Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Learning from soft power

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 01 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4645

Rapid Response:

Re: Learning from soft power

The concept of 'soft healing' as outlined in this article does not make sense. To heal is defined as to 'restore to health' healing is 'the process of restoring to health' or 'having therapeutic or curative properties' , Whatever definition of healing you use, public health and prevention measures cannot be defined as forms of healing, rather they are measures taken to prevent development of diseases that will need eventually need to be 'healed'.

The concept of 'soft healing' is much more applicable to the field of complementary medicine which by-and-large is aimed at stimulating and supporting the health-maintaining or self-healing capacities of people and patients. Using 'soft-healing' in this way makes much more sense when juxtaposed with the definition of 'hard-healing' given by the authors.

In their article the authors state 'soft healing strategies complement the healthcare system to reduce population risk, improve health, and minimise the need for inefficient, costly medical treatments' . It has long been argued that such a claim could be staked for complementary medicine.

Complementary medicine/ soft medicine should be considered as the second layer in a three layered approach to health with prevention as the first option and first priority, soft healing/complementary medicine as the second, and 'hard healing' as the third. All three are necessary it's the priority and emphasis that needs to change. As the authors state 'Hard healing continues to dominate health policy and resources' . Far greater emphasis and resources need to be put into primary prevention and we would argue, into 'soft healing' as just re-defined.

Competing interests: No competing interests

25 September 2015
Stephen J. Gordon
European Central Council of Homeopaths
School House, Market Place, Kenninghall, Norfolk NR16 2AH