Suggestive Therapeutics For Manual Therapy

Suggestive Therapeutics For Manual Therapy

Suggestive Therapeutics is a form of naturalistic hypnosis that can be used very effectively with manual therapy interventions.  The resource links at the bottom of this brief article provide extensive documentation on the historical and conceptual basis for Suggestive Therapeutics.  This page provides some simple guidelines and examples for the busy clinician who simply needs to make use of this valuable modality in daily practice.

Principles of Suggestive Therapeutics

  • Certain forms of Manual Therapy (including spinal manipulation and massage) tend to induce an altered state of consciousness, making the client susceptible to suggestion – verbally and by activity.
  • In a clinical setting, Suggestive Therapeutics can easily be included as part of the doctor/patient interaction.  Many clinicians do this naturally and unconsciously as part of the doctor/patient relationship.  Our goal is to make it a more conscious, intentional process.
  • As a verbal technique, POSITIVE suggestions (NEVER NEGATIVE) are spoken to the patient during treatment.
  • The suggestions may take the form of CONVERSATIONAL EDUCATION.  In other words, the physician INFORMS the patient of the purpose and outcome of the treatment while it is being given.  So there is nothing mysterious or secretive about Suggestive Therapeutics.  It is simply good clinical practice to inform the patient about the treatment. But given effectively, it also predisposes the patient to a positive outcome.

Examples of Suggestive Therapeutics For Manual Therapy

Here are some simple examples of wording for the suggestions (which can be modified and put into your own words and concepts based on the person and actual treatment techniques):

  • Now as I manipulate the vertebrae along the spine, there WILL be greater relaxation which WILL also help the nervous system to function much better.  
  • Since the brain receives nerve impulses from the ganglia along the spine, this treatment WILL improve brain functioning by creating better communication and coordination between the parts of your nervous system.
  • You WILL probably notice that your mood improves and becomes more balanced as your nervous system becomes better balanced.  

The suggestions can be crafted specifically for the individual.  For example, if the person is having problems concentrating and focusing, the suggestions could include:

  • As the brain is affected by these treatments, you WILL probably find it easier to concentrate and focus your mind.
  • You may even find that your mind WILL be clearer and at peace more often as your nervous system becomes better coordinated.

Here is an example of Suggestive Therapeutics recommended by Edgar Cayce in a case of major mental illness:

     Then, to keep these in balance and to guide these impulses, so that there may be a controlling of the impulse to the nerve system, we would – with the manipulations and the applications made – give the suggestions for the body to respond in a normal way and manner in the impulses created by the vibrations that are set up from the elemental forces in the body. Such suggestions as this:
     (Q) When should the suggestions be given?
     (A) As the outline has been. When the manipulations and battery actions are being given. That means at the same time!  (386-3)

As you study the above excerpt, please note that Suggestive Therapeutics is recommended for multiple treatment modalities. It is easily applied during eletrotherapy such as the wet cell battery (where there is typically a 30 minute battery session followed by 10-15 minutes of spinal massage). This tends to allow a longer treatment and naturally induces a relaxed, altered state of consciousness.  In manual therapy (such as osteopathy), the short duration of a "specific' treatment intended to make a local adjustment may be rather quickly accomplished, may not induce a light trance, and may not leave much time for suggestions.  On the other hand, the traditional osteopathic "general" treatment format usually takes 15 to 20 minutes, is relaxing, thus tending to produce a light trance, and provides ample time for numerous positive suggestions.  From a strictly business standpoint, one can appreciate that many modern osteopaths forgo manual therapy because it is time consuming and may not be adequately covered by insurance — and when manual therapy is utlilized, the focus is on quickly making the specific adjustment and moving on. So the opportunity for using Suggestive Therapeutics during a traditional osteopathic general treatment can be a difficult choice for the clinician, but is to be encouraged when the situation warrants.


  • Suggestive Therapeutics – This article provides a more extensive discussion of the principles and techniques of Suggestive Therapeutics.
  • General and Specific Osteopathic Treatment – Here is some background info and links to additional resources that discuss general and specific treatments with links to videos that demonstrate the general osteopathic treatment.



General And Specific Osteopathic Treatment

General And Specific Osteopathic Treatment

The Cayce readings were very aware of the traditional osteopathy of that era with regard to "general" and "specific" treatments techniques.  The "specific" (localized) corrections are easy enough to understand and appreciate.  There is a specific problem (such as an injury) that needs to be corrected.  A.T. Still was fond of saying, "find it, fix it, and leave it alone."  That is the essence of "specific" treatment.

But many of the early osteopathic texts also recommended "general" treatment (to be used in conjunction with specific treatment) to balance and coordinate the system. In a practical sense, it could also simply be conceptualized as a form of manual assessment — motion palpation. 


