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Letters to the Editor Issue 17

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 17 - January 1997

Psychocreative Medicine

With reference to the article, published in the recent August/Sept issue of Positive Health magazine (No 14) by Mr Patrick Lee-Howard (on “Psychocreative Medicine) may I please invite the author to reply to my several queries through the good offices of your magazine - since he has chosen not to answer the letter I sent to the address provided?

Firstly: Mr Lee-Howard states he has worked as a psychotherapist and has trained in nutritional medicine, qualifying as a “chef” (sic). So we know he is a good cook! However, none of the impressive-looking letters after his name indicates any formal training or qualifications in either of these areas. May I ask him therefore what formal training he has completed in psychotherapy and in nutritional medicine, what qualifications does he hold in these two fields and who awarded them? Is he a registered member of any officially recognised body of practitioners (eg the BAC, the SPNT, etc)?

Secondly: my endeavours to ascertain what the intriguing array of letters after his name stand for have met with no success. Would he be so kind as to enlighten me here also?

Thirdly: having read his article several times now, I have to confess I can find absolutely nothing essentially new, unique, different, exclusive or revolutionary in anything he and his colleague(s) - he speaks in the plural – “we” – are doing: ie a mild fruit juice/water detox regime, combined with regular visualisation as a healing aid. There are scores of health farms, spa resorts, healing clinics and fasting centres all over the world, many of which are and have been practising these methods, among many others, for decades now. Yet, Mr Lee-Howard would have us believe his is the only centre of its kind in the world! Of course, the others do not call themselves “centres for Psychocreative Medicine”. So – the only thing here that is new then is the label – or am I wrong?

Surely the last thing the alternative healthcare sector needs at this point is yet another clever, pseudo-scientific label – disguising the same old familiar basis methods and techniques, masquerading as a novel healing art - to mystify, impress and dupe a gullible unquestioning and all too superficial public!

Mr Lee-Howard’s stated credentials are, I take it, all related to “Psychocreative Medicine”. May I ask then what course of Study/training he has completed to gain these and who awarded him these qualifications? It is a well-known fact in medical circles that fasting as a healing aid has been practised for millennia. No formal training of any kind has ever been required for this. The latter is also true of visualisation. There is a wealth of readily available in-depth literature, also by acclaimed authorities on both these subjects. On what grounds then does Mr Lee-Howard feel: a) that this is now necessary (a diploma in visualisation?!!) and b) that he is so uniquely competent and qualified to set standards and criteria for the training of practitioners in these areas?

Is it perhaps that he possesses an expertise derived from a long, tried and tested track record of success as a practitioner himself? How long has he been working with this “Psychocreative Medicine”? After all, students are no doubt required to pay a fair sum for the privilege of training under his expert guidance.

Personally, I find it a cause for grave concern that the alternative healthcare sector still has not got round to defining and enforcing strict basic standards and criteria for the training of practitioners, nor to establishing an official “watchdog” body to monitor training establishments. Even more lamentable and worrying is the fact that those who seek the services of such practitioners are still far too credulous, trusting and uncritical of what they are told, seldom checking out thoroughly the background, credentials and standing of those to whom they entrust their health and well-being, or the precise nature of the services being offered. Isn’t it time to wake up and question what we are being told - and sold?

I sincerely hope therefore that I may look forward - with interest - to reading in your pages in the near future a thorough reply from Mr Lee-Howard. For - as I am sure he would agree - nowhere is personal accountability more fundamental, more essential, more appropriate and more desirable than in those responsible for providing healthcare. And, in the absence of any official national monitoring body, only a sound, healthy, well-informed, pro-active critical faculty can help guarantee quality and standards for everyone.

Irene Stephen-Jack

The Editor replies

Irene Stephen-Jack raises two somewhat contradictory issues in her letter. On the one hand she states that the practices of fasting and visualisation are age-old and require no formal training. On the other hand, she raises the ever-present issue of standardised qualifications and training. If no formal training is required for fasting and visualisation, then an absence of qualifications should not be an issue. If, on the other hand, she is suggesting that fasting and visualisation retreats be supervised only by nutritionally or psychotherapeutically qualified practitioners, then her point about a wealth of readily available in-depth literature making formal training in these areas unnecessary, becomes redundant. These days there are several workshops around the country, such as walking and fasting, yoga and fasting etc, which provide people who wish to detoxify an opportunity to share their experiences within a group of like-minded people.

