What is the Council of Oriental Medical Publishers and why does Paradigm support their efforts?
C.O.M.P., the Council of Oriental Medical Publishers, is a group of writers and publishers who accept the importance of labeling the sources of information in books, articles and multimedia products that make claims about acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, massage therapy, and other healing traditions from East Asia. Put bluntly—and over simply—there are two schools of thought about East Asian medicine. Some believe that East Asian healing arts like Chinese Medicine are "fuzzy." They propose that these arts contain so many multiple meanings and imprecise concepts that practitioners for whom personal clinical experience is the unique or primary source of understanding must interpret the information for English-speaking readers. Thus, they believe Chinese medicine is conceptually small enough that it can be transmitted by individuals without refernce to a publically available Chinese medical dictionaries and that concepts need not be preserved in translation. In general, people who write or publish from this perspective do not provide C.O.M.P. labels on their books, do not reference a source of definitions beyond the context in which they are used, and provide relatively small glossaries with the books they write or publish. For a detailed view of these matters please see our References  section.
Our editorial policies are founded on a different view East Asian healing traditions. We perceive them to be a complex, multi-generational arts to which literally thousands of people have made important contributions. Thus, the source of an idea must be known if clinicians are to judge its utility for their own practices. It is not that we doubt the value of clinical experience—our translation teams always include senior Asian clinicians, often the originators of the information . To the contrary, we believe the clinical experience available in Chinese and Japanese is so valuable that the effort to transmit it in English deserves the scrutiny and contributions of many. We propose that even the everyday Chinese characters used in traditional healing arts (and these were by no means the only characters used) were given specific meaning by the shared experience of apprenticeship and the generations of medical literature available to those who read Asian languages. Thus, we begin with the assumption that Chinese terms have meanings specific to time, place and technical application. The terminology and nomenclature is not only large, sophisticated and technical but are rooted in the cultures that created the ideas. People who write or publish from this perspective, tend to use a standard dictionary or gloss so that their peers can examine their work and their readers can reference the definitions they have used. For us then, C.O.M.P. is both a reader service and a public responsibility. This does not imply that there is no role for personal exposition and opinion about Chinese medicine, or that there is no need for books that summarize or abbreviate traditional Asian medical concepts for readers who will not apply them clinically, for students early in their learning careers, or to familiarize conventional Western medical practitioners. It means only that we believe that Asian writers should be given a real chance to be heard and understood in their own voice. Further reading about these issues is available on our R eferences  pages.
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