General and Specific Treatment — a selection from "Principles and Techniques of Nerve Regeneration."

Manual Therapy Videos — General treatment formats are demonstrated by Dr. Nelson (a chiropractor who has also studied and applied the traditional osteopathy recommended in the Cayce readings) and Dr. Miller (an osteopath trained at Kirksville and Still-Hilldreth Osteopathic Sanatorium, who received a referral for treatment from Edgar Cayce). Look for the videos at the bottom of the page.


Edgar Cayce and A.T. Still

Edgar Cayce and A.T. Still

The Edgar Cayce physical readings rely heavily on the traditional osteopathy of his era. Apparently Cayce once met A.T. Still (founder of osteopathy) and felt a strong resonance with that historic figure.

As a psychic diagnostician, Edgar Cayce made several referrals to the Still-Hildreth Osteopathic sanitarium in Macon, Missouri. Below is a sample of the correspondence between Cayce and A.G. Hildreth, D.O (co-founder of the hospital). Based on the letter by Hildreth, it is clear that the parents of Dr. Hildreth were "spiritualists" and that A.T. Still himself was also likely to have been a spiritualist.  Spiritualism, as a movement, began in the 19th century and was known for the practice of spirit communication. Interestingly, Still (founder of osteopathy) and Palmer (founder of chiropractic) both were involved in spiritualism:

"Andrew Taylor Still (1845-1917) [osteopathy] and Daniel David Palmer (1845-1913) [chiropractic] were contemporaries, founders of dissenting schools of healing, school heads, philosophers, father figures to marginal professions, editors and authors. Both were spiritualists, doctrinaire eccentrics . . . and both taught that man and his healing was the product of a supreme being." (Brantingham, 1986, pp. 18-19)

A book by Edgar Cayce's granddaughter (see below) documents the similarities in the readings of Edgar Cayce and the writings of A.T. Still.  


Brantingham, J. W. (1986). Still and Palmer: The impact of the first osteopath and the first chiropractor. Chiropractic History, 6, 19-22.


Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts __ A. T. Still And Edgar Cayce – This text was compiled by J. Gail Cayce (granddaugher of Edgar Cayce).  It focuses primarly on the conceptual and philosophical similarities between the readings of Edgar Cayce and the writings of A. T. Still.

Correspondence Between Cayce And Hildreth – Below are two letters: One from Cayce to A.G. Hildreth; the other a reply from Hildreth.

[Text of Letter from Edgar Cayce to A. G. Hildreth]

May 16, 1935

Dr. A. G. Hildreth
Still-Hildreth Sanatorium
Macon, Missouri

Dear Dr. Hildreth:

I appreciate your letter of the 8th more than I can tell you; I appreciate your giving me the background for your interest in a work of this nature. While the time was short that I spent with Dr. Still on his visit some years ago in Kentucky, the most of it was spent in talking over many things that had happened in the experience of each. Of course, you can realize that during the thirty-five years that I have been doing this work I have come in contact with physicians of almost every school. A great many have shown interest. More have said taboo. And quite a number have, after years, come back and said, “We have found it worthwhile.” That the information in the readings has more often and more consistently suggested osteopathy than any other one character of treatment, of course, is one of the things that has caused many of the medical profession to question same. Why it has done this I do not know, but we have quite a number of osteopaths throughout the country who are very well acquainted with the results individuals have obtained, even when applying medicine and other local applications in connection with osteopathy. Osteopaths seem more open-minded and willing to cooperate with any school of treatment which may help the individual. Just as our friend Dr. Frank Dobbins of New York City said some weeks ago, “When I have forty-eight cases that come with the readings, and I follow the treatments suggested—even though some of them are not exactly as I have been trained to give them, and I see all forty-eight patients get the results as promised in the readings, then I have to believe something.” Or as Dr. Gravett of Dayton, Ohio, said some years ago, “When I see seventy-five cases osteopathically correctly diagnosed through the readings, I know there’s something to it.”

Dr. Hildreth, I do hope that sometime we may have the opportunity to each view personally the other’s field of activity. I would indeed deem it a privilege to be able to go through your institution.  And if you are ever this way again, I do want you to stop in and see the amount of data we have on hand, and the reports we have had from people all over the country who have gotten results by carrying out their readings—most of whom we have never met personally . . . We have had quite a number of cases of dementia praecox, but never one thoroughly tested yet with the treatment suggested through the readings; because the ones we have had have been so closely allied with the medical profession that no cooperation could be obtained in following any other mode of treatment suggested. In a few cases we have seen people removed from insane institutions by some sympathetic physician administering some simple remedy outlined in the readings, but these have been very few—and have been scattered through the entire thirty-five years of experience with this work. So, it is indeed a wonderful thing that such an institution as yours exists. I’m sure Dr. A. T. Still was happy, is happy, to know that such an institution exists—for the good it has done and may do for suffering humanity . . .