I gather that Ms Stephen-Jack’s specific complaints about Mr Lee-Howard’s retreat need to be addressed directly by Mr Lee-Howard. We are pleased to have been of service in this matter, for Mr Lee-Howard has communicated to us his willingness and preference to deal with the matters raised in her letter on a personal rather than a public level. He sincerely invites Ms Stephen-Jack to write to him again. His new address details are 5 Blue Ball Flats, The Grove, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DZ.

Jon Whale

I found the articles by Jon Whale very interesting.  However, I do believe that one has to deal with the root of ‘whatever’ altered the assemblage point in the first place, as well as correcting it. If the ‘software which caused the shift’ has not been dealt with, sooner or later the assemblage point will move out of position again?  It would be interesting to combine assemblage point moving with emotional stress release and detoxification etc.  I look forward to hearing more about John Whale’s work.

Vivienne Bradshaw

The Body in Psychotherapy

Whilst agreeing with the sentiments of Alan Rudolph’s article on “The Neglect of the Body in Psychotherapy “(December/ January 1997 Positive Health) it seems ill-informed and misleading. What he seems to be discussing is Psychoanalysis, which is a group of approaches within the broader spectrum of Psychotherapy. I would not want your readers to feel that Psychotherapists do not acknowledge the importance of the body. Indeed, some of us even do bodywork with our clients. Psychotherapy has long ago moved on from the years on the analysts couch. Realistically, only those with time and money to spare for the twice and thrice weekly sessions can go to Psychoanalysts.

Allan does mention Gestalt Therapy briefly at the end of the article, but surprisingly does not mention that Fritz Perls was both a patient and student of Wilhelm Reich. Reich, recognizing the importance of the body in therapy, broke away from many of Freud’s ideas, and began laying the foundations for a Somatic Psychotherapy – ie. a therapy working with the emotional life of the body. He called his work Vegetotherapy, and it is still practised today, although other workers have gone on to develop other systems of therapy from this; Alexander Lowen (Bioenergetic Therapy) and Gerda Boyesen (Biodynamic Therapy) are two of the most well known. However, somatic therapies do not enjoy a large following in the UK, the mind has been allowed to reign supreme over the body. In both the USA and more especially Europe, Somatic Psychotherapy is much more common; the European Association for Body Psychotherapy has hundreds of members, with only a handful from the UK. One British Body Psychotherapist, David Boadella, developed “Biosynthesis” a body psychotherapy system well known worldwide – except in his home country. He now lives in Zurich. For some years I have been practicing as a psychotherapist using the principles of Biosynthesis (meaning “integration of life”). The work acknowledges the connections of the human being to their somatic existence, their psyche, and their essence.

A person seeking the help of a psychotherapist usually experiences a part of his life as problematic. This probably due to events of the past colouring his present experience. If we were not seen or heard fully or contacted with mutual respect our contact with others will be dysfunctional. This will affect our perception, our belief systems, our breathing, our muscles, our thoughts, our images, our body; in other words all our channels of contact. A therapy based on talking alone will not reach these other contact channels. Biosynthesis work with the body uses the principles of functional embryology as a theoretical base from which to explore breathing patterns, muscle tone, and the expression of feelings through the appropriate contact-channels. As clients work through their somatic blocks and the confusions created by their ego-defences deeper connections are usually opened up to spiritual and transpersonal realms. In therapies such as Biosynthesis, the use of several channels of contact serves to deepen and accelerate the therapeutic process. It is no longer necessary to spend years of just talking on the analyst’s couch!

Yig Labworth, London

Allan Rudolf replies to Yig Labworth

Too bad that Ms Labworth didn’t read my earlier article in Positive Health, August/September 1996. She would then see clearly that we are basically in agreement on most issues!

She seems to be engaged in kicking in an open door! My article in the Dec/Jan 1997 issue (the Neglect of the Body in Psychotherapy) clearly refers in the very first sentence to the well-known fact that MOST psychotherapists and especially those of the psychoanalytic school . . . neglect the body.

