Tag Archives: diagnosis

Why Is It So Hard to Find Urgency? Part 2

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This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Art of Getting Out of the Way.”

3. Until we’re willing to experience the nature and extent of the pain we’re in, we have a limited perspective on our situation and how to find a way out of it. Urgency springs from a transfer of energy that occurs when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the pain underlying an habitual behavior or emotional state. The energy that was applied to suppressing the pain becomes available when we stop the suppression. It is a shift from a mental effort—suppression—to an effortless act—being vulnerable to our feelings.

That available energy is what we draw from to stay grounded and make a conscious decision to change an undesirable situation. Without that available energy, having a choice in the situation is in name only, because we will reflexively choose our conditioned, default behavior time and time again.

By the time we’re young adults, we’ve portioned out all almost all of our life force toward propping up a persona that we can live with and display to the public. Unfortunately, the script written for that persona is based on childhood adaptive strategies, traumas (real and perceived), borrowed beliefs, misinterpretations, fantasies, and false information. Besides making it very difficult to have a direct experience of what is right in front of us, it is our unwillingness to disassemble this web of misperceptions that stands between us and urgency.

In addition, episodes of illness and injury are woven into the story of our life and become associated with repressed emotions, such that a complete healing of the physical ailment requires revisiting the unresolved emotional component. We often fear what may lie on the other side of healing, because it will likely include the exposure of our hidden agendas around maintaining a certain degree of pain in our lives, and those agendas have to be sacrificed in order to achieve real healing.

In my 15 years in health care, I’ve watched clients (and myself) repeatedly choose chronic pain and illness—even death– over honest self-examination. We permit a depth of healing that corresponds to, but does not exceed, the degree of self-exposure that our ego can comfortably handle. In other words, the depth of our healing is directly proportional to how badly we want to know who we are and what motivates our behavior.

4. The mind leverages small discomforts to exert maximum control over our access to urgency. There is a whole universe of sensations and feelings that informs us about our emotional, psychological, and physical state at any given moment, but our mind dutifully chooses which ones to recognize and which ones to ignore and suppress based on the version of reality we’ve painstakingly assembled.

On cue, our mind-body produces mild, context-specific discomforts that signal the very tip of the pain we will have to confront in order to create change in our lives. However, these physical annoyances are not consciously acknowledged as heralding fear, rage, shame or whatever taboo emotion threatens us so profoundly. The more undefined the danger, the more the mind can keep us under its thumb. These discomforts and annoyances surface in that slippery interface between our everyday awareness and the unconscious, and may take many forms: jaw clenching, chest tightness, holding one’s breath, drowsiness, sour stomach, dizziness, and neck pain, to name just a few.

The discomfort’s message is a subtle, but powerful implication that whatever repressed emotions are uncovered will result in a worst-case scenario: death, destruction, public humiliation, or total loss of control. Until the repressed emotion is actually allowed expression, it is only indicated by this sensation-based signature of the repressed emotion.

Here’s an example. A man desperately wants to tell his father he loves him, but every time the thought occurs to him it is accompanied by a tightening of his throat. This has occurred so many times over the years that he no longer notices the discomfort, although without fail it has the effect of squelching the simple words, “Dad, I love you.” The throat tightening delivers the message that if he were to tell his father this simple fact, something bad will happen. It also masks the real reason he cannot say these words: a deep resentment for something that happened in childhood for which he’s never forgiven his father.

Not telling his father he loves him is the son’s way of withholding love in payment for that episode that happened so long ago. The underlying statement is, “I won’t tell you I love you until you admit that you were wrong.” The throat constriction is tied to the son’s inability to relinquish being right about the incident, and the trade-off is the loss of emotional connection to his father.

Since the son will not consciously admit to himself that he cannot let go of a petty grudge against the person who raised him, all that remains is the throat tightening to control his behavior. The end result is the son’s rationalization, “It just wasn’t the right time. I’ll tell him the next time I see him.” And urgency is successfully sidestepped yet again.

This is one of the mind’s primary methods of keeping us in our prison, both at the individual and collective levels. In this way, our past is always informing our present experience, and spontaneity, hence urgency, is kept at bay.

