Thursday, January 30, 2014

insulin coma therapy...

i've written before about the example of insulin shock therapy. its a good case in point for how routinely medical science misreads evidence and overlooks obvious signs and signals to conform more readily to their existing models and conjectures. homeopathic and other empirical approaches have long recognized that the body is a hierarchy of function and structure and that this hierarchy behaves in predictable ways in sickness and in health. disorder and tendency towards concrete disease, whether sourced genetically or environmentally, will express itself as benignly as possible for as long as it can in organs and functions of peripheral value before exhausting its counterbalance measures, leaving room and opportunity for the dysfunction to penetrate organs and functions of critical importance. the psyche is affected every step of the way in a concomitant, co-creative fashion while at the same time standing as a kind of final outpost of response-ability. when an organism has lost the reactive ability of harmonizing and self-healing, the psyche tends to reflect this adynamic state with its own fixed pathologies. return reactivity to the body and new opportunities for transformation emerge at the level of thought, emotion and impulse control.

a dramatic case that continues to be misinterpreted is the example of schizophrenics. patients typically present with just the adynamism described above, only instead of understanding the fixity it represents, it's thought a sign of a certain robustness of health.... especially during acute episodes, schizophrenics appear to be invulnerable to colds and flus and other communicable illnesses that normally fell the average person. it was also observed that when a chink in this armour did appear, the symptoms of schizophrenia were greatly diminished during their periodic illness.

"Schizophrenics get acute ailments only very rarely, even when exposed to very virulent organisms. The more psychotic a person is, the less likely he will be to acquire an acute ailment. This is because the resonant frequency (of susceptibility) is on a very deep mental level, and the defense mechanism simply does not have the force to react on more peripheral levels. If a person is only mildly psychotic, it is possible that he will acquire an acute infection; it has been observed that the psychotic symptoms then dramatically diminish during acute illness, only to return upon recovery. Although allopathic physicians have been unable to offer an explanation for this phenomenon, it nevertheless became the basis for fever therapy, insulin shock therapy, and finally electroshock therapy. In addition it is true that if a psychotic patient does acquire an acute infection, the infection is unusually severe and often fatal. This observation is readily explained by the principle of resonance when one realizes that the defense mechanism is weakened. Finally, if a psychotic patient is treated homeopathically with success, one sees a return of susceptibility to acute ailments; at first, these may be quite severe, but as homeopathic treatment proceeds, the ability to throw off such ailments becomes strengthened."

[George Vithoulkas, The Science of Homeopathy]

it wasn't until i read James FitzGerald's excellent 'What Disturbs our Blood,' that i came across a more intimate account of the birth of this 'therapy' which, thankfully, is no longer practiced. it deserves to be reprinted here for a variety of reasons...

"After six years experimenting on animals in his own kitchen, a strange and withdrawn thirty-two-year-old bachelor delivers a momentous report to the Vienna Medical Society. Manfred Sakel, a Polish psychiatrist of misanthropic temperament who claimed to be a direct descendent of Moses Maimonides, the medieval Jewish rabbi and physician, describes an encounter with a famous actress who suffers from diabetes as well as morphine addiction; when he gives her an accidental overdose of insulin, she swoons into a mild coma. When she awakens, her craving for morphine subsides and she becomes less restless and agitated. Excitedly, Sakel begins to treat all addicts with insulin; after they are revived with doses of glucose, he notices some seem calmer, more cooperative, and gain weight.

"The gaffe-prone Sakel then accidentally gives an overdose of insulin to an addict who is also psychotic, and he falls into a deep coma. When the man awakes, he is lucid - for a time - and the doctor mistakes a temporary remission for a cure. He makes the grandiose leap that if he deliberately induces an insulin coma in schizophrenic patients - a dangerous, life-threatening procedure at the best of times - he might permanently eradicate their madness. Boldly, he sets out to test the idea on asylum inmates.

"In the early morning hours, patients are rolled into a semi-darkened ward, where Sakel injects insulin into their buttocks. For four or five hours, the patients' pulse and heartbeat race at high speed; they sweat and drool, toss and turn, moan and weep; they vomit and loose control of their bowels; they twitch with violent tremors and muscle spasms. Those given the highest doses fall into violent convulsions, biting their tongues and breaking their teeth. Some fracture a femur, arm, jaw, or spine; others tear hip bones out of their sockets.

