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News in Brief
New President / CEO Takes Office at Yo San University. Electroacupuncture for Constipation?
6 Steps to Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet
People often ask me what defines success. Success, for me, is simple: doing exactly what you want to do in life. Whether it's the kind of practice you run, your life at home, your hobbies or something else, it's achieving anything you put your mind to.
Molecular Motors: Tiny Machines Behind the Rhythm of Life
In the clinic, we aim to restore healthy patterns of movement for qi that has gotten trapped or misdirected, or may have even collapsed. We may be focused on freeing stagnation, releasing heat or redirecting counterflow qi, but it often comes down to helping re-establish a flow of sorts.
Herbs for Digestion: The Power of Bitter
Many cultures (and indeed herbal clinicians) around the world have long respected the role of bitter herbs and foods for promoting digestion. For example, aperitifs – drinks consumed before a meal to stimulate appetite and digestion – were originally derived from bitter herbs.
Little Sticker, Big Impact
It's the end of an election year. Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump were the subject of conversation for everyone, everywhere for the entire 2016 calendar year. I don't think any of us can deny that this election affected us all very deeply on a personal level.
A Letter to the Profession from the New President at AAAOM
Volunteering for a national, nonprofit organization brings with it such highs, lows, and accomplishments, as well as a steep learning curve.
Assessing Core Stability and ROM: 5 Basic Checks
One of the first steps in addressing core stability is assessing static posture, ranges of motion, and motion of the pelvic bones, sacrum, femurs, lumbar spine and thoracic spine.
Chiro School Reunion: Whatever Happened to...?
I opened the door to the closet slowly, carefully, since I knew it contained a large number of precariously stacked file boxes. It also held numerous outdated gizmos with electrical cords of various lengths that could trip or strangle a person.
Another Chance to Make a Difference
Just a few months ago, "the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy" hit Louisiana. During this storm, one area experienced 31 inches of rain in 15 hours as almost 7 trillion gallons of water rained down in just one week across the state.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Pt. 2)
Most overuse injuries are benign, but there are some high-risk injuries that, if unrecognized or inappropriately treated, can result in significant loss in time from the sport or even require leaving the sport.
What We Can Learn From Spine Surgery
Patients with lumbar stenosis presumably present for conservative care to improve their quality of life and avoid surgery. However, providing clear guidance to these patients can be difficult for a number of reasons.
A Q & A About Updated Codes
Yes, indeed there was an update to ICD-10 on Oct.1, 2016. This is a regular update to the diagnosis coding system and this type of update will occur every Oct. 1, just as it did when the ICD-9 system was in place.
Can a Multivitamin Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence?
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multivitamin supplements in cancer prevention. However, with respect to preventing breast cancer recurrence, an important study was published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2011 by Kwan ML, et al.
A First for the Profession: CCE Accredits First Chiropractic Residencies
The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) has awarded accreditation to all five chiropractic residency programs currently administered at Veterans Administration facilities, "the first residency programs in the nation ever to be awarded this distinction, a significant advancement in the evolution of chiropractic education," according to a VA press release announcing the milestone.
Meshing TCM With Environmental Pediatrics: Where's the Overlap?
Pediatrics has a long history within Chinese medicine dating back to the late Han dynasty (i.e., the late 200s CE), with the two primary areas of emphasis being herbal medicine and xiao er tui na (pediatric massage).
Dedicated to Defending Chiropractic
Whether you're a veteran DC or a first-trimester student, the name George McAndrews should be part and parcel of your professional vernacular, as familiar as the word chiropractic.
A Simple Protocol for Holiday Stress
It's winter, a time when we should be deep in reflection, eating warming foods and sleeping long hours. Following nature's rhythms, we restore our bodies and minds in preparation for the renewal of spring.
Branding: Set Your Practice Apart
Dr. Brad started his practice seven years ago on a shoestring budget. He created his generic logo in five minutes using a website because he didn't have the time to figure out how to make something special.
2016: A Year in the Life of Acupuncture
Happy Holidays, may you, your family and friends have peace, joy and blessings throughout this special time of year. As 2016 comes to a close, we can look back and celebrate the many events and accomplishments for the profession of acupuncture.
End of an Era Looms at NYCC
New York Chiropractic College recently announced that Dr. Frank Nicchi will retire in August 2017 after 36 years with the college, the past 17 as president.
DVT: Know the Signs and You Could Save a Life
I lost a friend several months ago. He died from a pulmonary embolism (PE) secondary to a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) that originated in his lower leg. Bobby was in his mid-60s, soft-spoken and had a big heart.
Southwest Acupuncture College Brings It to Division 1 Athletes
When Michael Phelps' photograph with the distinctive round marks left by cupping went viral, the Division 1 student athletes treated through the Dal Ward Athletic Center at the University of Colorado (CU) could relate.
June, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 06
Emotions and Pain
By Ben Benjamin, PhD and Conny Huthsteiner, MD
It is common folk-wisdom that emotional suffering can be experienced as physical pain, but many times it is difficult for a person to sort out how emotional distress plays a role in the experience of physical pain, and if it does, what to do about it.The words "to feel" are used to describe both physical and emotional phenomena. Our nervous system feels physical sensations of temperature, pain and pressure, as well as the emotional sensations of pleasure, fear and grief. In Western culture, we often strive to separate the physical from the emotional, often embarrassed that our emotions play a part in our perception of things, assuming somehow that they could lead us astray or distort our understanding. This stigmatization of the emotional experiences of life creates a barrier that can prevent us from feeling and experiencing life to the fullest, in all aspects.
