Health and healing at WCU

The topics of health and healing are increasingly important in today’s fast-paced society. Even though medical technology is increasing every day, it cannot cure all aspects of disease in our culture. For instance, obesity rates are at an all-time high, and while the rate of gastric bypass surgery is increasing, the surgery itself can’t cure the root of the problem. Aside from a genetic disposition to obesity, the problem is often the result of a lack of exercise and poor dietary decisions; the surgery can only temporarily aid in weight loss, and even then, the surgery itself is risky and has many negative side effects. In Western’s Recreational Therapy course, Health and Healing, topics of this nature are regularly discussed and dissected by Peg Connelly, who currently teaches the 300-level course. The course fulfills the liberal studies’ upper-level perspective requirement. The course’s textbook is a supplemental text written by Dr. Andrew Weil, titled Health and Healing. The course brings to light many of today’s worst medical problems and looks to both research on allopathic medicine, (traditional medicine) as well as alternative medicine in lectures. Junior Jessica Nelms, a parks and recreation major says that her favorite part of the course is talking everything through. “I really like the in-class debates and discussions when we talk about different medical problems and sometimes debate about where the problem comes from and how to fix it in today’s health care system,” Nelms said. Each week, Professor Connelly discusses alternative health care methods as discussed in Weil’s book. The topics range from laughter in medicine, to prayer and the healing process. The class will then usually throw out questions and comments, creating a soundboard to promote discussion. Sometimes the discussions can stray from the original topic entirely; for instance, in one class, the students were discussing the belief system in which some people believe to be able to see the positive or negative vibrations around someone (or their aura) and how through these vibrations they can heal. One student in turn commented that she had heard of autistic children who said they could see similar things around people, and the class began a whole new conversation about autism in children. While the discussions can stray, they usually have valid reasoning to do so, and a broad array of cultural issues and topics are taught in the end.Jessica Nelms also had this to say, “At the beginning of the course, I didn’t know that any of these alternative medical practices, like Naturopathy and Homeopathy, existed. Now I know so much about them and regular medicine, too.”