"After falling into a coma, the patients are left anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours, nurses closely monitoring their pulse and respiration. Then, godlike, Sakel pulls them back from the brink of death with a dose of glucose solution. If the coma persists too long, the patient dies; in the years ahead, many will.

"If the patients do awake from the coma, their ordeal is not yet over. Bewildered and disoriented, they regress to a primal, infantile state, reaching out for the nurses and doctors and kissing their priestlike hands; famished by sugar depletion, they cry out for their mothers and suck their thumbs. Witnesses who happen to walk into an insulin coma ward testify that the place resembled a medieval tableau of torture ripped from the pages of Dante's Inferno.

"An exultant Sakel claims cure rates as high as eighty percent, yet he is at a loss to explain the effect. Perhaps, he reasons, trauma itself - the threat of imminent death - is the healing agent. Years later, some doctors will speculate that remission of symptoms was simply a case of the unusual degree of attention lavished on the patients, for the procedure requires a minimum of fifty sessions and a small army of doctors and nurses to perform. In any event, the North American press aggressively champions the new 'bed-side miracle' and hails Sakel as the 'Louis Pasteur of Psychiatry.'"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

case study...

a mother came to me with concern for her thirteen year old son. a sensitive and gifted child, outgoing, loving and expressive, he had withdrawn into himself complaining about anxiety and pressures in school that previously had been shouldered in an unremarkable way. now he was bottling up his emotions, isolating himself from peers and family life, and giving indications of self-destructive thoughts through writing he'd shared that shook his mother sufficient to ask for help.

several things stuck out to me in her narration... his described impotence and frustration at the hands of controlling authority figures outside the home; his aversion to the hard pornography his friends were sneaking into the classroom on their devices and taunting him with; an attendant difficultly finding friends he could relate to; and finally, an occasion when his mother once had to explain to him while they walked home what the term 'prostitute' meant and being moved herself when he wept in sadness at the concept.

when i arrived for the housecall the boy had absented himself using a plausible amnesia just before his mother got home to meet me herself. the mother's companion, a man in his middle age, did not remind her son of the meeting we'd scheduled but went along with the boy's new plan to go and do some work at the tim horton's. she refers to her companion as her second child in the home and indicates there has been some subtextual strains of competition between the two. nevertheless, the boy absenting himself lent the impression of someone temporarily unable to mobilize will and expression to say no or yes directly. his mother made tea and we took advantage of the one on one time to get her point of view on her child fully expressed.

i felt that the recent arrival of deep despair and moroseness described by mum indicated a developing resentment towards the areas in his life where he felt powerless to act on his environment, seize the moment, or control his participation in the fates. he'd begun to have difficultly sleeping (but mother was unsure as to why), he was loosing energy even while being very stubborn and dedicated, and newly discouraged and listless about being accepted by his peers or teachers. he was unhappy with his school and wanting more opportunities to explore his creativity at a different one. he recently took up the flute and voice after some instruction on the piano that didn't quite capture his interest.

when his mother described the first time she heard him sing she said she heard in his delivery a purity of emotional expression and commitment to authenticity she had never experienced of him in any other context. his innate and fine sense for the emotional contours of the song he was so emphatically and confidently singing made her weep. she was super excited for him. when he subsequently began to have difficulties, she worried his shining moment of fineness in song had presaged an integration and opening that he might now be unconsciously self-denying due to this depressed and defeatist state. the photo she pointed out on the fridge revealed a gentle, round face and pale complexion with alert and friendly brown eyes. there were no real guiding physical symptoms.

i prescribed calcarea carbonica 30c, single dose.

