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Symptom and Significance

  Beverley Kane, MD
Copyright © 2004-2022 Beverley Kane
close enough to the disease to restore the particular [spiritual] connection with life at which it
hints. We need to feel the teeth of the god within the illness in order to be cured by the disease. In a
very real sense, we do not cure diseases, they cure us, by restoring our [spiritual] participation in
—  Thomas Moore
The Care of the Soul
Step 1: Find the Gift: Examine Reactive Behaviors
We begin with the assumption that, far from being a punishment for something we did
wrong, illness is the dreambody's gift to a neglected aspect of the Self. In attempting to unwrap the
gift, we first ask: what does the symptom cause me to do differently from my every day routine?
What does it make me do? What does it prevent me from doing? Generally the behavior with which
we react to the condition is the thing that we needed to do in order to have avoided the condition in
the first place. The modified behavior is the gift we needed all along. Often the behavior is
comprised of impulses that we wanted to act on, but repressed in favor of the usual litany of
shoulds and shouldn'ts. Impulses can be identified by saying, "This illness (or accident or
symptom) enables me to ..." or "This condition prevents me from ..." After a tonsillectomy, the
child "must" eat ice cream. With eczema on our hands, we can't do the dishes. At the simplest level,
most illnesses force or enable us to drop everything we're doing and rest. Often rest is all that is
necessary, and we find that into those recesses flow new insights and new directions.
Observe, too, how an illness tends to redefine personal relationships. Sometimes it takes a
cold to make us feel we deserve to lie in bed and be waited on. In other cases, illness permits us to
guiltlessly slam the door on the world and tell managers, spouses, and creditors to go soak their
heads. One sheepish father, himself a physician, told me the only time he feels he can justifiably
distance himself from his energetic and demanding preschoolers is when he has a headache.
Pleading, "Daddy doesn't feel well," he shuts himself in his room.
Some version of, "Not tonight, Dear, I have a headache" makes it easier to opt out of
burdensome obligations. In our society it seems necessary to invoke physical illness to take a
mental health day from work, renege on a social commitment, or get out of doing homework.
Having been conditioned to believe we must use illness to validate our needs, it's no wonder the
body becomes broken on cue.
Seth states, "In the overall development of the individual, an illness may also be used as a
method to achieve another, constructive, end. In such a case belief would also be involved: Such a
person would have to believe that an unhealthy condition was the best way to serve another
purpose." (NOPR 620 10/11/72.)
In my experience, one of the most fundamental readjustments we make in the course of an
illness is a change in our beliefs about our deservedness, especially of love. The more severe the
illness, the more amazed we are at the outpouring of love from those around us and the more
willing we are to accept love. Prayer, faith healing, and even Western medicine in its purest form
transmute the emotional energy of love into a belief in our worthiness and into the energy the
dreambody will use to regenerate physical health.
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