Mehl-Madrona, Lewis 1954- (Lewis Mehl Madrona)

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Mehl-Madrona, Lewis 1954- (Lewis Mehl Madrona)


Born January 26, 1954, in Berea, KY; son of Emma Francis Bradley; children: Sorrel Isherwood, A. Yarrow Madrona, Julianna Madrona, Takoda Mehl Madrona. Education: Indiana University, B.A., 1972; Stanford University, M.D., 1975; Psychological Studies Institute, Ph.D., 1980.


Home—Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Office—Department of Family Medicine, West Winds Primary Health Centre, University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, 3311 Fairmont Dr., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7M 3Y5, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


University of Wisconsin, Madison, resident in family medicine, 1975-76, resident in psychiatry, 1976-77; St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco, CA, resident in psychiatry, 1982; University of Texas, Houston, resident in family practice, 1991-92; University of Vermont, Burlington, resident in family practice, 1992-94, resident in psychiatry, 1994-96; University of Hawaii, Honolulu, associate professor of family practice, 1996-97; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, medical director, 1997-2000; Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY, special projects and clinical programs director, 2000-02; University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry, 2002-05; University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, associate professor of family medicine and psychiatry, 2005—. Emergency room physician in WI, NM, CA, NY, and VT hospitals, 1976—.


Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Association (member of board of directors, 1992-93).


Minority Fellowship Award, American Psychiatric Association/National Institute of Mental Health, 1976-77; postdoctoral fellowship in alcohol research, Prevention Research Center, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 1990-91; Excellence in Research as a Family Practice Resident Award, American Academy of Family Practice, 1993; Best workshop presentation, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, Northeast regional meeting, Akron, OH, 1993; David Cheek Award for contributions in perinatal psychology, Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, 1999.


(With G.H. Peterson) Pregnancy as Healing: Holistic Philosophy for Prenatal Care, Resources for World Health (Tucson, AZ), 1984.

(With G.H. Peterson) Cesarean Birth: Risk and Culture, Resources for World Health (Tucson, AZ), 1985.

Mind and Matter: Healing Approaches to Chronic Disease, 2nd edition, Resources for World Health (Tucson, AZ), 1986.

Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.

Coyote Healing: Miracles in Native Medicine, Bear (Rochester, VT), 2003.

Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing, Bear (Rochester, VT), 2005.

Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process, Bear (Rochester, VT), 2007.

Contributor of chapters to books, including Safe Alternatives in Childbirth, edited by David Stewart and Lee Stewart, NAPSAC Publications (Marble Hill, MO), 1976; Childbirth at Home, by M. Sousa, Prentice Hall (New York, NY), 1976; 21st Century Obstetrics Now, edited by David Stewart and Lee Stewart, NAPSAC Publications (Marble Hill, MO), 1977; Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting; Coping with Medical Issues, edited by P. Ahmed, Elsevier-North Holland (New York, NY), 1978; Safe Alternatives in Childbirth, by David Stewart and Lee Stewart, NAPSAC Publications (Marble Hill, MO), 1978; The Place of Birth, by R.D. Davis and S. Kitzinger, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1980; Proceedings of the Vth International Conference of Shamanism, edited by R. Heize, University of California Department of Asian Studies (Berkeley, CA), 1988; Encounter with the Unborn, edited by Peter Fedor-Freyburgh, Parthenon (London, England), 1989; Shaman's Path, edited by G. Doore, Shambala (Boulder, CO), 1989; Proceedings of the VIth International Conference on Shamanism, edited by R. Heize, University of California Department of Asian Studies (Berkeley, CA), 1989; Imagery Therapy, edited by R. Kunzendorf, Plenum Press (New York, NY), 1990; Proceedings of the VII International Conference on Shamanism, edited by R. Heize, University of California Department of Asian Studies (Berkeley, CA), 1990; Procedures in Family Practice, by W.B. Saunders (Philadelphia, PA), 1994.

Contributor to professional and popular journals, including Biochemistry and Biophysics Research Community, International Journal of Neurosurgery, Birth, Journal of Family Practice, Comprehensive Obstetrics and Gynecology, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Women and Health, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, World Journal of Psychosynthesis, American Journal of Psychiatry, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Birth Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Nurse Midwifery, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, Mothering, Journal of Regression Therapy, International Journal of Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, AHP Perspectives, Journal of Surgical Oncology, International Journal of Perinatal Studies, Acta Obstetrica Gynecologica scandinavia, Midwifery Today, Computers in Biology and Medicine, Archives of Family Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, Drug and Alcohol Dependency, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Alternative Health Practitioner, Tucson Lifeline, Healthy and Natural, Natural Health, and East-West Journal.


Native American psychiatrist and physician Lewis Mehl-Madrona is the author of several books on the practice of alternative medicine: Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing, Coyote Healing: Miracles in Native Medicine, Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing, and Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process. His work draws on his understanding of his heritage as well as his background in Western medicine. "Since graduating from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1975," the doctor wrote in a Natural Health magazine article, "I have practiced emergency and scientific medicine for more than two decades, in hospitals from California to New York. I have the utmost respect for what we can do with patients who are on the brink of death. But I have also come face to face with the many limits of modern medicine. As wonderful as our scientific tools are, we remain unable to heal many of the patients who suffer from chronic illnesses."

