In western definitions of systems thinking, there seems is generally a clear distinction between function (contribution of the parts to the whole), structure (arrangement in space) and process (arrangement in time). In my lectures, this seems more muddied, as I ask the question, “which comes first, structure of process”? Should we be able to separate space and time?
In contextual dyadic thinking (as described by Keekok Lee), we detect the yin in the yang, and the yang in the yin.
In this context, I’m pondering through the impact of understanding yin more as structure, and yang more as function. This shows up in one of the more popular textbooks in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Application of Yin-Yang to Medicine
It could be said that the whole of Chinese medicine, its physiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment, can all be reduced to the basic and fundamental theory of Yin and Yang. Every physiological process and every symptom or sign can be analysed in light of Yin-Yang theory.
In treatment, all strategies boil down to four:
- Tonify Yang
- Tonify Yin
- Eliminate excess Yang
- Eliminate excess Yin
Understanding the application of the theory of Yin-Yang to medicine is therefore of supreme importance in practice: one can say that there is no Chinese medicine without Yin-Yang.
Yin-Yang and the body structures
Every part of the human body is predominantly Yin or Yang in character, and this is important in clinical practice. It must be emphasized, however, that this character is only relative. For example, the chest area is Yang in relation to the abdomen (because it is higher), but Yin in relation to the head.
As a general rule, the following are the characteristics of various body structures:
|Posterior-lateral surface||Anterior-medial surface|
Source: Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text . Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015. Preview at https://books.google.com/books?id=PM7ECQAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA9#v=onepage&q&f=false