Disease-Literate, Healing-Illiterate Part 1

When I Was Migraine-Literate and 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.

Privatized Education, Suppressed Healing Literacy

Education is being privatized worldwide. Democracy is being privatized in many countries. Even drinking water in some regions is being privatized. Healing literacy was never really fostered by practitioners of healing arts. Rather, it was seen as a challenge to practitioners’ wisdom. Now it is different. Now healing-literacy is vigorously suppressed by mega-corporations that control the prevailing disease maintenance systems worldwide.


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