Trauma in suburbia

The trauma or shock basis of schizophrenia seems to be accepted by the holistic medical community but does not get a lot of play in the mainstream medical community. In fact, no medical doctor we consulted ever raised the issue with us. What they did say was a little different. I remember being asked by two different doctors what Chris was like at the age of ten. This seemed like a strange question at the time. I was too shell-shocked myself from the diagnosis to ask them why they raised the question. So, instead I answered,”well, uh, let’s see. He was overweight and into playing Magic cards. Other than that, there’s not much to report. He had friends, he seemed normal”.

After learning about the role of shock in schizophrenia, I reviewed Chris’s childhood for signs of shock, but nothing I could think of pointed to a dramatic, isolating event. We lived in suburbia – how dramatic is that? We went to church, my husband and I hadn’t divorced, Chris and his brothers attended Cub Scouts, we had neighborhood boys tearing through the house in great numbers. It seemed white bread boring compared to the kind of shock that schizophrenia produces on the radar screen.

What I do know is this: Chris was a ten month pregnancy and he barely moved in utero. That is unusual. His birth was long and difficult. He didn’t have a lot of energy as a child but he also never got sick. He was abnormally healthy, almost supernaturally so. I did find it a bit strange that a child who never even had a cold developed severe acne as a teenager. Dr. Abram Hoffer observes that his patients tended never to be sick as children and that many people who subsequently develop schizophrenia had severe acne in their teenage years. (Severe acne is characteristic of pellagra, or lack of vitamin B3.)

Chris was not given to emotional outbursts and apart from crying as a baby I remember seeing him cry only once when a door slammed on his finger. He had trouble making choices and he avoided confrontation. He left it to others to choose for him. Me: “Carrots or peas, Chris?” He: “Oh, I don’t care, you decide.” While this was troubling, it wasn’t so troubling that we thought about doing something about it. Chris was a thinker and he was musically talented. He did well in school and he had interests and activities so we overlooked this aspect of his personality, hoping that time would rectify it. I remember thinking, this kid is too perfect. Being perfect was troubling, even then. I felt we were overdue somehow for “the big one.”


I have heard people comment from time to time that Chris must have suffered quite a shock over something. “Poor boy,” said a homeopathic consultant, “he must have suffered quite a shock.” This never made any sense to me at the time Chris was first diagnosed. Trauma to me means a car accident, the death of someone close to you, sexual abuse, or witnessing a horrific event.

The shock idea is not new in psychiatric circles. However, it is not currently fashionable in the biochemically determined model of schizophrenia. Dr. Loren Mosher , the first head of the National Institute of Mental Health Center for Studies of Schizophrenia, described psychosis as an understandable coping mechanism, very similar to shell shock, “except that the [shell-shock victim’s] trauma—the overwhelming experience—is very readily identifiable. It’s right there, easy to see. In contrast, the trauma that drives schizophrenics over the edge is not often so readily identifiable, and it is more often cumulative, rather than a single event. But often there’s a lot of things going on, and usually there’s also a trigger event—a romantic rejection, the death of a parent, an excessive involvement with recreational drugs.”

Ryke Geerd Hamer, MD, is famous and infamous in Europe for his Iron Rules of Cancer theory and the astonishing success rate he claims with terminal cancer patients. His approach grew out of a tragic event that occurred in 1978 when Dr. Hamer and his physician wife had clinical practices in Rome. Seventeen-year-old Dirk, the second of their four children, was sleeping on a boat anchored off Corsica when a bullet shot by someone on a nearby yacht lodged in him. He lingered for four months before he died in hospital in his father’s arms in December 1978. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Hamer developed testicular cancer.

Convinced that the shock of what happened to Dirk was reflected in his developing testicular cancer, Dr. Hamer became a cancer researcher. The Iron Rules of Cancer begin with what he calls a DHS, or Dirk Hamer syndrome. Every cancer or cancer-equivalent ailment begins with a severe, highly acute, dramatic, and isolating conflict-occurrence shock that registers simultaneously on three levels: in the psyche, in the brain, and in the organ. The shock registered to the brain can be photographed as concentric circles (or Hamer Herds) using computed tomography (CT). Where the Hamer Herd is located in the brain determines the theme of the conflict. By looking at the location of the Hamer Herd in the brain, it can be determined in which organ the cancer will arise and vice versa. In the case of the schizophrenic brain, according to Dr. Hamer, there are two (and sometimes three) such concentric circles, registering two (or three) shocks.

