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Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

Majid Ali, M.D.

In 1974, I received my faculty appointment in the Department of Pathology of Columbia University, New York, and was appointed chief pathologist at Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey. From the 1970s to the 1990s, I published papers in Lancet, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), and many other prestigious American and international journals. By any criteria, I was “disease-literate.”

During the 1970s to the 1990s, I suffered migraine headache attacks, low blood sugar, and negative effects of hyperactivity and distractibility. I took Demerol (a highly addictive narcotic drug) and Vistaril injections for migraine attacks and did not recognize that some of my symptoms were due to hypoglycemia. I was clearly “healing-illterate.” That changed only when my focus shifted from a study of disease to a study of health.

Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

To be literate means to be able to read, write, and critically think about what is read and written. I coined the term “healing-literate” to raise consciousness about the meaning of the word “healing.” I illustrate my point with an example. For an individual who received heart stents, being “heart-literate” means knowing the true nature of heart disease and what factors caused it in her/his case. It also means knowing that drugs used to treat heart disease do not reverse the disease, nor do coronary stents address any of the causes of coronary heart disease. The heart suffers metabolic insults, but not from plumbing problems. It also means recognizing personal responsibility of restoring heart health and knowing how to do it.

List of Series Articles

* Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

1. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

            - Part 1: When I Was Migraine-Literate and Healing-Illiterate

2. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 2: What is health?

3. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 3: What is absence of health?

4. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 4: What is absence of healing?

5. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 5: What is pre-disease?

6. Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 6: What is disease?

7 Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 7: Diabetes-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

8 Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 8: Hypertension-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

9 Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 9: Obesity-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

10 Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 10: Heart-Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

11 Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 11: Astham-Literate, Healing-Illiterate

12.Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate - Part 12: Dialysis-Literate, Healing-Illiterate


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