Archive for October 2011

Healing Then and Now

October 29, 2011

A neurosis is suffering that has not yet found its meaning.

A neurosis is an offended god.

These are both statements that Jung made at different times, and they both mean the same thing. It all depends on your point of view. I hope to show today that there are many ways to heal, all of which work, but none works unfailingly. Whether they work or not, I suspect it again depends on your point of view That people struggle so hard to show that their methods are superior to others, past and present, tells us more about the people than it does about their methods. However, I shall not bore you with statistics. Although statistics never lie, statisticians often do. We tend to use statistics as drunks use lampposts, more for support than illumination. In determining if a certain method works better than another, we must depend on experience; indeed, we cannot know anything without experience, nor can we even be certain of the validity of what we deduce from our experiences, let alone what others have deduced from theirs. Therefore I have deduced from this that nothing is certain; but what guards me from a lifetime of pessimism is the other side of the coin. Experience is not limited to what can be experienced in ordinary states of consciousness at least as defined by Reason. So I have concluded that everything is possible, even though nothing is certain. As Plato said, all knowledge is remembering, so forgotten knowledge can be dredged out of the sea of the collective unconscious through relating what is known to various experiences, even such irrational phenomena as dreams and visions. Non-rational methods have throughout the ages been successfully used in healing.

The problem many of us have is that if non-rational methods work, why don’t they always work? But this is also true with scientific methods. Here again, it may result from the point of view of the healer and also the patient. My problem was at least partially explained by a story of a man who was a firm believer in God, had always led a good life, and so he believed that God would save his life when a massive flood enveloped his home. He had to flee to the roof when his house became flooded and clung to the chimney as a rescue craft came to carry him to safety. He refused to accept the offer on the basis of his certainty that God would preserve him as a reward for his faith and good works. Soon the water was up to his neck when a second boat came by. Still he refused. At the point when it was up to his chin a helicopter came his way offering to carry him to safety. Still he refused and so he drowned. Upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates, he was shown to the Divine Presence and immediately began complaining to God that he certainly did not deserve to be abandoned after a lifetime of faith and service. God was sympathetic and said that He also was surprised to see the man there since He had sent him two boats and a helicopter. This at least partially solved my problem. We cannot depend on one solution only. Healing methods are not opposite but supplementary. Despite the rivalry among various types of medicine; spiritual and material, holistic and allopathic, this opposition is, like all opposites, illusory. Indeed, healing can occur only when the opposition between matter and spirit is transcended. This sounds terribly New Age, but I hope to show you that this has been the accepted method in practicing medicine throughout the world at all times until the gradual growth and domination of allopathic medicine in the West. We shall look at a few of these earlier methods, which have survived, and some recently revived, into the present.