David Laing Dawson

David Laing DawsonWe explore and investigate our world and ourselves through science and through art. With science we define reality, its dimensions, its limitations, its probabilities. With art we seek revelation, a truth beyond the surface, and a glimpse of that which science cannot define.

I am a physician and an artist. The physician prevents me from pursuing art as mere entertainment, as excess, as egomania, though that would be fun. The artist prevents me from believing I can rely on science and received wisdom, though that would be comforting.

But the one always informs the other.

As Victor Hugo put it: “..science is a ladder…poetry is winged flight.”

2 thoughts on “David Laing Dawson

  1. Enjoyed your account of the shaman covering his bases.

    I have a story also, a variation on a theme. Decades ago I tried my luck as a cub science reporter at McGill and was sent out periodically to interview various academicians at the University. On one occasion, I had been sent to see a bioethicist but ended up accidentally in the office of a psychiatrist with the same name. Admitting my mistake, I was about to pack up and leave when the psychiatrist said, “Wait. Now that you’re here, you might as well hear an interesting story.” It seems that the psychiatrist not long before then had shadowed a medicine man in Africa for a year. Toward the end of the psychiatrist’s time with the shaman, the villagers brought a psychotic man to him. The medicine man proceeded to build a fire, brewed a bitter tea from some leaves he had in a pouch, and offered the tea to the man. Soon after drinking the tea, the psychotic man fell into a deep slumber and remained asleep for some time. When he eventually awoke, the psychiatrist observed that the man was completely lucid. The psychiatrist was thrilled beyond words about this, believing he had witnessed a treatment for psychotic illness not yet known to the western world. Though slightly bemused, the medicine man was happy to share the leaves with the psychiatrist, who made arrangements to catch the next available flight to London. As soon as he deplaned, the psychiatrist rushed to the School of Hygiene with the leaves in hand to have the active ingredients identified. How crestfallen he was, though, when the analysis revealed the African leaves contained the same active ingredient as the antipsychotic medications developed in the 50’s. Still, though, how long had the medicine man’s forbears known about the medicinal properties of these leaves? And wasn’t it interesting that the shaman’s medicine was really the same as Western psychiatric drug therapy? Now whether this story was real or one invented to liven a cold winter afternoon in Montreal I don’t know. But I think it was real.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi David. I really enjoy the blog. I actually just put a link on my blog (not a wordpress blog). I will assume that’s okay. if not just send me an email. I am pasting the website info below if you want to check it out. Thanks again for good common sense psychiatry with heart.

    Like

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