5. The mind may create a constant crisis state to avoid real urgency. This is a very successful strategy as evidenced by people who use rehab like a vacation home, make a hobby of attending multiple support groups, use permanent disability as a gravy train, or spend all their time putting out other people’s fires. If a person’s baseline state is to be in a crisis situation, how will he possibly be able to discern when he actually is in a crisis?

Hitting bottom for these people will be elusive, since bottom has become the norm. This phenomenon also attests to the extremely subjective nature of pain. Someone may, for instance, be willing to subject himself to the physical pain of heroin withdrawal, but not have the courage to confront the shame that fuels the addiction.

For someone to escape from this horrible trap, they have to recover a baseline experience of well-being, or at least neutrality. For someone who has lived her entire life in a crisis mode, this can be extremely threatening because feeling good has become such an alien experience and is not easily trusted.

If healing completely is too much of a threat to a victim identity, then the mind knows precisely where to draw the line to feel just well enough to keep the identity operational.

Wellness Briefs–“Medication Toxicity”

All of the conditions described in these posts are effectively treated with Pattern Release Energetics (PRE).

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Do you ever wonder why pharmaceuticals have endless lists of possible serious side effects? One reason is because after our bodies have made maximum use of the medication and excreted as much of the excess as possible, whatever traces of it remain can get stored in a variety of tissues, including muscle, nerve, brain, and organ tissues. Residual medication can settle in these tissues indefinitely and create a toxic environment that can persist long after the medication has been discontinued. This toxicity can produce symptoms such as chronic muscle and joint pain, nerve pain (neuropathy), organ system dysfunction, allergies, headaches, and insomnia.

Chemotherapy meds, antibiotics, antidepressants, interferon, blood pressure medication, and blood thinners are just a few of the medications I’ve encountered stored in clients’ tissues and causing the previously mentioned symptoms. The mere fact that a person must be weaned off a medication already suggests that his or her system has become unnaturally accustomed to having the substance in its tissues, since it is considered risky to simply stop altogether. As with infections, stimulation of the lymph system with PRE encourages the body to release medication toxicity in a safe and efficient manner.

Unfortunately, medication is often used as a long-term treatment strategy which makes the body dependent, lazy, and unresponsive. Over time, this can result in the medication causing the very same symptoms that it was intended to eradicate. If you have symptoms whose origins no one has been able to trace, and you’ve been on a prolonged course of a medication at some point in your life, then medication toxicity should be considered as a possible source.

Wellness Briefs–“Infection Medley”

All of the conditions described in these posts are effectively treated with Pattern Release Energetics (PRE).

http://www.patternreleaseenergetics.com

For both people and pets, multiple types of infections often occur concurrently. For example, an infection constellation composed of bacterial, viral, yeast, and fungal sources, or any combination of these, is common. If only the bacterial component is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, it can obscure, and perpetuate, the other infectious elements. In fact, antibiotics can actually create the environment for these other infections to enter the scene in the first place.

The non-bacterial infections may mimic the symptoms of a bacterial infection, so it’s essential to know what exactly is present from the start, before the picture is muddied with any external stimuli. The dangers of indiscriminate use of antibiotics have been known for decades now, but it is still surprisingly rampant.

A grouping of different infections needs to be released layer by layer, in a specific sequence dictated by your mind-body. Otherwise, the healing is incomplete and encourages what is referred to as a “chronic, low-grade infection” or some such wording. Very often, there are emotional patterns that are being repressed in association with a particular infection layer, and these also need to be identified along with the infection type. Infections of any kind can be quickly cleared through activation of the lymph system with PRE, and people can easily be taught how to do this for themselves, as well.

The Intervention Fallacy: Part III, Freeing Yourself from the Cycle

This is the final installment of a three-part series.

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[The approach to self-healing that I use in my Pattern Release Energetics work is described in detail in my e-book, “Activate Your Inner Physician,” available through amazon.com, but this post is intended to summarize the principles behind it.]