Schizophrenia was not the main focus of Dr. Hamer’s work, but reading about his theory started me thinking. I began to look at illness differently. Physical symptoms can be manifested by the mind and emotions and registered on the brain. It ties in very nicely with Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work with water molecules.

Energy psychology and Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) was developed by Gary Craig, a Stanford biomedical engineer and later an ordained minister. EFT is a simpler version of Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which was developed by Dr. Roger Callahan in the 1970s and is a type of energy psychology, a relatively new field within the general field of psychology.

The basis of energy psychology is the fact that our physical bodies, though appearing solid, are made up of building blocks of atoms, which emit positive and negative energy. We are, in essence, masses of energy. Illness, trauma, and our own thoughts and emotions can throw the energy out of its normally balanced state. The practice of energy psychology encompasses the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture applies needles at points along the body’s meridians (energy channels) to restore the proper flow of energy. In EFT, you use your fingers to tap on these points. Like Thought Field Therapy, EFT combines the physical effects of meridian energy therapy with focusing the mind on healing the underlying problem, for example, the emotions associated with a past trauma. EFT makes the most of the theory that many physical problems are psychosomatic in origin, or put another way, energy-based.

For the purposes of EFT, the meridian points to tap are at the inner end of the eyebrow, just above the eye, on the bones under the eye, in the indentation under the nose, on the collarbones, and in several other symmetrical points on your body down to your fingertips, ending up on the nine gamut point (the part of your hand just below and between the baby and ring fingers).

As a simplified illustration of how EFT works, think of a problem you would like to overcome. Let’s assume it is a fear of spiders. We can begin by an affirmation statement that goes something like this: “Even though I am afraid of spiders, I deeply and completely love, accept, and forgive myself and I want my fear of spiders to go away.” As you say this affirmation three times, you gently rub a point on either side of your sternum with your fingers. Then, repeating the reminder phrase, e.g. fear of spiders, you tap each of the EFT points with your index and middle fingers together. Once you have reached the nine gamut point, you tap on it while continuing to focus on the problem during each of the following nine steps: (1) Close your eyes; (2) open your eyes; (3) look hard down at the floor to your right; (4) look hard down at the floor to your left; (5) roll your eyes in a complete circle, going right or left, doesn’t matter; (6) roll your eyes in a circle in the other direction; (7) hum (don’t sing the words) five seconds of a song (such as “Happy Birthday”); (8) count to five; and (9) hum (don’t sing) another five seconds of “Happy Birthday.” Stop tapping on the gamut point and take a deep breath in and out. End of round one.

EFT seems to work best for traumas and specific fears. Before you begin a round of EFT, it is advisable to rate the extent of your fear or the emotional distress associated with the trauma on a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the greater emotional response. After you do a round of EFT, retest yourself to see if your fear or distress has decreased. Continue doing EFT until the fear or distress no longer registers.

Yes, it works. Not all the time, not necessarily the first time, but it works if you keep drilling down to the core issues. One morning I woke up the day after a house guest had left. My blood pressure was sky high but I didn’t know why. I was worried that I would have to go to the hospital. After two rounds of tapping that produced no relief, I hit upon the idea that my sick feelings were linked to a delayed reaction to the pressure of the visit. I tapped on that specific issue and my blood pressure returned to normal.

With schizophrenia, it is difficult to determine where the trauma lies. EFT alone will not get rid of the cluster of symptoms called schizophrenia, but can be useful in detecting and overcoming many deep rooted emotions at the base of this condition.

A short history of antipsychotics

Dr. Abram Hoffer has much to say on what happened to mental illness after the introduction of atypical antipsychotics in the 1970s. Atypical antipsychotics are the second-generation antipsychotics, which have fewer side effects than the first-generation “typical” antipsychotics introduced in the 1950s. The second-generation antipsychotics are tranquilizers that still produce side effects. With the second-generation drugs, people were fit enough to leave the hospital but not fit enough to hold down jobs. Psychiatric hospitals emptied, but the streets filled up with people unable to manage their medications or who preferred a life unmedicated to a life and and spirit controlled by medication.

Dr. Hoffer writes: “I am pleased with my medical colleagues who are quickly moving into this modern paradigm (megavitamin therapy), and am very frustrated by the massive inertia of my psychiatric colleagues who are still waiting for the Holy Grail, that new tranquilizer which appears every year, which will do for schizophrenia what insulin does for diabetes. The number of homeless chronic schizophrenics in the streets of all large American and Canadian cities is evidence of their inability to do more for them than we could do in 1950 before we had any tranquilizers. But at least then we had hospitals which provided shelter and food and some care. Today the downtown slums have become the surrogate mental hospital beds for the chronic patients whose treatment has been wholly tranquilizers.”

