Reverse Therapy website is now at the address below:
Reverse Therapy blog is on this page:
My blog has moved!
You can go to it by clicking on the link here
Look forward to seeing you there.
Here’s another video interview with one of our ex-clients, who recovered from a serious illness with Reverse Therapy.
Click here to watch.
The fact that it is the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, coincides neatly with my reading and talking about Mark Earls’ blog on emotions last night, which you can read for yourself by clicking here.
If I understand him rightly, Mark is saying that grief, of the kind we saw in epidemic form in the week after Diana’s car crash, has a primarily social function. The tears we shed are released by what I call Bodymind in order to signal to us that we are in need of comforting and, indeed, crying is also in itself soothing. And the tears also signal to other human being around us that it is time for them to exercise empathy and compassion.
Now this is certainly borne out by neuroscience. The brain creates the emotion of sadness and signals the release of tears automatically once the limbic system detects that we (or people close to us) have received a shock – usually connected to losing someone close to us. Tears are involuntary and we have no conscious control over them. According to Anthony Damasio, once we become aware of an emotion it turns into a feeling and we straight away connect to the body’s ‘thoughts’ about the situation we are in. At the same time, the body is using an elaborate system of hormonal and neural signals which dictate what we (and the people around us) ought to do next. These, in turn, should trigger such social activities as empathy, compassion, sharing and the offer of constructive help.
OK – all well and good. But I felt nothing at all for the Peoples’ Princess. I recall grouching to my wife on the morning of the funeral about ’stupid royal soap operas’ watched by people who had nothing better to do with their lives before I went off to my completely empty gym club. Coming back, there was my wife glued to the TV. I stared at the thousands watching outside Westminster Abbey while Elton John tinkled through ‘Candle in the Wind’. And – yes – before long I was blubbing too. But WHY THE HELL WAS I CRYING?
According to Mark Earls I cried because everybody else was crying. And they were grieving because they had lost someone important to them, because they were experiencing compassion for Diana’s two sons, and because they were sharing in what was seen then as a national disaster. The huge amount of money that was raised for Diana’s Charitable Fund attests to the help that followed.
However, it seems to me that this explanation – as true as it is for most people – doesn’t explain why I and many of my fellow republicans were crying. At this point I offer a deeper (or, if you prefer) an additional, explanation. It seems to me that I was crying for the same reason that some people cry at the theatre, or the opera, or when they recall the sufferings of Christ. They go through what Aristotle called ‘catharsis’ -a release and cleansing, indeed a celebration of the tragedy each one of us carries through life. The death of the heroine reminds us of our own death, the death of those we love and the terrifying suddenness of it all. We weep for our fragility but we also celebrate our ability to withstand it – so long as other people are there to stand with us.
So tears can have a mythic point too. It is Bodymind’s way of registering our what it means to be human.
I was recently sent this poem by Mevlana Jal-al-ud-Din Muhammad Rumi, the Persian Sufi mystic, poet and founder of the Mevlevi Order, the Whirling Dervishes. Thanks to Dr Angela McKenzie, who works with Reverse Therapy in Melbourne, for finding it for us. The translation is by Coleman Barks.
Two Kinds of Intelligence
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the center of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out.
This poem gets to the core of how we see the difference between cleverness and intelligence in Reverse Therapy. Cleverness is intellectual knowledge, which we acquire first in school and add to as we store information about the way things work in whatever we end up specializing in doing. Rumi says that personal intellect (Headmind) can take someone to the doctor but it can’t get him well. To get well, to be truly alive, to know God we must rely on another kind of intelligence. Rumi gives this a number of names – Love, Intelligence, the Angel, Wisdom, the Fountainhead – and he sees it working through the Heart, the Body, the Soul and personal Mind. It is fascinating to learn that Rumi was the founder of the Whirling Dervishes – a Sufi order which relies on music and dance in order to prepare for union with the divine. The intense, ecstatic, complicated dance rituals almost entirely drown out Headmind and leave the Dervish open to the Angel. Rumi spent most of his life combating the dry, academic, nit-picking approach to philosophy that was around in his day in the 13th century Ottoman empire. He was famous for his simple, direct, personal, grounded approach to enlightenment. And that is why his poetry is becoming increasingly popular in the West now.
You can read some more quotes from Rumi on this link here.
Reverse Therapy is part of a movement, bringing together neurology, the psychology of emotion, information science and therapy, in which are revising the very idea of what it means to be intelligent. We are showing that intelligence doesn’t show up very much in the head – but much more so in the body.
In a way we are only redressing a wrong turn that was taken with Descartes and other seventeenth century writers who argued that only Headmind, or ‘Reason’, can think. Intelligence, for most philosophers and scientists, means thinking logically, scientifically and rationally. A disembodied mind that deduces the cause of something and predicts what will happen next – and can decide on the right or wrong way to do something. Even funnier than this, some writers think that only Reason can decide between good and evil, right and wrong. Try asking a computer if it is better to risk your own life for the sake of a child!
