A queer genre in the global village: the healing literature a case study of two best sellers.
1. Why a Literary Genre Is Involved in Gender Studies?
Usually, a literary genre is defined as a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length.
The most general genres in literature are (in loose chronological order) epic, tragedy-comedy, novel, short story, and creative nonfiction. They can all be in the genres prose or poetry, which show best how loosely genres are defined. Additionally, a genre such as satire, allegory or pastoral might appear in any of the above, not only as a sub-genre, but as a mixture of genres.
Literary genres are defined by the general cultural movement of the historical period in which they were composed. The English term "gender" has established itself as the main concept of gender studies, as distinct from the term "sex." It refers to a social and cultural construction of the sex and its categories. As a literary and medical genre, the healing literature also serves the purpose of differentiating biology of society, nature of culture, the norms elaborated by medicine and biology regarding gender.
2. The Healing Literature as a Mixture between Literary and Medical Genre?
Understood as a mixture, especially of literary and medical genres, the healing literature could be considered to be a genre. If medical literature refers to articles in journals and texts in books devoted to the field of medicine, the healing literature shares information from the medical field to the largest public of readers.
Throughout history, people have written about diseases, how human beings might contract them and what could be done to remedy them. Usually, when a book is written by a doctor, it seems more credible due to the author's cases and experiences in healing. This way, most ancient names of the authors of medical texts remained remarkable examples as doctors. Medicine has ranged from folklore, witchcraft to the current evidence-based medicine. The most notable ancient medical descriptions are texts from Egypt (Imhotep, Edwin Smith Papyrus, Ebers Papyrus, Kahun Gynecological Papyrus), Mesopotamia (Diagnostic Handbook, Alkindus, De Gradibus), India (Ayurveda, Sushruta Samhita, Charaka Samhita), China (Yellow Emperor, Huangdi Neijing), Greece (Iliad and Odyssey are the earliest sources of Greek medical practice; Hippocratic medicine), Persia (Rhazes, Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine, The Book of Healing), Spain (Abulcasis, Kitab al-Tasrif) and Syria (Ibn al-Nafis, Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon, Comprehensive Book on Medicine).
The medical community has changed the way it conducts research. After incorporating the scientific method, medical literature has introduced the so-called peer review, and is currently divided into journals and textbooks. Medical journals are publications in which the medical community shares information. Articles are commonly either original articles or reviews: Original articles describe randomized controlled trials which are submitted for peer review following the scientific method; Reviews are an overview of one particular topic in order to refresh the readers' memory.
Although all over the world there are published healing literature books, there is an opposition between the official medical literature and the so called alternative medicinal books. The medical community, which is very conservative and protective with all the members who are devoted to Hippocratic Oath, demonstrates that in the case of healing literature books it has not a coherent vision. Usually there are few reviews to such books, which are translated from different languages by non-doctors and which are very commercially written and very well sold. Although they are very much translated, there are not sites to evaluate the scientific contribution of such books. That is why the healing literature books are considered to be a queer genre.
When looking for specific information in any journal one can use in the USA the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database. Both in Romania and USA there is no data base of the healing literature books.
After consensus has been reached, the medical descriptions are incorporated in medical textbooks. There are textbooks on every medical specialty and they contain comprehensive discussion on all diseases and their diagnosis, therapy and prognosis. The idea is that a single or double author medical book was outmoded. Since the first medical textbook was published in 1927, this has been the standard. For the healing literature books this standard does not resist.
The gendered representations reflects the idea that the value placed on health and the degree to which health is seen as a collective social concern differs greatly across regional contexts. If the society assumes collective responsibility for financing and organizing the provision of health services, it leaves little or no choice to the individual. If the ill health and its care are viewed as private concerns, than the most important criteria are occupational status, level of education and income level: for example, children, women and economically inactive people are the most exposed on health inequalities. Thus the healing literature is likely to likely to promote healthy lifestyles.
