1) The Big Picture - Look at Patterns Instead of Pieces.
TCM's diagnosis includes all parts of the patient's environment: climate, available food, living space, work, and family. It also includes all parts of the patient and the status of the relationships between each organ, skin, muscle, channel, temperature mood, thought and more. At the end of the sorting and assembling all of that information we have an excellent picture of all processes happening with the patient.
2) TCM considers addiction to be self-medication.
Alcohol or meth are most commonly consumed for the fun feelings they bring and the party-like atmosphere people use them in. You might let loose a snarky laugh at the idea that addicts consume them for medicinal reasons. But if you've ever used Gatorade instead of water to rehydrate faster, had a cup of mint or chamomille tea to relax before sleeping, or eaten an energy bar to prevent an afternoon slump, you have self-medicated.
3) Many TCM signs are irrelevant in westrn medicine. A large number of TCM signs and symptoms that TCM considers signs or symptoms have no diagnostic significance to conventional medicine because Western medicine considers their type and intensity unrelated to a disease process.
All of the information gathered in the patient's history and physical examination are grouped according to the characteristics of a model; for instance Yin & Yang or The 5 Elements or The 8 Principles. This creates a list of the pathologies (AKA: imbalances) present in the patient and sorted according to diagnosis in the model used. The diagnosis of course, enables the selection of treatment principles from which specific treatment can be designed.
Simple Yin - Yang Example
Signs & Symptoms: red tongue body, reddish face, irritable, belligerent, cannot hold still - fidgets or paces, speaks with hands in large motions, soft voice, anxious, bitter taste in mouth, headache at the top of the head, ringing in the ears, tight stomach, churning stomach, cold hands and feet, fatigue.
Sorting by Yin & Yang
Yang: red tongue and face, belligerence, constant motion, tight and/or churning stomach, large movements.
Yin: cold hands and feet, fatigue, soft voice.
Unsorted: ringing in the ears, anxious, headache, bitter taste in mouth, irritable
Yang Excess pattern, Yin injured by Yang Excess pattern
Decrease Yang Qi, Increase Yin Qi