the morning after the homeopathic was administered the mother sent me an elated text, describing her son as a different child. he was back at the helm of his life, engaged and enthusiastic. he invited classmates back to the home after school to film a video project for school. when his mother lent an assist by setting up the camera for them and clearing space he tenderly embraced her and told her ever so sincerely how much he loves her and appreciates the many things she does. and the day following when he had a negative encounter with his teacher, rather than respond in hopelessness and grief he responded with a flash of justified anger in the safety of their home, vowing that at the end of the school term he would write her a letter detailing all the occasions when she hurt or demeaned him. his mother was astonished as i was thrilled! what a joy to be able to provide a young person struggling with how to do his assertiveness and social engagements a new functionality and fresh way of being. i've seen this over and again when the similimum is lucked upon by people like me, groping in the dark, hoping that in doing our best we just might get it right. what a _feeling_!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


currently writing an account of my management of cancer for CBCs canada writes competition, creative nonfiction category; preparing to complete my qualification in homeopathic medicine; working as an intake coordinator at a naturopathic clinic in Caledon where I will also be teaching yoga starting in March; looking forward to training in colonic hydrotherapy and in live cell dark field microscopy; assisting an ND with IV and ozone treatment at a monthly clinic in an outlying community; preparing a proposal to a community hospital in the grand hopes of establishing an electional CAM program for surgical patients; investigating what future options I have for completing my training in structural integration and bodywork; going deeper into my studies of the biology of abuse and addiction; and establishing next month a biweekly free clinic in energy medicine in order to compile anecdotal report of its efficacy...

I've been out to hot yoga classes for two weeks now, well before the one month postop mark. my energy is almost normalized, I did loose a tremendous amount of hair after surgery which is normal but it's regrowing as it falls. I have an MD consult tomorrow to arrange some further tests and assess if my urinalysis of last month suggests I might be a good candidate for bioidentical hormone replacement... 

I'm not sure what the future holds for my creative projects... I would dearly like to keep making music and art, and I have a couple literary projects in mind... it's very challenging and comforting at the same time to give myself the gift of manifesting these treasures without concern as to their future...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I couldn't but recognize myself in so much of what I've been reading of the damaged goods school of thought... bowing to authority before taking personal inventory, not knowing ones mind much less daring to speak it leading to false reality formations, compensating for uncertainty by seeking to please through use of talent in service of anything but ones true desire, learned helplessness, passive aggressive manipulativeness as the only acceptable form of indirectly and coyly asserting will, a sense of futility when attempting to break free of defeating habits, depression when unable to face risk alternating with ebullient periods where things go too well and must be scotched.

I did some willful self damage in the last three days that broke my defensiveness sufficient to see all that I was looking to see with dispassion and kindheartedness. a paradoxical example of how backsliding can sometimes serve to launch you forward. I respond to threat and fear and uncertainty by hiding at home, misdirecting my genuine energies and incompletely holding in frustration. That frustration comes out in me not toward its sources but at myself in the form of subtle biological warfare... soaking the plant body of my soul in the here and now with food and drink which slowly destroy its delicate function, giving harbour to logic which takes its cues from fear...

In healing a longstanding dysfunction the process is long hard and unstable... It's not incremental, it's in stops and starts. Some days it looks hopeful others like your chances are shit. The issue is to stick with it long enough to do what they say can't be done...

I dreamt last night of a crew of high function strong wise and fearless women at the helm of a submarine like ship. I notice at some point we have started to take on some water on the side I'm sitting on... it's the booth my father built in our kitchen to make it an eat-in. Worried about the leak, I draw it to the captains attention, which takes a few tries. She reacts with calm forbearance, it's nothing to worry about. Sure enough we press on in difficult tactical situations, the leak disappears along with the water at my feet. Then I see that we are breaking the waterline and rising before a green and gold city of indescribable beauty.

Monday, January 13, 2014


as a child I learned the world was fashioned of violent threat and masked neglect. my strictest material needs would get address, but my unique emotional reality was obliterated each time I had to betray justified responses to my environment. I learned that crying was not welcome and so became noted for my silence, which came naturally to me in any case. I didn't learn to cry until almost three. Then I learned that when someone I loved and relied on did me a violence, my ability to recompose and press on with work drew admiration from my abuser, my mother. I equated her admiration with my personal safety and with being loved, so I worked hard to cultivate her admiration and this included a tacit agreement to accept her discharges of violence without calling for an intervention of justice. she admired me most when I complied with her need to see me mirror her own poorly-differentiated self. she had my hair cut short and permed like her own and made duplicates of her outfits for me to wear. where a child could be left to blossom a sense of self, I was silenced, erased. when I could take no more pressure and found myself talking back the beatings were even more spectacular. I learned that protecting myself from being snuffed out as an individual was dangerous. I live with the given that to express myself with full vulnerability as to my emotional and distinguishing needs is dangerous, that something 'terrible' will happen to me. I've brought this lens into materiality as I dance with cancer and other mortal threats of life in the world.

