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Symptom and Significance

  Beverley Kane, MD
Copyright © 2004-2021 Beverley Kane
In The "Unknown" Reality, Seth describes a race of beings who, although possessed of
bodies, were barely focused in physical reality. Because this race would appear to us as if sleeping,
Seth called them sleepwalkers. Their bodies lived in harmony with the environment and were not
saddled with negative beliefs of disease or limitation. In all his material, Seth stresses the continuity
between our waking selves and our dreaming selves. We have literally dreamed up our bodies.
Psychologist Arnold Mindell recognizes that both dreams and illness come from the
ethereal body or dreambody, which communicates by using its own repertoire of metaphors. The
thesaurus of symbols is unique to the individual and cannot be generalized in books or interpreted
by an external observer. Using Mindell's technique, process work, the symptom is taken at face
value, amplified, and allowed to speak for itself. By working with the symptom as with a dream
image, associations to the subconscious can be revealed. 
In the chapter The Body's Poetics of Illness in his book Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore
says, "The body is the soul presented in its richest and most expressive form." Having manifested
in physical reality, the soul is nearly undivided in its agenda for the body, as evident in the infant
body's instinctual foci – eat, sleep, eliminate, play. As the personality develops, social agendas
compete within an increasingly divided Self. Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli developed
psychosynthesis to reintegrate the divisions. Psychosynthesis makes explicit the multiplicity of
roles within the individual psyche – Mother, Wife, Career Woman, Little Girl, Church Lady,
Adventurer, Goddess, Politician. Each subpersonality is internally consistent, legitimate in its
existence and in its demands from the whole Self. Many disease processes arise from slugfests
among the subpersonalities. For example, some cases of unexplained infertility have been resolved
by mediation between The Little Girl, who wants to stay a child herself; the Career Woman, who
values her career over family responsibilities; and the Mother, who initiated the attempt to get
pregnant but was overruled by the other two.
Seth, Mindell, and Moore point out that symptomatic cure is not necessarily the body's
prime objective. Cure can be a welcome side-effect of psychic growth, but if symptomatic relief
attempts to do an end run around the entity's chosen challenges, the dreambody is not assuaged.
Implicit in Moore's distinction between cure and care is the idea that some conditions, like obesity
and depression, may serve an important purpose. The commonly recognized purpose of secondary
gain – sustaining an illness for attention, avoidance, special status, or disability checks – is itself a
symptom of a more fundamental need based on identifiable underlying beliefs.
In these cases, superficial curative attempts are not only destined to fail, but serve to short-
circuit the process of grasping the purpose, meaning, and gift of the affliction. Such conditions
cannot be amputated from the soul without incurring a profound sense of loss or risking psychic
collapse. When cure appears as an unattainable goal, as in terminal illnesses like AIDS and cancer,
the journey itself is often the reward.
Seth tells us that if the entity is determined to die, all medical attempts at cure will
ultimately fail. If the body is cured of one illness, it will promptly invent another. Each person
chooses the method and moment of death, and in dying, illness is not inevitable. Many a person
passes into her 90s with hardly a sick day in her life and expires while merrily mulching her
marigolds.
Deciphering the Message Discovering the Metaphor
All illness is meaningful although its meaning may never be translatable into entirely rational
terms. The point is not to understand the cause of the disease, then solve the problem, but to get
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