Medical journalism is often disseminating to the public via mainstream media outlets health-related information; these reports influence doctors, the general public, and the government. Most news articles fail to discuss important issues such as evidence quality, costs, and risks versus benefits. Although medical news articles often deliver public health messages effectively, they often convey wrong or misleading information about health care, partly when reporters do not know or cannot convey the results of clinical studies, and partly when they fail to supply reasonable context. Several web sites review medical journalism; examples include Health News Review in the U.S. and Media Doctor in Australia. In Romania there are no web sites reviewing medical journalism and there are no web sites reviewing healing literature books. There are only the sites of the specific private clinics, medical offices, medical companies which provides medical services, and sometimes on these sites one can find information about the benefits of a specific treatment and the process of healing. There are sites providing information and opinions about the doctors. As for the healing literature, the publishers' sites are providing information. When the so-called "official" medicine is unable to provide answers and solutions, it is obvious the role of the healing literature.
3. Is the Healing Literature a Border Genre in Gender Studies?
Healing has been defined as "the process of curing somebody or something or of becoming well."
The healing literature does not mean healing through literature. Very less people are still aware about the healing power of literature. Whenever a person feels low, he plans to watch a movie or talk to a friend or start spending more and more time with pen and paper. This is the cheapest and the friendliest way to curb anger, restlessness, anxiety and feelings of depression. But, each and every person who writes in this world knows the perfect solution for it. And yes, the resolution lies in the lap of literature.
Income provides individuals and families necessary material resources and contributes to resources needed in maintaining good health. Income configures the mechanisms of the health opportunities of social groups based on their placement within hierarchies of power, prestige and access to resources. The healing literature is a way to dissolve the hierarchy of social determinants involved in producing health inequities. Poor health lowers one's income and limits one's earning potential. Statistically speaking, the poorest in any society are usually the sickest and a society with high levels of income inequality has high numbers of poor and consequently will have more people who are sick. The knowledge and skills attained through healing literature make the readers more receptive to health education messages, or more able to communicate with and access appropriate health services.
The authors of the healing literature books are doctors and spiritual leaders who complete through their narrative the "official" medical views. Though the research work can increase the depth of the scientific materials, but the personal opinions can't ever be added to it. The addition of personal feelings can only distort the accuracy of the scientific findings. But if we enter into the world of literature, it's the sole of expression which glows its complete body. And on the basis of this, science and literature are classified as objective and subjective subjects. The healing literature books are a mixture between science and literature. The dialogue between the spiritual leader and the neurosurgeons or the surgeon's monologue who tells his experiences and observations contradicting the "official" description from the medical literature are examples in this way. The fact that these doctors build hospitals net where their views are implemented into the healing process represents a starting point of the credibility of the healing literature books. Very important for the credibility, when translating healing literature books is the preface and the language of translation.
Individual spiritual growth cannot be underestimated in the healing process. In a field overflowing with acronyms and technical terms, the patient's understanding of the disease is practically very important as a part of the healing process. Written in a medical slang, receipts, medical prospects, medical advertising and medical books frightened and sick patient who has the curiosity to understand what is happening. The healing literature books are written for life. The medical literature is written for fear of death. The description of the same phenomenon (in official medical literature) is full of situations in which death, dying, died are the most used expressions. Normally, life has only one end! The initiated readers (i.e. the doctors) are always prevented about different situations, about different way of dying in official medical literature. Whether the subject is literary or medical but the expression always holds an important place. The place of expression is more important in the graphics of literature compared to the world of science as the scientific era always deals with the objective part of the world. The healing literature explains the facts, avoids medical slangs and abbreviations, because the public of readers is larger and uninitiated. The public (which is sometimes unable to understand or to read the medical investigations) is educated to taste an article, to clarify the reasons to read, to identify the bones of a medical text, to understand descriptive studies or explanatory studies avoiding more confusing terminology. The healing literature books promote the experimental approach and the real-world considerations. Patients expect their doctors to be informed. But do the doctors expect and accept always their patient to be informed?
The healing literature is a border genre in gender studies, part of an educational strategy, because the removal of gender inequalities in access to resources would be one of the most important steps towards gender equity in health.
4. Medical Literature--Time to Revisit It?
Theoretically, as partners of the medical act, the patients need to be informed and have the intelligence to choose to follow the best treatment. As the healing literature books provide them answers, most of the patients accept only what they know or they abandoned themselves trustfully in the hands of specialized doctors. The fundamental task of science is to answer questions. "Official" medical services and alternative/complementary medical services sometimes they are "accepting" each other, but in most cases the patients who are talking on social networking know more about the alternative medical services.
