by Rachel Remen, M.D.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine and Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal. She is one of the best-known of the early pioneers of Wholistic and Integrative Medicine. As a medical educator, therapist and teacher, she has enabled many thousands of physicians to practice medicine from the heart and thousands of patients to remember their power to heal. Her groundbreaking curriculum for medical students, The Healer’s Art, is taught in 90 of America’s medical schools and medical schools in 7 countries abroad.
Dr. Remen has had Crohn’s disease for more than 60 years and her work is a unique blend of the wisdom, strength and viewpoints of both doctor and patient.
“Medicine for many, many people isn’t a job. It’s a way of life. And it’s a way of life that’s characterized by certain very traditional values — values like compassion and service and reverence for life. These are not the values of science. These are the values of what might be called a spiritual path.
“I was taught to cure people, and what that meant was that my relationship with my patients basically was a relationship between me as an expert and my patient as a problem.
“If you are seeing 25 to 40 people a day, there is very little you can do in the way of connecting to people. And these people are hurting. These are people who are frightened. They need so much more than a prescription. And they go by you in this unending line, you know, seven minutes at a time. It does something to someone to have to face that day after day. What happens is you begin to live below your own level of excellence. If you do that long enough, something begins to die in you, and that something is the soul of your profession.
“What matters is who you have touched on your way through life and who has touched you. What matters is becoming a blessing.
“I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve had it for 52 years. I have had eight major surgeries. I am a chronically ill person. I haven’t been a well person in more than half a century. I no longer run from other people in trouble. I actually became stronger as a person, much more loving, much wiser as a person, and in the end my body has never healed from this disease. But I truly believe that I am much more a person because of it.
“You know, we can’t cure everything. Life can’t be fixed, and science is limited. But the ability of people to grow beyond their limitations, to become more than who they are, is really not that limited.”
Conversation with Bob Abernathy, Kim Lawton, Dr. Jennifer Lucas, Dr. David Guillion
Rachel Naomi Remen, whose unique perspective on healing comes from her background as a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist, and a long-term survivor of chronic illness, invites us to listen from the soul.
“Rachel Remen is one of the most important women of our time. She is an extraordinary combination of wounded patient and highly skilled physician, an intuitively compassionate healer, who is also a gifted author. She has had a life-changing impact on me,” says Naomi Judd.