There are, of course, many schools of psychotherapy that do not do so, and I choose one of these in this article – Fritz Perls’ Gestalt Therapy. I am not denying that there are many others; in fact, several were referred to in the earlier article. The point I am making is that the Establishment psychologists (Freudians, etc.) are guilty of neglecting the body! In England certainly this is true, and Ms Labworth is well aware of this when she states that David Boadella’s body psychotherapy system is not well known in his home country. So there is really no large area of disagreement between us; my article was referring to the TRADITIONAL psychotherapies – look at any university bookstore in England and USA; you will see myriad books on Freud, Jung, the unconscious, etc. but very little on any of the modern holistic forms of psychotherapy that include the body.

Ms Labworth states that Fritz Perls was a patient of Wilhelm Reich. It is well-known that Perls was influenced by Reich. It is doubtful, however, that Perls was a patient of Reich, as Ms Labworth claims. My co-author, Dr Sheldon Litt, as a member of the New York Institute from 1962 on, had considerable contact with Fritz Perls during the 1960s and recalls that on two occasions Perls denied having ever been a patient of Wilhelm Reich. Perls did mention having had an analyst who was totally silent, and who not only never looked at patients, but simply scratched the floor with his foot to signal it was time for the psychoanalytic hour to end!

From illness to wellness

I found it very interesting and instructive to read what Leon Chaitow had to say in his contribution to your Issue No. 10 about the state of disarray in alternative and complementary medicine.

During the last war when these Isles were threatened by the Nazi hordes, nobody argued about whether the road-signs in Wales should be in Welsh, English or both; there were more important things to do. Some readers will remember that it was once Government policy that everyone in alternative and complementary medicine should get together before the Government could consider the importance of the movement and whether it could become part of the official health scene. When this was on the way to being achieved through the work of the Holistic Health Contact Group and the National Consultative Council for Alternative & Complementary Medicine, with its wide and embracing remit, the Government, no doubt prompted by its medical advisors, decided to institute the present ‘divide and rule’ policy. Some therapeutic organisations in alternative and complementary medicine saw this as an opportunity of ensuring that their particular viewpoint was recognised, accepted and authenticated as the ‘true’ way of working. Egos popped up all over the place in a manifestation of the materialistic civilisation in which we all have to work.

Leaders in the sector of alternative and complementary medicine, as in Government, commercial life and other sectors, require great determination and a sense of purpose to achieve their aims; it is an essential characteristic of leadership. However, unless the aims of their endeavours are correctly chosen the ‘positive’ use of their personal striving will develop into bigoted egotism.

In the discussion of a situation of disease Leon Chaitow usually offers advice on possible remedies, but this time he has omitted to make such recommendations. May I suggest that the present situation has arisen because the aims of the leaders are wrong.

In the surveying of land, the accuracy of the final calculations depends on the surveyor selecting reference points on which to base his instrumental sightings. The further these reference points are away from the surveyor the greater will be the accuracy of the readings. A similar situation exists in most other problems including the selection of the aim of alternative and complementary medicine as a whole. While most leaders in this sector are well aware of the state of their own therapy they have stopped short of considering the illness/wellness situation of the sector as a whole and its relationship to its patients.

To consider that osteopathy, because it has a longer period of training, (and perhaps is closer to orthodox medicine?) is more important than reflexology, negates the holistic principle that each therapy has a role to play in correcting illness. Each of us is responsible for our own health but requires help from time to time to change our illness into wellness, and if the help needed at a particular time is that provided by reflexology, then reflexology is more important at that time than osteopathy. In considering this point it must be remembered that many a kindly neighbour with soothing words and a listening ear has helped a sick person start back on the way to improved health; such a neighbour is certainly a carer, might even be considered a health-carer, and certainly provides what the sick person needed at that particular time.

What remedy does the alternative and complementary health sector require to get back from the state of illness admirably described by Leon Chaitow to the state of wellness from which it can be most effective in its task of helping the sick? Where is the long-range distance reference point which we can all see wherever we are? Is it in the physical? With our vastly different ways of treating the physical this seems unlikely. Is the reference point to be found in the emotional or indeed the mental. While certainly we are aware that disturbances in the mental or emotional can effect the physical; indeed the opposite is true; a crack on the shin will certainly upset the emotional and mental aspects, and the removal of the pain will soothe them over again. However, the pain in the physical can be banished by mental effort, while pain in the mental, unless treated mentally or spiritually, must eventually manifest in the physical. We must therefore conclude that the reference points in the emotional and mental aspects are probably more relevant and useful than reference points in the physical, which are too close and which are often difficult to share between patient and practitioner; the level of pain for instance.