[signed by Edgar Cayce]

[Letter from A. G. Hildreth to Edgar Cayce]



Office of Superintendent

May 24, 1935

Dr. Edgar Cayce
Association for Research & Enlightenment
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Dear Doctor Cayce:

Your highly appreciated letter and literature came. I have read with very much interest all you had to say. The facts are, Mr. Cayce, I have been raised in an atmosphere similar to that which you found in Dr. Still and as to belief and liberality relative to the type of work you are doing my mother and father were spiritualists for a great many years before I was born before there was much known about that phenomenon and they were steadfast in their attitude, even through all criticism and ridicule heaped upon their belief.

I am very sure you are doing a splendid work, one that is of vast benefit to a great many people.

Note what you say about Dr. Still’s joy over the work at this institution. He always stated when the time came our profession could own buildings of our own and surround those people with the right kind of an atmosphere there was a great number of the mentally sick that could be cured osteopathically and this institution here was in line with his thought and his desire and his sons contacted this property before I did and they selected me, or said they would consider it if I would agree to take charge of it.This was a source of great pleasure to Dr. Still and while its establishment came so late in his life that he was never able to visit us at Macon, only thirty-two miles from Kirksville, yet he was vitally interested and frequently sent for me to talk over our work here and always expressed his delight over the fact we had this institution here where we could offer our services to humanity along the line of his discovery. There is no question in our minds not only that he enjoyed this institution while alive but he is equally interested in it now and happy over the results we are able to produce.

I note what you say about dementia praecox [schizophrenia] and relative to Miss [ . . . ]’s brother. We will be very glad if we can serve them. There is no way to know other than by trial what can be accomplished for him, but a trial is certainly worthwhile. We are deeply grateful to you for your attitude. We are grateful we can offer to those poor individuals whose lives if they must live to the end insane, which is worse than death, a chance to get well. Don’t misunderstand me, I appreciate fully your good words and your interest in our type of work but over and above my own benefit and my profession’s comes first the glory of helping some body get well who has been pronounced incurable.

I presume you are well acquainted with conditions relative to dementia praecox, or rather the fact there is no treatment for it so far as the old system is concerned; hence, if we can establish, as we are, a percentage of cures great enough to interest the reading public perhaps the time will come when the whole world can recognize that insanity may be cured through osteopathic treatment or some similar method.

As to the attitude of the old school men relative to our work and yours, it does not bother me any because I know it is based on prejudice. It is too bad the whole medical world could not extend their right hand to any and all avenues that offer more and better results in the cure of dementia praecox and in the cure of disease.

Like yourself I would be happy if I could meet you and have a long talk and visit and I assure you should we travel east anytime again we will try and make that opportunity. We would be happy to have you visit Macon, see and know for yourself of our work and our results. It is very fine of you to take the time you do in writing me such interesting letters. By the way, I am well acquainted with Dr. Gravett of Dayton and consider him one of my real friends. The facts are I know a great many osteopaths throughout the length and breadth of the land and only hope I can return at least in part to you in a way that will help you personally for the good things you say and do for our profession.

With good wishes, I am,
Sincerely yours,


A. G. Hildreth, D.O.

[photocopy of Hildreth’s letter – click to enlarge]


Manual Therapy for Bipolar

Manual Therapy For Bipolar


This article provides some specific recommendations and general observations/background on the use of manual therapy for treating bipolar disorder (also sometimes called manic/depressive syndrome).  Manual Therapy is the use of the hands to treat illness.  Although manual therapy includes various systems of healing, we will focus on traditional osteopathy since that was the preferred approach in the readings of Edgar Cayce.  Although the primary focus is on bipolar disorder, this information may also be helpful for other diagnostic categories that may have overlapping pathophysiology (such as schizoaffective and schizophrenia with transpersonal features).

Overview of Treatment Recommendations

For the busy clinician who simply wants the treatment recommendations, here are the key points:

  • Do a full spinal exam, paying particular attention to the coccyx, 4th lumbar, 9th thoracic, and 3rd cervical.
  • Treat any "specific" somatic dysfunction that you find using traditional osteopathic techniques.
  • Use the traditional “general osteopathic treatment” to coordinate the system and set up drainages.
  • Use “suggestive therapeutics” during the treatment session to program the patient's mind for healing.

