Jeffrey D. Rediger, MD, MDiv
Faculty, Harvard Medical School
Medical Director, McLean Southeast Hospital Adult Psychiatric Program
Jeffrey D. Rediger M.D., M.Div. is a distinguished academic physician with many years of experience in medicine, psychiatry, and spirituality. He serves as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and is also the Medical Director of the McLean Southeast Adult Psychiatric Program and Community Affairs at McLean Hospital and the Chief of Behavioral Medicine at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center. His work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper 360, and Dr. Oz shows, as well as on TEDx.
Prior to med school, Dr. Rediger obtained a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. While there, and under the tutelage and mentorship of Dr. James Loder, Dr. Rediger worked hard to understand the interdisciplinary structure that undergirds inquiry in theology, science, and psychology. Dr. Loder, who was conducting research and writing with physicist James Neidhardt at the time, helped Dr. Rediger understand how deeply the conversation between theology and science is informed by the discoveries of modern physics.
Armed with this new perspective, Dr. Rediger entered med school, confident that the day would come when modern physics would come to medicine. That day is now arriving, and an exciting day it is.
Since 2003, he has been collecting medical evidence for recovery from illnesses that have been traditionally considered incurable. If you are on the science side, these are considered "spontaneous remissions" or "placebos." If you are on the religious or spiritual side, they are considered "miracles" or "spiritual healing." In any case, these terms are all black boxes that have not been unpacked by the tools of modern science.
It turns out that there's a lot to know, and that we should be studying these cases in the same way that we study ultimate achievement in sports and business. In turns out, in fact, that there's nothing "spontaneous" about spontaneous remission: every individual studied has allowed or introduced a deep change into their physiology, changing their biochemistry either from "above," with mental or spiritual changes, or from "below," with changes to lifestyle and diet. Either way, their lives and bodies have become less hospitable to the illness, which had developed in the context of a certain biochemistry. We have a long ways to go in order to understand why some people heal and others don't, but certainly it's true that we should be bringing the light of science to bear on these questions.
An important step occurred several hundred years ago when early scientists took illness from the church and said that we can no longer blame people for their illnesses or see illness as a judgment from God. This allowed the study of illness to be established on the rational, universal language of science, and for a rational taxonomy of illness to be created. But what was created was a science of disease rather than a science of health.
One principle that those with remarkable recoveries are teaching Dr. Rediger is that we become what we focus on. If we want to help someone suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, addiction or depression, we help more by assisting them in the discovery of a healthy and vibrant life, where the addictions and unhealthy patterns driving the illness are no longer necessary. This is relevant in a world where 45 percent of Americans suffer from one of five chronic illnesses, most of which are lifestyle-related: heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Most are not taught and do not realize that disease reversal is more available and possible than our models have suggested.
These stories of remarkable individuals have convinced Dr. Rediger that we all have more inside us than we realize, and that awakening to this is the secret to the healing of a life. We are living in a most exciting time, when the insights of modern physics are coinciding with new insights from psychology, spirituality, and neurophysiology; and as a result these and digital technology are laying the groundwork for a true revolution in medicine. We are all increasingly becoming the CEOs of our own health, with smartphones like the Tricorders on Star Trek. The long-awaited democratization of medicine has finally begun. The changes taking root now will empower every one of us to attain a level of health and flourishing vitality that has never before been possible. One could, in fact, say that a new era of human potential is beginning, and that it's going to be built on a new understanding of the worth and value of each individual human being.
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