By Susan A. Lendvay
The Edgar Cayce readings, in looking at depression holistically, consider the mind, body, and spirit equally in diagnosing its causes and recommending treatment, reports David McMillin, a mental health clinician who researched the readings for his book, The Treatment of Depression: A Holistic Approach. Despite advances in research and clinical application, depression remains a devastating illness which takes its toll on millions of individuals. Thus the unique approach presented in the Cayce readings may yet prove valuable.
“Generally speaking, the readings did not view depression as a condition that an individual could heal on their own,” notes McMillin. “Nor was the responsibility of healing placed on the shoulders of a healthcare professional. Typically, the healing process was portrayed as a cooperative venture.”
The information McMillin found in over 100 case studies suggests that mainstream psychiatric and psychological diagnosis and treatment may be missing some key elements. For example, if spinal misalignment plays a significant role in certain cases of depression, these cases might respond poorly or not at all to established psychotherapeutic treatments. The major themes of the Cayce approach are:
* Mind, body, and spirit interface at definite centers within the human anatomy.
* The mind is not synonymous with the brain–the mind uses the brain and nervous system, thus maintaining the mind/body interface.
* Spirit interfaces with body through the functioning of the glandular system.
* To think of mind, body, and spirit as separate distorts the wholeness of the self. Dysfunction in any one of these necessarily affects the whole being.
The readings strongly emphasize the physical aspect of depression, writes McMillin. Essentially, they view depression as a literal “depressing” or inhibition of nerve impulses. The visceral organs and sensory nervous system are emphasized as playing key roles in such physical symptoms as disturbed sleep and appetite, listlessness, headaches, backaches, etc. A wide variety of causative factors are noted as producing these symptoms. Toxemia (accumulated poisons), sometimes produced by reabsorption of toxins due to faulty eliminations, and glandular dysfunctions–most often adrenal, thyroid, and pineal–are commonly cited as contributing to the pathological process.
Psychological problems (dysfunctional attitudes) are often a prominent component, either as an effect produced by physical dysfunction or as a primary cause. There can be a psychosomatic aspect, where pathological thinking or attitudes eventually cause degeneration in the nerve impulse, inducing a pathological condition in the physical. Self-condemnation was noted as a particularly destructive mental pattern. “Mind is the builder” is a prominent theme in the readings and points up the inherent link between mental processes and the nervous system, in this case.
Negative life events, loss of meaning in life, and hopelessness are noted in several cases. The readings typically referred to these factors as a loss of ideals, or more specifically, as a failure to establish a spiritual ideal around which to center one’s life. This sense of spiritual malaise could lead to despair, negative mental patterns, and eventually to mild physical symptoms which the readings labeled “dis-ease.” Prolonging this pathological trend could produce disease.
THE BASIC TREATMENT PLAN
The treatment recommended by the readings is suitable for most cases and may be entirely sufficient for low-level depression, says McMillin. It is also appropriate as a maintenance plan or preventative to reduce the likelihood of relapse. One benefit of this program is that it is relatively safe–producing few, if any, harmful side effects. Many of these suggestions can also be integrated with contemporary mental health resources–for example, the spinal manipulations and diet can be combined with antidepressants that have been prescribed, or with ongoing psychotherapy, without ill effects.
* Improving eliminations is a high priority since the readings cite toxemia as one of the most common causative factors associated with depression. The main therapies for this are hydrotherapy (drinking plenty of water, steam baths, epsom salt baths, colonics), manual therapy (osteopathy and chiropractic), massage, castor oil packs, and diet.
* Manual therapy and massage help coordinate the central and peripheral nervous systems and correct what the readings called a “lapse in the nerve impulse.”
* The radial appliance (a non-electrical device described in the readings, said to balance the body’s own energies) may prove helpful in cases where restlessness, fatigue, or insomnia are significant symptoms.
* Moderate outdoor exercise was consistently emphasized as important for relaxation, improving eliminations, and, in certain cases, as a form of phototherapy (the treatment of disease with light).