there must be a way beyond the imprints of early adverse experience and the intensely selfreflexive and complex world of suffering it gives rise to... the metalogic of tibetan buddhism lends the tools and teachings on how to emancipate oneself but there are many roads to rome. the very fact of awareness is positive and very comforting to me in the here and now. i think of the millions of other people struggling with chronic fear. If I can disentangle from neurotic response and like an explorer putting up emblems of venture in unknown territory, try on fresh ways of being, I'll be continuing in the spirit of transformation that catalyzed with my diagnosis.
  • The journey of life is the unification of fragmentation. Fragments are units of power that are out of control. We make agreements to come and collect ourselves.
In the spirit of changing the momentum of this wound we transmit for healing down through the ages...


"Without a clear boundary between himself and his parent, the child remains enmeshed in the relationship. That enmeshment is later a template for his way of connecting to the rest of the world. Enmeshment - what Dr. Michael Kerr calls a lack of differentiation - comes to dominate one's intimate relationships. It can take two forms, withdrawal and sullen and self defeating resistance to authority, or chronic and compulsive care taking of others. In some people the two may coexist, depending on with whom they happen to be interacting at the moment. Since the immune confusion that leads to disease reflects a failure to distinguish self from not self, healing has to involve establishing or reclaiming the boundaries of an autonomous self." (GMate)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

survival needs...

"From a simple biological perspective, it may appear that the survival of the physical organism ought to be nature's ultimate goal. It would seem, however, that the existence of an autonomous, self regulating psyche is nature's higher purpose. Mind and spirit can survive grievous physical injury, but time and again we see that the physical body begins to succumb when psychic integrity and freedom are jeopardized." (GMate)

"What is in us must out, otherwise we may explode at the wrong places or become hopelessly hemmed in by frustrations. The great art is to express our vitality through the particular channels and at the particular speed Nature foresaw for us." (Hans Selye)

essential questions in times of crisis...

"Do I live my life according to my own deepest truths, or in order to fulfill someone else's expectations? How much of what I have believed and done is actually my own and how much has been in service to a self image I originally created in the belief that it was necessary to please my parents?" (GMate)

"Health is not just a matter of thinking happy thoughts. Sometimes the biggest impetus to healing comes from jump starting the immune system with a burst of long-suppressed anger." (Candace Pert)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

simple answers...

"The unacknowledged assumptions of the scientist will often limit and define what will be discovered. Settling for the view that illnesses, mental or physical, are primarily genetic allows us to avoid disturbing questions about the nature of the society in which we live. If 'science' enables us to ignore poverty or man made toxins or a frenetic and stressful social culture as contributors to disease, we can look only to simple answers: pharmacological and biological. Such an approach helps to justify and preserve prevailing social values and structures. It may also be profitable."

(Gabor Mate MD)

adaptation energy...

"It is as though we had hidden reserves of adaptability, or adaptation energy, throughout the body... Only when all of our adaptability is used up will irreversible, general exhaustion and death follow."

(Hans Selye MD)

preserve your adaptiveness by meeting each moment afresh. it's that simple. we can defy current models of aging and adaptation-depletion, and transform intergenerational and collective traumas into wisdoms...

"Adaptiveness is the capacity to respond to external stressors without rigidity, with flexibility and creativity, without excessive anxiety and without being overwhelmed by emotion."

(Gabor Mate MD)


"Blame becomes a meaningless concept if one understands how family history stretches back through the generations. 'Recognition of this quickly dispels any disposition to see the parent as villain,' wrote John Bowlby.'"

(Gabor Mate MD)

anxiety regulation...

"Compared with adult rats who received less nurturing, in adult rats who had been licked and groomed more by their mothers the amygdala was found to contain many more benzodiazepine receptors. Maternal care in infancy influenced the physiology of anxiety regulation in the brain of the adult. These differences were not explained by genetic factors."

