The Root Of Qi And Blood Stagnation
Michael T. Greenwood, MB (MD)
Stagnation of Qi and Blood is a basic clinical pattern of Traditional
Chinese Medicine, but its origin from splits in consciousness is rarely
considered clinically significant. This article suggests that the root
of stagnation lies in the mind's attempt to control existential anxiety
through strategies of energy containment, which give rise to psychosomatic
compartmentalization. It is suggested that attention to these strategies
is at least as important as any particular acupuncture protocol.
Acupuncture, Qi and Blood Stagnation, Chronic Pain, Dissociation, Compartmentalization,
Multiple Personality Disorder
To the Western-trained physician, the diagnostic categories of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) can appear mystifying and frequently seem to
obfuscate more than clarify. Often, the conditions referred to in TCM
appear to be bizarre descriptions of things considered irrelevant in
conventional practice. Qi and Blood stagnation/excess/deficiency is
a case in point. As physicians, we are confronted regularly with patients
who have a mixture of chronic pain, numbness, or parasthesias in association
with and overlapping such systemic symptoms as fatigue, frustration,
and general malaise. Despite the best of intentions, physicians often
have little idea how to categorize such patients energetically since
they appear to have the features of Qi and Blood stagnation, deficiency,
and excess all at the same time. Such diagnostic confusion does not
help formulate a coherent treatment plan. Perhaps such categorizations
are not particularly useful. Conceivably, is it possible that these
energetic diagnoses are reflective of something more fundamental in
consciousness that, if understood, would provide a more integrated basis
for approaching chronic problems?
What Is Stagnation?
Definitions of stagnation can be found in any acupuncture text. Kaptchuk
defines Qi stagnation as a pattern of excess that occurs when the smooth
flow of Qi is stuck in an organ or meridian.1 The primarysymptoms are
pain, soreness, or distension, which characteristically change in severity
and location. Conversely, Kaptchuk defines Blood stagnation as an excess
Blood pattern characterized by a fixed and stabbing pain; it is essentially
a deeper disharmony that may be preceded by stagnant Qi (Table 1).
Comparison of Qi and Blood Stagnation
soreness, distension, soft lumps that may come and go; often changes
in intensity and location
Fixed stabbing pain, may be preceded by Qi stagnation, cold,trauma,
or hemorrhage; fixed lumps
purple with red spots
Jarrett adds a metaphysical view, indicating that Qi stagnation occurs
when an individual meets a life situation so challenging that the Qi
cannot flow smoothly around it. Similarly, he points out that stagnant
Blood can arise when some trauma has occurred that is too painful to
assimilate.2 He adds that Blood stasis can present as lost memory of
painful events or difficulties with trust and intimacy, together with
feelings of betrayal. According to both authors, pain is due to some
kind of stagnation, while weakness is due to deficient Qi and numbness
to deficient Blood.
It appears that these various TCM diagnoses arise from deeper archetypal
forces in consciousness. Particularly, they may be the direct result
of the way in which the ego manages its existential anxiety. In a previous
article, I discussed how a number of splits arise in the psyche as a
result of the process of individuation.3 Summarily, a primary existential
split arises during ego construction and leads to a sense of alienation,
which is experienced by most people as a background anxiety or "existential
anxiety." This anxiety tends to feed on itself to produce further
splits, which have been classified as the life/death, mind/body, and
persona/shadow.4 Yet another split, the love/sex split, has been discussed
by some authors as a separate entity although it might equally be understood
as a subcategory of the mind/body and persona/shadow splits.5
Shifting From Pain
If we can accept the basic premise that the ego constructs these psychosomatic
splits, we might intuit how the process of splitting could lead to the
Qi and Blood stagnation described in TCM. A deeper understanding of
the relationship between consciousness and those pathologies might thus
evolve. Consider the limited choices the mind has when encountering
different experiences and how these choices can lead to trouble. Consciousness,
therefore, either moves toward an experience or away from it, either
permitting energy flow or blocking it. It accomplishes this feat using
the dual strategies of filtering/diversion and containment/dissociation.