Our new take on intelligence is something like this: An intelligent response occurs when a) one piece of information is translated into something else b) the information is evaluated c) a response is emitted d) the results are evaluated e) information about the result is stored f) learning takes place.
A single-cell organism like an amoeba can do a), b) and c) when it changes the direction it swims in according to the amount of protein that is available to it. But it can’t do d), e) and f) because it doesn’t have a body (more than one cell) or a brain. But a dolphin, for example, can do all of these. Plus – like most human beings it can also do g) communicate what it has learnt to other people.
The evaluation bit takes place because mammals are capable of having emotions, unlike computers. It is Bodymind that does the evaluation – deciding whether something is important/not-important, good/bad or right/wrong. And this is why, in many respects, Bodymind is more intelligent than Headmind.
Bodymind translates what it senses into energy, into emotion, into passion and into alarm signals of various kinds. Here are some examples of the way in which Bodymind ‘thinks’.
• The body can ‘read’ other people and simulate an emotion that person is having so that you or I can empathize with them. In that way a mother can quickly tell what mood her child is in. This is also the basis for the human quality of compassion for others, even animals. Our intuitions about other people work in a similar way. Using sensory information, the brain picks up signals from the other person’s body language and – using a process that works in less than a tenth of a second – pattern-matches those signals against information stored from past experiences. That is why we can have a gut feeling that someone is not trustworthy within two minutes of meeting her without knowing why. The body is using coded signals to alert us to a potential problem.
• In collaboration with the thinking centers the brain can decide what is important or not important. If something is important to us we might get an adrenalin rush. If it is not we will feel nothing at all. Research into people with damage to the frontal areas of the brain (which decode emotion) show that they are unable to make decisions because they don’t have a good or bad feeling that tells them the right decision to make. Knowing what is important also helps Bodymind conserve energy. We can go without sleep if we are trying to achieve something really important. Conversely, if there is little for us to do, Bodymind can send us to sleep early. Or it could turn on the emotion of boredom to signal that it’s time to do something more interesting.
• The body can strengthen a relationship by creating emotions connected to love. Sometimes this is automatic, as when a a child is born. Sometimes it comes with time as we learn more about the other person. The emotions of love are, as almost all of us know, powerful and sometimes overwhelming.
• The brain uses sleep time to organize memories from the day just gone. It stores what is important and deletes the rest. It also creates dreaming states in order to work through the emotions that come with different experiences. This is one reason why insomniacs have poor concentration – they are overloaded with undigested experiences.
• Bodymind grounds us to life. It does this firstly through our moods. At any given moment the body is monitoring where we are, who we are with and what we are doing, and providing us with a running commentary on our relationship with the environment. Moods aren’t emotions but they are feeling states which work closely with our thoughts. The most well-known mood is the depressed state, which goes with discouragement and sadness. But others include exhilaration, calm, determination, discontent and the feeling of being ‘under pressure’. Most often, moods are hardly noticeable and form a kind of background hum which is constantly shifting as we go through the flow of the day.
• Another way the body grounds us to life is through the sense of awe: we are connected to nature, to the divine, and to life itself by the unspeakable sense that we are serving a purpose higher than ourselves. In that way Bodymind intelligently motivates us to make the best we can of our abilities and to serve others.
I actually found it hard to write something about this topic….nothing I ever wrote seemed quite right so I had to keep re-working what I wrote until it sounded ok…again and again…and it still isn’t right…..Seriously, the real reason I found it hard to write about this subject was that it takes me into an area in which it becomes hard to distinguish between Bodymind-generated emotions and Headmind-generated obsessions. So, thanks to one of my readers for suggesting this subject, you have stimulated me to work harder at making these distinctions clearer. And the result will be that I am going to write a series of blogs about pseudo-emotions like:
The first thing to get clear about is the difference between an emotion and an obssession.An emotion is a signal sent by Bodymind to let us know that it is time for action, in the moment, on something that is bothering us. So, for example, fear signals come up when we are in danger or are vulnerable in some way. Typically, fear is a powerful, visceral emotion that prompts us for immediate action.An obsession is not an emotion although like a lot of other states (resentment, despair, worry) it can feel like one. Partly this is because obsessions are mixed up with emotions created by Bodymind, partly also because they tend to come with the state of anxiety.An obsession comes about because Headmind is worried about something. In the case of perfectionism the worry is that the person can never get it right and will therefore be criticised, rejected and hurt. The basis for this problem is conditioning. Somewhere along the way the child’s Headmind picked up the script ‘No matter how hard you try you will never be good enough’. A lot of people blame the Parents for scripts like these although, in my experience, Teachers and Priests are often the real culprits.The pity of it all is that there is absolutely no need for anyone to worry about having to get it all right. If you are out of your depth on something then Bodymind will trigger the fear signal to tell you to go and ask a few questions or get some help. But this is precisely what is disallowed by Headmind – the Perfectionist cannot ask for help because that would be to admit failure – imperfection. So he has to do it all by himself.In later life Headmind keeps playing these scripts every time a new challenge comes up. So each time the person settles down to do some work Headmind triggers the worry first, and then the obsession with ‘getting it all perfect’. With the sub-script – ‘work harder, you miserable failure’. That can get very scary. But each time Fear is created to remind us to get some help that is interpreted by Headmind as fresh evidence that the person is ‘imperfect’ triggering the script all over again.Now, if you spend too long doing the same thing over and over again then Bodymind is going to create the emotion known as frustration. That will be prompting you to give yourself a break. But when Headmind notices frustration coming up, it misinterprets that as fresh evidence of failure. So the script gets triggered again, and again and again.I will write more about the solution to perfectionism and other obsessional states in a later blog. But the first step towards breaking free of the trap is to disobey the script, own up to being ‘a failure’ and go and have some fun instead.