Resources for Treatment Recommendations

  • Early American Manual Therapy collection – The collection contains numerous books and articles that document the early decades of osteopathy, chiropractic and other traditional systems of manual therapy.
  • General and Specific Osteopathic Treatment – This selection describes the difference between “general osteopathic treatment” and "specific treatment" based on numerous early osteopathic sources and the Cayce readings.
  • Suggestive Therapeutics For Manual Therapy – Suggestive therapeutics is a form of naturalistic hypnosis that was recommended in many of the Cayce readings for persons with major mental illness.  The positive suggestions are to be given during the treatment session.
  • Bipolar And The Body-Soul Connection – This article discusses the role of certain glands and nerves (that comprise the body-soul connection) and how this relates to bipolar disorder in some cases. 




SFG 3 Resources – Illness as Symbol

Illness as Symbol

(Note: This article by David McMillin was originally published in True Health newsletter.)

Serious illness can thrust us onto the path of transformation. We may begin to wonder and ask deep questions: Is suffering good for the soul? Are symptoms messages from a deeper level of the psyche? Is physical disease symbolic of mental or spiritual transgression? Do we make ourselves sick?

The concept of illness as a growth opportunity has been around for ages. Yet in our modern materialistic culture, the idea that disease can be purposeful makes many uneasy. This is a controversial topic that will require some deep reflection. Simplistic answers to the mystery of health and illness can be misleading, so let’s take it one step at a time.

The Medical Model

Medical science teaches us that most illness is a result of chance or accident. We happen to catch a cold because we happen to come in contact with a rhinovirus. Or if we succumb to a genetically linked disorder, it’s a matter of chance. The random combination of sperm and egg is the hereditary equivalent of rolling dice.

Likewise, treatment contains a strong element of chance. A medication that is a miracle cure for one individual may be fatal for someone else with the same diagnosis. Scientific medicine seeks to load the dice and beat the odds at every turn.

The medical model does concede that illness may be produced by psychological factors. Then it is said to be psychosomatic or psychogenic. Diseases that have no discernible physical cause will sometimes be classified in this way, particularly if the patient is insistent and persistent that the physician cure the problem. In such instances, a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist may be made. The idea that illness is produced by nonphysical causes is usually a last resort for physicians using the medical model.

Illness as Symbol

At the other philosophical extreme is the view that illness, especially physical illness, is a purposeful process that can be a growth experience. There are no accidents. Life is on purpose. Chance is an illusion.  We create our own reality and are totally responsible for everything that we experience – everything, even disease.

In this model, illness is regarded as a metaphor or symbol. As Louise Hay put it in her book You Can Heal Your Life, “… we create every so-called ‘illness’ in our body. The body, like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs.”  The metaphysics of this model has been around for a long time. The book of Proverbs states that “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Edgar Cayce kept reminding us that “mind is the builder” and that “thoughts are real things.” Hay points out that dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs that cause illness are often unconscious. Getting in touch with core beliefs is the answer. Hay provides numerous exercises and affirmations to identify and transform unhealthy thoughts and beliefs. The cookbook style of identifying specific illnesses with specific mental patterns is perhaps a bit simplistic, but can be helpful as a starting point in grasping the concept of illness as symbol.

Illness as Sin

In at least three readings Edgar Cayce observed that “all illness is sin.” This is probably the most extreme example of illness as symbol. In one reading containing this expression, a man’s painful gallstones were said to result from “resentments [that] have choked up conditions within …” (3341-1) The use of the word “choked” as a symbol of resentment in the mental body is certainly appropriately descriptive of gallstones that choke the gallbladder.

In another fascinating reading Cayce commented, “No one can hate his neighbor and not have stomach or liver trouble. No one can be jealous and allow the anger of same and not have upset digestion or heart disorder.” (4021-1) That physical symptoms can be symbolic of mental or spiritual problems is definitely expressed in the Cayce readings. Yet, we should be cautious when interpreting the above excerpt.  Cayce is not saying that everyone that has stomach or liver trouble hates his neighbor. Nor is he saying that everyone with indigestion or heart disease is possessed by jealously or anger. There are hundreds of physical readings given by Cayce on these disorders that do not hint of hate, jealously, or anger as a causative factor. Perhaps there is something more complex taking place when we become ill – something more than an oblique symbolic manifestation.

A reading given for a woman suffering from bowel problems illustrates this point. She asked Cayce, “Since all disease is caused by sin, exactly what sin causes the colon and elimination condition?” Cayce responded, “The sin of neglect. Neglect is just as much sin as grudge, as jealousy – neglect.” (3051-7) She then continued to pursue this line of questioning to identify a more symbolic sin for the various symptoms that she was experiencing. Cayce kept coming back to neglect as the basic cause of her physical symptoms. Apparently she was just not paying attention to the needs of her physical body.