Breaking the habit of intervention and re-learning how to heal oneself is–pardon the cliché—simple, but not easy. The first step, of course, is to stop intervening or allowing others to intervene whenever you have an uncomfortable, disturbing, or unfamiliar sensation, pain, emotional reaction, or obsessive thought. This at least gives you a chance to discover what experience is being short-circuited with intervention. Most often it’s an encounter with hidden beliefs, repressed memories, and unexpressed emotions.

Since we’ve taught ourselves to fear this encounter, we need a strategy to replace our default response of suppression, and develop a different relationship to pain and discomfort. We start by restoring the lines of communication between our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. These lines of communication are silenced over time as we’re socially conditioned to regard a human being as a compartmentalized phenomenon.

I teach people breathing and grounding to create a foundation for reestablishing this communication and encouraging the mechanism of expressive healing. These two tools provide a means to stay anchored while focusing on the symptom you’ve chosen to explore. Then you rotate your attention between all the physical sensations and emotional components that accompany the symptom, which might be described as a voluntary embracing of chaos.

This causes a type of tension to surface caused by the mind raising its resistance to examining the deeper sources of the symptom. Allowing this tension to build while staying grounded erodes the false compartments between body, thought, emotion, and sensations, and enables a freer flow of information between the conscious mind, the hidden self, and the physical body. By simply choosing not to suppress this experience, you are harnessing the healing forces inside you and encouraging them to interact until a resolution occurs.

This may feel very foreign at first, because in American culture we’re generally encouraged to resolve tension as quickly as possible, regardless of the context. The creative possibilities that non-resolution of tension engenders are unimaginable to the conscious mind, whose agenda is to choose either black or white and then rigidly defend whatever it’s chosen. In expressive healing, black and white are allowed to occupy the same space until they work it out and a third possibility reveals itself: healing. Tension and chaos are essential elements in expressive healing, and they are precisely what are trampled on with a suppressive approach. This is not a logic that can be reproduced by the intellect.

Another way of describing this approach is that it’s a way to make yourself vulnerable to yourself. Until you can do that, making yourself vulnerable to anyone else is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Vulnerability–the willingness to feel–is necessary to access whatever is trying to get our attention through disease, illness, pain, or dysfunction.

We like to think of ourselves as feeling beings, but until we’re actually asked to feel we don’t realize how profoundly intellectualized our experience of life has become. We say all the time that we want to feel more alive, but are we willing to experience what that really feels like after a lifetime of being programmed into a narrow band of feeling and self-expression? It’s not a stretch to imagine, for example, that your personal experience of feeling more alive might get you a diagnosis of bipolar disorder from certain mental health professionals.

Becoming a more feeling person doesn’t mean having one’s emotions spill all over the place at the drop of a hat. It involves being able to sense and honestly evaluate one’s internal state at any given time. Am I angry? Am I jealous? Is alcohol destroying my liver? Do I get a headache every time I visit my sister? Have I fallen out of love with my husband? Do I hold my breath when I talk to my boss?

Recovering one’s self-healing abilities is a solitary pursuit, because you’re not going to find much support for it out there. There is an unceasing exposure to elements that reinforce the intervention model, and the degree to which society attempts to keep a lid on our fundamental ability to heal ourselves is daunting, to say the least. If you do pursue it with some commitment, you’ll realize more and more how our culture’s approach to living one’s life is about suppression in practically every context you can imagine.

The point of all this is not to skate through life in some pain-free state or “tidy things up” emotionally. That’s a big part of the problem to begin with since tidying up suggests that certain emotions are unacceptable. It’s to observe, feel, acknowledge, and express. It’s a way to become more aware of why we do what we do, think what we think, and how that makes us feel on both a physical and emotional level. We can take the initiative to begin unwinding ourselves right now, or go with the flow and wait until life beats the crap out of us yet again, or we wait for the wake-up call of an emergency level of crisis.

 

The Intervention Fallacy: Part II, The Illusion of the Health Care Practitioner

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First, a few definitions.

Vulnerability: A willingness to feel. This applies to physical sensations as well as emotions. Without it, healing does not happen in this model.

Conscious mind: Everyday awareness. Some of its tasks are to categorize and label, interpret sensory data, and search for meaning. A few of its qualities are resistance to change, avoidance of chaos, fear of death, and a need to be right.

