Thorwald Dethlefson, The Healing Power of Illness: Understanding What Your Symptoms Are Telling You. This is an uncomfortable book, in that it deprives people of illness as an alibi for their unresolved problems. We propose to show that the patient is not the innocent victim of some quirk of nature, but actually the author of his or her own sickness. We have denied our human dilemma and projected it as a shadow onto the outside world, but it appears as a symptom in the body. Through symbolic analysis of your symptom, you can discover what your problem really is. Insofar as the sciences have lost their soul to the idea of materialistic causation, medicine and psychology is sick. Our experiences, including sickness, are not caused by any outside force, but our own perceptions and reactions. The world of form can only be properly interpreted by bringing in some metaphysical reference system. Art is not just canvas and paints, but it occurs when an invisible idea is expressed. We use the term illnesses as though illness is multiple. Sickness simply means incomplete. “Just as the entire world is merely a stage upon which the play of the archetypes takes on form and so becomes like a metaphor, so by the same token the material body is the stage on which the images of consciousness force their way into expression.” Just as the body cannot live without consciousness (as a corpse), so it cannot become ill without consciousness either. Willy nilly, a symptom demands our attention. We regard this interruption from “out there” as a disturbance, and therefore we generally have only one aim, to make what is troubling us go away. People hate to be disturbed, and so the battle against the symptom begins. The modern world regards illness as an accidental and mechanical process, and so we carefully avoid interpreting the symptom, and so the symptom and the illness are condemned to meaninglessness. And so the organs and body parts are treated, but not the actual person who is ill. We have researched every illness known to man, but incidence of illness has not decreased. We treat symptoms. We treat illness as something one “has” rather than as something one “lacks,” i.e. consciousness. One thing that we lack is an understanding of the symbolic language of symptoms. We are dishonest with ourselves. We deny our responsibility for our experiences. Our symptoms are brutally honest, requiring that we stop fighting our illness and transmute it. Illness and healing are both symbolic of our enlightenment potential. Illness is not accidental, but a way toward wholeness. We are prisoners of polarity. As soon as you say ‘I” you imply “not I.” The human ego makes it “impossible” for us to perceive or even imagine unity or wholeness. Human consciousness splits everything into pairs of opposites, one side of which we say “yes” to and the other to which we say “no”, and thus we reinforce our un-wholeness, and guarantee our “lack.” Illness is polarity; healing is the transcending of polarity. Behind every polarity is an unseen unity or oneness, a state of eternal rest that appears as no-thing and every-thing. In that state, desire and wanting and striving cease. Inbreath and outbreath form the rhythm of life, just as positive and negative form the rhythm of electricity, just as background and foreground form the rhythm of perception, just as particle and wave form the rhythm of light—so does conscious and unconscious form the rhythm of mind. When we identify with the conscious mind, the unconscious becomes alien and threatening, and then we experience lack, taking the form of a symptom. Jesus resolved this when he said “I (conscious mind) and my Father (unconscious) are one.” There are two hemispheres of the brain, and for most of us, one is dominant at the expense of the other. Healing is the path from polarity to wholeness, from duality to oneness. Every religion and metaphysical system teaches this same path from division to unity. Jesus called polarity “this world” and Oneness the “kingdom of heaven.” The path to salvation (wholeness) goes through suffering and anxiety, transcending them. Transcending suffering means transcending the “ego I” viewpoint that I am separate from existence. The ego wants to have one pole and to resist its opposite. “That’s something I would never do” is a setup for avoiding enlightenment. When we include and exclude, we create a shadow world. Whatever we say “no” to, goes underground into our shadow, and becomes our greatest threat. We begin to concern ourselves most with what we do not want. Yet everything you see is you. Although our shadow scares us, it contains everything needed for our healing and wholeness. The shadow contains what is missing. The shadow makes us dishonest, keeping us focused on the ego (the divided self) and denying the all-inclusive Self. Sin means splitting. We split off and fight the shadow. This splitting makes every human thought and act sinful. What is called love is the unconditional yes, which strives for union, uniting the opposites, changing I into you and you into I, not polarizing good versus evil. We do not become ill, we are ill. We are ill because we lack oneness. The human condition is conflict-ridden “In the course of a 50-year lifespan, the average adult suffers one experience of life-threatening illness, twenty instances of serious illness, and around two hundred fairly serious illnesses” (Edgar Heim). The ego has a hankering for power about what it wants, and is afraid of love, devotion or any move toward oneness. Symptoms arise in order to show how much we have strayed from the center. Every step toward our pride leads us also toward helplessness. The more competent we get, the more prone we are to illness. Morbidity, illness and death are wise and helpful friends sent here to help us look at our shadow and dis-illusion ourselves. Illness ultimately makes us heal-able. The left hemisphere or masculine approach is one of causality and control; the right hemisphere is more feminine, knows nothing of causality and sees the wholeness analogically. See also:
- Louise Hay, Every Word has power
- Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
- Deena Metzger, Illness Heals the World
Language is always ambivalent, two-faced and always subject to double entendre. Symptoms stop us from doing what we like to do and force us to do what we never intended to do in the first place. Illness is always a crisis, and the purpose of every crisis is development. What is my symptom stopping me from doing? What is my symptom making me do? Symptoms make us whole by embodying what is absent from our consciousness. Our consciousness remains unwhole until we have actually succeeded in integrating our shadow. Learning, maturing, perceiving and experiencing are things that can only happen at the level of consciousness. We may still be hooked on our projections and insist on seeing symptoms as random disturbances with purely mechanical causes. There is a chart of escalation of symptoms: 1. Thoughts, wishes and fantasies 2. Functional disturbances 3. Acute inflammatory disturbances 4. Chronic conditions 5. Incurable processes, physical changes, cancer 6. Death through illness or accident 7. Congenital deformities and handicaps Human consciousness is bi-polar, which allows us to become self-aware but unwhole. This unwholeness, this illness, is in our nature and is unavoidable in our bi-polarity. Human illness em-bodies itself in symptoms which appear through the shadow in the body. We accept only half of the polarity and the other half goes into the shadow. Thus we are forced to live out and realize what we least want to. Symptoms reveal our imbalances and make us honest. Symptoms reveal what we are lacking in consciousness. The aim of healing is wholeness. Illness is a path to perfection. Of course you may “treat” one symptom without becoming conscious, but then there will occur a “symptom shift” and the underlying unresolved problem will re-symbolize in another symptom. There is no painless escape from growth. Our bi-polar human condition means that we are always in conflict about two possibilities. This ambivalent pressure to “decide” results in tension. Every infection is a conflict that has taken on physical form. When we are unwilling to let our inner conflicts into awareness, then they become irritants in the body. Impulses, such as aggression or sex, if not faced consciously, can irritate or excite us, and become symptoms. Life becomes a feverish battle. No matter which polarity we choose, whether we become paralyzed or act out, there is a sacrifice of one pole or the other required. Antibiotics and vaccinations have been used to repress the conflict. The body cannot be used as a place to resolve conflicts, but only in consciousness itself, where all conflicts begin. What conflict in life am I failing to see? To resist means not letting the whole picture into our awareness. To love means to let in what we have blocked out. Every “no,” every resistance, means we are more and more stuck in ego. “Resist not evil,” taught Jesus. Evil is just good misunderstood. Enlightenment is not saying “Yes, but…” Only then will you see that you have been defending your ego all your life, and that is why you have anxiety and its symptoms. Every human is bi-polar, ever since we bought into the knowledge of good-versus-evil. Can bi-polarity be medicated? Can the mind be medicated? Is the mind physical or metaphysical? We are choosing to be irresponsible by blaming bi-polarity on something or someone, and treating it as though it is a physical disease. “Bipolar” is an untreatable condition described by modern medicine. You are not sick, but your belief system is warped and limited. You will not be able to decide between the opposites and be well. You must embrace both of them in order to transcend them for your healing. Resisting or fighting the shadow is not what healing is. There is a treasure hidden in the shadow. There are many degrees of the bi-polar condition, but we all have it. Every anxiety and illness involve some degree of unrecognized polarity or conflict. What we have is a split state of mind, and an unknown oneness. The path from the split to unity is the path of healing and enlightenment. On this path, you will have wise and insistent companions: anxiety and its symptoms. Do not be like the king who beheaded the messenger! You might think it is best to feel comfortable with your “security blanket” of rationalizations, and ignore the ticking time bomb called ego, but is it? I am here to make you aware of your disturbances and their true causes.