Love Your Disease
Posted by admin on September 4th, 2008
Eric Bakker ND
Have you ever reflected on what was happening emotionally in your life when you "caught" an acute illness or perhaps developed a chronic illness over a number of years ? Have you listened to your self-talk and how it seems to reflect your health? Maybe you feel that a person at your place of work is a pain in the neck, and coincidently you frequently suffer with a pain in the neck? Your emotions may be manifesting as physical symptoms you may even have handed over control of your life. Ever wondered why you always get two colds every year, or why whenever you do not have time to get sick, you do? I believe that our bodies to a large degree are a reflection of our lives, and the physical complaints our bodies develop gives us what we need to look at our lives at a particular point in time. Now sometimes that is not what we consciously think we need or want, but we get it anyway. Our belief systems and the subconscious patterns which we have created mould our lives. Our needs and supply for emotional contact with people can decide the fate of our physical health and presence or lack of illnesses. This article will explore more about how the body can affect the mind.
I would have liked to have spent a day with Dr. Edward Bach, but unfortunately Dr. Bach who is well know for his development of the famous Bach Flower Remedies, died in 1936. Despite the success of his work with orthodox medicine, Dr. Bach felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate primarily on diseases and literally ignore the emotional problems that people also were afflicted with. So in 1930, he gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London, determined to devote the rest of his life to his new system of medicine, the mind body medicine. Imagine that, giving up all that money and prestige to concentrate on the real causes of ill health, after all Bach practiced on prestigious Harley Street as a bowel specialist. This doctor was well ahead of his time, he even developed specific homeopathic medicines called bowel nosodes which we still use to this day just like his Rescue Remedy. Dr. Bach had the foresight to understand the mind and body connection over 70 years ago in an era when medicine was even more firmly entrenched in the disease theory than it is today. He found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated as the natural healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more. In 1932, Dr. Bach published in a British newspaper the following:
"Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material. Disease will never be truely eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort."
If Bach could only have know that today many years after his death conventional medicine still has its focus firmly on symptoms and virtually ignores the real cause of ill health. With all our technology and science we still cannot conquer the real causes of ill health. Now how clever is that? We spend billons on space travel, promotion of warfare and advancing our computer technology – but all these clever brains put together still don’t know seem to know (or want to know for materialistic reasons) what causes chronic disease.
If you are a regular reader of my column, you will have heard this before: contrary to what some folks believe, I believe that disease does not drop into your lap “like a plague of locusts”. llness comes for a reason, and in itself may actually be a positive opportunity to stop and examine one’s life, to get rid of an addiction or toxic lifestyle, or to turn from focus on strictly material matters to relationships, or to seek spiritual help or growth. I will give you some examples, actual case studies of patients I have seen where I can illustrate this point.
I remember reading a book called “Love Your Disease” written by Aussie doctor and naturopath John Harrison. I was a student at the time, and was recommended this book by one of my teachers. It is a book that made me aware early in my clinical practice to always be aware of the mind and body connection when it comes to healing. Your thoughts, feelings, actions, beliefs and attitudes may be making you quite ill and even be preventing your recovery. But are you ready to explore your illness from this angle? You may be quite content taking your pills for symptoms, sometims for many years on end. This action is positively reinforced by your GP that you would be wise to “continue with your medications”. Yet you may well be continuing on with the real cause of your malady, blisfully unaware that you will not get well until you make some real changes to your lifestyle, your diet or the underlying emotional hangups. I call this the “central disturbance”, and every patient we see has a presenting complaint (what they come in for) and generally there is some type of underlying central disturbance which perpetuates the presenting complaint/s. Guess what, you may even get angry reading the book Love Your Disease, and decide to toss it ino the bin. This tells me that some buttons have been pushed, a raw nerve has been exposed and perhaps for these reasons you really need to read this book! In fact I found this book new and unread near a rubbish bin in a second hand book store the store owner said that the book was “one of those stupid books” as he puffed on his cigarette butt. (it was in the 80’s when smoking was common in public places)
Are you a student of any form of medicine? Then please read this book, it will help the people who may one day consult you, and if you can grasp the essence of Dr. Harrison’s work you will change the way you view and treat illness. According to Dr. Harrison: "The body itself has no power to generate illness; illness is merely the shadow thrown by the mind. A healthy mind will shadow forth a healthy body; an unhealthy mind will shadow forth an unhealthy body. Every new cell created in the body is either negative or a positive thought in form. In the old days, it was customary to say that cells are "built under the influence" of either negative or positive thought. In reality, the cells are the thought itself. Healthy thoughts mean healthy cells; sick thoughts mean sick cells”. Deepak Chopra also says this in Quantum Healing: “Every single thought you have, whether good or bad, produces a correspondingly good or bad neuropeptide” This means that chemicals are formed by thoughts in your brain and these influence the trillions of cells in your body – good or bad. This kind of makes you think that perhaps you ought to have more good and positive thoughts than bad ones.
