The Third Side of the Triangle
(Excerpted from The International Journal of Applied Kinesiology and Kinesiologic Medicine, Vol. 12)
I first became aware of Dr. Goodheart’s work, Applied Kinesiology, back in 1973 after I had already been practicing as a psychiatrist for many years. From the very beginning, I was interested in the psychological and the psychiatric aspects of Applied Kinesiology as I realized it could give us instant access to the unconscious. We have known through thousands of years of Chinese medicine that there is a relationship between the acupuncture meridians and the organs. But it took the genius of George Goodheart to show a relationship between the organs and the muscles and to connect all three, to develop a system in which a particular muscle and an organ are connected to each other through the acupuncture meridians.
Over some years, starting about 1975, I delineated precisely which particular emotional state was associated with each acupuncture meridian, and I eventually wrote up this work in my book Life Energy (1). Where that book was also very valuable is that it was, to my knowledge, the first time that these basic emotions had been accurately defined. (There is some mention of them in the early Chinese acupuncture writings, but it’s not comprehensive, nor is it necessarily applicable to us in our language). If you examine the dictionary definitions, they switch back and forth: for example, if you look up “sad” it will say “unhappy,” if you look up “unhappy” it will say “sad.” But neither of them tell you what these two emotions really are. The clue to their underlying meaning was in the etymology of the words. I had studied etymology at that time for nearly thirty years and was able to use my experience of the field to define the emotions for each of the acupuncture meridians.
So now we had this wonderful connection of muscle, organ and emotion: the three sides of the triangle were there. We already knew from Goodheart’s work that if somebody had an impaired liver function, then the related muscle would be involved. And vice versa: if the person had an impairment with this muscle (from a physical trauma, for example), then there would be a corresponding energy impairment of the function of the liver, mediated between the two by the liver meridian. But my work showed that whether there was impaired function of the muscle or the organ, there would will also be an impairment of the specific emotion that is part of the meridian. In this case of the liver, the emotion is happiness. So, if the pectoralis major sternal division is strong and the liver is functioning properly (as Goodheart showed the two are connected at some level), then there will always be the state of happiness. But if there’s some impairment of the muscle primarily and secondarily of the organ (or the other way round) there will also be an impairment of the “happiness” associated with the liver meridian, so that now the person will be in a state of unhappiness. It worked the other way, too. If the problem is primarily with the emotional state, then it’s going to have this effect on the muscle and this effect on the organ. And furthermore, you could treat the emotional state by working with the associated muscle or organ.
That’s where the work was about 1976–77. We now had an understanding of psychosomatic medicine: organs and muscles, and emotions connected by and relating to the associated meridian. It all went together. The triangle was complete.
There are what I call “attributes” associated with particular acupuncture meridian points. Over the years I have found about 250 such attributes. I use the term “attributes,” rather than problem, because the emotional aspects of each of the meridian points can be either positive or negative. For example, if someone’s large intestine 4 is not negative at a given moment, then it means that they do not regard themselves with low self worth.
The 250 or more acupuncture points are like stars in the firmament all around the person who comes to see me, as they start to metaphorically communicate, verbally or nonverbally, be it in their walk, their gestures, their speech, or their facial expression. All of the sudden, one star will start to twinkle brighter and then another and another. Very quickly I will have half a dozen or more problems to deal with. I work with the most basic of these and then assess the Life Energy at the end. If it is high, I leave it – if not I do some more work.
All these particular stars are old friends to me because I know them so well. I know how to play with them and to use them. I do not regard them as indictments. I almost regard them as fun or as things to overcome. I don’t take them too seriously. As George Goodheart says: “Find it, fix it, forget it.”
I do not put any particular moral judgment or indictment on the fact that someone has a problem, it is just a problem to be overcome. These problems are just follies, or stupidities, or wrong thinkings, or misprocessings, and not to be regarded as any assault on the person, or as an indictment. Very often, when you see them clearly, you can just laugh them away. The sum total of all such glitches (meridian problems) at any one moment, and the sum total of all the non-glitches (meridian virtues) at any given moment adds up to the assessment of the Life Energy of the person at that instant. And we may have many glitches. We can then correct them and see how much of the Life Energy has gone up in the process.
