Your body as a Complex System : Part 1

I have zero medical backgound. Zilch. Nada. And maybe that’s a good thing.

Coming from an engineering background (six solid years of technical education), I tend to look at the body and my illness as a ‘systems failure’, with conditions like CFS & fibromyalgia being a full-blown system-wide shutdown.

And here’s a look at our bodies’ processes as a signal-system mechanism.

Our body is a highly complex system, even infinitely complex, for all practical purposes; with a huge number of feedback and feedforward mechanisms.

A feedback mechanism simply means that your senses (either internal or external) detect some stimulus, and direct a physiological response to it. Basic examples are sweating in response to heat, or shivering in response to the cold.

A feedforward mechanism, on the other hand, is when the body responds IN ANTICIPATION of a future event, ie. current circumstances will dictate the FUTURE state of your body.
A good example is when you smell something tasty, and your mouth waters. The body is responding (mouth waters) to present stimulus (delicious aroma) in anticipation of a future event (that you will feed). It does it to prime your salivary glands and your gastric juices to better digest the forthcoming food.

And yet, why medical professionals, as well as the medical community at large, are shortsighted enough to treat the body primarily as a linear system truly escapes me.

If you have X, take pill Y. Why? Are you SURE X is the cause? Or merely a symptom of some underlying dysfunction? Is X the only marker, or are there other causative factors? Has X caused the body to take adaptive measures where it will react differently to pill Y? If so, how will you measure EVERY adaptive change? What other bodily funtions will pill Y affect? Will those effects be desirable? What do you think side-effects are? In your clinical studies proving the efficacy of pill Y, have you considered ALL the individual variables (trillions of cells and signal paths in each single participant) of every single individual, or only the most readily measureable markers? How do you process so much data? Do you think we are limited by TODAY’s technology and knowhow? Why, we can measure EVERYTHING with today’s machines? I didn’t know, doctor. Thanks for clearing that up. Btw, when was the X-ray machine invented? And the MRI? How about the CAT scan? Are we constantly improving the technology? Well, if we can measure everything (atleast that’s how most doctors act), then why do we need better technology?

Questions, questions.

I apologise for having taken a broad-side at the entire medical community, but this post evolved of its own accord. No offense intended. O:)

The point I am making, in a very roundabout way, is not just that a holistic approach is better, it is one of the only conclusions that a rational, objective line of thinking will lead you to.

I’ll continue with my analogy of a complex system in part 2.

Foggy dude


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