Novel assessment approaches
Some assessment approaches rely on the accurate characterization of classically described biological, energetic, or informational processes that constitute the presumed causes of a particular symptom or symptom pattern. A more complete and accurate assessment may require a combination of techniques used in biomedicine and nonallopathic systems of medicine.
All living organisms emit ultraweak photons, and under certain conditions, such biophotons are emitted as highly ordered or “coherent” light.24,25 Research on biophoton emissions released from the human body has led to speculation about “light channels” that regulate energy and information transfer within the body, biological rhythms associated with the intensity and patterns of biophoton emissions, and diseases related to energetic “asymmetries” between the left and right sides of the body.26,27 Studies on biophoton emissions associated with acupoints suggest that subtle differences in count, wavelength, and coherence may correspond to energetic “imbalances” in yin and yang associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders.28
Future research studies of nonallopathic assessment approaches will validate some as clinically useful in mental health care, while others will become marginalized. The increasing use of novel assessment approaches in clinical psychiatry will gradually lead to more comprehensive and more cost-effective treatment planning. Promising emerging approaches in psychiatric assessment include use of the following:
• Urine and blood testing to reveal dysregulation at the level of neurotransmitters and immune factors associated with mental illness
• Quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) to quantify differences in brain electrical activity for clarifying psychiatric diagnosis and predicting treatment response
• Microarray chips to analyze genetic differences in drug metabolism associated with individual differences in the CYP450 system
• Advanced semiconductor devices to measure ultraweak biophotons that provide clinically useful indicators of neurochemical and energetic causes of mental illness
• Pulse diagnosis as used in Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and Tibetan medicine and scientific studies to validate energy assessment in the context of novel paradigms in physics (eg, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory)
Complex systems theory
Complex systems theory invites an increasingly integrative perspective in the social sciences, biology, and medicine. Complex systems theory argues that dynamic nonlinear energetic or informational states at multiple levels in the brain and body manifest as symptoms.29 This view implies that although a particular symptom may have an apparent primary or discrete cause, complex dynamic cause(s) can vary with each person’s unique biochemical, genetic, social, psychological, and energetic makeup. In contrast to the orthodox view, many traditional healing systems conceptualize illness, health, and healing in terms of subtle nonlinear processes at multiple hierarchical levels of body-mind-spirit within each unique human being and between humans and their environments.
Changing understandings of “energy” and future mental health care
Disparate systems of medicine postulate the existence and involvement of different forms of energy and information in health, illness, and healing. In biomedical psychiatry, classically described forms of energy are used as probes to provide information about brain activity associated with symptoms. Normal brain functioning is characterized by complex biomagnetic and electrical activity that is measured using functional brain imaging techniques (eg, positron emission tomography, single photon emission CT, functional MRI, magneto-/electroencephalography, and QEEG.