Lewis grew up in southeastern Kentucky and attended Indiana University where he majored in biophysics. He then attended Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is currently teaching in the Clinical Psychology Program at Union Institute and University in Brattleboro, Vermont, and has a part-time private practice there. He is the author of several books about integrating narrative and indigenous ideas with modern medicine and psychiatry including Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, Narrative Medicine, and Healing the Mind through the Power of Story.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015 How we treat is more important than the treatment!
The way we relate to people is more important than what we do in both medicine and psychiatry. Randomized, clinical trials of the drug, citalopram, for geriatric depression, for example, showed that where a patient got treated mattered more than what drug they received. The response rate to citalopram varied from 16% to 82% among 15 hospitals. The time is nigh to improve the human elements in what we do be more helpful.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Finding Magic in a Muggle World
What is magic in a muggle world? We recently conducted a workshop to explore that question. First, what arose was the idea our thoughts could influence the future to which we are headed. What if our visualizations could change the direction in which we are headed. What is really magic is the power we have to influence others. We have power to uplift. We have power to give hope when there is none. This is real magic.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 To Do and Not To Be
I reflect upon the importance of doing, what is called behavioral activation. In order to change, we need to do things differently, and not just think about doing things differently. Unfortunately, conventional medicine has supported a narrative which tells us that we do not have to make an effort to change our behavior, so people who are depressed or anxious don't believe they need to do anything. We need to change this.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Narrative Concepts
I attempt to say what a narrative is. It is a telling of something to someone by someone. It may reflect the basic means by which our brains work, the result of a co-evolution of brain and story to allow us to recall the myriad of details necessary for negotiating a social life with the 500 people whom we are capable of knowing. Its shortest form consists of two action clauses that can be sequenced and one orienting clause.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Excerpt from Coyote Wisdom Chapter 10
This excerpt tells the story of my work with Tiffany, a young woman with cancer who was from the Christian faith and how we used Meister Eckhart as a way to bridge my Native American philosophies with Christianity to create a healing dialogue throughout the course of her cancer. this seems like an important story to me because it shows how we can create healing (meaning and purpose) even when the patient dies.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Coyotes and Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge
Three of us from Coyote Institute have journeyed to Australia to consult with a local aboriginal group on how to incorporate local culture into their health care and other services. This is the first in a series of daily blogs about the trip. I begin by wondering about coyote as a symbolic muse, an animal who lives at the margin and is currently expanding its territory. We discuss templates for the expression of pain.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Why Learn Neuroscience?
A student asked me why she needed to know neuroscience. Here is my answer. I argue that science is the new story with which we must contend. If we do not know the contemporary stories of science, they will be used against us. The actual stories being told today about the brain are quite uplifting, full of hope. They include neuroplasticity and epigenetics. If we know these stories we can fight against bad neuroscience.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Explanatory Plurarlism
I ask the question, what if all knowledge existed in the form of stories and all stories were true? If we practiced in this manner, as advocated by Uncle Albert, an aboriginal elder, how would we act? The notion of explanatory pleuralism argues that explanatory stories on any particular level do not have to relate to any other level of explanation; rather they must correspond to the level of which they are explaining.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Insurance Should Pay For Healing, Not Treating
Numerous studies have shown that 80% of primary care visits to health care practitioners involve the ordinary suffering of daily life and not diseases that need treatment, yet we throw pills and potions at these woes as if that is their solution.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 The Miracle of Peacefulness
Unfortunately, miracles cannot be guaranteed or produced on demand. What is more certain is our ability to cultivate a sense of peacefulness and meaning even in the face of illness. This is miraculous in itself given today's world and medical culture. So many people sit namelessly, faceless and alone on nursing home floors, passing the time before death.