All personal injury cases involve medicine and law. The law is applied to the facts to determine the person responsible for causing injury to the plaintiff. Principles of medicine determine the nature and extent of the injury, as well as the causal relationship to the negligent conduct. In every PI case, a health care provider testifies about the application of principles of medicine.
All health care providers rely to some degree on medical literature such as journals or learned treatises to support their opinions. At different stages during litigation, medical literature is handled in a variety of ways. The majority rule is that learned treatises may not be used as independent evidence of facts or opinions. Despite the benefits provided, the healing literature may be not used during different stages of litigation.
The alternative medical services promoted by the healing literature books are not providing medical reports, because their medical reports are not recognized by the official medical services. That is why there are not equivalent medical reports able to be translated in a language of international circulation. Freedom of thoughts, freedom of expressions? But we have an exception here. Medical literature belongs to a profession whose sole sustenance hinges on suffering souls.
5. Who Are the Authors?
a. Healing Emotions: Conversations with Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health Edited with a foreword by Daniel Goleman (1997) is considered to be a five stars quality book. As a result of the research of the Institute Mind and Life regarding the link between science and Buddhism, the book became a useful resource for the benefit of the entire human been. Translated in many languages, the book was written as an interview book by a psychologist and a science journalist, Dr. Daniel Jay Goleman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee (see: http://danielgoleman.info/biography/--last accessed 17 July 2011) with His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and a group of western scientist, physicians, psychologists and meditation teachers: Dr. Daniel Brown, assistant professor of psychology at The Medical Faculty of Harvard, Richard Davidson, the manager of the Neuroscience Affective Laboratory from the Wisconsin University, Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, the manager of the Program about reducing stress and relaxation from the Medical Center of Massachusetts University, Sharon Salzberg, professor at the Insight Meditation Society from Barre, Massachusetts, the woman author of the book called Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Dr. Clifford Saaron, psychologist at the Albert Einstein Medical School from New York, Dr. Francisco Varela (1941-2001), manager of the National Center for Scientific Research from Paris and Dr. Lee Yearly, professor of religion at Stanford University. The topic of the extraordinary series of encounters between His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (see: http://dalailama.com/ and http:// www.thedalailamablog.com/ last accessed 17 July 2011) and the western scientists starts from the Buddhist observation that the mind could heal the body. The mind-body-spirit connection reveals interesting six topics such as Ethics (Three Views of Virtue, Afflictive and nourishing emotions: impacts on health), Biological foundations (The body's self, The brains and emotions, Stress, trauma and the body), Skillful means as medicines (Mindfulness as medicine, Behavioral medicine), Emotion and culture (The virtues of Christian and Buddhist traditions, The roots of self-esteem: differences between East and West), The nature of awareness (Mind, brain and body in dialogue, Subtleties of consciousness), A universal ethic (Medicine and compassion).
Very well structured and promoted, considered to be an initiation book, because it is written after the encounters with the well-known Buddhist spiritual leader and the medical personalities of the American and European world, this writing is a sort of a bridge upon western mentalities and oriental traditions, regarding the spiritual coordination between body and mind. It is as if two eyes could see much more than a single one. As a gender study essay it should be underlined that only one woman is involved in the dialogue, although there are some examples regarding the women's healing in the book. In this text women are first of all patients, then authors and participants at the dialogue.
b. John E. Upledger, the author of the book called Your Inner Physician And You. Craniosacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release (1997) is also the founder and president of The Upledger Institute, Inc. (see the site of Upledger Institute). Dr. John E. Upledger is considered to be both a surgeon and an innovator in a country as United States, where the traditional medicine and the alternative medicine are officially recognized, represented and used in healing the patients. Famous as an osteopathic physician, Dr. John E. Upledger observed, explained and developed the function of the human craniosacral system and in his articles and studies demonstrates that the human body knows to protect and cure itself, but it is not able to stop this action when there is no need for cure. This is the moment when the patient could be helped by the craniosacral therapy. This is a complementary modality of evaluation and improvement of the function of the physiologic system of the body, called craniosacral system, which includes brain, meninx's membranes, cerebrospinal fluid and spinal cord. Dr. Upledger wrote the human brain makes rhythmic movements at a rate of 10 to 14 cycles per minute, a periodicity unrelated to breathing or heart rate and the small cranial pulsations can be felt with the fingertips. When restrictions of movement of the cranial sutures (where the skull bones meet) interfere with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) this fact cause disease. Diseases can be diagnosed by detecting aberrations in this rhythm. Pain (especially of the jaw joint) and many other ailments can be remedied by pressing on the skull bones.
