Beyond the Shibboleth…

There are certain facets of life which I’ve accepted to be beyond my abilities for understanding. For instance, why do people in Texas buy full-sized diesel pickup trucks and drive them as if they’re racing in the Daytona 500? How is it that dogs feel the need to mark there territory one minute, and then work to cover their tracks the minute after?  Why is it that everyone thinks hummus is the best thing in the world next to sliced bread – or even on sliced bread? Does hummus even have a taste?

A patient’s mother admitted to me recently that the work we do doesn’t always make sense to her. She didn’t seem to be questioning our specific tactics; rather, her questioning was pointed towards the concepts of why Vision Therapy works on a more global scale. What exactly are we doing, say to the neurological system?  What changes are we actually affecting? She has been to the nay-saying pediatrician and ophthalmologist and endured their shibboleths explaining why Vision Therapy is fruitless. She has done her own research, spoken with other parents, and has even attended seminars discussing different intervention options; most of which denounced Vision Therapy.  And yet, she has decided to set aside the influx of common, and perhaps unconventional, wisdom and sits in our office once a week with her daughter, who incidentally, has improved by leaps and bounds.

A shibboleth – a word with biblical roots first used as a password of sorts in the times of the Gileadites from Ephraimites nearly 400 years ago – is modernly defined as a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning. This according to Mirriam-Webster.

Many of the challenges we face professionally, and many of the challenges faced by parents trying to navigate the fog of medical misinformation, are based right there; in the shibboleths.  Old sayings, commonly repeated phrases, outmoded ideas passed down from one generation to the next or one class of graduates to the next, concepts no one has visited or revisited in who knows how long being accepted as law. Most of them sound something like “it doesn’t work”. Lucky for most of our patients, and probably yours too, people can see beyond the rhetoric and are able to identify where the real possibilities lay. Much like this mother who wanted to better understand the moving parts involved with visual rehabilitative care and was taking it upon herself to acquire a better understanding. Some ask questions about neurology, some ask questions about superior obliques, some ask why other people downplay our abilities, and occasionally, some realize that asking more questions is the real answer.

Now, someone please pass the hummus…


Posted on December 24, 2015, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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