Saturday, March 15, 2008


Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and
Elissa Meininger
November 17, 2005

One of the most satisfying things about the natural healing arts is that when you are thoroughly committed to its principles, you discover a contentment you can never find in modern medicine. Natural healing is about making people whole. It’s about arranging all the elements of your life to be as supportive as possible in all ways so that when you pass from this life, you do so at peace with yourself and the world around you. It’s not about fighting off the evils of disease or postponing the grim reaper no matter what the cost. And it certainly isn’t about diagnosing some disease and declaring yourself a victim of that disease, a label you must carry through life like a scarlet letter branded on your forehead.

The worst part of having a drinking problem is giving the behavior a name with the implication that once you have been branded an alcoholic, the next unspoken thought is “always an alcoholic”. Softening this branding by claiming those who have stopped drinking are “recovering” alcoholics, is just sliding into another form of discrimination, believing that we are nothing more the diseases we suffer and are life-long victims.

The plain fact of the matter is that all of us have issues that involve emotional, spiritual and physical components. We all need to establish the parameters of how we shall live out our lives. Those of us who want to maximize our lives learn to wrestle with, in a positive manner, those issues which make life less than perfect. To claim that we are all victims of disease or victims of situations that scar us for life is about feeling sorry for ourselves and not embracing life to the fullest.

A good example of how not to fall into this trap is something my writing partner, Elissa, experienced. She was so poisoned by mercury from her dental amalgams, she was in pain for months on end, trying to detox it from her system. Pain killers were out of the question, and when her spirits were particularly low, she’d muster what little sense of humor she had, call her naturopath and say, “Skip the rest of the herbs, send the hemlock”. In return, knowing that she was at the end of her rope emotionally, he, being a true blue naturopath of the best kind, would ask her, “What is the gift?” This was a signal for her to embrace her suffering so she could fully examine the lessons pain and suffering could teach her about the value of life, the learning of patience, and other deeply spiritual issues, so that when the suffering was over, she would be a much wiser person, more ready to really live life to the fullest.

How many of us have known people who have suffered a great deal and have become incredibly wonderful people? How many of us have taken the trouble to surround ourselves with a positive support system and how many of us have arranged to have good things come our way because we have become positive thinkers and doers? These are all important issues that when we are caught in the throws of suffering, might be worth thinking about.

When I suggested to Elissa that we provide information from my colleagues in Orthomolecular Medicine about how they successfully treat alcoholism through nutrition, Elissa quickly pointed out that having been trained in Transactional Analysis back in the 1970’s, she was well aware that TA practitioners were not into naming diseases, either, and, in fact, didn’t consider alcoholism a disease at all.

Created by Eric Berne, MD, Transactional Analysis is a system of analyzing people’s patterns of behavior. It became the first of several therapeutic models that is particularly adaptable to self-help by lay people. Central to its core philosophy is that the client has the capacity to change and that the teacher-therapist is largely there to assist the client in taking charge of his/her own healing. In allopathic psychiatry and similar therapies, the therapist’s role is to diagnose a “disease” and be the authority figure who helps the “patient” become more well adjusted, though rarely healed.

When it was introduced in the 1960’s, TA revolutionized our understanding of what really goes on during our most basic social interactions. Best selling books such as “Games People Play”, “I’m OK, You’re OK”, “Success Through Transactional Analysis”, and “Born to Win” were on everyone’s coffee tables and the concepts of TA was quickly adopted into common usage. Everyone was analyzing “games”, discussing “life-scripts”, giving and receiving positive “strokes” and making jokes about who was more “OK” than somebody else.

Back then Elissa would have been delighted to add to her TA knowledge information about nutritional approaches that support the health of people who’d been trashed out by too much alcohol. She pointed out that to a TA counselor, the goal is to teach the client about the principles and practical methods of clarifying true emotions, develop useful information about how to run you own life, clean up old baggage from the past without going on what she calls an archeological expedition to rehash how much you hate your mother or other old anger that has yet to be resolved. Establishing a good diet to improve and maintain better health would certainly be a major part of such a health-promoting plan of action. In addition, it can improve a person’s state of mind, as malnourishment can lead to depression and other emotional imbalances, not to mention muddled thinking.

Sorting out the various elements of how a person came to have problems with alcohol is something TA counselors have had a great deal of success with because so many of the issues involved, are basically reviewing all the elements of a person’s life that may need to be updated. In fact, most people, once they understand TA, go over a checklist every now and again to keep on target to make sure they are maximizing their lives based on constantly updated information.

Since discussions about Transactional Analysis, and how to use it to deal with alcohol issues can get complicated in a short column like ours, Elissa suggests that readers interested in learning more about it, might like to read two books by TA’s premier alcohol treatment expert, Claude Steiner. Even though written in the 1970’s they are

1, Games Alcoholics Play: The Analysis of Life Scripts – (Random House, 1974)
2, Healing Alcoholism – originally published by Grove Press in 1971 – Now available as a free download

A book that I recommend about the nutritional approach to alcoholism is Food and Behavior by Barbara Reed Stitt. Barbara was one of the first parole officers in the country who put her charges on a good diet and saved most of them from further jail time. Knowing that diet can change criminal behavior should give you some indication of the power of good nutrition. It should also prepare you for the following Treatment Protocol for Alcoholism from Dr. Abram Hoffer, who, along with Linus Pauling is the father of orthomolecular medicine.

We include the full press release of July 1, 2005 from the Orthomolecular News Service.

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