Professor Shinzo Kato, Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, Keio University

Relationship between lifestyle-related improvement and soul growth

──That led to the “Message of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).”

When I consulted with my classmate, who is a psychiatrist, about what to do with patients who were having difficulty getting better from alcoholism, I was told that there is AA, a self-help group for alcoholics. AA meetings are held at churches and public halls; but since 2000, we have been conducting simulated AA meetings at university hospitals under the name of “AA’s message.” Held once a month, this year will be 19 years.
At the meeting, I am a listener. After participating more than 100 times, I found that alcoholics had soul wounds and were suffering while drinking. By looking back on their past in the message meetings, they can directly see and face the wounds of their souls. Thus, we have people who stop drinking by gaining the power to repair their wounds. This really means spiritual growth that heals the wounds of the soul and recovery from addiction.
Over time, I strongly realized that as they reviewed their life itself, it leads to the growth of their soul. I came to think that healing with medicine is not the only medical treatment. It is important to look at not only the illness but also the way of life of the patient as a whole.
Since 1992, we have opened a “liver disease class” for patients with chronic viral liver disease. At first, it was a place where doctors provided information on treatment methods and side effects to the patients. However, while answering patients’ questions, I became aware of the fact that patients have information that doctors do not know. Even though I can inform patients of my knowledge, I also realized how effective it is for patients to talk with each other based on their experiences.
The last 30 minutes of the class was used as a group work time. In each group, patients freely talked about what was difficult. For example, what to do when leg cramps occurred. Many patients gained hopes when they heard stories of people who were still active with their life while continuing treatment for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer saying, “I can live like that.”