Please Note! Due to the high volume of irritating spam and slow-down of participation here, we are no longer accepting new comments, questions, or subjects on this Forum. We are keeping all the subjects and comments for review as there is a lot of good stuff here relating to practice-building subjects. So, dig deep! Thanks to everyone who participated here but it is time to move on to bigger projects educating the public about acupuncture! Matt Bauer
12-Mar-2013 12:48 PM
This is an interview I did to promote my first book that was supposed to be run in the newsletter of the AOMAlliance but did not happen because that group merged with the AAOM to become the AAAOM. I plan to put-up some of the materials from that book on this site but thought I would start with this lost interview.
The following interview took place on November 12, 2006 between Matthew Bauer and Michael McCoy. Mr. Bauer is the author of the book,The Healing Power of Acupressure and Acupuncture (Avery Books, 2005), and Dr. McCoy is a life-consumer member of AOMAlliance and the former Executive Director of that organization.
McCoy: Good evening, Matthew. I have to tell you that I very much enjoyed reading your book and found it extraordinarily interesting. In a nutshell, could you tell our readers what is your book about?
Bauer: The book contains three parts. The first explains the theories behind Oriental medicine and then offers theories regarding how it all started. This section is titled “Explaining the Unexplainable.” The second part – “Seeking Professional Care” – offers advice on what conditions are treatable and what to expect from treatment. The last part is a self-help section of some acupressure and massage techniques. In my original plan, the whole book was to be on the first part – offering theories on how acupuncture and Oriental medicine concepts first began. I added the other sections to make the book more directly useful to the public and help the odds of getting a mainstream publisher.
McCoy: Who should read this book?
Bauer: I started the project originally with the intent of helping the general public to recognize the value and usefulness of this medicine. My plan was to present a discussion of the possible origins of acupuncture to address skeptics and make it seem more reasonable to people. I think the expanded content makes it useful to the public but I also think there is a lot there for AOM practitioners and especially students. Several acupuncturists have commented they think the book should be required reading for students. I like to think that a discussion of the theory and history of Oriental medicine’s origins helps fill in the gaps in our understanding of this medicine as well as addressing some of the issues of skeptics.
McCoy: What prompted you to write the book in the first place?
Bauer: I have a long-standing concern that the most important task for the AOM community is public education, and we have not been making this a high enough priority. Several years ago, I was working with the leadership of a California professional association and thought we would be working seriously to educate the public. I had developed a relationship with a patient who was a media consultant in a public relations firm and she offered to do a training session for the organization. I was disappointed when this offer was turned down and no public education plan materialized. Writing my book was an effort to accomplish some of the same public education and outreach goals. As it happened, however, the subject of the roots of Chinese medicine proved overwhelming and it took ten years to complete the book.
McCoy: What is the most remarkable truth you have found about Chinese medicine?
Bauer: The Shen (spirit) of Chinese medicine relates to the Shen of humanity. This art is more than a physical medicine, although it is certainly effective as a physical medicine. It speaks to the deepest truths of the human condition and human life. That was the genius of the Taoist Sages – developing arts that helped address material needs while offering the chance for spiritual growth. These truths are much more profound than the mechanical tools of acupuncture or acupressure.
McCoy: Your book takes both a long and deep look at Chinese healing. Does this affect your views of our contemporary situation?
Bauer: My book reflects my own study of the well-known Taoist classics and the lesser known oral tradition of my teacher. That tradition includes the work of Chuang Tzu, a great philosopher and historian of Chinese culture who lived about 300 B.C. His work was a comprehensive review of Chinese history from his own time back to about 2,000 B.C. What he discovered and taught is that there is not much new under the sun, that the problems of his times – known as the “Warring States” period – had been around a long time and that the artificial fixes of unenlightened leaders only added to the problems. He advised people to balance their own lives – their own yin and yang elements – as the only way to truly help society. The same happens in medicine- so many remedies only mask and add to the problem while the best medicine guides the individual to self-health. When one looks at today’s society one sees the same basic problems of imbalance complicated by knee-jerk fixes that Chunag Tzu described, one sees the advice of self-balance still rings true both in health care and personal spiritual growth.
McCoy: Do you see that reflected in American AOM as well?
Bauer: Absolutely! Chuang Tzu taught the Taoist solution of first seeking one’s own balance and then building harmony with others in an ever expanding circle. Our acupuncture community could benefit from that model, starting individually and expanding into organizations and beyond. We begin by finding individual balance and then expand it outward. It has always struck me as ironic that a profession that deals with identifying imbalances and then prioritizing how to enhance balance seems to have problems applying that approach to our profession as a whole.
McCoy: Matthew, thanks for a delightful conversation! Is there anything you would like to add?
Bauer: Just this: what I wanted to do was call on my teacher’s oral tradition to offer a reasonable theory about how Chinese medicine theories were first inspired. I thought this was important to do, not so much because the history itself is so critical, but because I believe the traditional concepts behind acupuncture today is less secure, more threatened, than ever before. Too many of its supporters accept the idea of the western paradigm style of technical acupuncture – what to do with needles to make people feel better – but do not get the theory, philosophy, and roots. At the same time, the underlying belief system is under criticism from western cultural medicine. I wanted to offer some rational for why it makes sense to believe the traditional theories and what the ancient Sages were trying to tell us. I hope I made a contribution in this regard that may help preserve this art.