The state of healing

The talk in Canterbury went well. Although the audience was smaller than anticipated, those attending were interested and asked good questions. The video is still in process, but when it’s available I’ll post the link to it. The camera angle is a bit strange because we had a camera fail at the last minute and ended up using someone’s mobile phone. I was just grateful that there were no actual computer glitches – I remember one talk I gave in which my computer wouldn’t talk to their projector and I ended up using my hands to illustrate my presentation!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share some of the material that I didn’t have time to go into during the talk. This installment is a pretty good summary of my thoughts on the state of healing in general.

Where does healing start?

Why is it so difficult to make lasting changes?

Healing seems almost impossible to catch in the act. It’s only when we look back at how things were that we can see how far we’ve come. Ayahuasca has allowed me to experience healing in real time, as it happens. This makes it tangible and memorable.

To really get to the causes of our problems, we need to address many issues at once. Paradoxically, a small change may sometimes be much harder than a host of big ones. Inertia is harder to shift from a standing start; once you’ve overcome the initial friction, it can get easier.

Healing cannot occur as long as it’s more profitable to stay sick. It’s not that most people just wake up one morning and say, ”Hey, I think I’ll come down with a  debilitating condition! That sounds like fun!” Some unconscious motivations for being ill:

  • If there was a lot of illness in the family of origin, one might expect to be ill (and the genetic predispositions are there, if this is also the biological family)
  • If illness was frowned upon in the family of origin, it may be a way of rebelling
  • Being ill allows the avoidance of emotional issues (note that continued avoidance of same may be a big part of getting sick to begin with)
  • Being ill may provide an excuse for not making decisions or taking on projects
  • Being ill can become a habit after a certain period of time; it may even take on importance as part of one’s identity
  • One may feel that the only time one gets attention or love is by being ill

This is not to say that healing is easy! Far from it. It’s easy to pop pills thoughtlessly. It’s easy to make excuses. It’s easy to lay blame everywhere but with yourself. Healing is hard.

It’s no fun to be sick

It’s no fun to be hurt

It’s a terrible, awful feeling

Doctors can help

And medicines can help

But it’s you that does the healing

— Schoolhouse Rock

Allopathic medicine seems based on the antithesis of this concept.

In earlier times, medicine was often given with a prayer or set of prayers to be said when taking it. This focused patients’ minds and provided the all-important healing intent. It also engaged people’s spiritual intelligence, which is only just beginning to be explored in this context. People are encouraged to just take drugs without thinking about it, surrendering themselves to experts of one stripe or another. Only when the doctors have done all they can, do they call upon the power of will, whether of the patient or of something greater.

In fact, when this is manifested as a placebo effect, it is actively dismissed. Why not learn how the placebo effect works and how best to elicit it reliably? Pharmaceutical drugs could work even better if the patient were in the correct frame of mind. The denigration of placebo effect and the elevation of refined active principles is an echo of the era of  “heroic medicine”, in which doctors favoured preparations that had noticeable, visible effects, the more dramatic, the better.  It’s not a big jump from that to today’s medical care, in which prevention of disease is only starting to gain acceptance. So much more preferable to wait until a condition gets very serious and swoop in with the strong drugs and invasive procedures! They’re dramatic as hell! They make the doctors feel all-powerful! They make lots of money for the drug companies and medical supply houses! And if they don’t work, the only one who loses out is the patient (and possibly the insurance company)! What could be better?

The difficulty of healing may be exacerbated by the attitudes of those who profit from sickness. It’s not just on an obvious “people don’t like to see you change because that upsets the status quo” level, but on a deeper one. Sick, unhappy people are too busy feeling miserable to challenge those in power, or indeed do much of anything. Except, maybe, to buy stuff if they have money or steal it if they don’t. If they buy stuff, great! All the manufacturers and suppliers make money! If they steal it, great! An excuse to throw them in prison where they’re completely disempowered! And let’s not forget those lucrative prison industries and contracts!

It’s said that the pharmaceutical industry’s ideal product would treat a non-lethal but chronic condition and make people feel about 50% better than they did before. So the goal is ongoing treatment, not a cure. In the early days of eyeglasses, they were designed to correct vision problems over time. If you wore glasses long enough, you’d eventually be able to get by without them. Then some bright spark realized that this was not the way to ensure continued sales and decided to give out prescriptions that only compensated for the vision loss instead of curing it – bingo, a whole lot more glasses got sold.

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