You can heal your life
You Can Heal Your Life is an interesting book written by Louise Hay in the early 1980’s.
Louise has done some interesting work in the mind-body area, and her book woke me up to something that the traditional Chinese Medicine doctors have known for literally thousands of years, that each organ can express an emotion if one is willing to take the time to reflect on their inter relationship. I still use her book occasionally in my work. Please note that these case studies in this article are my general observations, serving hopefully to illuminate areas that you can look at more closely in yourself or with the help of your own healer. You are the one who knows your body best, and as you go through these observations try to expand your awareness beyond your own life to see also how these or other disharmonies are reflected in your own self, and the relationships with your friends, family, and even your community. As crazy as it sounds, ultimately it is your own choice to heal or not to heal as it is your own innate healing ability that is activated by your desire to get well. The practitioner is the facilitator and not the healer, YOU are the healer, never forget that. Pharmaceutical drugs never cure, your body does this all by itself and drugs only hinder the process, have you ever wondered how an “anti” drug like an anti-depressant or an anti-biotic can “cure” any type of illness? It is possible that even a single period of intense stress lasting months such as occurs with a divorce, death of a family member, loss of job, a bankruptcy or other life-changing event may eventually lead to serious damage to the tissues which could trigger the development of a chronic disease such as cancer. Decades of habitual emotional distress can have a similar effect like living long term in an unhappy relationship or working for a boss who is awful to you. I have seen this happen in several cancer cases, and you may even relate to this with regards to a friend or a family member yourself. Such a trigger mechanism could happen in several ways, but one of these three appears to be the most plausible: stress hormones might themselves stimulate latent cancer cells into reproduction; hormones might transform a normal cell to a cancer cell, or the damage to the tissues by the stress mechanisms may eventually lead to failure of normal cancer-control mechanisms. In this way, a diagnosis of cancer may be encountered a year or two after such an event (it often takes that long for the cancer to develop enough to yield evident symptoms or a diagnosable lump).
You may even know somebody who has had an experience like the following, for example a lady who developed thyroid cancer only a few months after her sister committed suicide, a (non-drinking) man who developed pancreatic cancer about a year after his traumatic divorce, and my wife’s grandmother who died of cancer at 77 yrs of age only two weeks after great-grandma died of old age. She probably held the cancer at bay looking after her very elderly mother of 97, but when her mum passed away she had no desire to live much further and simply “let go” of life, the cancer just took over. I can still remember a young lad I saw who was 9 years old, his father whom he adored was killed in a tragic accident and only months later the boy developed a rather unusual digestive disorder. The doctors or specialists didn’t have a clue; he was passing rather strange dark bowel motions for months. One doctor suspected hepatitis, another diagnosed gallbladder dysfunction. Homeopathic treatment aimed at his deep seated grief brought a speedy relief within two weeks; he opened up and began to enjoy his life once again. I couldn’t care less whether homeopathy is viewed as “shonky science” or not by the establishment, some of the most wonderful results I have had in the clinic have been with homeopathic treatment aimed at the “totality of symptoms”, including the mental and emotional state of the patient. Now let’s take a look at a few real cases to illustrate what I mean about the mind affecting the body, the names have been changed of course but the cases are real.
Ever had a “lump in your throat”?
