Intended for healthcare professionals


Holism and holistic

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 26 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1884
  1. Graham Russell, retired
  1. Altrincham WA15 0ES

Holistic is a term widely applied in science in general, including medicine, where it refers to managing the “whole person,” not just the symptoms or a disease. Holistic is a neologism introduced by Jan Christian Smuts—a South African soldier, statesman, and philosopher—in his 1926 treatise Holism and Evolution.1 Smuts visualised the universe as three “wholes”—matter, …

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