The holistic approach maintains that health exists when there is a balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects, and I suggest that the most distant reference point to which we can all refer, both carer and patient alike, is the spiritual essence from which unconditional love springs; without considering spirituality the picture must necessarily be incomplete. Although our views of spirituality can be obscured by the dogmas of religion and conventional behaviour, the essence of unconditional love cannot. The understanding that comes from unconditional love enables us to appreciate the healthcare situation, the value of all health-carers, be they very learned or unread, the users of high technology or the carriers of water; each must perform his part in the healing process, and each can co-operate because each can see a spiritual reference point.

Can such a reference point be defined? ‘Spirituality has so many facets of dogma and religion it is almost outside the parameters of cognitive reasonings’. Certainly I would agree that the study of comparative religion, although useful in many respects, might not necessarily produce the desired reference points, but all major religions do have two reference points in common: Firstly, there exists outside ourselves something which, though we do not understand it with our limited mental faculties, appears to be greater than ourselves, a Creative Force which probably includes our creation and certainly includes the setting in which we find ourselves at the present. The second is concerned with establishing the correct relationship with all parts of the Creation. This manifests in the principle of treating other parts of Creation as we ourselves would like to be treated. This is the essence of unconditional love. I suggest that by applying this principle as a remedy to the current situation in alternative and complementary medicine would change the present illness into wellness. When we are well we are more effective in helping others. Is it not our duty to the sick to ensure that alternative and complementary medicine as a whole turns from the illness of the egoistical aim of self-importance and self-advancement into the wellness of co-operation through the acceptance of the rights of all those in the sector to hold different views from their different viewpoints and the acceptance of the equal value of their different ways of working to help the sick?

Gordon Smith

Exercise Beats Arthritis

Exercise plays an important role in the management of people with Arthritis. Benefits of exercises include reduction in joint stiffness, strengthening of muscles giving more protection to the joint as well as improving general fitness and well-being. Exercises can assist to minimise the effects of Arthritis.

The exercise video provides a progressive range of exercises starting with a gentle warm up of simple stretching movements to low impact aerobic exercises combined with coordination, ending with a cool down routine and relaxation. The Relaxation sequence occupies approximately 10 minutes plus of the video, however this is not referred to on the Video Sleeve.

The Video is accompanied by a booklet which gives excellent relevant sound advice on how, when, where, and the dos and don’ts of exercising. It is recommended that the booklet is read before embarking on the exercise program.

Very briefly in the introduction people exercising in a pool is shown. This is a good medium in which to exercise for those people with moderate to advanced Arthritis, it should be possible to incorporate some of the exercises into an aqua aerobic group.

The exercise tape should not stand in the way of attending keep fit or low impact Aerobic groups under the supervision of a trained instructor, but for those people living in rural areas who may not have access to exercise groups the video could provide a good introduction to exercises

In the ‘Passat ‘ sequence an older person with Arthritis would find it easier to do these exercises on a firm bed with a pillow supporting the neck rather than getting down to the floor.

As stated, with the variable nature of Arthritis designing an exercise routine to suit everyone is a difficult task, however, some of the gentle stretching exercises would be suitable for inclusion in the majority of exercise routines. For those whose Arthritis is more advanced with joint instability especially of the lower limbs the middle section aerobic exercise could prove to be difficult to perform.

The voice over is clear and concise and the background music pleasant and not intrusive.

The exercise routines move along at a pace which some may find difficult to keep up with, especially if they are just starting exercising, but as advised, starting with one routine at a time is more appropriate than trying to do them all at once. One observation that warrants a comment is for those people who may have restriction of movement in one or more joints the exercises should be done within the limits of their joint pain and movement, this I felt was not emphasised in the video.

The 40 minute video fulfills the purpose of combining a variety of exercises with relevant advice and caution, and hopefully will encourage people with or without Arthritis to exercise regularly and reap the benefits.

Mefus Ensor, Rheumatology Dept, Whipps Cross Hospital, London

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