Denise is in her late 40’s, and saw me complaining of a sore raspy throat and a continual feeling in her throat that “something was not quite right”. This lady was very reserved, spoke softly and had very little eye contact. This made me suspect a history of domestic violence; you could see from her posture that her self-esteem was not good. Her doctor examined her throat and said that all is well and recommended a course of antibiotics. After several rounds of antibiotics over several months there was no change, and a referral to an ear nose and throat specialist revealed that all was ok. The specialist’s recommendation was for more antibiotics, but this time top shelf. A few months went by and then it was off to the health-food shop where an assistant recommended a herbal throat spray, a Vitamin C product and some probiotics. After several months of this treatment with no change, her throat was still raspy and irritated so she decided to pay me a visit. When I enquired into her home life, she told me that her husband who died 4 years ago was a chronic alcoholic and was abusive and controlling. He “rarely let her speak”, and controlled most all aspects of her life. She lived continually in fear, and told me that she found it impossible to “speak up”, being afraid that voicing her opinion may well result in physical violence or emotional abuse. After her husband died at the age of 43, her uncle was to move in “temporarily” to help out around the house and help pay the bills. After more than 3 years, her uncle turned out to be a dark horse who rarely helped out in any way and seldom paid any bills. Although he was never violent towards her, he was still controlling, and after living with an abusive and violent husband for almost 25 years the damage was done. Denise was amazed when I explained to her of Louise Hay’s understanding of the throat region and ill health: The throat represents our ability to communicate both with others and with ourselves. For according to Louise Hay, sore throats, lumps in the throat and tumours all represent difficulties in saying what we really would like to say. Lumps, both physical tumours and those that don’t manifest are our “willful attempts to block free expression of emotion and of our identity”. The throat is one of those classic weak links that can seduce or sabotage you from your path. Your throat represents the channel between your head and your heart, and in Chinese Medicine it is said the heart houses the mind in its connection with the emotion of joy and the expression of love we hold for ourselves and for others. All the things you have not said over the years that get “stuck in your throat”, needing to get out, and out they must come, one way or the other. All of our emotions are designed to be expressed, even the ones we judge to be negative and especially the ones we judge to be positive. I cautioned Denise about her inability to speak up for herself, and mentioned that pathology (an eventual diagnosable disease of her throat) may eventually manifest on the physical plane in time unless she develops the ability to speak up for herself. Louise Hay also mentions that throat problems indicate swallowed anger, or stifled creativity and a refusal to change. I could tell that after our chat Denise understood the importance of opening up more and to let her uncle know that she was not happy with his current behaviour. I expect Denise to have a normally functioning throat after she learns the importance of voicing her opinions and become more assertive. Drug therapy? What about speech therapy?
Margaret’s breast cancer scare
Margaret is a 52 year old mum of 4. Her family has been running a successful insurance company for almost 30 years, with her husband and son as well as daughter all being involved. Margaret’s two other daughters have had quite stressful marriage breakups in the past few years involving several young children. Margaret has also been very busy supporting her husband as well as helping out with a youth program for the past 7 years. This lady has tried to stay fit and eat well, but enjoys a glass of wine with meals and has drunk moderately for many years. I have seen Margaret for several years and mentioned over the years that it would be prudent for her to “slow down”, and to focus more of relaxation. When Margaret told me that she had a breast lump last month and was having a lumpectomy and several lymph nodes removed, it came as no surprise to her at all. What Margaret told me was most interesting: “Eric, this has been my wake-up call , I knew that I might “come down” one day with something, but I never expected it to be a grade 3 breast cancer, the diagnosis was literally like a whack to the back of my head with a lump of two by four”. There was no history of breast cancer in her family, and Margaret was doing everything right, going to the gym, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water – but was living a very stressful life and was simply doing far too much. And haven’t things changed lately in her household, Margaret stopped all alcohol, coffee and chocolate. Her husband now takes two days off per week and plays more golf. Her son has reduced his wine intake and Margaret has cancelled her involvement with the youth program. Unfortunately it had to take a high grade cancer to force those changes. Examine your life right now. What will it take for you to change, do you need the two by four before you become enlightened?