Using a gentle touch, of about 5 gr., similar to a smaller coin of 10 cents, the therapist could relieve the restrictions of the craniosacral system which improve the function of the central nervous system. Because the craniosacral therapy stimulates the self curing programs of the body, it was mainly used to prevent, to improve the body's immunity reaction and it is efficient in a wide scale of medical problems associated with pains and dysfunctions. Although it is not necessary to be always observed, sometimes remembering the traumatic or emotional moments is called the somatic emotional clearing or release. This is a normal phenomenon, which helps the body to heal and to gain the optimum function level. Such a therapy is used without risks or secondary effects, in parallel with another medical treatment for: migraines and headaches, chronic cervical and lumbar pains, problems with the coordination, autism, orthopedic problems, learning dysfunctions, chronic tiredness, emotional problems, depressive moods, stress and nervous tensions, post traumatic moods, neuro-immune-endocrine dysfunctions and temporal mandibles articulator problems.
6. What is the Healing Literature?
Original and very well written for a large public and also for the specialists, this kind of literature demonstrates that the dynamics of cultural globalization, by exploring the relation between gender and development, language, historiography, education and culture has complex effects. For Europeans, America is considered to be the top of the medical services, both traditional and alternatives. From this point of view the case of these well sold books illustrates the fact that every new idea is supported by a real mechanism of promotion. The medical institutes, the hospitals, the medical training programs, the publishing houses are involved in promotion of an idea. Usually the author is a member of these institutions and he is the visible part of the team.
The conclusion refers to the fact that if the official medical services are specialized, there are moments in the history in which specialization must be reconsidered in the light of the fact that the mind has the ability to heal the body. The case of the healing literature illustrates the link between gender and development. Most of all, in these books the women are patients. The language has the benefit to be specialized and explained. Writing about a disease means understanding it and this process is a part of the healing. From the historiography's point of view, this is a big step regarding the education and culture of the patient. Patient who understands his disease is stimulated to cure him or the others, learning about this process. Medical knowledge is no more a secret, but vital information for the patient who has rights and responsibilities for his own life. In the healing literature, The Doctor is no more an isolated specialist, as a part of a medical team. He is also an educator of his patients and an interface for medical publications, medical industry, medical institutions, and a multiple connector with incredible communication skills. Apparently this is a democratization of the medical information. In fact this is a way of connecting people.
The characters of this type of literature are the Patients and the Doctors, the Doctors as Patients, the Doctors and not only the Doctors, the Doctors as spiritual leaders. The fruits of a research work present a unique perspective of life, essence and divinity in the human relation with the universe. It is a unique perspective because there are important data which common target is the knowledge or the upgrading the human experience. Using ideas and feelings, beliefs and facts in understanding the world of nature not many people experienced the full human nature. Like a navigator on the ocean, the human being doesn't know the coordinates of his travel, he is not conscientious where from or where to he has to go, and he is not able to know why. One century after another the human being is asking the same questions, and in the absence of a significant jump of his conscience he will continue the same way. There are people who adopt fixed beliefs early in life. They become intellectually lazy and then insist that beliefs are all one needs in life. Some of them even spend their lives desperately trying to convert other people to their belief system, instead of moving on to the higher levels of experience. The healing literature books underline the same message: the unexpected growing sign of understanding is the increasing interior experience of joy and veneration. The information is hardly accumulated but the truth is easily reveled.
Sometimes the failure to eradicate some diseases or to find adequate treatments is due to the fact that the thinking has its own limits. Many times, false answers became an obstacle in finding the research of the real cause. The healing literature's message is that human beings are becoming healthier as wiser they grow. Wisdom is the result of a strong attraction of the dominant model. The problem if our mind can heal the body is almost solved because there is a strong link between the brain, the immune system and the emotions. The motivation which results from the principles on which we respect, determine out capacity of understanding, and as a consequence our power to give significance to the actions. The effect of the respecting the principles is very much visible in the physiological consequences. The result of the attraction of the superior energetic models is the health. The disease is the result of the attraction of the weaker models, which creates different stimuli which allows the secretion of adrenaline, suspending the answer of the immune system, causing both the weakness and the irritation of certain organs.
