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78 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j u l y/a u g u s t 2 0 2 2 78 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j u l y/a u g u s t 2 0 2 2 In the March/April 2022 issue of Massage & Bodywork ("What Exactly Is Evidence?," page 72), I explored the ongoing debate over evidence-based versus evidence- informed practice, questioning how far these definitions are correctly understood and applied in conversations surrounding bodywork practices, and looking at the implications of their misuse in practice. One striking example of how terminology becomes misunderstood and misused in these fields, leading to complex problems, is the question of the body-mind connection in relation to healing and wellness. Nowadays, the establishment of the biopsychosocial model of health care leaves little doubt as to the significance or validity of that connection. So why is it that in discussions of bodywork and other integrative therapies, mentioning the "body-mind connection" all too oen leads to accusations of pseudoscience and "peddling woo," usually resulting in shutting down conversations or firing off one-liners rather than reasoned arguments? known as holistic materialism emerged: an acknowledgment that living organisms, unlike machines, could reproduce, produce organized and intentional responses to stimuli, self- regulate in complex ways, and demonstrate efficient energy transduction. Over the next few decades, researchers developed various methods to investigate organisms as whole systems, rather than as a sum of mechanical parts, though their focus remained rooted in material (physical) elements alone. e tensions remained between mechanistic and holistic thinkers, but by the mid-20th century, in biology and physics at least, the old mechanistic perspectives were seen as unsophisticated and reductionist, while holism had evolved away from the problematic "mystical" ideas that originally attracted accusations of pseudoscience. e need for a strong philosophical understanding of complexity and holistic thinking are now essential skills | SOMATIC RESEARCH THE BACKSTORY e body-mind connection has oen been seen as the defining perspective at the heart of holistic health care, representing the idea that "all the properties of a given system cannot be determined nor explained by the sum of its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines how the parts behave." 1 While "holistic health care" became a popular descriptor of what we now call integrative health care in the mid- 1980s, it was applied to biology as early as the 19th century as a way to move away from the "fuzzy nonsense" of vitalism as it was understood in scientific debates of the time. 2 Back in the 19th century, powerful debates raged between mechanists, who focused solely on the analysis of the components of a given system and saw all natural functions as equivalent to machines, and vitalists, who insisted that physical and chemical analysis were not sufficient to understand how organisms function as a whole and that certain unmeasurable forces were also at play. To resolve this, a school of thought Evidence Beyond the Echo Chamber By Sasha Chaitow, PhD MART PRODUCTION/PEXELS

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