In the United States, a 1951 amendment to the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act meant that all the new drugs produced after World War II, which included second-generation antipsychotics, as well as antidepressants and antibiotics, could only be issued by prescription.When medication became the new Holy Grail, megavitamin therapy was tossed out. It lived on in communities of adherents here and there, but their voices were drowned over the next few decades as the number of antipsychotics on the market proliferated.

Does schizophrenia need celebrity endorsement?

I am discouraged of late that schizophrenia isn’t getting the press it deserves. More people (1 in a 100) have schizophrenia than autism (now 1 in 150), though autism seems to be catching up fast. Autism is a relatively recent phenomenon. The term “infantile autism” was coined by Dr. Leo Kanner in the 1930s. Schizophrenia has been around since the dawn of time.

Schizophrenia has built-in problems that might prevent it getting a full campaign à la Jenny McCarthy’s with autism. Schizophrenia occurs in adults. Autism attracts attention because it happens to children (and yes, it is a devastating problem). Money pours into children’s causes. Adults, let’s face it, are a harder sell. Another problem: Nobody wants to admit publicly to having schizophrenia. Better to be bipolar. Bipolar seems to be enjoying a wave of popularity right now, right up there with depression. The distinctions between bipolar and schizophrenia are artificial and tend to fold into each other over time. The drugs to treat them are the same. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear rumours that Britney is bipolar. Schizophrenia is a career killer. Britney is still out there and trying her best, even if she has her off days.

Where is the outrage? Schizophrenia has a natural recovery rate of 30%. Imagine that a little dedicated effort could double that rate and make recovery happen sooner. By dedicated effort I do not mean more meds. I mean less meds or no meds. My celebrity would endorse a holistic approach to health and talk openly about helping people to help themselves. My celebrity would speak about the value of vitamins, diet, family support, love, and provide a more balanced view of the role of medications than what we have been hearing up until now. I would love it if a little pill could cure our ills without creating more problems, but I gave up on that fantasy a long time ago. The real discrimination in schizophrenia is that people are not being helped to get better in bigger numbers sooner. Mentally ill people will have limited access to employment and other opportunities many of us take for granted as long as they remain mentally ill.

Jenny McCarthy was outraged. She did something about it. I read her book Louder Than Words. I was turned off at first. She throws four letter words around like rice at a wedding. This detracts from her message. But I looked past that and I realized that she was absolutely right to be outraged and to not accept the bleak prognosis her son was handed. She did her homework and she got going. So did the gay rights lobby. Back in 1973, homosexuality was dropped from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness. Psychiatrists were not at all happy about that because they still considered homosexuality a mental illness. But they could not withstand the onslaught of the gay rights movement picketing their offices and conventions. A mental illness wiped out by the stroke of a pen. The success of the gay rights lobby raises interesting questions about the nature of mental illness and of how it is determined and it shows what outrage will do.

The humor of schizophrenia

Okay, so people in the trenches don’t find schizophrenia so funny. Anybody who thinks it’s funny must be really sick, right? My minister, for example, cringes when I use the term “loony bin” to talk about Chris’s recent incarceration. I also like the words “bin” and “nuts”. They help me keep things in perspective.

The humor doesn’t come from the situation, as such, but from what takes place all around it. Take Chris’s psychiatrists. The male ones. I have had a huge crush on all of them. Me, a happily married woman pushing sixty who could be their mother. I think this is hysterical, especially since they all seem so personally dull. The attraction of their supposed power over someone’s mind is a turn-on for me!

Then there’s Dr. House. There is an episode in the eponymous television series where Dr House thinks a woman is genuinely schizophrenic. Although she isn’t his patient, he shows up at her bedside to read from William Butler Yeats’ poetry, and hangs onto her every utterance because he believes that she, like most schizophrenics, is really profound. He drops her like a hot potatoe when it turns out she has Wilson’s disease, and therefore isn’t “really” schizophrenic in his opinion. Now that’s funny! (Side note: Wilson’s disease is caused from dangerously high levels of copper in the body.)