Filtering and Containment
Filtering/diversion refers to the mind's ability to interfere
with the natural flow of original energy through its discriminating
function. The mind distinguishes between appropriate and inappropriate
energies and permits the flow of only those energies the ego feels are
socially acceptable. Unacceptable energies get caught in the filtering
mechanism and then get diverted to an energetic dumpsite known in Jungian
terms as the shadow. An analogy might be the quality control function
of an assembly line worker who lets good products flow through while
rejecting inferior or damaged articles. If a significant percentage
of the flow is diverted, then a backlog develops on the main energetic
route (stagnation), while concurrently, the diverted energy becomes
a disposal problem.
Filtering is achieved through tightening the muscles in an area where
an unacceptable energy is felt most intensely. For example, an individual
will tighten the jaw, shoulders, or stomach muscles to control anger,
tighten the chest to avoid sadness or grief, tighten the lower back
to contain fear, or tighten the pelvis to control sexual energy.
Containment/dissociation refers to how the mind disposes of such
diverted energy. To the ego, unacceptable energies will always remain
unacceptable; hence, diverted energies are usually not permitted to
return to the general overall flow. Consequently, all diverted energy
must be disposed of. Containment refers to the process of dumpsite construction,
and dissociation refers to the mechanism of ignoring the fact that the
dumpsite is there.
Filtering/Diversion and Stagnant Qi
While filtering and Qi stagnation may appear synonymous, there is a
difference. One gives rise to the other; while filtering/diversion is
an ego strategy, stagnation is the experiential consequence of the strategy
and not the strategy itself. The therapeutic significance of this is
that if we wish to ease stagnation, perhaps it would be prudent to pay
more attention to the mental strategy behind the stagnation than to
the stagnation itself.
In TCM, the Wood sector (Liver and Gallbladder) is the aspect of consciousness
that discriminates between things, e.g., this and that, good and bad,
or here and there. It is this process of discrimination and classification
that is said to bring apparent order out of chaos; the appearance of
10,000 things out of the chaotic unity of the Tao.6 Thus, through observation,
we create our reality in the very process of naming it. In TCM, the
Liver is said to control the smooth flow of Qi precisely; it is the
Liver's discriminating function that is responsible for constructing
reality in the first place. The discriminating mind must not forget
the ultimate unity of all things, or else the process of discrimination
is not rooted in wholeness. It is this oversight that actually obstructs
the smooth flow of Qi and leads to stagnation.
The Western scientific tradition is an expression of the process of
naming and categorizing. We observe and classify and consider that to
be science. Ironically, it is a kind of science that has forgotten the
essential wholeness that lies in the background. A society built on
the premise of reductionism and endless classification sooner or later
loses the ability to allow the smooth flow of Qi. It is interesting
to consider that this loss of smooth flow is occurring in a country
in which Wood energy is almost a national characteristic. The creativity,
competitiveness, and youthful vigor abundant in the United States, together
with the country's high levels of violence, point to a strong Wood component
in the collective consciousness. Thus, it is probably no coincidence
that in North America, one of the most common TCM diagnoses is stagnation
of Liver Qi.
How consciousness deals with filtered/diverted energy is of prime importance
in the manifestation of material pathology. The fundamental technique
is simple. Unacceptable energy is dumped somewhere in the body's energy
field, and then the ego tries to ignore the existence of the dumpsite.
It can do this for a long time quite successfully, until the dumpsite
gets so full it overflows or the site location impinges on consciousness
in some other way such as pain. The process of dumping in a confined
site can be termed containment, while the ignoring of the stench coming
from the dumpsite can be termed dissociation. Containment is an energy
management strategy while dissociation is a distraction technique; their
combination leads to the development of cordoned-off areas in the psyche-soma
in which there is compromised flow of Qi and Blood. Clinically, this
appears like Blood stagnation. However, the symptoms from such a blocked
area will be more than just the classic fixed stabbing pain of Blood
stagnation; included will be both pain emanating from the contained
and stagnant Qi and also a paradoxical parasthesia or numbness emanating
from the dissociation.
It is increasingly evident that chronic pain and illnesses are dissociative
phenomena.7 Contrary to popular thought, dissociation is not a rare
or unusual phenomenon occurring in people who have been severely traumatized.