Cardio-myopathy and Chris
Chris is a Kiwi trucker who drives a truck long haul and works very long hours, in fact 90 hours or more weekly. “Eric, I needed to work long and hard in order to give my wife and three kids the kind of lifestyle they were used to”. But after 10 or more years, Shannon started to get annoyed at her husband’s continual absence and fatigue once he came home. Without telling Chris, she packed her bags and moved out one day, taking the kids with her to live far away. I asked Chris how he felt: “It broke my heart, I loved my kids so much and when Shannon was gone I thought what’s the point of it all”. Chris was diagnosed about 3 months after the separation with a condition know as cardio-myopathy, which is essentially an enlarged heart. His specialist told him that his heart worked at only about 15% capacity and that he “should avoid stress at all costs”. He was placed on medication, including 3 drugs for his heart, and anti-depressant as well as a sleeping tablet. I had a long chat with Chris and told him that he needed to get things sorted with Shannon, or he may well face more serious heart problems within a year. I believe that Chris needed that whack to the back of the head like Margaret, and I certainly gave him that wake up call. Chris needed to examine his lifestyle and occupation and make some real choices and is totally aware of that now. Chris made up his mind to quit his job after our first visit, and moved closer to his wife and kids, and they are having relationship counseling as well. It will probably save his life, because those drugs certainly won’t. You will be interested to note that Chris’s cardiologist never even inquired into his family life or stress, but when I enquired into his family life he wept. Each internal organ has an emotion strongly attached to it, and the heart is about the “shen” as the Chinese put it, the joy or love that each person holds inside. Why do you think the heart has always symbolic of love? So it is now easy to see that when somebody has a”broken heart”, it can literally spell a heart condition and impending death. Do you have a heart complaint under similar circumstances; has your heart ever ached after a separation of death of a loved one? Maybe you need to get to the heart of the matter once and for all.
Julie and IBS
Julie who is 49, came to see me some time back regarding a bowel condition from which she has suffered from most all her life. This lady is very sensitive, and when I asked her to talk about what her digestive system health was like when she was quite young, she promptly burst into tears. “My father was a real bully and never let me relax when I went to the toilet as a little girl. He said that he didn’t like the smell, and that I should wait to go to the toilet until after he had been, so I learned to hold on, and some times for hours. I can still remember the pain I suffered physically and emotionally”. Over the years Julie started to find it easier to “hold on” and eventually when she was employed as a receptionist she could hold on literally for several days on end. In her mid 30’s, after several years of constipation she was having a bowel motion about twice per week on average. Julie developed pains in her tummy region a few years ago which prompted her to visit her doctor who told her that she suffered from constipation, and prescribed a laxative. After more than a year of taking laxatives on and off Julie still felt unwell and consulted another doctor, who diagnosed “irritable bowel syndrome”. Again, I found it extraordinary that when I asked if any enquiry had been made into her past, the reply was “no, not really”. The symptoms were addressed as usual with drugs, and the underlying emotional causes remained untreated. All Julie spoke about to me was her past and how she felt, and this is why I feel it is important to spend at least one hour if not more with the first visit. Unresolved, trapped negative feelings that patients like Julie hold cause disease because they are a continuous drain on the system. It takes a lot more energy to deny or not remember past upsets than to confront and deal with it. Julie needed to learn literally how to use her bowel all over again, even at almost 50 years of age. In her mind her father was still telling her to “hang on”, and I spent much time trying to get Julie to learn to fully relax on the toilet and to “open up” instead of “close down” that part of the body. Is it any wonder some people like Julie eventually can potentially get a disease like bowel cancer? Julie’s bowel problem has been resolved, and no more drugs are necessary apart from some aloe vera and good probiotics. A session of hypnotherapy helped also tremendously here. If you went to your accountant with your books in a mess, and he or she finds out that you have a financial problem that can’t be figured out, perhaps they should call it “irritable financial syndrome” and send you out the door telling you to increase the limit on your credit card because that will fix the problem. I call irritable bowel syndrome a totally useless diagnosis, the underlying causes must be found in order to get the required result. Anything else in my opinion is a cop out and a great way to get you out of the doctor’s room in 5 minutes flat.
Your real journey of personal healing finally starts when you find that there’s something wrong with you that can’t be resolved with drugs or repeated surgeries, or you have some health problem which just “won’t go away”. Healing your life by really looking at how your emotional or behavioural state can affect your body may well take you through an exciting and gentle journey of rediscovering your own life and resuming your place in it. You may not like some of the demons locked inside which you may confront on this sometimes perilous journey, and there may well be some there. But don’t worry, they won’t bite. Please remember, you already have all the resources you require to heal your life, and true healing can only happen when you stop relying on chemicals and instead tackle the fundamental causes of ill health. If you do take medicines take only natural medicines that work with and not against your body. Do you love your disease? Do you need to hold onto it because it serves a purpose? Life can heal you if you let it. Life and ill health can be your greatest teacher if you are a willing student, and in the game of life you are never too old to learn.
- Harrison Dr J. – Love Your Disease - Harper Collins Australia (1992)
- Hay Louise – You Can Heal Your Life – Specialist Publications Australia (1984)