Recently my husband and I had to plead our case that Chris needed to be committed to the loony bin. He was becoming quite paranoid, especially with regard to people of a darker hue and people affiliated with certain religious groups. We didn’t commit him because he was paranoid. We committed him because we were exhausted by his ups and downs. “I don’t like you much,” he said to the dark skinned intake psychiatrist. “Well, given that you don’t even know me, what exactly is it that you don’t like about me?” he pointedly asked Chris, knowing, of course, what was really at the heart of Chris’s statement. The psychiatrist whipped out a pink form, ticking all the necessary boxes: “Danger to himself and others”, “obvious symptoms” and “not able to be accommodated elsewhere”. He handed the form to Chris with a satisfied grin on his face. I thought that was very funny even at the time.

Chris has a good one. A young man was brought to the asylum where Chris is currently a patron. He was not only nuts, he had also committed a crime. After a day in the bin, he was offered a choice, prison or the bin. He chose prison. Now that’s funny!

The Akashic field and synchronicity

There are paranormal phenomenon related to schizophrenia, God, and physics. The Akashic field is an ancient Sanskrit term describing an ethereal library of all knowledge—thought, word, and action—that can be accessed through the subconscious mind. It houses the collection of universal truth, to which all people have access, and which all religions and shamanic traditions have acknowledged in some way. The Akashic field, also referred to as the universal mind or the word of God, shares much with Jung’s collective unconscious in which everyone participates through shared inheritance, thoughts and memories, which are symbolically manifested as fairy tales, myths and fantasies.

Conventional relativity theory says that the particles have to be close together to affect each other. The concept of nonlocality is a quantum physics concept that tweaks conventional relativity theory by demonstrating that you can accurately predict how one particle is behaving by how another is behaving, and that they have a causal relationship, even though they are separated by great distances. When Chris’s doctor does long-distance muscle testing on Chris, for example, she is tapping into the nonlocal library of knowledge to find the particular record that Chris has left in the collective unconscious, even though she and he are separated by a great distance.

Schizophrenia is a prime example of how the universal mind works, using another of Jung’s concepts, that of synchronicity. Synchronicity is the uncanny coincidence with which most of us are familiar. You were just thinking of someone you haven’t been in touch with for ten years, the phone rings, and it is that person on the other end of the line. One event does not cause the other. They occur because the universal mind contains both our consciousness and external events. Events reflect our conscious and vice versa because neither time nor place exists in the universal mind.

People with schizophrenia find meaningful coincidences or synchronicity everywhere. I remember heading to a Japanese restaurant with the family when Chris was sliding into psychosis. Chris was obviously impressed with the name of the restaurant, the letters of which were the first letter of each of his names, with a negation at the end. He was under the belief that the restaurant was negating or invalidating him in some way. He repeated the name of the restaurant throughout the evening, almost like a mantra.

That’s the funny thing about synchronicity. It is only meaningful to the person experiencing it. It is a non-event to others, and pretty boring to them as well. Yet when synchronicity applies to us, it is a different story. We are bemused perhaps, but not enthralled.

Energy medicine and muscle testing

The implication that human consciousness, like water molecules, can access knowledge nonlocally, across space and time, opened a new world for Chris and me. Through muscle testing we learned that Chris was allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs.

Energy medicine is one of the five sub-classifications of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Energy medicine proposes that many illnesses of the human body can be rectified by rebalancing the out-of-balance energy fields of the human body that have caused illness in the first place. Energy medicine can be sub-divided into therapies using veritable (measurable) energy fields, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), various kinds of laser surgery and light and sound therapy, and therapies involving putative energy fields (biofields), the subtle energy fields of the body that have so far eluded scientific measurement. Therapies in this latter category include but are not limited to Reiki, Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM), acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), distance healing and prayer.

Applied kinesiology or “muscle testing” allows you to access all kinds of useful and accurate information about your body by asking questions that elicit a “true” or “false” (strong or weak) response by measuring your body’s resistance to applied physical pressure. For example, extend one arm and hold it rigid while another person pushes down on it with two hands while posing a question that can only elicit a true of false answer. You can begin by repeating “two plus two equals four” while resisting the downward pressure on your arm. Since this is a mathematically correct statement then your muscle resistance should be strong. The statement “two plus two equals five” is false and harder for our muscles to resist. The arm will will not be able to resist the downward pressure as well as it could for a true statement. This effect will be the same even if you are asked questions in an unfamiliar language. Your body knows what is true and what isn’t true even if if your conscious will tries to override it.

