy between property dualism within a medical framework of Engel's biopsychosocial model as O'Leary describes?


A. To me the question of whether mind and body are fundamentally different is not an intellectual or linguistic one, but rather an experiential one. Experientially, if we experience a fundamental difference between mind and body, we are less likely to see the interface between the two. Both mind and body are within our experience and awareness–this is the most important factor. We can think mind and body to be different and talk about them as different as well. But if we experience them as fundamentally different, we lose capacity, and that would be the tragedy. Knowing this, it is helpful to talk about mind and body as not fundamentally different because it calls attention to another possibility of experience and power insofar as our language and thoughts have the capacity to create new boundaries in our experience. To me, the intellectual arguments for substance dualism vs. property dualism matter much less than the experience of ranges of mind and body. Once a certain depth of range is experienced, one can argue for and/or against substance dualism, property dualism, unity, or anything else, because all of these represent different levels of sensitivity of awareness. This is why my article on going beyond the biopsychosocial model of medicine stated, “The concept of the world being physical or mental is only needed until our learning and experience go beyond such words. The Three Minds are a vehicle, not a destination.”


Engel’s biopsychosocial view is a call to look again at how we approach ourselves, namely through biological, psychological, and social perspectives. The place where the biopsychosocial view has so far failed is that we know and care far less about the psychological and social, so we are still primarily in a biological-first perspective. Knowing far less about the psychological is especially significant, because if we knew much more about the psychological, it might recontextualize our entire understanding of the biological itself. If medicine were to adopt a truly biopsychosocial view, allopathy would have to include what we today call philosophy, spirituality, and mysticism, and there are too many interests aligned against this for it to fully happen from within the system, despite the movement toward holism.


As a practical matter, in the context of a condition like Parkinsonism, one can often find correlations between mental experience and “physical” experience, i.e. a kind of emotion and a degree of tremor. In fact, one could argue that we are orders of psychosomatic (somatopsychic, if you prefer) activity. The more freedom we have across concepts and experiences of mind and body, the more capacity we will discover  in influencing and changing the human system–mind, body, and beyond.

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