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The integral model provides a framework to understand illness and healing and create a well-rounded healthcare plan that takes into account all aspects of who you are. Ken Wilber’s work on integral theory and the integral model (otherwise known as AQAL or all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types) provides a way to understand anything through taking into account as many dimensions of reality—as many perspectives—as possible.
The four quadrants of the model are comprised of interior and exterior dimensions of the individual and the collective. The interior/individual quadrant (UL) is the realm of the subjective—I. When applied to chronic illness, this quadrant is your subjective experience of having an illness, and healing approaches that target this quadrant will take into account individual psychology and emotions.
The exterior/individual quadrant (UR) is the realm of the objective—It. What is happening in the body and observable behavior are both in this quadrant. Conventional medicine specializes in this area: lab testing, genetics, and medication. You can also consider your behaviors that lead to healing in this quadrant, such as eating healthy food.
The lower quadrants are both about the collective reality. The interior aspect (LL) is the realm of We, the shared reality, values, beliefs, language, and worldviews of a culture. Your relationships and the attitudes of people around you toward illness, even the lack of awareness of illness, all contribute to disease and healing. Taking into account this quadrant includes being part of a community, seeking social support, paying attention to quality of relationships, and becoming aware of beliefs from your culture.
The exterior or objective aspect of the collective (LR) is the environment and societal systems. Many systems of society impact illness and health, from the medical care system to insurance to transportation. Consider how healthy or toxic your environment is and what access you have (or lack) to the healthcare you need.
We each also have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects, which are referred to as the levels, and each of these also exists in all four quadrants. An integral approach to medicine would take into account all of the quadrants and all levels (as well as the lines, states, and types, which this episode does not go into). Until the medical system has shifted to a more complete understanding of all dimensions of reality, you can use this framework to help create a healing plan for yourself that takes them into account.
Incidentally, this model is also how I think about this podcast; since illness and healing have interior/exterior, individual/collective aspects, and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components, overall I aim to include all of these dimensions in podcast episodes.
What I talk about
- How the integral model is applicable to our own healthcare plan
- What are the four quadrants of the integral model
- How illness and healing are both four-quadrant affairs
- Why you may not feel seen when visiting a doctor
- How the integral model applies to autoimmunity or chronic illness
- Why it’s important to take into account the impact of societal systems on illness
- How to use the four quadrants to create a well-rounded health plan for yourself
“Being able to deal with complexity and be in the uncertainty of it is one of the gifts that those of us with chronic conditions are bringing to the world.”
“Remember, illness is a four quadrant and body/mind/spirit event, and so is healing.”
Integral Life, has lots of great articles available to learn about the integral approach: https://www.integrallife.com/
Start here on Integral Life for a primer on the integral model: https://www.integrallife.com/node/125040
Ken Wilber’s forward to the book Integral Medicine: http://www.kenwilber.com/Writings/PDF/ForewordIntegralMedicine_OTHERS_2003.pdf
Integral Health Resources: http://www.integralhealthresources.com/integral-health-2/the-four-quadrants/
Integral Health and Medicine Center: http://www.integralhmc.org/
I haven’t read this one, but it looks like a great introduction! The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything
Still one of the most impactful books I have ever read: Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber
This book got me started on integral theory and it’s still one of my favorites: A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality
About Julie Stiles
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