Hidden self: Those aspects of being human that the conscious mind judges as undesirable and hides from view. Whatever doesn’t correspond to the personality and image that the conscious mind wants to show the world is banished to the hidden self. This includes cultural and religious taboos, socially unacceptable attributes, unpleasant memories, and painful emotions

Wholeness: A human being’s fundamental yearning to merge the conscious mind with the hidden self to experience a greater range of expression.

Healing: A movement toward wholeness.

This series began with the statement, “All healing is self-healing.” So, where does the health care practitioner fit in?

A lot of what passes for health care is the equivalent of an athletic trainer who gives an injured player a painkiller injection and sends her back into the game. Nothing is done to address the acute or chronic injury/illness pattern, and the messages of the mind-body are totally disregarded through suppression.

Sometimes we’re sick or in pain because something inside us is trying to keep us out of the game, and will continue to do so until we get the message. Let’s say we’re working 12-hour days to avoid being alone with the pain of our divorce, and as a result we’ve got daily migraines. In that case, a practitioner who simply prescribes migraine medication is enabling our addiction to a lifestyle that’s literally making us sick. We’re all familiar with the custom of killing the messenger who brings unwelcome news, but the intervention model of health care kills the messenger before we even have a chance to hear the message.

Training or certification in any therapy or healing art only grants someone the possibility of participating in a person’s healing, to be in a position where others can make themselves vulnerable to him or her, and vice versa. Unfortunately, all the focus is on training, technique, and how many letters the practitioner has after his or her name. Because we’ve set it up this way, the only way we can recover our permission to heal ourselves is by getting it from someone else, again and again. If we really pay attention, though, we may eventually remind ourselves that there’s only one doctor, and it’s inside of us. Does this diminish the role of the practitioner? On the contrary, this is a very privileged position! It’s just that American culture doesn’t value the quality of the practitioner’s presence over a bloated resumé.

This leads us to the patient-doctor role playing exercise, which itself is based on a lie: that there is a broken one and one that does the mending. In reality, the practitioner is no less broken than the patient. The irony is that by expressing symptoms of illness and dysfunction the mind-body is functioning optimally to inform us that the hidden self is asking for expression or recognition. However, standard medicine sees only undesirable symptoms, which it describes as “ill health” and sets about eradicating. Actually, it is suppressive approaches to health care that cause someone to be broken in the sense that the normal communication of signals between the conscious mind and hidden self is rendered non-functional.

If a treatment is to result in anything other than suppression, then it requires what I call “neutral witnessing” on the part of the practitioner. Among other things, being a neutral witness requires the self-discipline to NOT try to fix someone when they’re not broken in the first place, to NOT reinforce the client’s attachment to their diagnosis, and to be willing to play the practitioner role while knowing at the same time that it’s an illusion. It requires that the practitioner be vulnerable herself so that the patient’s vulnerability might actually result in a movement toward wholeness. In short, there’s the potential for real honesty, a rarity in any given human interaction. This creates an equal possibility for healing of both patient and doctor, but don’t tell that to the billing department.

Illness, disease, or dysfunction is held in place by belief, and if doctor and patient agree (consciously or not) to stop maintaining the beliefs that are holding it in place, the illness pattern can come undone. However, if both parties agree only to validate the beliefs around the symptom, and treat the diagnosis as gospel rather than as a point of departure, then they forge an agreement as to what is “wrong,” thus holding the illness patterns in place.

Because of our conditioning around intervention, our conscious mind requires proof that an acceptable means of external stimulation is occurring. Hence, the role of the technique or medicine. In the setting of neutral witnessing, however, a healing technique is akin to a ritual, in that an intention is represented in form to distract the conscious mind so that the hidden self has an opportunity to reveal itself. If a person’s repressed guilt and chronic muscle pain are inseparably linked, those elements have to communicate with each other in order for expressive healing to take place.

It’s the quality of the practitioner’s presence that really counts and not the technique, technology, or medication. This is not a suggestion to fire all of your health care providers! All of us look for permission from others before we’ll grant it to ourselves, and a lot of us will never learn how to give ourselves that permission. However, the further we can break down the limitations created by artificial patient-practitioner roles, the more vulnerability will be possible between both participants, and the greater the chances for a true healing experience.