Rather, it is a universal phenomenon, one with which everyone is familiar.
For example, most people have experienced injuring themselves while
engaged in physical activity such as contact sports without feeling
any pain. During intense physical activity, the mind dissociates from
the body; first, to focus on the larger strategy and second, to permit
the body to be pushed beyond its usual limits. When an injury occurs
at such times, there is generally little pain until later, when consciousness
slowly returns. Therefore, in the acute situation, dissociation permits
the execution of extraordinary feats that in some situations might be
crucial to survival.
In chronic illness, a strategy of dissociation generally produces a
less favorable outcome. Dissociation begins with a simple avoidance
maneuver such as favoring an injured extremity that involves a physical
adaptation. This adaptation in turn leads to increased stresses on other
areas of the body. Eventually, other parts may become foci of pain which
in turn will lead to more favoring. Thus, the whole body can become
involved in a process of increasing dissociation until the entire physiology
begins to break down. Since avoidance behavior is universal, dissociation
and containment are typical insofar as they represent the common strategy
of the collective.
Containment and dissociation are two aspects of a strategic continuum,
usually found together in varying combinations of inseparability. If
we block feelings somewhere and then dissociate from the blocked area,
we have effectively compartmentalized that part, forming what might
be called a psychosomatic cyst. The part may then be "sacrificed"
for the ego to maintain its sense of identity. More commonly, no specific
part is sacrificed but rather the entire body becomes the depository
for rejected energy, leading to a systemic pathology.
Although tragic, localization and sacrifice are interesting clinically.
An example is trauma patients who will frequently contain and dissociate
from an injured extremity. One such patient electrocuted her hand in
a live light-switch socket and although she appeared to have a functioning
arm, she refused to use it. Closer examination revealed the telltale
signs of Blood stagnation. During acupuncture bodywork, the arm would
shake violently but the patient would visibly dissociate.
Another range of compartmentalization is the multiple personality disorder,
or dissociative identity disorder. In multiple personality disorder,
whole personality gestalts become compartmentalized; different personalities,
containing different aspects of blocked energies, exist as separate
personas within a single body. The different personalities can have
different physiological correlates such as different handwriting styles,
drug responses, visual acuity, or even symptoms.8 Long recognized is
that people skilled at dissociation are more likely to have experienced
severe childhood trauma.9 Such people may have little body awareness,
unrecognized multiple personality disorder, or other marked psychic
disturbance. Since they are not fully present in their bodies, these
people tend to be accident-prone and/or develop illnesses that resist
conventional intervention. Such people have difficulty with the healing
process, which demands they be present and aware.
Three different varieties of compartmentalization are depicted in Figures
1-3: 2 extreme situations, and 1 depicting the more common overlap situation.
The importance of compartmentalization lies in realizing the complementarity
of 2 apparently unrelated conditions, multiple personality disorder
and regional pain syndromes, better understood energetically as psychic
and somatic cysts. This insight suggests a common origin of many chronic
pain conditions and at the same time, provides an explanation of how
Qi and Blood stagnation arises first as potentials in consciousness.
In Figure 1, the diverted energy is siphoned off into a somatic cyst,
which may present as a regional pain syndrome. In this scenario, the
somatic compartment may exhibit features of Blood stagnation, while
the rest of the body may appear relatively normal or exhibit some milder
containment phenomena. Here, the contained energies are separated from
the main personality in space.
In Figure 2, the original energy is scattered and diverted into 1 or
more psychic cysts, which may present as multiple personality disorder.
Each psychic cyst expresses a subpersonality and will exhibit different
degrees of containment. Frequently, the subpersonalities will carry
most of the body/mind's emotional pain, while the main personality will
present with some somatic complaint such as headaches, dyspnea, or depression.