One revolutionary physician of our century saw the fallacy of such an attitude, and rigorously included his sensory and emotional responses to all his scientific observations in his research. Wilhelm Reich, a psychiatrist famous for formulating fundamental concepts of character analysis in psychoanalysis, created the concept of "psychosomatic unity." The term describes his observation that psychological and physiological processes form one unit. He came to this conclusion after observing that electrical conductivity of the skin varied in direct reflection of a person's subjectively perceived feeling of pleasure or displeasure. The objective experience of sensation could not be accurately assessed without integrating information about the subjective experience.
Dr. Reich wrote about the fact that a person's whole "way of being" contributes to his or her capacity to feel pleasure, know his or her self and perceived surroundings in a realistic and reasonable way. Examples include the athlete who can run 500 yards on a broken ankle and not notice that it hurts, thereby injuring it further; the depressed person who hurts all over and is unable to get out of bed; a diabetic who injects insulin daily and is affected emotionally by the daily burden of coping with a dangerous illness; and the teenager who has broken his back and may have to live the rest of his life with pain and disability making it difficult to be happy. Our personalities and feelings affect our physical health, and vice-versa. Our emotions and physical health are inextricably intertwined. Trying to meticulously separate the objective or subjective aspects of injury or pain brings limited benefits, since both aspects of a person often must be treated in order for that person to feel well.
In addition, Dr. Reich developed a somatic psychotherapy to release barriers to the flow of emotional energy in the body. He called this therapy "psychiatric orgone therapy." Reich theorized, on the basis of his clinical observations, there was an energy that governed involuntary biological functions in the body that, when blocked, led to disease states of different kinds. He called this biological energy "orgone energy." Orgone energy is similar to chi or prana energies, and derives from Freud's early psychoanalytic concept of the energy of drives. The barriers to the energy flow he called "armoring," which were emotional or physiological blocks to the process of feeling sensation and expressing emotion. Many schools of somatic psychotherapy have grown out of his discoveries, including bioenergetics, core energetics, and radix therapy - to name but a few.
How does this relate to the experience of pain? It informs our need as health care professionals to address the "total person" when trying to treat someone for any pain condition. When a person has physical pain due to injury of some tissue in the body, like a muscle, tendon, ligament or joint, there is often both a physical and emotional component to the pain and its treatment. Both of us, a muscular therapist and a psychiatric orgone therapist, would often work with the same client - one dealing with the physical damage, like scar tissue and inflammation; while the other would work to free the energy blocked by the experience of the injury or by the dramatic and depressing curtailment of mobility and activity that followed the onset of the pain. It doesn't matter if the pain was brought on by an accident or if it appeared for no apparent reason from normal wear and tear on the body.
Examples from our practices
A 35-year-old woman sought muscular therapy treatment because of low back pain. She suffered a severe horseback riding accident at 19 while attending college. Her low back area was sensitive and jumpy, making it difficult to work on her injured muscles and ligaments; she would become tearful during the treatment sessions when the low back was worked on, even gently. It was suggested by the muscular therapy practitioner that she simultaneously undergo orgone therapy to work on the emotional issues and blocked energy surrounding the accident.
Her orgone therapy attempted to connect the tension in her low back with her memories of the circumstances at the time of the accident. When her low back was probed to unblock (move) the energy, she relived the experience, which revealed that she actually broke her back and nearly died after the accident. An additionally traumatic and emotional part of the incident was that her parents, who lived just 800 miles away, never came to see her while she was recovering in the hospital. Each week, when the orgone therapist worked on her back, she relived these painful memories. This continued for almost two months, until they suddenly stopped. She had worked through the emotions connected with the injury, and could then focus on the physical healing of her body, which had never been fully addressed. Thereafter, when her low back muscle and ligament injuries were worked on, her body could accept the treatment and her condition improved significantly.
A man sought body-oriented orgone therapy complaining of severe migraine and tension headaches. The migraines were so severe that he had to go to bed for several days in a darkened room until they passed. He also suffered a headache whenever he rode in the car as a passenger and turned his head to speak to his wife, who was driving. After several therapy sessions it became clear that he would get the migraines when he was upset with someone and could not speak his mind. He had great difficulty accepting that he was angry with someone, and confessed to fantasies of physically hitting and hurting the person he was angry with, which frightened him. His head was frequently hot when touched, and his hands and feet were very cold. His energy was blocked in his head, and was withdrawn from the periphery of his body; he had great difficulty expressing himself emotionally. The psychotherapist also noticed that he had difficulty rotating his head, and recommended that he seek a musculoskeletal assessment and possible treatment from a massage therapist for the headache problem, while undergoing orgone therapy.
The assessment revealed the man had suffered migraines for 10 years. He had been in a car accident two years prior, in which he sustained a whiplash injury. It was after this accident that the tension headaches began. Whenever he rotated his neck to the left to talk to his wife while she drove, he would get the occipital headaches. It was clear that he had severely injured ligaments in the neck and microtears in the occipital muscles at the base of the skull. His energy and circulation were blocked in the head, arms and legs.
Working together, the doctor and the muscular therapist treated the man weekly for several months. The body-oriented psychotherapy helped the man express his feelings of anger and sadness at how immobilized and powerless he felt, while the muscular therapist freed up the scar tissue in the neck and at the occiput. The headache, which was caused by injuries to the neck and occipital muscles, and referred pain to the entire back of the head, abated after the muscular therapist broke up the scar tissue. The migraines - the result of a great deal of suppressed rage and sadness in this particular case - improved as the man grew more able to express his feelings more fully and appropriately.
Our psyche and soma are like the front and back of the hand - one does not exist without the other. Seeing the whole person in the context of his or her life, and treating the emotions and psychological blocks along with physical pain or injury is often the most intelligent and effective way to approach the healing process.
Click here for more information about Ben Benjamin, PhD.
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