Louise Hay states that bowel problems often relate to “fear of letting go of the old and no longer needed.” Perhaps this woman’s neglect was fear-based, but the connection is not obvious. In fact, in the numerous readings that Cayce gave for persons with bowel problems, the symbolic interpretation suggested by Hay is never mentioned. This is what I meant earlier when I said that simplistic answers can be misleading.

On a more general note, considering the amount of research data that has accumulated indicating that lifestyle choices contribute to or even cause a wide range of diseases, neglect as a sin could probably account for much of the disease that afflicts the human race. This interpretation is consistent with the idea that the basic meaning of sin is error or mistake.

Another, more theological explanation of “all illness is sin” may relate to Cayce’s view that an initial rebellion and separation from God is the basis for our descent into the material realm. In this sense, any suffering or malaise that befalls us in our earthly sojourn could be regarded as a result of that “original sin.”

Latent and Manifest Symbols

Sigmund Freud is probably the most famous and influential advocate of symbolic interpretation. Freud believed that all symbols could be interpreted at multiple levels. For example, the meaning of dream symbols can be interpreted as manifest or latent. Manifest means the obvious meaning. Latent is the hidden meaning.

With regard to illness as symbol, the question is whether the meaning of a specific condition is either latent or manifest, or both. If jealousy produces heart disease, the physical manifestation of the disease has a latent or hidden meaning as well as the obvious physical manifestation.  If bowel disease (or any illness) results from neglect, the physical manifestation seems to me to be essentially manifest or direct with little if any latent meaning. Of course, the medical model of illness is more supportive of the manifest meaning of illness. Even Freud, who is probably best known for his almost obsessive tendency to interpret symbols as having sexual content (especially phallic symbols), had to concede that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The question of whether illness can have a purely physical cause will be discussed in next month’s newsletter. The short answer, according to Edgar Cayce, is yes.

Working with Symbols

Interpreting illness as a symbol of mental or spiritual distress is one of the ways that we can experience healing as a transformational process. In working with symbols, keep in mind that symbols can have both latent and manifest meaning.

Latent Meaning – In seeking to understand physical symptoms of illness, I like to begin with an open and flexible mind.  Sometimes symbols can be interpreted in a cookbook fashion where a specific symbol is linked to a specific core issue. Louise Hay’s books can serve as a good starting point for this type of interpretation. Interpreting illness in a symbolic way may require a more personal approach where you will need to understand what the illness means to you. Meditation and dream incubation are two good ways to access the symbolic meaning of illness. The Hidden Meaning of Illness by Bob  Trowbridge is an excellent resource for understanding the latent meaning of illness.

Manifest Meaning – Keep in mind that symbols may not necessarily have a latent or hidden meaning. To be on the safe side, I recommend that you always use a holistic approach to understanding and treating illness. This means honoring the physical as well as the mental and spiritual. Thus, in addition to seeking the mental and spiritual causes of illness, be aware that illnesses may have a physical cause. Or, if there is sin involved, it may be as simple and direct as neglect of the physical side of life.

By working with the manifest as well as latent meaning of illness, you will be less likely to experience unnecessary guilt or inappropriate treatment. These two potential negative side effects of the transformational process represent the shadow side of transformation. Next month we will explore the shadow of transformation within the context of “purely physical” illness.

SFG 3 Resources – The Shadow of Transformation

The Shadow of Transformation

(Note: This article by David McMillin was originally published in True Health newsletter.)

In the last issue we discussed the concept of illness as symbol. We briefly considered the views of Louise Hay, who regards all disease as symbolic of dysfunctional mental  patterns.  She insists that “we create every so-called ‘illness’ in our body.” We also examined the idea expressed by Edgar Cayce that “all illness is sin.” This is a complex and controversial topic worthy of our investigation.

Do We Make Ourselves Sick?  One of the concerns that has been raised about viewing illness as sin is the potential for inappropriate or unnecessary guilt. In the article, “Do We Make Ourselves Sick,” Ken Wilber calls it “iatrogenic guilt.” In medicine, iatrogenic typically refers to illness caused by treatment. Thus, in linking illness to symbolic causes (either mental or spiritual), there is a danger of causing harm (i.e., guilt) if the condition is of a purely physical nature.  Furthermore, if illness is falsely attributed to a nonphysical cause, effective and  appropriate physical treatment may not be provided.

This question is more than an academic exercise for Wilber. His wife died of cancer after trying almost every alternative and mainstream cancer treatment. Their story is documented powerfully in the book Grace and Grit. Wilber concedes that illness may be symbolic of a nonphysical pattern, but believes that illness is often of a purely physical nature. When such is the case, it should be treated with appropriate (and hopefully effective) physical therapies.

Purely Physical Illness?

