Integrative Medicine: A Bridge between Biomedicine and Alternative Medicine Fitting the Spirit of the Age


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are increasingly used by people in first world countries, almost always in combination with biomedicine. The combination of CAM and biomedicine is now commonly referred to as “integrative medicine” (IM). In Groningen, The Netherlands, we founded a center for integrative psychiatry, offering conventional and complementary mental health care. Like other centers for integrative (mental) health we have mostly received positive reactions although there have been negative and even hostile reactions as well, using phrases like “quackery” and “betrayal”. We will try to illustrate that these polarising qualifications, in which “the good” is being positioned against “the bad” in an over-simplified manner, are unnecessary and not useful. Moreover, it is unlikely that this polarisation will stall the growth of IM. It seems that integration is not only a current tendency in medicine, but also a trend fitting the contemporary spirit of the age in which integration seems to be the most common focus. It can be observed in religion, philosophy, spirituality and psychotherapy as well. This article will discuss the difference between differentiation and integration and will show that the focus on differentiation or integration varies with time, mostly rising as a reaction to each other. The transition from one period to the next is often met with resistance and criticism. If the integrative movement is to survive, it cannot do without differentiation and must find a middle way in which appropriate attention is being paid to keeping the integrated parts sufficiently differentiated and allowing them to keep their own identity.

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Hoenders, H. , Appelo, M. & Jong, J. (2012). Integrative Medicine: A Bridge between Biomedicine and Alternative Medicine Fitting the Spirit of the Age. Sociology Mind, 2, 441-446. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.24057.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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