The presence of amnesia or time lapses suggests that multiple personality
disorder may be involved. Here, the compartmentalization occurs mostly
In Figure 3, the contained and dissociated energies interpenetrate the
main persona so that all the various energetic structures overlap, resulting
in a complex pattern of psychosomatic cyst formation (persona/shadow
overlap) and varying degrees of Qi and Blood stagnation. This is the
most common scenario but, ironically, the most difficult to grasp because
it involves the conceptual leap that one can be simultaneously present,
contained, and dissociated all within the same physical space. It is
possible because the body's energy field is a complex interference pattern
of waves and troughs, all of which overlap.10 There is no particular
compulsion for a contained/dissociated psychosomatic cyst to be located
in a discrete area of space/time, although that is possible. Indeed,
the classic multiple personality and/or dissociated limb is rare in
comparison to the number of people presenting with interpenetrating
stagnation. The image of interpenetrating circles, known as a mandorla,
is a motif common to a variety of disciplines ranging from Christianity
to Jungian analysis. It has been interpreted as reflecting the challenge
of bringing the persona and shadow together to form a greater whole.11
In Figure 4, Blood stagnation arises as the result of a compartmentalization/dissociation
strategy instituted by an alienated ego as it gets increasingly separated
from a center of authentic or original energy. The overlapping of compartments
leads to the appearance of systemic stagnation of Qi and Blood; compartments
are separated from the energetic center in both time and space. Purely
spatial separation presents as somatic cyst formation and somatic sacrifice
(regional pain), while purely temporal separation presents as psychic
cyst formation and psychic sacrifice (multiple personality disorder).
In the more common presentations, an interpenetration of both axes leads
to overlapping of compartmentalized psychosomatic fields in what appears
to be a sizable combination. Such individuals will exhibit personality
variability (i.e., inconsistent behavior), but with continuity of memory
between personas. They will also have incomplete somatic compartments
so that even if their pain is relatively localized, there will be evidence
of Blood stagnation systemically.
|Table 2. Adjunctive Strategies to Move Blood Stagnation
|Help the patient become aware of dissociation
|Stress the need for the patient to choose to reassociate, which
means to be willing to be present with their pain
|Clarify the notion of "moving toward" pain instead of
habitually fleeing it
|Encourage patients to reduce containment/dissociation
|Point out that pain may get worse before it gets better
|Counsel patients that they may have to confront emotionally-charged
The division of psyche and soma is ultimately an artificial contrivance;
multiple personality disorder and regional pain syndromes are different
expressions of the same disorder: separation from a center of authentic
energy or separation from the Tao. The truth of this statement often
will be found during acupuncture treatments. For example, exploration
of a somatic pain compartment with acupuncture may expose a psychic
cyst; there can be an eruption of emotional material that can mimic
the appearance of a subpersonality if intense enough. When such material
is brought to consciousness and integrated, the original somatic pain
can disappear, confirming the energetic equivalence of psyche and soma.
Commonly, the nature of the energy contained in a psychosomatic compartment
is predicated on reaction patterns based in constitutional typing, and
is not intense enough to generate a personality gestalt. It may be difficult
to differentiate signs/ symptoms of Blood Stagnation/Compartmentalization.
Blood stagnation presents as fixed and stabbing pain with or without
lumps. In chronic pain syndromes, interpenetration of contained energy
and dissociated compartments lead to the paradoxical symptoms of pain
and numbness simultaneously, which may be confusing if the origin is
not fully appreciated. In cases of extreme separation, a patient may
not permit the touching of a painful/numb area. The act of touching
calls awareness back to a dissociated area; thus, these patients often
refuse light touch until they understand the necessity for reversing
their conscious stance.
Examination reveals compromised microcirculation, with blanching and
slow capillary return after pressure. Due to sluggish Blood movement,
the skin temperature may be cool or even cold, and the skin turgor thin
or boggy. When this perpetuates in an extremity, the area in question
may display the hyperalgesia, allodynia, and hyperpathia triad,
characteristic of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Or, a deteriorating
neurological condition will develop such as multiple sclerosis. An examination
of such patients often reveals the typical features of Blood stagnation
in the affected extremities.
When symptoms merge through the containment/dissociation barriers, patients
will generally request drugs or consider more drastic interventions
such as surgery. In this way, conventional medicine then is propelled
into the process of containment/dissociation, and physicians become
unwitting extensions of their patients' primary ego strategies. Indeed,
many drugs are designed to mimic the functions of containment and dissociation.
Examples are drugs that contain antidepressants (such as amitriptyline),
and drugs that dissociate include opiates and anxiolytics.