A person like your doctor can elicit information about you nonlocally by muscle testing. You don’t even have to be in the same room or on the same continent. This can be done by making a closed circle with the thumb and pointer fingers of the left hand. Insert the thumb and pointer finger of the other hand into the circle, making sure it is a snug fit. While concentrating on the test subject and asking a specific question regarding that person’s state of health, try to force the fingers apart. A weak response (the circle broken) indicates false, a strong (unbroken circle) true. The key to doing this successfully and receiving true indicators as to what is going on is to be very specific in the question asked (e.g., Is this [name of particular substance] good or bad for the person’s liver function?) and to apply consistent pressure between the fingertips and consistent force against the circled fingers while trying to force them apart.

Substances such as sugar will weaken the muscles whereas therapeutic substances will strenghthen them. This can be demonstrated by holding a small bag of sugar against the body with one hand while trying to resist downward pressure on the other arm, extended in front of you.

Thoughts and emotional stimuli produce these same responses. For example, the word “War” or “Love ” could be written without your knowlege on a piece of paper and placed in a box that you hold against your body. Or you could imagine something like your family pet. The person doing the muscle testing will know by the reaction of your muscles whether this is a positive thing for you or a negative thing.

The secret life of water molecules

In Japan, Dr. Masaru Emoto photographed the molecular changes in untreated, distilled water crystals when thoughts and words are directed at them. He placed labels on glass jars of water, with phrases such as “Thank you” or “You Fool” and left them overnight. The changes in the water crystals were amazing. Positive words created pretty, healthy-looking crystals. Negative words produced the opposite.

Both spoken and written words convey vibrational energy that is picked up by the water. In fact, everything in existence has a vibration. Dr. Emoto found that intention and prayer can influence the water structure. Distance didn’t seem to matter.

As the adult human body is more than 70 percent water, and the level of water content at birth is 90 percent, the effects of vibrational energy on the human body and mind of both positive and negative thoughts, words, and actions are staggering.

This simple, yet profound discovery has major implications when looking at illness.

Why diet isn’t everything

The state-of-the art research that I mentioned in my last post links many disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, autism, etc. to wheat and gluten intolerances. Chris’s doctor determined that he suffers from candidiasis, a systemic overgrowth of the yeastlike fungus Candida albicans. This fungus is normally found in the intestines, but an overpopulation can occur due to a number of factors, among them weakened immunity, poor digestion, a diet high in foods that tend to foster yeast, or the use of antibiotics, which kill off essential helpful bacteria that aid in maintaining the proper balance of flora in the intestines.

Candidiasis can be a lifelong problem. It interferes with digestion and nutrient absorption, which in turn affects physical and mental health. Nutritional deficiencies further contribute to intestinal dysfunction and candidiasis. The two produce a negative feedback loop toward deteriorating mental health. Eventually the brain itself becomes overwhelmed by yeast. Various combinations of vitamins and minerals are prescribed in addition to restricting or eliminating wheat, gluten and dairy products from the diet. In addition to the wheat/gluten/dairy intolerance another widely implicated factor in schizophrenia is excess copper.

Some people have been known to recover quickly from schizophrenia by taking just supplements and changing their diet. A lot of people do not. Dr. Dietrich Klinghart, a German physician who with practices in Germany and in the United States, maintains that if schizophrenia is not cured at the physical level (level I – vitamins, herbs, nutrition, etc.) the problem most likely resides at level IV of the healing pyramid. Level IV is the intuitive level of dreams, trance, meditative states, out-of-body experiences, and the collective unconscious. Dr. Klinghardt’s five levels of healing form a healing pyramid, with the upper levels exerting a trickle-down effect on your state of physical and mental health. Healing cannot take place at a lower level if there is an unresolved issue at a higher level.

Having worked with many of the therapies discussed in Dr. Klinghardt’s healing pyramid I am mindful that all the good work that vitamin and diet support can accomplish can be overruled by the mind. Until the mind is ready, the body will not follow. I have seen this recently in Chris. He was doing really well, he was no longer on medications, he was taking vitamin supplements and he was adhering to a recommended diet. We were all in shock when he started to become unravelled. His mind, I am convinced, put the brakes on further progress. He was becoming a victim of his own success. Heartened by his progress up up until then, my husband and I had begun to encourage him to go back to university full time, to develop himself further as a musician, to think in terms of possibilities. He panicked. Psychosis was his escape hatch.

Why he panicked is goes to the heart of the matter. Getting to the essence of cause is where schizophrenia begins to get really, really interesting. The trip is a long one.