Many in the medical community dismiss alternative medicine as unproven, faith-based, or otherwise unhelpful. Mehl-Madrona thinks otherwise. He "includes therapies in his practice that he or his patient believes will be helpful, even if they have not been validated scientifically," wrote a contributor to Natural Health, in an article that included a long interview with the physician. "He claims that such therapies are often helpful, while scientifically-proven treatments many times are not. Mehl-Madrona believes that his patients often know what the right treatment is, and he sees himself as their guide, someone who is helping them make the right decision." "I call the medicine I now practice ‘coyote medicine,’" Mehl-Madrona continued in his Natural Health article, "because among certain tribes in Mexico that term means ‘half-breed.’ I happen to be a half-breed Cherokee and I grew up watching my Cherokee great-grandmother perform healing ceremonies. But I'm also a half-breed doctor since I've adopted both the medicine I witnessed as a boy and what I learned in medical school. I think both are powerful and both necessary."

Mehl-Madrona's books detail the journey of healing as a discipline. They draw on the power of storytelling as a way of guiding individuals—many of whom have not found relief in western medicine—toward finding their own ways to health. "The first, Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing, published in 1997, is still in print. In it, he tells his own story, taking readers through his medical training and early explorations of American Indian healing practices," explained Patricia West-Barker in an article for the Santa Fe New Mexican. "The second, Coyote Healing, focused on elements common to healing stories and the people who use them to improve their well-being." "His third book, Coyote Wisdom," West-Barker concluded, "shares stories he tells to inspire people to believe that healing is possible."

Coyote Medicine details some of the problems Mehl-Madrona found with western medicine while he was still a student at Stanford. "Horrifying examples of incompetence and the power of ego-driven doctors to silence protest, plus their refusal to listen," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer, pushed the young doctor in new directions. It was "difficult for him to knuckle under to the bureaucratic, overly mechanical responses of modern medicine," William Beatty wrote in his Booklist review. Drawn toward his Native American roots, Mehl-Madrona began exploring traditional healing rituals. He discovered a common thread in these rituals: each of them involves the creation of a narrative that describes the nature of the disease (in the patient's own words). By continuing the narrative, Mehl-Madrona came to believe that patients can bring the healing power of their own minds and bodies into harmony, activating autoimmune responses and curing a variety of diseases. "He begins by carefully listening to the patient's creation story about getting sick and listening for clues to determine which treatments will work and which will not," declared Jule Kottner in the Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine. "Then, he seeks a story that will offer the person alternatives, other ways of viewing and dealing with the situation." "All readers," concluded Natalie Kupferberg in Library Journal, "will enjoy and learn from this book."

The relationship between imagery and healing remains important in all of Mehl-Madrona's works on Native American and other alternative healing therapies. "For a Native American healer, the first step in treating a person is to listen," the physician wrote in his Natural Health article. "We climb into the world of the patients and see things through their eyes. This means we listen without judging or categorizing—we never simply take a history of prior complaints, procedures, and allergies. The next step is to have the patient create a metaphor for the illness. With such a concrete image, the healer can construct a ceremony to fight it. What kind of ceremony to conduct depends on the images the patient has used to describe the illness." That symbolism is key to presenting the patient with a storyline that will lead him (or her) out of the confusion of the sickness. Mehl-Madrona sees the ability of patients to heal themselves as part of a progression of treatment options available to modern medical workers. "In an ideal setting," he stated in his Natural Health interview, "we start off by treating minor symptoms with lifestyle adjustment and with psychotherapy. We then graduate into herbal medicines or more aggressive natural therapies. And then we move into pharmaceuticals or surgical therapies. There's a natural progression in which the so-called alternative therapies are actually complementary and take their place as prevention, as early treatment, and as helpful treatments even in cases where someone has a severe illness and is on multiple medications." "When one of these offbeat remedies actually works, he says," wrote O magazine, contributor Chee Gates, "the big question is whether it's due to medicinal properties or because it ‘taps into other energies that promote healing.’ As long as alternative medicine is here to beckon such controversy, drug companies had better get comfy with the competition."



Booklist, February 1, 1997, William Beatty, review of Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing, p. 916; May 1, 2005, Rebecca Maksel, review of Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing, p. 1556.

Library Journal, February 15, 1997, Natalie Kupferberg, review of Coyote Medicine, p. 156.

Natural Health, May 1, 1997, "Call Me Coyote," September 1, 1998, "Alternative Medicine: Under the Microscope."

O magazine, September 1, 2005, Chee Gates, "But Do They Work? Are They Quirky or Quacky? What Nine Alternative Remedies Can Do for You. Chee Gates Reports," p. 152.

Publishers Weekly, January 6, 1997, review of Coyote Medicine, p. 57.

Santa Fe New Mexican, May 16, 2005, Patricia West-Barker, "Doctor Brings ‘Coyote Wisdom’ to Town."

Skeptical Inquirer, July 1, 2000, "SRAM Articles Lead to Alternative Medical Doctor's Resignation," p. 5.

Total Health, June 1, 2003, "Medicine in a Quantum Universe."

Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine, May 1, 2007, "The Healing Power of Story," p. 135.

Whole Earth, winter, 1997, Andrew Weil, review of Coyote Medicine, p. 94.

Whole Life Times, October 1, 1997, "Medicine Man, M.D.: Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona," p. 48; April 1, 2005, review of Coyote Wisdom, p. 34.


Inner Traditions Web site, (August 21, 2008), "Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D."

Kripalu, (August 21, 2008), author profile.

Southwestern College Web site, (August 21, 2008), author profile.