The fact that antidepressants are often effective against chronic pain
does not have a coherent biological explanation. As physicians, we often
interpret this finding to imply that patients with chronic pain are
actually depressed, while somatizing their depression. However, since
breakthrough pain pushes people to look for increased containment, there
is a simple energetic explanation. Indeed, people taking antidepressants
often report that their feelings are better contained, they are less
emotionally labile, and more balanced.
With opiates, pain often will be registered in the usual way, but it
does not irritate. The experience has been described as dissociative
bliss. Ever since Pert discovered the opiate receptor in 1972, research
has focused on how to use and improve upon the body's own endogenous
morphine.12 Her research has implied a direct correlation between "thoughts"
and "neuropeptides." In other words, thoughts create molecules
that are the material equivalent of the thought, i.e., a particular
thought creating a particular neuropeptide. Thus, the endorphins, the
body's endogenous morphine-like molecules, are actually the neuropeptides
that represent and carry out the thought of dissociation.
Dissociative bliss has often been interpreted as positive, and researchers
hope to find a drug that will produce a blissful state without inducing
dependence. Similarly, much of acupuncture pain research has focused
on the production of endorphins.13 But if endorphin production reflects
the strategy of dissociation, then making more endorphins will only
exacerbate the problem. It has been shown that in rat models of reflex
sympathetic dystrophy, the opiate receptors are maximally utilized.14
Thus, in this particular form of chronic pain, the body's endorphin
output is already maximized, implying that the individual is already
maximally dissociated. If pain is going to break through a state of
maximum dissociation, perhaps it is time to try a different approach.
Anxiolytics dissociate patients from feeling existential anxiety, which
possibly explains why anxiolytics are considered so addicting. The anxiety
continues to accumulate, but the patient does not feel it. Any attempt
to discontinue the drug leads to anxiety, which is often interpreted
as withdrawal and blamed on the drug. In reality, the patient is feeling
anxiety again, but more intensely.
Perhaps it should now be clear that using a particular point to move
stagnation in a particular meridian is not effective in the presence
of largely unconscious archetypal forces operating in the opposite direction.
The key point is that any acupuncture approach aimed to mobilize stagnant
Qi and Blood will likely be more successful if attention is paid to
the contributing factors. Since these factors lie in consciousness itself,
improvement is more likely if the underlying ego strategies are brought
to the surface and examined. The treatment focus for all these conditions
might be summarized as decontainment, reassociation, and integration.
Stagnation of Qi is generally easier to work with, particularly if it
is of relatively recent onset. Since the energy diversion has not progressed
to dissociation, there is no lack of awareness in the patient. Often,
patients may actually be more present. The pain itself may produce heightened
awareness in the absence of painkillers. In this early situation, almost
any theoretical approach will be successful. In recent trauma, focusing
on the tendinomuscular meridians is effective. For pain of longer duration,
a linear N-N+1 input into the zone of involvement is a reliable first
choice: front (Yang Ming-Tai Yin), side (Shao Yang-Jue Yin), or back
(Tai Yang-Shao Yin), plus local points.
A typical example would be low back pain treated with KI 3 (Taixi),
BL 62 (Shenmai) and 40 (Yixi), SI 3 (Houxi), HT 7 (Shenmen), and local
points such as BL 23 (Shenshu).
Treatment of stagnant Blood is a more difficult problem. Some speculate
that Blood is thicker than Qi and therefore, harder to move. However,
there may be a more definitive way of understanding the problem. If
Blood stagnation points to dissociation, then there is little chance
of effecting a change unless the individual reverses the strategy of
dissociation. It is difficult to see how reassociation can be engendered
without the individual consciously deciding to return to areas previously
dissociated. This can be challenging because it often involves an excruciating
exacerbation of symptoms which can prevent further progress. Furthermore,
skilled "dissociators" tend to have weaker egos than average,
perhaps because they have learned to cope by escaping reality. If they
seriously try to heal their various splits, their fragile egos can easily
become overwhelmed by the intensity of the material contained in their
psychosomatic cysts. When this happens, patients may get frightened
and within a short time, will retreat back to the safety of dissociation.
