Sunday, April 12, 2015

Imagining Healing: Suspension of Disbelief

Skepticism about the myriad paths to health and to recovery from illness is one of the most daunting obstacles to wellness. As a newly minted health professional (having just received my holistic nutritionist certification), I am shocked at how people become wedded to their disease and I am saddened by the ways in which they undermine their ability to heal by discounting health modalities that are alien to them. Effective treatments come in all varieties, often in surprising packages, some of them seeming unlikely. But let’s keep an open mind. Just saying.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to an article about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) on Facebook accompanied by a brief statement on the importance of recognizing this as a real physically disabling condition and not a psychological disorder, as most traditional doctors believe. I studied nutritional interventions for CFS while in college so I commented that this most certainly is a real physical illness (not just in someone’s head) and that someone suffering from CFS could benefit tremendously from working with a holistic nutritionist, and in many instances could be healed through nutrition therapy. A woman with CFS responded to my comment by saying that such statements as mine were not based in fact and were deeply hurtful to people with CFS. She basically told me that her disease is incurable and that when I said she could possibly be cured through a nutritional approach she felt it belittled the depth of her suffering. I was not prepared to go into details about holistic nutrition and CFS treatment on a Facebook thread, so I simply apologized to her and took down my comment. But I could not stop thinking about the fact that this woman was so wedded to her misery and her identity as a CFS-sufferer that she slammed the door on the possibility of a pathway to healing that she had not considered. She was invested in disbelieving. She had made up her mind to be sick.

Once a person has accepted that they have a debilitating medical condition and has invested effort in developing coping mechanisms and treatment regimens that allow that person to get on with his/her life at an acceptable level, then perhaps it’s too painful for that person to open that shining door of hope again and again, chasing that glimmer of possibility for significantly improved health. Perhaps that person must protect against disappointment. I remember a friend who had several miscarriages in a row, all occurring before the fetus reached eight weeks. She went to a specialist who claimed to have figured out the cause of her miscarriages. He told her that he could help her carry a baby to term. So she got pregnant again and followed his strict orders, which included bedrest for the first trimester. She held onto the baby for the whole trimester. The doctor told her she could then get out of bed and engage in mild activity. She followed all his instructions and was doing well until about eighteen weeks, when she miscarried. She and her husband were devastated and they decided not to ever try again. They refused to consider adoption (I don’t know why, such a shame). So they never had any children. I have always believed that her doctor really did figure out the problem and that he knew how to correct it and, that by some diabolically bad luck, the first baby she carried under this doctor’s care was one of those imperfect babies that the body rejects. I had two miscarriages in between having my three children and one of them occurred just shy of twenty weeks. I am convinced to this day that had that woman tried one more time she would have had an excellent chance of having a baby. But she had reached her limit. She could not muster another glimmer of hope. Thinking back to the CFS-lady, I imagine that for some people hope itself is too painful to tolerate. They have to shut that door and walk forward; and that is the best healing they can make for themselves.

Yesterday I attended an informational meeting at a new health center that will open soon. The health center is innovative in that it will integrate care provided by conventional medical practitioners with care offered by providers of what are referred to as “alternative therapies” or “unconventional treatment modalities.” These include more familiar alternative health treatments like acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbal medicine, and holistic nutrition. Plus, hang onto your hats folks, they also include aromatherapy, music therapy, body/mind therapies, somatic therapy, hypnotherapy, oxidative therapy, ozone therapy, and ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy. (Interesting sidebar:  the doctor practicing oxidative therapy has cured four patients of Ebola overnight, with research evidence; and he is screaming for recognition in the established medical community.) I admit that a lot of these treatment modalities sound like “voo-doo” even to someone like myself who has long been an advocate for alternative health treatments. This is where the ability to step out of one’s comfort zone and suspend disbelief could be transformational, could save lives.

Let’s take the hypnotherapist, for example. From the brief information he shared when he stood up and spoke, I understood that he works mainly with cancer patients. He uses hypnosis to help them control pain and tolerate chemotherapy. He also uses hypnosis in some cases to identify the source of the cancer and to help the cancer patient resolve the deep-seated issue that caused the cancer. He then helps the patient remove the blockage in the body/mind/spirit that is preventing the person’s energy from successfully defeating the cancer. This man, who has practiced for forty years, has no formal research study to corroborate his anecdotal evidence of his success with hypnosis. If I had cancer, would I seek treatment from him? For one thing, no health insurance would cover treatment from this man. For another, would I trust this odd fellow to hypnotize me? To have access to my subconscious and to have the power to change the way I think and feel? Could I suspend my disbelief and consider the possibility that this hypnotherapist has the ability to empower people to defeat cancer? Given what we know about how unprocessed trauma manifests in the body and can cause disease (such as cancer), his treatment modality makes perfect sense, actually. I have no logical basis for being skeptical. What do I know about his specialty? 

Skepticism could cost me my life. Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith, to imagine new dimensions to health care in our future. Too bad the CFS-lady has closed her mind to the possibility that there is a treatment modality she has not considered that could cure her, or at least help her feel much better and have much more control over the effects of her disease. We need to give ourselves permission to be more hopeful. This is not about magic, this is about new sciences and new directions in healing. Let’s not be too quick to judge what is a legitimate treatment. Let’s imagine the mind-blowing future of the healing arts.

No comments: