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The Many Maps Of The Human Body


The above photo is of the meridian map in the book Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text by Chen Chiu Hseuh and John O'Connor.


I was reading Curing Depression Naturally With Chinese Medicine by Rosa N. Schnyer and Bob Flaws when I came upon a section that perfectly described viewing Western and Chinese Medicine. The following appears on pages 7 and 8 of the book:


"If we take the United States of American as an example, we can have numerous different maps of this country's land mass. One map might show population. Another might show per capita incomes. Another might show religious or ethnic distributions. Yet another might be a road map. And still another might be a map showing state boundaries. In fact, there could be an infinite number of potentially different maps of the United States depending on what one was trying to show and do. As long as the map is based on accurate information and has been created with self-consistent logic, then one map is not necessarily more correct than another. The issue is to use the right map for what you are trying to do. If one wants to drive from Chicago to Washington, D.C., then a road map is probably the right one for that job but is not necessarily a truer or "more real" description of the United States than a map showing annual rainfall.


What we are getting at here is that the map is not the terrain. The Western biological map of the human body is only one potentially useful medical map. It is no more true than the traditional Chinese medical map, and the "facts" of one map cannot be reduced to the criteria or standards of another unless they share the same logic right from the beginning."


To add to what Rosa N. Schnyer and Bob Flaws described, Reiki uses another map. Reflexology uses another map. Ayurvedic medicine uses another map. And so on.


The interesting thing is that these maps might have some things in common, but truly these healing practices all have their own maps of the body.


What you might have noticed if you've asked me a question during acupuncture treatment is that I sometimes need to take my time to formulate the clearest answer. The reason is because the Chinese medical map of the human body takes years to deeply understand, and given Chinese medicine is not a typical part of an American's schooling, my answer often requires translating the Chinese medical map into terminology from the Western map that might be most familiar. I love these questions, so if you have them, don't hesitate to ask!

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