All this can make healing for dissociators slow, protracted, and with
setbacks. Often, the most they achieve is a stalemate, in which they
are more present than before but retain enough symptoms to feel ill.
In a previous article, I discussed the concept of intention and its
role in acupuncture treatment.15 To summarize, patients must intend
to move toward their pain rather than away from it if they want to get
better. Reassociation proceeds much more quickly if intention can be
clarified at the start of treatment. Without such a willingness on the
patient's part to reawaken the area in question, treatment becomes more
and more frustrating as the patient resists the increasing awareness
engendered by acupuncture treatments.
Working through this difficulty can be challenging. A good strategy
is to warn the patient that if treatment is successful, there may be
a paradoxical increase in pain, and that should it occur, the patient
should resist the urge to abandon treatment and/or take analgesics.
If patients are already taking containment/dissociating medications,
then they need to understand that this in itself is a demonstration
of inappropriate intent and is only going to delay the healing process.
An unwillingness to consider the negative impact of medication indicates
that intent is unlikely to shift (at times, it might be reasonable to
dismiss such a patient early rather than risk getting involved in a
protracted tug-of-war) [Table 2].
As with Qi stagnation, a sound, basic approach is the N-N+1 circuit
on the affected zone, with local points at the margins of the somatic
cyst. The intent is to open energy flow into and out of the painful
area. Often, preparing the points with moxa prior to needling can be
helpful. A second approach is through the use of the extraordinary meridians,
again with local Ah Shi points, at the margin of the affected zone.
The Chong Mo, the Sea of Blood, is always a consistent Curious Meridian
to invoke, using points such as SP 4 (Gongsun), PC 6 (Neiguan), and
ST 30 (Qichong). The lighter energetic equilibrations are less likely
to be effective in initial work with Blood stagnation but can be used
later when there is a good understanding of the principle of intent.
Specific points for Blood stagnation can be used as an adjunct, such
as BL 17 (Geshu), SP 6 (Sanyinjiao), SP 10 (Xuehai), or SP 8 (Diji).
Frequently, in long-standing cases, intending a gradual softening is
likely to be more effective than attempting progress too quickly. The
use of a multifrequency infrared lamp can be beneficial. Gentle massage,
acupressure, and cupping are all complementary and can be effective
ways of bringing blood and circulation to areas of stagnation. Seemingly,
with long-standing deep-seated Blood stagnation, the gentler the intervention
the better, perhaps giving the appearance of doing little, if anything.
An example is forceless spontaneous release, a form of Yin Tuina, shown
to be helpful in Parkinson's disease and occasionally leading to recovery.16
Hands-on work can sometimes be effective at exposing the emotional body;
clinicians and patients need to be prepared for emotional release as
a cyst is opened up.
Opening a dissociated area can be much like physically incising an abscess.
Contained memories, traumas, and feelings can burst forth in an overwhelming
way. The following are similar cases with different outcomes:
Patient 1 was a 45-year-old woman who developed a frozen
right shoulder shortly after what appeared to be a work-related minor
strain lifting a heavy item. When she presented, there had been little
improvement in 3 years. The patient held her arm across her chest, refused
to use it for even minor things, and complained that it hurt with minimal
movement. She exhibited a hopeless resignation, but expressed resentment
toward the Workers' Compensation Board and her physicians for mismanaging
Examination revealed all the features of Blood stagnation/dissociation
in the affected arm. Treatment involved clarifying intent, opening a
Shao Yang-Jue Yin circuit, using local points at the containment barrier,
and gentle massage.
During an acupuncture-bodywork session, the patient entered "the
void" and spent several minutes violently hitting a pillow with
her injured arm.17 Later, she revealed that she had imagined punishing
her abusive ex-husband. After emerging from the altered state, the patient
was astonished to realize that she had been using the purported frozen
Patient 2 was a 28-year-old man who injured his left
knee in a sawmill accident. As with patient 1, his actual physical injury
appeared relatively minor, but 2 negative arthroscopies and 3 years
later, he was still in pain. The extremity showed all the signs of Blood
stagnation. The patient appeared unconcerned about his disability. He
reported that he never allowed himself to get angry, and would not allow
anger under any circumstances; he reported losing control in the past.