* The ideals exercise is an important intervention for establishing priorities, not only within the therapeutic regimen, but also for long-term health maintenance. This is also an excellent means of recognizing and correcting dysfunctional attitudes and beliefs.
* Prayer and meditation, the spiritual phase of treatment, encourages a broader perspective on the immediate situation. The readings often encouraged not just the patient but the therapist also to pray.
* Service to others provides a sense of interpersonal connectedness which can be extremely therapeutic in the treatment of depression.
* Bibliotherapy–reading Deuteronomy 30 and John 14-17 was recommended, as these selections speak of the closeness of God and promise help for those who have faith. Any positive and constructive reading matter, offering help and hope, was also encouraged.
* Visualization–it was recommended to “see” healing occurring during treatments, whether spinal adjustments or castor oil packs.
Supplemental therapies of a more curative nature can be used for specific needs, as the clinician sees fit, writes McMillin. They include:
* The environment must be conducive to healing when depression is severe. If the home situation is not appropriate, hospitalization may be required.
* Companion therapy may be helpful in severe cases when the individual is unable to follow the treatment suggestions and requires supervision. The companion can be a sympathetic nurse or attendant who models healthy behaviors and exhibits spiritual qualities such as gentleness, patience, and kindness.
* Suggestive therapeutics may increase cooperation, especially with oppositional or noncompliant behaviors. This can be professional hypnosis, or informal hypnotic suggestion during early stages of sleep or while administering other therapies.
* A blood- and nerve-building diet may help individuals suffering from general debilitation. Some examples given to individuals in the readings are beef juice, green vegetables, alkaline producing foods, citrus, buttermilk, honey, etc. Cayce avoided megavitamins or extreme diets.
* The wet cell battery with gold may be useful for persons who exhibit impairment of awareness–any aspects of perception, thinking, or memory.
* The violet ray is a high voltage, low amperage source of static electricity in common use during the 1920’s and 1930’s. It is particularly helpful in cases of general debilitation, and should be coordinated with other therapies in cycles of usage–for example, massage and osteopathic treatments.
* Atomidine (a special water-based iodine formula given in the Cayce readings) is useful for normalizing glandular dysfunctions, which may present as disrupted biological cycles and/or abnormal results on endocrine tests.
* Jerusalem artichoke added to the diet was recommended in several cases to normalize glandular imbalance and improve assimilations and eliminations.
* Hydrotherapy is indicated for extreme toxemia, to aid in eliminations through the skin, colon, and respiratory system.
* Spinal manipulation–back pain should always be paid serious attention, as it is a valuable clue in locating and treating spinal subluxation related to the depression. Sensory system involvement (disturbed hearing, sight, taste, or smell) was also noted in many cases, and these require skilled manipulative therapy.
* Medications–the formulas given in the readings were aimed at restoring the body’s own ability to heal. The readings showed a profound respect for the body’s biochemistry–only when the systems of the body were drastically impaired did Cayce recommend “outside forces” such as drugs. Lithium was suggested on at least three occasions, due to its propensity to reduce toxemia by improving eliminations. The antidepressant effects of this naturally-occurring salt are well established historically and clinically.
One disadvantage of trying to apply the Cayce recommendations is the shortage of professional resources available to provide his unique treatment. Most physicians are not open to the information given in the readings and have significant philosophical differences in the nature of healing and the role of the physician. In addition, most osteopaths and chiropractors are not familiar with some of the therapeutic techniques and principles recommended in the readings which may have been common 50-60 years ago. David McMillin’s book, available from the A.R.E. Bookstore (757-428-3588, ext. 7231), is written for healthcare professionals, and provides the principles, techniques, and case studies required to provide effective treatment. There are physicians and therapists within the A.R.E. community who may be willing to work with these concepts. A list of such practitioners is available to A.R.E. members. Contact A.R.E. Membership Services at 1-800-333-4499.
Reprinted permission by Venture Inward, Virginia Beach, VA.