…From affected people, I often hear the sentence: “You can‘t heal rheumatoid arthritis!”, and ask: “What gave you that idea?” The conviction of rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself is very popular. It‘s often deduced that the RA isn‘t healable. Especially not by the person concerned, for:
“If physicians (as the gods in white) can’t provide a solution in the form of healing then, how should I (a simple mortal) know what to do?”
The underlying reasoning behind this is the rather-the-better-than-the-latter-Principle: “If something is more likely to come to the one who is more likely to have it, then it is obvious that it can‘t rather come to the one who is less likely to get it.”
Those who are more likely to get this something – in this case the effective strategy to help the patient heal – are, due to their extensive knowledge, usually considered to be the physicians: “The doctor, of course!”
But this conviction is a heavy burden. Many sufferers no longer trust their body, lose the confidence to resign themselves to their self-efficacy and seek treatment – and salvation – from others.
So we see self-related beliefs play an important role in handling rheumatoid arthritis.
A negative belief could then look like this: “My body is beyond my control. I don‘t want to be ill, and yet it attacks itself. I am help- and powerless in terms of biochemical processes and genetics. That‘s why I can not help myself causally. So taking on healing by myself isn‘t possible. ”
Such propositions are predestined to act as self-fulfilling prophecies: the result will correspond and confirm the inner conviction. And with an autoimmune disease the implicit implication is clear: “I am continuously hurting myself!“ and for it works both ways: „These patients are attacking themselves!“, and transports the conviction of guilt. The confidence in one’s own body and self-efficacy is shaken. And – of course – that doesn‘t help with raising the motivation to search for the actual causes and solutions.
Thus the affected person also becomes the inner client (addict) to conventional medicine. As such, he is willing to let drugs suppress symptoms and, as a result of this suppression of symptoms, get even more damaged by the side effects of aggressive chemistry, which itself can‘t bring about even a chance of healing.
How can one help oneself if the RA anyway is an “autoimmune disease” or “genetically conditioned” or “biochemical processes that destroy one’s joints” and are unstoppable?
And this way, medical terms become meaningless phrases for the person concerned. They sound like empty formulas or come as incomplete knowledge and are regarded by the patient as an endpoint for their influence and insight. This hinders one’s understanding, one’s motivation, one’s actions and makes self-healing efforts and successes difficult.
Petermann et al.* describe the obstructive use of phrases. “The use […] can also be assumed in explanations such as “that’s genetic,” “that’s psychosomatic “or” it works electrically.” A proven antidote is the question “Yes fine, but how exactly?”
From the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, I got no help against my pain and movement restrictions. It hindered my search, limited my possibilities exactly to the much-desired recovery. Neither my doctor nor the people in my environment thought of healing as possible. But I didn‘t want to resign myself to the disease; I refused to just get on with it, I didn‘t want to learn to accept it as part of me for it wasn‘t, I didn‘t want to stay a client.
My approach was first formed in my reflections: “The student is closest to the pure teaching,” I read. It immediately dawned on me, because the student, growing, is directly in the process of being and becoming. In this sense, so I took rheumatoid arthritis as a challenge to master on my way.
The person concerned with RA is the one, who has to suffer most, who is most associated with it. To me, there is no bigger physical and mental existential closeness than that of the directly affected being. Therefore, to me, the one affected is always the one who can develop the highest motivation to be more enduring and relentless than anyone else in fighting for his or her healing. It is an innermost interest.
So that meant the first one up to do something was me! My healing is my very own interest! And over time, I became my coach!**
So I formulated my own rather-the-better-than-the-latter-sentence: “If it doesn‘t cause the one whom it concerns immediately and existentially to mobilize all possible powers (including the further development and further learning), then how should it cause the one less concerned (indirectly due to professional or/and other interests) to take any action at all?” From then on, I stood up for my goals more effectively than others could have ever done for me.
As very useful for healing, fundamental questions that I kept persistently asking myself turned out to be: “Yes fine, but how? And when? And where?” With their help, I’ve found the answers and insights from which the HeilÜben descends.
My next post I can do this, you can do it, everybody can do it, it is possible! is coming soon!
*Petermann, Franz, Niebank, Kay und Scheithauer, Herbert, Entwicklungswissenschaft, Springer 2003
** also Cohn, Ruth C., Cohn, Ruth C., Farau, Alfred, Gelebte Geschichte der Psychotherapie, Klett Cotta 1984