In this case, the injury provided a solution to several problems simultaneously.
By containing the Wood energy in the leg and then dissociating from
the leg, the patient created a disease that provided an acceptable solution
to the problem of his rage, an acceptable idea of himself as a victim
of circumstance, and an income from disability insurance. As of this
writing, the patient remains in severe disability.
Patient 3 was a 25-year-old woman with dysmenorrhea and
perineal pain. She had attended various pain clinics, including a vulvodynia
clinic, with no improvement. Her pulse was choppy and there were dark
red spots on the sides of her tongue. The lower Jiao was cold compared
with the middle and upper, while above the neck, she was hot. She was
interested in alternative approaches and embraced the idea of intent
early. The patient alluded to having an emotionally sterile upbringing,
in which sexual matters were considered negatively and never discussed.
She disclosed dreams with sexually suggestive imagery.
Treatment involved a Chong Mo input and clear intent: SP 4 (Gongsun),
PC 6 (Neiguan) with moxa, ST 30 (Qichong), CV 3 (Zhongji), and CV 4
(Guanyuan). With this, the patient began to allow the pelvic movement
which had always shamed her. Within a short time, she experienced heat
and tingling moving up the Du Mo, suggesting Kundalini awakening. After
this simple experience, her dysmenorrhea and vulvodynia disappeared
for the first time in years. The improvement was temporary, initially,
but with perseverance and home dynamic meditation, she eventually became
Patient 4 was a 44-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis
who understood personal growth and alternative medicine. Over several
years, she had progressed out of a wheelchair to walking with canes.
Although her disease had regressed, she nonetheless pursued avenues
to reverse her disease. The patient's legs were cool and showed the
typical blanching of Blood stagnation. Her pulse was robust, indicating
she had potential energy. The patient was willing to consider that she
might be dissociating and was eager to reverse her intention once the
concept was explained. In a "safe" environment, she displayed
an amazing energy and actually kicked me with much strength, while mouthing
obscenities. The power in her legs was demonstrated.
Despite common beliefs about illness, we actually have more input into
our illnesses than we conceivably believe. As physicians, we may intuit
our patients' responsibility but avoid bringing it to their attention
for fear of provoking denial. In reality, illnesses rarely arise without
reason. More often, people are not so much victims of circumstance as
they are unconscious participants, actively bringing on their difficulties
through attitudes and behaviors that are actively self-destructive.
Moreover, there is a generally steady progression of energetic imbalances
that patients ignore, preceding the materialization of pathology.
That many chronically ill patients often feel victimized speaks directly
to the issue of alienation, the existential split that indicates the
primary separation from the Tao. Perhaps the ultimate root of illness,
it needs to be made conscious if we are ever to solve the conundrum
that illness presents. Once the origin of illness is brought to awareness,
then the patient has a choice to shift attitudes and envision the results.
Occasionally when this is done, an apparently untreatable illness will
The stagnation we see in our patients is a stagnation of their consciousness,
a belief in their separateness from other things. However, in the final
analysis, the idea of separateness is false. Too see the false as false
is simply way out of the trap. Acupuncture is a tool for awakening such
awareness; the skill of using the tool lies with the practitioner.
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14. Bennett G. RSD research breakthroughs. In Proceedings of the RSDSA
2nd National Conference; September 5-7, 1997.
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Medical Acupuncture. 1999; 11(1):17-23
16. Walton-Hadlock J. Recovery From Parkinson's Disease: A Practitioner's
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17. Greenwood MT. Braving the Void: Journeys into Healing. Seattle,
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Dr Michael Greenwood is the Medical Director of the Victoria Pain Clinic,
a residential facility in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Dr Greenwood
specializes in working with chronic pain and illness patients, and in
developing techniques integrating the body, mind, and spirit. He has
authored the books Paradox and Healing, and Braving the Void.
Michael T. Greenwood, MB (MD), BChir, CCFP, CAFCI, FRSA
365 Hector Rd, RR#3
Victoria, British Columbia V8X 3X1 Canada
Phone/Fax: 250-595-1486 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphics were designed by Dr Greenwood's son, Richard Greenwood.