One of the things that attracts me to the Cayce information is the complexity and breadth of the material. The material is rich and complicated because reality is complex. Therefore when I encounter contradictions or apparent paradoxes in the readings, I dig a little deeper for I know that there is something of great value if I can stretch myself to  assimilate it.

Having acknowledged that Cayce stated that “all illness is sin” in a couple of readings, I have had to struggle with the reality that in the 9,602 readings that are cataloged as “physical” on The Complete Edgar Cayce Readings CD-ROM, many do not contain even a hint of mental, spiritual, or symbolic cause for the illnesses discussed. In fact, a number of readings contain the phrase “purely physical” when describing the cause of the problem.

For example, a man with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) asked Cayce, “What can I do about a disturbing noise that is in my ear (or is this purely physical, requiring physical treatment)?” Cayce responded, “Purely physical and not karmic. Remove the stress by head and neck exercise. Have … corrections osteopathically made in the 3rd cervical to the 1st cervical and 4th dorsal.” (5346-1) In another instance, a woman asked Cayce about the source of her gall bladder attacks: “What mental or spiritual condition brought them about?” Cayce replied, “Neither a mental or spiritual, but rather a purely physical reaction. And, as indicated, keep away from meats!”  I have collected an entire file of quotes such as these where Cayce clearly maintains that illness can be purely physical, rather than symbolic of a mental or spiritual problem. In fact, in most of these readings, Cayce responded to direct questions about the spiritual and mental causes of disease. In numerous readings where the question was not posed to Cayce, the causes of illness were described, for the most part, in purely physical terms. In other cases, the mental or spiritual aspects of causation were emphasized. Illness can be a complex phenomenon.

The recognition that the cause of disease can be purely physical has not been easy for me. With my background in psychology and years of study of metaphysical concepts, I was initially inclined to regard all illness as symbolic, much as Louise Hay has done. The Cayce health readings have served to make me more flexible, tolerant, and humble in this regard.

Shadow of Transformation

As I said at the beginning, understanding transformational healing is complex. Apparently, illness can be caused by many factors operating at various levels. Sometimes illness can be symbolic of a nonphysical problem, or it may be purely physical. We must be careful not to oversimplify or we run the risk of iatrogenic guilt or inappropriate treatment (as noted by Wilber). I have seen this happen. I call it the “shadow of transformation.”

I know of wonderful, spiritually oriented individuals who have become ill. In the course of healing, they have struggled with some of the same issues encountered by Ken Wilber and his wife during their healing journey. Just like the Wilbers, these individuals tried almost every conceivable alternative medicine approach (including Louise Hay’s), with only modest improvement. Just like the Wilbers, they also eventually partook of  allopathic treatments without being cured. Along the way, some of their friends began to drift away or make remarks to the effect that there must be some unknown or unaddressed spiritual problem at the bottom of the condition.  The afflicted individuals actually began to feel like sinners – as if they had failed doubly. Not only had they created the disease, but they had failed to heal themselves. Talk about guilt!

I suspect that the well-meaning friends were beginning to have some doubts about their own invincibility. After all, if wonderful, spiritual people can get seriously ill and not recover, what does that say about all of us? In psychology we talk about the shadow – that part of ourselves we don’t want to acknowledge or accept. If we are unaware or unwilling to deal with our shadow, we tend to project it onto others – hence, the shadow of transformation.

Cognitive Dissonance

So how do we work with transformational healing in a way that is constructive and does no harm? First, let’s acknowledge the limitations of our understanding. This leads to humility, which is a good thing in healing.

Let’s also acknowledge that we are complex beings in a multidimensional reality, however we may choose to define it. Illness may come from any level of reality, including the physical.

We can help each other to become aware of possible causes of illness without forcing the issue. To force the issue is to trespass on another soul because it violates will. A gentle approach that respects the will of others is more appropriate. We can suggest possible explanations with an open-mindedness and humility that is respectful. I know this is difficult for some of us who enjoy telling others what is wrong with them and what they should do about it; but that issue involves our healing, not theirs.

When working as a consultant, even when I feel quite certain that there is a symbolic or hidden meaning at the core of illness, I still prefer to educate the client about the possibility of such a connection and leave it to their good judgment to determine what they choose to believe. Using the will to choose is the basis for soul development, a profound form of healing.

This simple technique relies on cognitive dissonance. Psychological research has documented the mind’s tendency to want to resolve discordant ideas (dissonance). When the discordant ideas are presented in a nonthreatening way, resistance and defense  mechanisms are minimized. A gentle suggestion about the possible symbolic meaning of a symptom can be very powerful, especially when presented with humor that is loving and respectful. Then just leave it at that. Let the mind resolve the dissonance on its own.

