The Disappearing Soul of Healthcare

My Gentle Tirade

I just have to rant a bit. Recently, I revisited some facts that I’d forgotten.

As those who follow my work know, I’m all about bringing the soul back to life. My mission is to get the word and understanding of it back into the mainstream. However, in the process of writing the introduction to my upcoming book, Anxiety: Body, Mind and Soul for my Soul of Psychology series I decided to add a brief history of the word soul. I was quickly reminded that the FATHER of medicine, Hippocrates, stated that the soul was present in every (EVERY!) physical condition. This was said in the early 400’s BC. The field of psychology wasn’t established until the late 1800’s and one of the FOUNDING FATHERS, Carl Jung, emphasized the influence of the soul throughout his work until his death in 1961. If the founding fathers of both medicine AND psychology knew the soul was an essential influencer of health, how in the world did the importance of it disappear as both fields evolved?!

As I wrote that page in the upcoming book, I was reminded of a few personal experiences when others tried to tell me not to talk about the soul. I still find this fascinating.

First, years ago I presented an all-day continuing education workshop for healthcare providers in Asheville, North Carolina. Practitioners from all professions attended. About two-thirds the way through the day, I had the group do a quiet exercise to explore some of the material. I noticed one of the participants looking perplexed and a bit frustrated. I went over to ask if I could help and when I inquired he said, “I’m wondering what gives you the right to talk about the soul?” I answered, “I didn’t know anyone was exempt from talking about it.” He went on to say that he just returned from a two-year mission trip (he was a counselor) and because no one he knew but clergy had ever said the word, he didn’t understand how I could be talking about it in a workshop—someone without a religious degree. It was my turn to be perplexed. It really hadn’t crossed my mind that only those of religious training were allowed to speak the language.

Later, while attending an intense publicity training (a very expensive one, I might add…) for authors, speakers and entrepreneurs, the CEO asked the group to individually stand and describe what topics or products they were there to share or promote. When I told the group about my book Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living, he immediately shut me down and instructed me to never to talk about the soul to the media because it wasn’t something they would support. I was absolutely floored, not to mention a bit deflated! How could this be??? Oprah and others literally made millions talking about the soul and yet I was being told not to even utter the word!

How did “soul” become a four-letter word? When did the most sacred part of us earn a taboo implication?

What boggles me most is that the founding fathers of both physical and mental healthcare introduced the fields specifically emphasizing that the soul was an essential part of our experience, but “modern” healthcare avoids the word altogether. If the soul is the essence of who an individual is, does this mean the truest part of a patient no longer exists? Shouldn’t the core of who we are be considered as an important part of care?

Worldwide, nearly 74% of people believe in a soul. That means that around 6.4 BILLION of the 8.6 billion people on this planet know their inner light exists. Yet, we can’t talk about it. Riddle me THAT Batman!

Let me recap… We know that the VAST majority of people on this planet know the soul is a thing, but healthcare and the media ignore its existence, both of which are MAJOR money-making industries particularly in the United States. We also know that Oprah Winfrey, the wealthiest woman in the world(!), made A LOT of her money talking about the soul—and in turn made both healthcare and the media a lot of money as a result of suggestions toward health she made or advertising for her shows. Final conclusion: the soul very much exists but we can’t talk about it.

So, what the world is really saying is that the soul is like sex.

It’s a very essential and natural part of life, (in fact, no one would exist without either one of them!), but shhhhhh…. Don’t say a word!

Enough said. Just think about the irony that’s written all over this blog.


End note: I HAVE to share this additional story related to the publicity training I attended. A cocktail party was held the evening the CEO made his comment. These gatherings are really not my thing but I went to be a good sport, despite the boggled look I must have had on my face from the day’s direct message. The CEO walked over and chatted with me a bit about the day, never mentioning what he had said. His wife approached and he introduced me to her. Making small talk, she asked what I was there to promote. I decided I’d tell her the truth and proceeded to share a bit about my book and the intentions behind it. She immediately said, “Oh, I LOVE that!” and said she wanted to hear more. I paused and couldn’t resist what I did next. I looked at the CEO, pointed to his wife and said, “See?!!!” with a bit of a smirk. Somehow he managed to end the conversation quickly, leaving me with his wife to chat as he approached other participants from the training.

Never try to stop a woman on a mission, particularly one who would have nothing to say if it weren’t for her very real and determined soul.

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

With 35+ years of direct clinical experience, Dr. Kelly doesn’t just believe in helping others to heal; instead, her mission is to help them to evolve. Using her own integrative and trademarked framework—the Soul Health Model—Dr. Kelly approaches her work with clients from a “whole person” or “whole organization” perspective. She provides a uniquely progressive, yet down-to-earth approach and is well-known in therapeutic, medical and corporate communities. She thrives as she helps clients and organizations to reach what she calls “conscious evolution” through a variety of self-designed strategies. Her dedication to healing has been widely recognized as she was the recipient of the Provider of the Year Award by the regional Mental Health Association and was nominated as an Incredible Woman for a local community television network, which spotlights role models to inspire young women to pursue their own passions.

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