About the Guest
My incredible guest today, Suresh Joseph, Reshie, is a clinical psychologist with a Masters in Psychology and the Neuroscience of Mental Health. He is also a medical doctor and has an incredible personal story to share on how through his studies and life experience he has come to understand a new way of looking at wellness, mental and physical health. Through his own search for answers to his own complex health condition of addiction and the lack of answers that his own biology and medicine provided, Reshie went on a quest to answer the question, “What is wrong with me”. He soon learnt he was asking the wrong question. The question should have been “What happened to me?” And the answers were contained in a new understanding of a unified mind-body biopsychosocial medical model. This podcast lays out in simple terms Reshies journey to answer this question, and how that answer has reshaped his entire view on what it really means to be sick, and what we need to get well.
- Reshie grew up in a medical family. He was surrounded by clinical practice from the day he was born. As a child, the thought of following the footsteps of his esteemed father, uncles and grandfather was always engraved in his mind. Medicine runs in his family. At an early age, Reshie already knew that he wanted to be a doctor and practice medicine. He was inspired by the members of his family who were very skilled at practising the healing arts.
- At Christmas, Reshie would witness his father receiving expensive gifts given by people who had been his father’s patients. One time, when he was old enough, he read some of his father’s notes from the parents of his father’s patients, as his father was a pediatric surgeon. He was moved by these notes. The gratitude these individuals had for the work that his father did in saving their children made a lasting impression on him.
- When Reshie’s was only 10 years old his father would bring him into the operating room. He was too short that time to actually even see the table so his father would stand him in a chair and have a nurse stand behind him to make sure he didn’t fall.
- The one thing that really tipped Reshie into thinking that he wanted to become a doctor was seeing people coming into the hospitals that were very ill and close to death and then see them leave being healthy and living again. For Reshie, it was miraculous how his father had the ability to bring back a life. He thought to himself what a gift it would be if he was able to do that. This immensely sparked his interest at such a young age.
- On the very first day at med school, Reshie arrived amongst 200 or so new students or “freshers” as they were called. Suddenly, a young lady came up to him and said, “Hi, my name is so and so.” And she said, “I’ve noticed you know, your surname is Joseph. Are you by any chance related to a surgeon with the same name?” And she told Reshie the name of the surgeon which surprisingly was his father. The lady then proceeded to reveal the faintest scar on her groin. She pointed to it and said that she had appendicitis when she was six years old. However, by the time they arrived at the hospital, she experienced what is called “peritonitis” where an abdominal organ ruptures due to a bacterial infection. She was very ill and the doctors at that time told her that she was unlikely to live with only 5% chance of living. Reshie’s father had refused to accept that this was a lost cause. He spent eight hours in the operating room. Because of his father’s unwavering commitment to help the young girl, she survived. The lady told Reshie’s father before they left the hospital that when she was grew up, she was going to become a surgeon like him and save children in the way that his father had saved her. Today, the lady had now become a surgeon.
- After graduating and becoming a doctor, Reshie went to the UK to work at NHS as a Junior Doctor along with everybody else. But he took a little career detour along the way – he fell into addiction. It was a very serious substance use, misuse and abuse that essentially halted Reshie’s medical career. He was discovered to be practising under the influence of a substance, the medical council gave him a penalty of suspension.
- Reshie felt an inner war between himself as a doctor and healer and the other, as an addict. The suspension took him out of professional work for approximately ten years. He spent those years living in a very destructive way, consuming large amounts of illegal substances and alcohol.
- Reshie looked back his life trajectory and began to question how he became an addict. For him, it was unlikely of him because of his proper upbringing and family background. He simply didn’t fit the stereotype of addiction. He didn’t come from a poor family and was not neglected as a child. He had highly educated parents. He did very well in school, went to medical school and became a doctor. The question was, how could it be that someone with his life trajectory could end up as many people do? At that time, medicine was simply unable to answer his question.
- Thankfully, Reshie got into recovery. It will be nine years this April. He had the chance to return to medical practice but chose not to continue. Instead, he went down on a completely different route from medicine to psychology. He took up a master’s degree in Psychology and Mental Health.
- Reshie pointed out that modern medicine followed Rene Descartes’ ideology of Mind-Body Dualism where the mind and body are completely different entities. Doctors will only look at a person from a purely biological perspective or biomedical view. The mind will not be considered because it does not belong in the same realm as the body.
However, in 1977, George Engle postulated the term BioPsychoSocial Medicine. This model states that a person’s biology cannot be separated from their psychology and sociology. Human beings are composed of three things: biology, psychology and sociology and these three are interconnected with each other. Three sides of the same triangle, to be exact. For example, if you take someone and you distress them biologically, you will see psychological and sociological effects too. For Reshie, you cannot look at these three things in isolation because all three of these things and are expressions of the same individual.
- Reshie still recognized the incredible advances that modern medicine made for the past years. However, he believes it’s time now to move away from Rene Descartes’ mind-body dualism that we inherited 350 years ago and move towards Engle’s biopsychosocial model.
Whenever someone asked for help, medical practitioners should be willing to ask the questions: What is happening to you? What are your relationships like? Are you being abused? Are you frightened? Are you angry? They should be able to recognize that you cannot separate someone’s biology from their psychology and social environment. These three are the driving force to a healthy human being.
So there we have it, guys. A whole new perspective on health, wellness, mental health, physical health and the interconnectivity between mind-body. I like to say spirit also, but sociology, as well. I hope you found that podcast even half as fascinating as I did. Again, really, really humbled to have Reshie on the show. It was such a pleasure. I’m already looking forward to having him on the show again. In the meantime, though, go to the show notes to find ways you can follow Reshie and ensure that you if you haven’t already subscribed to the podcast and subscribe to the site and make sure that you are in the loop for all of the amazing things that we’ve got coming up. Thanks again for listening! Wonderful to bring you this amazing guest and podcast. It’s such a pleasure and joy. I hope you’re having a wonderful time wherever you are in the world.
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