A Holistic Perspective In Scientific Research

By Juan-Carlos Duran, June 1, 2014

Photo Credit: Pearl Sammett (1944). Canada. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada

There has been a renaissance of a holistic, or integrated, point of view in the sciences. The position that as a species we live in an environment in which actions have various causes and effects seems to be a reasonable one. But it is also reasonable to understand how a reductionist construct dominated the sciences for a long time. Reductionism was an answer to the mythical, the supernatural and the unobserved. Now, however, what once may have been mythical may be empirical.
Science may have, for example, once mocked the simple breathing techniques of ancient yogis who saw their exercise as a way of controlling the autonomic nervous system. Modern medical journals nowadays explain the benefits of deep breathing as a way of helping to reduce high blood pressure.

While the above example is simply one of many, as researchers we need to remain cognizant of an integrated and ecological approach to our psychological research and practice. Much needs to be understood. It could be that once we remove our scientific reductionist goggles we may find that the answer we seek lies next to the subject we’re examining and not within the subject himself.

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