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.'"

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