(Gabor Mate MD)

proximal separations...

"Infants whose caregivers were too stressed, for whatever reason, to give them the necessary attunement contact will grow up with a chronic tendency to feel alone with their emotions, to have a sense - rightly or wrongly - that no one can share how they feel, that no one can 'understand.' 

"In proximate separations the parents are physically present but emotionally absent.... Experiences of proximate separation become part of the person's psychological programming: people 'trained' in this way in childhood are likely to choose adult relationships that re-enact repeated proximal separation dynamics.

"In the parent-child interaction is established the child's sense of the world: whether this is a world of love and acceptance, a world of neglectful indifference in which one must root and scratch to have one's needs satisfied or, worse, a world of hostility where one must forever maintain an anxious hyper vigilance. Future relationships will have as their templates nerve circuits laid down in our relationships with our earliest caregivers. We will understand ourselves as we have felt understood, love ourselves as we perceived being loved on the deepest unconscious levels, care for ourselves with as much compassion as, at our core, we perceived as young children." 

(Gabor Mate MD)

While I appreciate the depiction of early programming, being written in such code can be used as a gift, a jumping off point for developing the self mastery of restraint around such physiologic and psychological echoes of old worlds. The only way to throw off the old in the present moment is to throw off the compulsion of reacting according to the impulses of our design rather than the bodhicitta intention of tenderhearted lovingkindness...

Thursday, January 9, 2014


"Along with clear seeing, there's another important element, and that's kindness. It seems that, without clarity and honesty, we don't progress. We just stay stuck in the same vicious cycle. But honesty without kindness makes us feel grim and mean, and pretty soon we start looking like we've been sucking on lemons. We become so caught up in introspection that we lose any contentment or gratitude we might have had. The sense of being irritated by ourselves and our lives and other people's idiosyncrasies becomes overwhelming. That's why there's so much emphasis on kindness.

"Sometimes it's expressed as heart, awakening your heart. Often it's called gentleness. Sometimes it's called unlimited friendliness. But basically kindness is a down-to-earth, everyday way to describe the important ingredient that balances out the whole picture and helps us connect with unconditional joy. As the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, 'Suffering is not enough.'"

(Pema Chodron)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


"Repression - dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm - disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protectors."

"The fundamental problem is not the external stress but an environmentally conditioned helplessness that permits neither of the normal responses of fight or flight. The resulting internal stress becomes repressed and therefore invisible. Eventually, having unmet needs or having to meet the needs of others is no longer experienced as stressful. It feels normal. One is disarmed."

"Hans Selye discovered that the biology of stress predominantly affected three types of tissues or organs in the body: in the hormonal system, visible changes occurred in the adrenals; in the immune system, stress affected the spleen, the thymus and the lymph glands; and the intestinal lining of the digestive system... pathological effects are generated by central nervous system pathways and by hormones."

"For those habituated to high levels of internal stress since early childhood, it is the absence of stress that creates unease, evoking boredom and a sense of meaningless. People may become addicted to their own stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol."

(Gabor Mate MD)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

on the vital necessity of imperfection...

"We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn't have any fresh air. There's no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we're going to have an experience we can't control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we're going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us in the head, or somebody's going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit.

The essence of life is that it's challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that's life. Death is wanting to hold on to what you have and to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together. So even though we say the yama mara is fear of death, its actually fear of life." 

(Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart)


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Friday, January 3, 2014


"Healing is an active and internal process that includes investigating one's attitudes, memories, and beliefs with the desire to release all negative patterns that prevent one's full emotional and spiritual recovery. This internal review inevitably leads one to review one's external circumstances in an effort to recreate one's life in a way that serves activation of will - the will to see and accept truths about one's life and how one has used one's energies; and the will to begin to use energy for the creation of love, self-esteem, and health.

"Healing requires taking action. It is not a passive event. We are meant to draw on our inner resources, to find material strength to leave behind our outmoded beliefs and behaviours, and to see ourselves in new healthy ways - to take up our beds and walk." (Carolyn Myss, The Anatomy of Spirit)