John Upledger's book Your Inner Physician and You. CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release is the application of this spiritual observation in the osteopathic field. William G. Sutherland has first published an article on this subject in the early 1930's. Creator of the Upledger Institute of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the author discovered that the rhythm of the craniosacral system is a mark of the body's health. Through palpation, the small cranial pulsation felt with the fingertips are rhythmic and they have a rate of 10 till 14 cycles per minute, despite the breathing or the heart pulsation. Modifications of this rhythm are a sign of disease. In fact the system is restricted and this can be felt in the movements of the cranial sutures which interfere with the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid. According to dr. Upledger this restriction can cause disease. In a very clear way the human central nervous system has the ability to discriminate between the models which are favorable to life, and those which are obstructive. This clinic phenomenon is the base of the examples offered by this book, very much translated in Europe. In America, Upledger's method was recognized, applied and criticized. Generally speaking, the physic and mental health is underlined by a positive attitude, while disease, both physical and mental is associated with negative attitudes such as resentments, jealousy, hostility, self-compassion, fear, anxiety or revenge. The positive attitudes are called healthier emotions; the negative attitudes are called emergency emotions. The chronic immersion in the emergency emotions has the result of physical or mental diseases, and a dramatic weakness of the personal power.
The clinical observation indicates the fact that the patient and the doctor must attend a specific moment of the decision. A clear wish to cure implies a clear wish to change; the idea that we are the same as the people around us has a certain clinical motivation. The healing in this type of literature is the result of receiving through osmosis of superior models. The difference between the traditional medical books and the healing literature is the fact that the stress which is the source of multiple diseases is seen as an external cause. The healing literature demonstrated for the first time the interior connection between mind and body and the subtle mechanisms of the conscience from the healing process.
Medicine is an ever-changing science. Medical writings are reinventing their new genres, in a society gender structured. Regarding the healing literature as a genre, the concepts of Local and Global--with their discursive productions --have not functioned as a binary opposition: localism and globalism are mutually constitutive and researchers have interrogated those spaces of interaction between the 'self' and the 'other', bearing in mind their own embeddedness in social and cultural structures and their own historical memory. The material offered here proposes basic conceptual foundations in what we hope is a clear form, so that the healing literature can be subjected to examination and reasoned debate. *
(1.) Goleman, Daniel (2008), Emojii vindecatoare. Dialoguri cu Dalai Lama despre ratiune, emotii si sanatate. Colectia: Seria Daniel Goleman Titlu original: Healing Emotions: Conversations with Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health, Traducator: Viorel Zaicu
(2.) *** (1997), Healing Emotions: Conversations with Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health, Edited with a foreword by Daniel Goleman, Shambala Publications, Inc., Boston
(3.) Upledger, John E. (1991), CranoSacral Therapy: Touchstone of Natural Healing. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 51-58.
(4.) Upledger, John E. (1997) Your Inner Physician and You. CranioSacral Theraphy and SomatoEmotional Release North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA).
*** http://dalailama.com/ last accessed 17 July 2011
*** http://www.thedalailamablog.com/ last accessed 17 July 2011
*** http://danielgoleman.info/biography/--last accessed 17 July 2011
* Parts and versions of this essay were delivered at the Spiru Haret University and I am grateful to my audience for many helpful observations and suggestions.
Spiru Haret University
Luiza Marinescu is Associate Professor, Ph.D., at Faculty of Letters, Spiru Haret Univeristy, Bucharest. She is the author of Caragealii, o familie de scriitori (2005), Writing Letters in English. A Practical Course for Intermediate Students (2005), Republica lui Caragiale (2005), Istoria literaturii romane de la origini la perioada marilor clasici (2002, 2005), Mihai Eminescu-Jorge Luis Borges Interferenjele lecturii postmoderne (2004), Umberto Eco in labirintul romanului postmodern (2003), Sinteze de istoria literaturii romane (2001) and the translation Finn Carling Jurnal pentru sotul decedat. Traducere din limba engleza si prefata de Luiza Marinescu (2005).
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|Publication:||Journal of Research in Gender Studies|
|Article Type:||Case study|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2014|
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