A Healer’s Journey to Transformational Medicine: Dr. Michael Marcum Embraces Whole-Being Health
Jan 31, 2011 11:32AM
● By Linda Sechrist
Dr. Michael Marcum’s epiphany—that his calling was transformational medicine—didn’t arrive in one life-changing moment. Instead, it evolved gradually over the duration of a long career in medicine, which began with a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin. A “lab rat” for the first 10 years of his career, Marcum conducted intense research at the university and published numerous papers before completing two years of groundbreaking research at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas.
From there, he moved on to the American Red Cross blood research laboratories, in Bethesda, Maryland. “It was there that I began to notice that I was deeply unhappy and dissatisfied with doing research,” says Marcum, who recognized a longing for something other than a mental challenge and intellectual gratification. “I wanted personal fulfillment, and with my background in chemistry, it appeared to me that my best option was medical school, even though I was getting a late start at the age of 32,” he remarks.
Reflections on his father’s “if only” list of regrets, which included working at a secure job at the same company for 44 years, led Marcum to ascertain
that a leap of faith at any age was better than facing the end of life with a longer list of regrets than his father. He signed on with the military, which financed his education at the University of Miami. “I thought surgical oncology was what I wanted to do while serving in the Gulf War, but that wasn’t for me, either, because people were treated as diseases: ‘See the carotid in room 44 and the gall bladder in 32,’” recalls Marcum.
He ditched surgery and opted for a field that would allow him time to spend with patients and see them as whole beings. “In my opinion, the field in medicine where this occurs is psychiatry,” advises Marcum, who eventually studied with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis to treat his patients’ pain and other medical maladies.
After taking a workshop with Dr. Andrew Weil at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Marcum’s next pursuit was medical acupuncture, as an introduction to energy medicine. “I wanted to put together an integrative medical practice and call it syncretic medicine, the Greek word for the blending of beliefs and melding of ideas, but I noticed that people didn’t respond to the word,” notes Marcum.
He explains that while today’s acceptable terminology is mind/body/spirit medicine or integrative medicine, he prefers transformational medicine, which is a wisdom approach using whatever works to propel people through their transformational process. “I use the gentlest techniques very positively and practice ‘upstream,’ or preventive, medicine, rather than relying on downstream interventions, which are often more complex and dangerous,” he advises.
Marcum embraces Western medicine as just one of the tools in his box. While he was investigating additional approaches such as qigong, Reiki and other energy practices, he discovered that he resonated so well with shamanic medicine, which tunes into a person’s energetic and spiritual aspects, that he used it to fully heal his atrial fibrillation and raging depression.
“I found my teacher, Alberto Villodo, Ph.D., on Amazon.com,” he says with a chuckle. “Alberto is a Renaissance man and like me, was a university researcher before following his destiny to the real Amazon and holy mountains of Peru.” A shaman of the Inka lineage, Villodo brought the wisdom tradition north to found The Four Winds Society and the Healing the Light Body School, in Park City, Utah. “My wife and I studied with Alberto and embrace the shamanistic world view that honors the value of scientific materialism, along with a universe alive with spiritual energy, all in the service of healing,” enthuses Marcum.
A recent transition brought Marcum to Naples, where he realized his dream of practicing transformational medicine with David Perlmutter, M.D., at the Perlmutter Health Center. “To delve deeper into the rich synergy of cutting-edge neuroscientific medicine and energy healing, I urge everyone to read Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment, which my friends and colleagues, David and Alberto, co-authored,” advises Marcum, who now has not even one “if only” on his list.
Contact Dr. Marcum at Perlmutter Health Center, 800 Goodlette Road N., Naples, FL 34102. Call 239 649-7400 or visit PerlHealth.com.