Methods used to find out about the causes of symptoms in conventional biomedicine are based on the assumption that inferences about the psychological, social, spiritual or biological causes or meanings of mental health problems can be made after core symptoms have been identified. However recent advances in neuroscience suggest that the causes of mental illness may be both more subtle and more complex than the prevailing biopsychosocial model is capable of elucidating.

Emerging models of consciousness based on complexity theory, quantum mechanics, and other novel theories may be consistent with the assumptions of “energetic” assessment methods used in traditional healing such as Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine. These so-called complementary and alternative (CAM) assessment approaches may eventually permit a more complete “picture” of the psychological, biological, and energetic causes of symptoms.

CAM approaches used to identify the causes of mental illness include tests that determine biological function in the brain and body, measurements of scientifically validated forms of energy or information such as biomagnetic fields in the brain or heart, and measurements of postulated 'subtle' forms of energy or information that cannot be explained by current science. Quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) and heart rate variability (HRV) analysis are examples of scientifically validated assessment approaches that provide valuable clinical information about functional dysregulations of electromagnetic activity in the brain and heart related to symptoms of mental illness. Assessment approaches that purport to detect subtle energetic phenomena that may underlie physical and mental illness include pulse diagnosis in Chinese, Tibetan, and Ayurvedic medicine and analysis of electrodermal potentials following acupuncture or medical qigong.


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