This happened to me twenty-two years ago when a combination of fasting and osteopathic manipulation cured a back problem which was forcing me toward surgery. On the most superficial level, I could no longer insist that everyone with back pain immediately see the orthopedist, or share my colleagues' scorn for chiropractors (at the time M.D.s who referred patients to chiropractors were deemed unethical by the AMA) who, like osteopaths, manipulated the back. I couldn't continue to reflexively scoff at the dietary therapies that people said helped them, or for that matter any therapy that someone -- practitioner or patient -- found of value. Indeed, I reminded myself, I would have to listen far more closely and respectfully to everything that all of my patients said and all the avenues for help they wanted to explore.
The same process is now being repeated on a vast scale. Thousands of health professionals and millions of others are experiencing the beneficial effects of a new more democratic and collegial approach to health care, of mind-body approaches and alternative therapies that work. They are telling others in person, in print, on television, and over the Internet that they feel better. They are sharing what they know with those who come to them for help and this sharing is changing how we as a society define medicine and what we expect from it. The many voices of personal experience have an authority which is compelling all of us to question all received medical truths and to search for and demand new techniques and new models of care.