We are obsessed with 'boxes' - many of us especially so - at this time of year.
- filling boxes
- shipping boxes
- and the populous buying the latest and greatest of them.
(What would I like for Christmas? Well, I could really put a MacBook to good use - please!)
It used to be you shook the box - something rattled. These days silence prevails. The contents are virtual. The only rattle is from the dosette boxes. Count them out - M:T:W:T:F:S:S....
Science and medicine in particular has a thing about boxes. Of course, I have to put my hand up here as Hodges' model is not exactly quadratically challenged. It's rather ironic that in order to think out of the box, Hodges' model encourages us to think in four or five (spiritual) of them!
The business community is equally obsessed. The box clichés abound loud and clear in group, consultancy and change exercises. Of course the problem is when we only think in one box then things can come unstuck. They are often blinkered and this makes sense at times. As mentioned previously, medicine very frequently has to deal with life saving interventions that need snap decisions. I don't think it would go down very well in a crisis that someone pipes up "Now hold-on everyone we need to reflect on this, let's proceed in an holistic manner." At other times though critics point the finger, when people are treated purely in a box called 'SCIENCES' and the person becomes a mere adjunct to the box: a sticky label with a diagnosis (or two) written on it.
Nurses pride themselves and their person-centred caring approach on seeing the individual, not just the diagnosis.
Health professionals spend several years getting to know their box(es). The SCIENCES anatomy, biochemistry, physiology... Now in medical training doctors spend more time on communication skills. All health and social care professionals are prepared to 'travel', i.e. to put themselves in the patient's (carer's) shoes and see the world through their eyes. Increasingly in all human activities one discipline depends on the combined contributions of many others. Maybe that's why there's so much emphasis on words and disciplines like - integrated, transdisciplinary, socio-economics, interdisciplinary, psychosocial and geopolitical. New disciplines like neuromarketing emerge which we can expand in the respective boxes - e.g.
- INTRAPERSONAL box: behaviour, experiments, priming, freewill, ethics, personal choice, memetics
- POLITICAL box: consent, advertising, legislation, neuroeconomics, public health, governance-control, measures
- SCIENCES box: functional-MRI, bioinformatics, research programmes
- SOCIAL box: media, language, mental pollution, social nets, cultural acceptance, public perception
OK, now mentally fold it - one way - then another.
Suddenly disparate ideas, issues, techniques are thrown together. As physicists show (in theory only alas) as our learning grows, our previous journeys (new experiences - role plays, placements, secondments...) mean we don't have to travel the full distance. You too can warp space. In addition you are better equipped to take the patient and carer (student, whoever) with you and (try) to get their engagement.
It's true that many of these combined horizons may not work, but that's the nature of risk and creativity for you. Boxes! Do take care how you handle yours. Look out for those edges too - the leading edges change constantly....
Image source: Copyright © 2007 Apple Inc.