If the person is open to symbolic interpretation of illness, then proceed in an open and respectful way, being careful not to instill iatrogenic guilt or encourage inappropriate treatment. If the person is not open to symbolic meaning of illness, just plant the seed and trust in cognitive dissonance – and the divine within.

Regardless of the cause of illness, even if it is purely physical, all healing can be transformational. We can use our wills to make choices, act on our choices, and take responsibility for the outcome (empowerment). We can become more aware and mindful of our multidimensional aspects (enlightenment). We can meet ourselves gracefully as we make our way back to the Source (soul development).

SFG 3 Resources – The Placebo Debate

The Placebo Debate

Is The Placebo Divine Healing?

(Note: This article by David McMillin was originally published in True Health newsletter.)

For over thirty years sugar pills have been prescribed as a placebo treatment for almost every conceivable problem. Aside from the obvious ethical issue of misrepresentation, researchers and clinicians have used placebos with the full confidence provided by extensive medical research. Over the decades numerous studies have apparently  established that using placebo treatments can produce positive outcomes in 30 – 40 percent of cases, especially for pain relief.  Placebos were regarded as safe, economical, and ethical treatments that simply utilized the patient’s positive beliefs and expectations
for healing.

However, recent research has called into question the validity of the placebo. Not surprisingly, the new interpretation of the placebo effect has sent a shock wave through the medical research community. Apart from research, understanding the placebo  controversy has practical implications for your health and healing. Recognizing and utilizing the divine aspect of healing as the ultimate expression of the placebo effect is where we are headed with this article. But first, let’s define our terms.

What is Placebo?

Placebo is Latin, literally meaning “I will please.” As a medical intervention, a placebo is intended to produce healing, but not believed (by the researcher or clinician) to be a specific therapy for the illness.  Thus it is used either for its psychological effect or to eliminate observer bias in a research setting. Or to put it another way, a placebo is a change in a patient’s illness attributed to the symbolic significance of a treatment rather than its medical properties. Sugar pills are not the only placebo treatment. Invasive treatments, such as surgery, can produce strong placebo effects. Andrew Weil believes that all medical treatments have an element of the placebo and that the “history of medicine is actually the history of the placebo response.” In his book Health and Healing, Weil echoed the insightful medical observation that “One should use a new remedy as much as possible while it still has the power to heal.”

In a clinical setting, placebo effects may be nonspecific. Physician attention; patient and physician expectations of treatment effects; the reputation, expense, and impressiveness of the treatment; and characteristics of the setting can all contribute to a positive placebo effect.

Thus, in essence, placebo effects have been regarded as a manifestation of the mind.
In metaphysical terms, “mind is the builder.” Traditionally, placebos have been regarded
as a manifestation of the mind’s power to heal.

Research Controversy

In research, placebos are used to establish the “real” value of a particular treatment. Also called “sham” treatments because by definition the interventions are not supposed to have a “real” effect, placebos have become part of the gold standard for modern medical research. You can see why questioning the reality of the placebo can be unsettling for researchers.

At Meridian Institute we have researched and published papers on the concept of sham treatment in studies involving spinal manipulation. We have also conducted basic  research on the physiological response of various techniques thought to be sham treatments. We have learned that understanding placebo effects is enormously complex and controversial.

The study that initiated the current placebo debate appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, May 24, 2001). Titled “Is the Placebo Powerless? An Analysis of Clinical Trials Comparing Placebo with No Treatment,” the article reported the findings of a “metaanalysis” (systematic review) of 114 clinical trials. The authors concluded that,“We found little evidence in general that placebos had powerful clinical effects.”

For alternative medicine advocates who have used the concept of placebo as an example of the power of mind/body healing, the placebo debate raises important issues about the psychological dimension of healing. Does the mind have the power to heal? If the consistent positive results that have been attributed to the placebo effect are not due to psychological factors, what can account for the undeniable healing that occurs when placebos are used?

The NEJM study suggests that the positive outcomes that are consistently attributed to placebos are not necessarily produced by the beliefs or expectations of the participants, but are essentially the result of natural cycles of health and illness. Remember that the study compared placebo treatment to no treatment. Many health problems resolve irrespective of treatment or lack thereof. When a physician tells a patient to “take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” the underlying assumption is that the body will often heal itself, even with little or no treatment. Maybe no treatment is sometimes clinically appropriate. Perhaps the placebo effect is more complex and mysterious than previously thought. Even if placebo effects result from natural cycles of healing, what does this really mean? After all, nature is an expression of the divine. Possibly the healing process itself may have a divine source.

Limitations of Science

Before discussing a deeper, spiritual aspect of the placebo phenomenon, let’s take a moment to reflect on the limitations of the scientific process. By its very nature science produces tentative results. Scientific findings can always be amended or completely disproved by future investigation. That is the nature of science. In other words, science cannot provide absolute truth or certainty. I point this out because I often cite scientific research in this newsletter, and I want to be clear about the limitations of scientific research.

