Creating Waves of Awareness
Author | L. R. Twentyman
There are to be found in Hahnemann's work ideas which appear to me to be still full of untapped potentialities. One of his most valuable indications is the concept of one-sided diseases. Whereas, he points out, most disorders have some local or somatic aspect intermixed with mental or emotional disturbances, there are cases in which the symptomatology is so one-sided that it is almost completely either local or else mental. There are cases in which even severe disease, gross pathology, occurs in some organ whilst the personality remains to all around normal. It is not uncommon to find patients with quite advanced malignant tumours of some organ who yet still feel in themselves well and manifest no change in behaviour or emotional balance.
Again in the so-called mental diseases, such as the schizophrenias, the symptomatology is one-sidedly in the mental sphere and it is not easy to localise it in some organ, even the brain. In such cases physical health may continue over many decades whilst the personality becomes progressively crippled. These two polar extremes of one-sided disease set, as it were, the limits of a spectrum of psychosomatic and psychoneurotic disorders spread out between them.
In 1963 the Bahnsons, working on the psychosomatic aspect of malignant disease, put forward a disease spectrum. On one side they pointed to a progression from conversion hysteria through hypochondriacal conditions and psychosomatic disturbances to the somatic diseases and ultimately to cancer. On the other side of the balance the progression indicated was from anxiety hysteria through anxiety neurosis to the phobias and obsessive and compulsive neuroses, and then to the paranoid and deteriorated psychoses.
The similarity of this attempt to Hahnemann's seems to me obvious and in need of no further development on this present occasion. They both however demand that we would attempt to build bridges from one side of the psycho-somatic, psycho-neurotic balance to the other. One particular instance of this immensely demanding task is the problem of the psychic connections of particular organs. Today it is the liver which is the centre of our considerations.
Now where can we look for clues from which to start? Two come immediately to hand. Firstly there is the common experience of infective hepatitis. Whoever has experienced this disease can usually tell of the intense depression which commonly ushers it in and which is often somewhat alleviated when the frank jaundice manifests.
Secondly there are the varied symptoms of illness which manifest in the early hours of the morning. In 1958 Karl Konig published an important paper entitled "At Four o'clock in the Morning" (British Homoeopathic Journal, Vol. XLVII No. 1 1958) in which he explored the connections between the 12 hourly cycle of liver function and somatic symptoms like cough, asthma, sweating, diarrhoea coming on at this time of the day. He pointed out that remedies related to these symptoms are those with a definite organotropic relation to the liver.
We can instance Ars. alb., Lycopodium, Chelidonium, Nux vom., Sulphur, Podophyllum, Stannum, Ptelea, Nat. sulph., Kali carb., Mag. mur. and Mag. carb. Konig emphasised the somatic symptoms arising around the time of 4 a.m. and traceable to disturbances in the cyclical change from the assimilative to the secretory phase of liver function. He did not draw attention to the equally conspicuous symptoms arising in relation to depressional states. It is well known that it belongs to the picture of endogenous depression that the sufferer tends to awake in the early hours and to remain awake for some long period, usually in a distressed and deeply depressed state.
Now in order to clarify the discussion we must characterise more distinctively certain mental-emotional states. There are sorrowful moods, the emotion of sadness as distinct from joy, the melancholic temperament and depression. There is certainly something common to these, a colour or tone of life, and yet they surely are not the same. The emotions of joy and sorrow belong to the middle realm of soul life. They tend to come and go and pass into each other fairly easily, casting sunshine or cloud shadow on the landscape of our soul. Unless the sorrow is so deep that it imprints itself right into the physiology and metabolism no lasting impairment of health results from the play of the emotions. But the melancholic temperament is not an emotion. The temperaments belong more to the physiological level of our being and characterise the tone of the bodily instrument on which we play and through which we act into the world. The melancholic is in fact strong and persistent in his actions, often to the point of becoming obsessionally fixed on one specialised pursuit. Sorrowful moods again are something distinct. They are more persistent than an emotion, and often need more effort or shock to change them.
But would it be right to call depression an emotion or a mood or a temperament? It obviously would not. The character of depression is really quite another phenomenon. It is better approached through the nature of the Will rather than the emotional life or the life of thinking. It is the state which arises wen the Will is paralysed to a greater or lesser extent. Our thinking is directed to the past, we look backwards and study how things came about, it is bound up with memory and produces clear pictures. Our feelings and emotional life, however, lives in the systole and diastole of the present, in the ever changing movement of the 'now'. It stands between the past and the future into which we walk with our will. We cannot think the future or intellectually plan it, we will it. Paralysis of the will therefore is one way for describing that state in which we experience being cut off from the future and thrown one-sidedly upon the past. If we can relate only to the past and to the inevitable continuation of the past which mechanism implies and which intellectual thought can alone grasp and accept, we cannot escape overwhelming guilt and despair. We are saved from the burden of guilt for our past misdeeds or the one-sidedness of our deeds by our determination to make good in the future these incomplete actions. When through the paralysis of our will we are cut off from the possibility of making good in the future our errors we are exposed without defence to the one-sided burden of the past. This, it seems to me, is the real nature of what we call depression. It is not emotion, mood, temperament, it is a disorder of the will.
And here we come up against one of the obstacles presented by the dogmas within current physiology. The vast majority of the medical and allied professions still probably believe that the soul, the psyche, our personality, call it what you will, has mysterious access to our bodies only through the nervous system. It would seem that they try to believe, for instance, that when a pianist plays the piano, he does not do so but rather plays upon a keyboard on the motor cortex. His body is then supposed to dance on the ends of nerves almost like a marionette and move the keys of the piano. The most serious workers in neurology know that this is not true, but have no idea what is true.
Rudolf Steiner and his followers have sought to show that only our thinking is related to the system of nerves and senses, that our feelings are related to the rhythms of our organisms, mainly the rhythms of our breathing and heart beat, whilst our will is based upon our metabolism and limbs. Our thinking is a sort of reflection in the mirror of our brains, and our thoughts are images lacking reality though they may be true images of reality. But we are awake in this experience. In our feelings however we only dream and come and go on the to and fro of our breath. 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on.' For this reason do feelings and emotions remain such a problem to scientists. They are dreams, and science likes to be fully awake. Still more obscure and difficult is the realm of the will in which we are asleep. Here the soul submerges itself in the metabolic processes, and in bringing about real objective changes loses its consciousness. When we search out the metabolic processes we find of course the liver as the central organ of the metabolism. And so if this, which we can treat as a hypothesis, is true we might expect to find evidence of disorder of the liver in depression. It is to be expected however that the more endogenous the depression the less overt the evidence of liver pathology will be. One can see in some cases that deep sorrow which is not psychically digested and metamorphosed into wisdom can sink down into the liver. It becomes not transformed but buried and then may become later the basis of endogenous depression. The symptomatology has become one-sidedly mental, emotional.
Confirmation can perhaps be gained by using the homoeopathic remedies as research tools, in addition to their usual therapeutic use. Nat. Sulph., Nux vom., Sulphur and Sepia all relate to different aspects of liver function. We must also mention in particular the metals Stannum, Ferrum, Magnesium and of course Aurum. Kent related the depression of Aurum to the heart and liver. It seems to me that its function can best be described as helping to lead the ego which has become imprisoned in utterly material goals and possessions, whose loss is the cause of the depression, into new relationships with more universal spiritual ideals and aims. The grief buried in the liver is then led up through the heart and metamorphosed into wisdom and compassion. In this way our remedies can help us to heal not only the individual patient but the deep divide, the split which exists in modern medicine between the body and soul.