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Differentiating

From Dictionary.com:
Differentiate
1. to form or mark differently from other such things; distinguish.

In medicine there is a concept of differential diagnosis. To treat a condition accurately, a diagnosis is made which determines a category for a particular set of symptoms. Thus, a fever is differentiated from a sunburn and treated differently. This is clearly wise and helpful.

In somatics, we can go many steps deeper in the differentiation. A burning pain shooting down my leg can be diagnosed as sciatica. That would be good for medical purposes, but my personal sciatica may be very different from your experience of sciatica. And my sciatica today is different than yesterday, and varies from minute to minute.

2. to change; alter.
Our attention directs our perception. Our perception is based in motor function (we move our body to focus our senses). The movement changes our experience, i.e. alters our perception, thus redirecting our attention. This fluid nature makes it clear that differentiation is an ongoing dynamic process.

We can learn to track that process. This takes us to definition 5. Mathematics. to obtain the differential or the derivative of. This kind of differentiation is the construction of an abstraction, a symbolic representation that allows us to map the quantity and direction of change over time. We thus create a new perspective in our consciousness.

4. to make different by modification, as a biological species. We have achieved modification via choosing our new perspective. As we disseminate our newly formed function, we modify our culture. I see a potential for a species wide alteration, but I won’t claim to know what determines a measurable change in a species.

My focus is away from the 6 or more billion humans, and toward the one person. By deliberately attending to the subjective, the personal one human living, feeling, thinking, sensing and acting, we afford to utilize a powerful sense of differentiation. We can transcend the “one size fits none” perspective of industrialized medicine, and invest in an enlivened awareness of somatic reality.

Why? What gain is there to be found in this somatic realm? Let’s revisit the sciatica diagnosis. Reducing the tension and/or pressure on the sciatic nerve should bring relief. Nerve pain can be agonizing, and it’s cessation can be miraculous. The basic categorization of symptoms gives one a handle on the problem and allows a start on the resolution. That can be superb, but it also can be clumsy. Rather than pursue a course of treatment based largely on the experience of others who fit the category, what if treatment was determined by streaming data attained from the subject. Would not real time information significantly enhance treatment?

The best part of this approach of prioritizing real time subjective information is that the subject becomes an active part of the process. Instead of just investing in care delivered by an outside party, one can now significantly effect change on one’s own behalf. And what was once just a trauma become a valuable learning opportunity. The battleground is transformed into a classroom, and the struggle becomes a journey.

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October 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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