With regard to the new interpretation of the placebo effect, I suspect that future studies will redefine the role of beliefs and expectations about healing. The path of scientific knowledge often reverses itself. Yes, mind is the builder. Future studies will likely elaborate the importance of the mind with regard to placebo effects. Perhaps mental processes cannot fully account for all of the positive placebo outcomes.  Something more may be at work here – the spiritual (divine) aspect of healing may be recognized.

Divine Healing

To understand placebo, we must understand the healing process itself. Edgar Cayce provided this explanation of healing: “Know that all strength, all healing of every nature is the changing of the vibrations from within – the attuning of the divine within the living tissue of a body to Creative Energies. This alone is healing. Whether it is accomplished by the use of drugs, the knife or what not, it is the attuning of the atomic structure of the living cellular force to its spiritual heritage.” (1967-1)  The “Creative Energies” were described as electrical vibrations – as manifestations of the life force that has a divine origin.

Note that almost any therapy (including surgery and drugs) can assist with the “attuning of the divine” that is the true source of healing. In another instance Cayce noted that the  divine healing energy is a natural expression of atomic and cellular processes. “For all healing, mental or material, is attuning each atom of the body, each reflex of the brain forces, to the awareness of the divine that lies within each atom, each cell of the body… These adjustments are merely to attune the centers of the body … and nature does the
.” (3384-2)

The concept that “nature heals” is an old idea. It is the basis for many traditional systems of healing such as naturopathy, osteopathy, and chiropractic. The expression “innate healing” is also used when discussing the body’s natural tendency to heal itself. Most natural healing traditions are explicit in identifying innate healing as an expression of the divine within.

The linkage of innate or divine healing with the placebo effect is natural. If the body is constantly healing itself, the placebo effect may be an expression of its innate ability. This idea first entered my mind while I listened to Eric Mein lecture to a group attending a Meridian Institute research conference. Dr. Mein explained that placebo is  fundamentally a spiritual manifestation – the divine within. The mind, through its beliefs and attitudes, can enhance the divine healing energy, as can many other therapeutic interventions.

Thus the controversy about whether placebo is real or simply an illusion produced by natural cycles of healing can be interpreted at a deeper level. Perhaps the innate healing that occurs as a natural process regardless of the type of intervention or lack thereof is actually a manifestation of the divine within. Or as Andrew Weil has observed, the real issue is not whether the placebo exists, but rather that “… all systems of medicine should regard the placebo response as a therapeutic ally and work to evoke it more of the time, no matter what methods they use …”

Relevance to You

This controversy is more than a methodological argument among researchers. Here are some points to keep in mind as you apply the information in this article:

  • Know what you believe. Work with your ideals consciously so that you can make clear decisions that improve your health. Remember, mind is the builder. Exactly how the mind can influence healing has yet to be fully determined.
  • Attune to the divine. It is the divine within us that is the source of healing. Prayer and meditation are excellent ways to attune to the divine for true health.
  • Use natural remedies. At a physical level the divine within acts through natural processes. Thus, natural therapies such as diet, exercise, herbs, and hydrotherapy can be especially helpful for stimulating innate healing.
  • Know when to call the doctor. Although there are times when a natural remedy or no treatment at all may be appropriate, there are surely times when we need professional help. This is a topic that I intend to discuss in a future issue.
  • Stay positive. When healing doesn’t come in the way that you desire, don’t get down on yourself or God. Innate healing is determined by many factors at various levels. Why we sometimes fail to heal at a physical level is another important  topic for a future article.

The underlying spiritual dimension of healing is poorly understood by medical science. Consequently, the body’s innate tendency to heal is often ignored. Perhaps the placebo debate will encourage further scientific exploration of the innate, divine aspects of healing. At a personal level, keep the faith.

Research Report Using The Edgar Cayce Medical Model DVD

research report Research Report Using The Edgar Cayce Medical Model

(DVD – 1 hour 9 minutes)

David McMillin explains Meridian Institute research on migraine, epilepsy, psoriasis, asthma, and other conditions based on the Cayce information. There is some overlap of content with the Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology DVD trio, but this DVD focuses more deeply on the research aspects and covers topics not included in the other title.

Price(USD): $12.00

Electric Vibrator Therapy CD

vibrator Electric Vibrator Therapy CD Edgar Cayce recommended the electric vibrator to relax the body, coordinate the nervous systems, and improves eliminations. This book has been converted into Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format and placed on a CD which can be read on any computer.

Click here to view sample pages in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format (1.08 mb). This sample contains the Table of Contents for this work.

Price(USD): $10.00