It is one thing to wish for a more holistic approach to our medical services, for our physicians to recognize that emotions and stresses influence our physical well-being. At the same time, it is important to know that the road to emotional change is not a quick fix.
The road to emotional change is a long and winding road: one that twists and turns in often unexpected directions. Walking that road entails commitment, the willingness to learn, the courage to face aspects of ourselves we may have resisted confronting, and the risk to venture into places within ourselves we may have closed off.
In setting out on our personal growth journey we may have the goal for self-improvement or the elimination of physical pain and discomfort, but we will never know the road that journey will take until we look back upon it.
Working on our emotional process asks that we journey on the road of uncertainty – with consciousness.
We already are travelers on the road of uncertainty. However hard we may try to distract ourselves from the reality of our own death by shutting ourselves away from that known outcome it is an outcome we can all be certain about.
What is uncertain is the form and circumstances our death will take. Nobody can be clearly sure how we each will die and under what circumstances our death will take place.
No person can be really sure that today is not going to be the day when our life is completed.
When we are born, though we cannot walk, we take the first steps on the road of uncertainty.
Irony has it that when, on that journey, we face the initial challenges of trauma, our emotional system re-organizes and attempts to make our life more certain. (Read more on Trauma).
From the moment our Resistances and Defenses are employed to cope with trauma they attempt to make life more predictable:
- They anticipate the possibility of future trauma.
- They want you to control your environment
- To withdraw your expression
- To hide your head in the sand
- To divert your attention into addictions and distractions (Read more on Addictions)
- To keep life the same and knowable. (Read more on Resistance and Defenses)
Our Resistances and Defenses, as intelligences operating within us, want as much certainty and predictability as they can muster, because without it there is uncertainty. And from the Defense’s position, where there is uncertainty there is trauma.
It would be easy to analyze the physician-patient relationship from a surface perspective and question whether a doctor’s training should include more focus on emotions and feelings and how they potentially affect physical health. There are many good books and essays that delve deeply into these aspects of the patient-physician relationship. This book, A Return to Consciousness, essentially focuses upon how we organize ourselves emotionally, and how this system of organization influences and impacts our lives. From this perspective, the question this book asks, is whether, as the consumers, we have organized our approach to our medical system through the eyes and needs of our defenses?
The Defense is a part of ourselves that likes to take immediate action. It prefers the quick fix. If it sees or senses adversity it wants to attend to it now. As discussed in an earlier blog post, this is because survival-anxiety underlies every defense.
Beneath every Defense’s decisions and culminating actions lies the fear that the lack of action will result in the person they are protecting having to face trauma again.
In 1990, I contracted an amoebic parasite causing extensive and debilitating dysentery in the South American country of Ecuador. It became life threatening when a misdiagnosis allowed it to take hold and multiply. If I had solely depended on a holistic form of treatment, and treated this illness with herbs and non-drug related products the treatment would have not been powerful enough to eliminate the parasite.
I am here writing now because of the drugs I was treated with. After the parasite was eliminated I used herbs and natural nutrients to help restore my system. But at the time of the crisis, when I was in the hospital of a third-world country, I was scared. I wanted my doctor to save me as quickly as possible. I deeply feared my own death.
There is no suggestion or recommendation being given here that any of us should abandon the treatment and service our medical system provides for us. It would be dangerous and inappropriate to do so. The point to be made is that when we fear for our survival we tend to rely on the model, sometimes solely, that will provide the quickest solution: the quick fix.
Our defenses have the same agenda: When they fear that our survival is threatened they will look to the quickest solution.
A holistic approach should not advocate working solely with what could be an underlying emotional or stress-based cause to the symptom. A holistic approach is best typified by the example of the Chinese physician, cited in last week’s blog, who would have treated your symptom alongside the emotional issue beneath. (Read last week’s blog: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You)
Then the whole system – all the layers of who you are – receives attention and gains the fullest benefit.
You have just read an excerpt from Pietro Abela’s forthcoming book, A Return to Consciousness.
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I wish you well