Next time: The Intervention Fallacy: Part III, Breaking the Cycle

Separation in Health

The following is an excerpt from my e-book “Activate Your Inner Physician,” available at http://www.amazon.com.

Separation: The conscious mind’s attempt to maintain order by imposing artificial boundaries around aspects of mind and body. As a result we have the physical self, the emotional self, the psychological self, the spiritual self, etc. It is the opposite of movement and hence the opposite of healing. Pain and suffering are by-products of separation.

Our health care system is based on two falsehoods: that we will never die and that we’re entitled to a pain-free existence. When you create a model that denies two of the most fundamental truths of human existence, how can that not create separation of the highest order? And, if separation is what causes pain to be necessary in the first place, it follows that our accepted model of health actually sets the stage for pain and suffering.

We get funneled into various specialists who will treat the physical problem and one who will counsel you on the emotional and psychological issues, once again reinforcing in our minds that these are two unrelated problems. The linking of physical and emotional-psychological symptoms is often left up to the individual because very few practitioners will tell you that liver inflammation and repressed grief need to be treated as one event.

The multitude of diagnostic tests and procedures that grows daily is another reflection of this fractured perspective. A lab tech at the hospital is evaluating your blood glucose level while another tech across town at a private lab is testing the pH level of your urine. Talk about separation—your bodily fluids aren’t even in the same building!

One of the original Old English meanings of health is “whole.” The deep desire of the body-mind is to return to wholeness, and pain is the price for recognizing that we’re not whole. If health is meant to describe a whole experience, why can’t we talk about it without classifying it as “good” health or “poor” health, or applying a diagnosis to a feeling or a mental state?

Our conditioning to regard our minds and bodies as separate entities sets us up to become fodder for the health care machine. For example, our body has little opportunity to show us that it can heal an infection on its own, because we cannot hear the word infection without hearing the word “antibiotics” in the same breath. The mind will hold the infection in place until the actual physical proof of the antibiotic is presented to it in the form of a pill or an injection.

A good example of how separation permeates our language around health is how we regard a cancer diagnosis. The person is described as “battling cancer.” By definition, there has to be a winner and a loser in a battle. If the patient adopts this perspective, she has already compromised herself with this declaration of war, which is the equivalent to stating, “I am not my body and my body is the enemy.” How is she supposed to have compassion for an enemy that’s trying to kill her? Then she chooses a practitioner (her general in the battle against her disease), draws her line in the sand and goes to war against herself to eradicate the clues to her humanity.

If the patient survives and wins the battle, who or what exactly lost the battle? The standard answer would be, “Well, the cancer lost, of course!” On the contrary, the loser was more likely a deeper part of that person seeking attention–such as unexpressed regret or grief–and the only way to make itself known was through something as extreme as a life-threatening disease. It had otherwise run out of options. Since the mind will never equate cancer with our humanity this connection often goes unexamined. So, we congratulate the victor on avoiding yet another close call with self-recognition.

A woman’s breast cancer doesn’t heal because thousands of people are doing a 5K walk, which is just a gussied-up version of going to war. Who else marches but an army? Again, it’s an expression of separation. The only enemy to confront is in the mirror. Her healing, if it occurs, is a very private and unique event that cannot be marketed or branded, and if we want to help then we stay as neutral as possible about the disease.

Have You Been Saddled with a Garbage Can Diagnosis?

Have You Been Saddled With a Garbage Can Diagnosis? Part I

As a chiropractor I was often the last resort for someone whose experience with previous health care practitioners was less than satisfying. Kinda goes with the territory when working in a fringe profession. So, neither one of us had anything to lose. I would either be the latest source of that person’s dashed hopes or I’d be able to bring a fresh set of eyes and find something the doctors missed.

One of the shortcomings of the medical model is its reliance on diagnosis. A doctor often lives or dies with it, and so will the patient. This jump to identify and label can actually impede a healing process because it can severely restrict the condition’s freedom to reveal itself. Instead of witnessing what’s going on in front of us, we impose a diagnosis that is generated by the intellect and its relentless obsession to categorize, explain, and rationalize.