Here is the third in a series of video interviews with ex-clients talking about their experience with Reverse Therapy.
This one is with Josie Horton, who reached the Olympic Judo semi-finals in Barcelona in 1992.
She was ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 11 years before getting well.
You can watch Josie here.
A very good interview with Caroline, one of our clients, who recovered well from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome using Reverse Therapy. You can watch and listen to Caroline talking about her experiences by clicking on the link here.
In another interview with one of our clients, Francis describes the disastrous advice he was given about M.E. before he found the secret with Reverse Therapy. Click here to watch Francis.
This week Caroline Khambatta is guest contributor. Caroline has been developing the application of Reverse Therapy to Multiple Sclerosis. Below she describes the moving outcome of one such case.
A client I shall call ‘Ruth’ rang me last year asking me to treat her for MS.
She told me:
“Actually what I really want is the buzz back in my life. You’ve treated 2 friends of mine, one for Chronic Fatigue and one for Depression and both are buzzing and full of life. With all this pain and dizziness I have, I’ve lost that buzz. Can you help?”
Ruth had four treatments and reduced her symptoms by 70-100% and found that the more attention she paid to her body’s needs, the quieter the symptoms became. The first time they went away completely we both felt awed by what she had achieved and the possibility of what this could mean for others. The hairs on Ruth’s arm stood on end, as did mine on the back of my neck.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the myelin sheaths around the nerve cells are broken down, losing neural insulation. That often leads to lesions in the brain and loss of function within various muscle groups. Ruth was diagnosed with relapsing, remitting MS and although she had never been pain free during the time she had contracted the disease, she started to apply Reverse Therapy to the symptoms.
As a child, Ruth had been taught to bottle up any feelings she had and, instead, use rationalizations to guide her towards ‘doing the right thing’. After years of blocked emotions and unfulfilled needs her Bodymind was effectively using MS symptoms to alert her to the need for overdue change.
As Ruth started to treat her symptoms as messengers from Bodymind she became more aware of her emotions and what she really wanted to say or do. The first time she was symptom free was when she was totally tuned into her body and was planning what she wanted do to resolve a particular situation which involved a neighbour, who was making her life unbearable.
Here are some of the changes she has made:
She dropped her old rule that ‘pins and needles in my legs mean I must stay still’ and now acts on these in a different way. Usually, she wants to get up and move around or do something more interesting.
Being a very ‘polite’ person she found herself at the beck and call of others – only her symptoms stopped her from saying ‘yes’ to everyone. Now she speaks up and does what she wants to do more and more.
Ruth has started creating better balance in her life and doing fun things like walking to the pub with a friend.
Ruth also sorted out the problem with the neighbour. As a result, she felt physically lighter and symptoms dropped as soon as she decided she wasn’t going to put up with things any more and decided to move from the area and buy somewhere else with her boyfriend.
“I am more aware of my body, the relationship between my life pressure and my symptoms, I can walk better, feel more grounded and have reduced my symptoms by 70% most days and 100% on a really good day. Now I want to build up my strength and confidence.”
Other MS clients have started to take steps towards resolving upsetting issues and had the first evenings of pain free living since they could remember. Meeting up with a long lost son after 15 years created Frank’s first symptom free day in years.
A third client tells me that, having used Reverse Therapy for a few weeks, he has shifted from excruciating pain in his legs each evening to a level of discomfort that he finds tolerable.
Another client who is moving house and changing jobs noticed feelings coming back into her feet as soon as she decided to ask her husband for more help with the kids.
So far, of the clients we have worked with in Reverse Therapy, all those with Relapsing Remitting MS have been able to reduce their symptoms to some degree. We have only seen one client diagnosed with Progressive MS and she was able to achieve in increase in emotional balance, but it had no affect on her symptoms. In this case we believe the tissue damage was, sadly, too severe for symptoms to be reduced. All the clients who have managed to make their symptoms go quiet are overjoyed.
The implications, so far, are profound. It would seem that a Bodymind approach to symptom-healing can impact on illnesses traditionally regarded as ‘irreversible’.
- Autoimmune disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Reverse Therapy
- Zen Buddhism