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Lessons of healing: Exploring the link between spirituality and health

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1999 - Winter


Throughout the ages, men and women have thanked deities for favors bestowed. Such blessings may be good health, fortune or romance, and their commemoration has taken the form of sculptures, paintings, carvings and pilgrimages. Artists Melinda Bridgman and Ana Flores traced the history of ex-votos, also known as milagros, the Spanish word for miracles, as part of a two-day symposium on Health and Spirituality held in October at the medical school. The conference brought together health professionals and academic researchers from mainstream and alternative medical worlds. Talks and workshops covered topics such as the relationship between health and the environment in a talk by William Foege, M.D., professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and the value of religion for health in a lecture by Dale Matthews, associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University.

“We all had much to think about,” says Howard M. Spiro, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Program for Humanities in Medicine, one of the sponsors, “but my conclusion was that mainstream doctors have got to take the lessons of alternative medicine, the lessons of healing, more to heart than they do. We should consider mind and spirit as well as the body.”

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