The establishment of a diagnosis is treated as a victory of sorts, as if to say, “now we know what we’re dealing with.” When our intellect feels like it has reached a resolution of sorts, then it will often abort all further investigation and fall into the default protocol associated with that particular diagnosis. All it does is relieve our poor assaulted psyches of the anxiety of uncertainty. Well, certainty is often our worst enemy.

Also, the next step after diagnosis is to suppress whatever has just been named. So, say goodbye to finding root causes if the goal is simply to push everything back below the surface and turn off the body’s distress signals. In the rush to identify and suppress, the clues to the condition’s source are trampled.

This is especially true of a so-called “garbage can diagnosis.” It’s a label that is slapped onto a symptom or group of symptoms because the practitioner doesn’t feel that the principle of do no harm extends to a willingness to say “I don’t know.” As health care practitioners, we sometimes trick ourselves into thinking that we have someone’s best interests in mind when all we’re doing is covering our ass as a professional.

GCD’s are superficial umbrella terms used to classify symptoms that can have a wide variety of possible origins. A GCD is a prime example of using language to obscure rather than clarify, something American culture has elevated to an art form in more arenas than we can count. For example, the diagnosis of sciatica might be applied to a condition whose root cause might be any of the following: muscle spasm, lumbar disk bulge or herniation, infection, fibula misalignment, or repressed grief.

GCD’s also worm their way into everyday language, which accentuates their superficial nature. The words “TMJ,” “impingement syndrome,” “chronic fatigue syndrome,” “fibromyalgia,” “tendonitis,” and “bursitis,” glibly trip off our tongue like we’re talking about the latest hijinks of some Hollywood beefcake.

A good indication that you’ve been slipped a GCD is that you don’t significantly improve with the treatment protocol that accompanies the diagnosis. The condition ends up being managed rather than resolved because the diagnosis is a cop-out in the first place, and thus can leave a person in health care purgatory for years. It can cause even more pain and stress for the patient just because someone thought they needed to give a name to something.

I’m only going to cover some of the most common ones I’ve encountered, and I’ll be making generalizations that are based on my own experience.

Fibromyalgia: This is the mother of all GCD’s. There was surely dancing in the streets in the medical community when this diagnosis finally hit the streets. No longer did GP’s have to wince at seeing these folks in the waiting room, and have the joy of telling them after a 30-minute phantom evaluation that “it’s all in your head.”

Conditions like these of global pain or chronic fatigue often remain mysteries because their origin is precisely in that area that most practitioners and patients don’t want to go–repressed emotions. This doesn’t mean that the physical pain is not real; it most certainly is as real as the pain from an acute ankle sprain. The difference, though, is that the pain is being generated by the body to inform the person that unless these emotions get some expression, the pain will persist.

One of the dangers of this diagnosis is that if the person is resolved to remain in the dark about their repressed emotions, now they’re free to use the diagnosis as official confirmation that there’s something wrong with them. So, the diagnosis becomes ammunition for behaviors and beliefs that further alienate the person from her/his true feelings. This is a GCD that can perpetuate a particularly brutal cycle of suppression, particularly if extended use of antidepressants is also part of the treatment protocol.

Pneumonitis, costochondritis, angina, thoracic outlet syndrome, dyspnea: I’ve lumped these together because I’ve seen them all applied to what turned out to be rib misalignments, which are quite common. This is sad, because rib misalignments are one of the simplest corrections to make, and generally provide a quick resolution to the problem. When ribs aren’t properly aligned, it can cause intense, knife-like pain, particularly with deep breaths and particular movements, such as twisting of the upper body. Other possible symptoms are numbness and tingling in the arm and hand, or poor circulation to the arm.

Ribs can be misaligned both in the front where they join the sternum, producing a pain which can mimic heart-related symptoms, or in the back where they join the spine. The cause is generally an acute injury, such as a fall or car accident, repetitive stress, or a period of intense coughing and/or sneezing.

Stay tuned! Part II of this blog post will include old favorites like TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome, leg length inequality, plantar fasciitis, scoliosis, tension headaches, and chronic low back pain.