There are many ways to correct these problems. You can treat the particular acupuncture point, you can give a supplement or herb to improve the functioning of the organ associated with the particular meridian, or you may work on the muscle linked with that meridian. There are affirmations to say, there are visualizations, and, most important of all, there is giving the patient/student the knowledge of what is in his unconscious. Very often, that knowledge itself is enough, for, if given just the right way, it should be enough to make the change that overcomes the problem.
Some meridian problems are more important than others, more basic. For example, there is a particular circulation sex meridian problem that I call the body shell problem. People who [have this problem] are frightened that somebody will get inside them through an orifice and harm them. Such people are stressed, that is they test weak, if you put your finger, or they put their finger, in their mouth (taking care not to touch anything, however, as that is a different test). The same thing applies if you put a pencil tip just outside their ear and then just inside: as soon as the pencil would go inside the ear, invading that space, they would test weak. This has all sorts of relevance their sexual difficulties.
However, underneath the body shell problem, there is a heart meridian problem which I call the pane of glass problem. People with this problem will test weak when you say to them “I love you,” or any other positive remark addressed to them. But put a pane of glass between you and them and say the same thing, and they will now test strong, that is they are no longer stressed by the remark. It is too much of an invasion: they feel as though someone is threatening them with a display of love. They feel naked, vulnerable and hence the need for a pane of glass to protect them. Treating the body shell problem will not correct the pane of glass problem, but treating the pane of glass problem will correct the body shell problem, as the pane of glass problem is the more basic of the two.
Now, there is an even deeper problem that lies under the body shell problem. It is another heart meridian problem, which relates to what I call fusion. That is, wanting to open your heart to become one with another the person with whom you love. This is one of the basic problems in marriages: the inability to fuse and to come together to create a new, single entity. (This is incidentally, I believe, also one of the causes for attention deficit disorder. The parents do not want to fuse with each other: they want the child to be disturbed so that they can use this disturbance to keep them apart from one another). If you correct the fusion problem, by whatever means, for example, awareness, affirmations, the specific acupuncture point, and/or the specific herb and supplement – and music, then you automatically correct the more superficial pane of glass and body shell problems. So I don’t bother with those, I just go straight to the fusion.
You well may ask why I don’t reveal the acupuncture point and the herb and supplement. The reason is I do not want “instant fusion correction” to become part of the Meridian Therapy rubric. It should only be taught to those dedicated, appropriately qualified, practitioners who, have first had their own fusion problem dealt with. And more – to those who have been healed so that their desire is only ever altruistic and never for self-aggrandizement.
There are some basic topics fundamental to my work that I must mention. The first is the concept of Life Energy – the healing power within. Although I believe I coined the term, the concept of Life Energy has been around for thousands of years. Hippocrates, for example, called it the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, the healing power of nature, while Paracelsus spoke of it as Archaeus. Elsewhere it is called Prana or Chi. It is Spirit, it is Love. Life Energy is intimately connected with health in the broadest sense, in that underneath the specific symptoms of any particular illness we will always find a diminution of Life Energy. Therefore, if we want to help overcome the root of the disorder, whether mental or physical, we have to raise the Life Energy of the patient. In other words, the only true healing comes from within, by raising the Life Energy. This principle is basic to my work.
A very effective way of assessing the level of Life Energy is by analyzing the specific meridian problems that the person has at a given moment. Having delineated them, the person is able to overcome them by applying any, or a combination, of the techniques I have already discussed (affirmations, visualizations, herbs, supplements, etc.), so that his Life Energy is raised. Once that happens, his innate healing power is free to do its work.
One vital issue is the fact that about 95% of the people who come to see me do not want to be healthy (and this is a finding that many therapists confirm). Though the patients want to be rid of their particular pain, they do not really want to be healthy. They do not want to embrace health, love, and life (they are all basically the same thing). Until this problem is addressed, the therapist always has an uphill battle. His focus is not on fighting the disease, but rather on fighting the unconscious desire of the patient to be sick. The patient is not on side with him, working with him to overcome the problem. Indeed, the patient cannot really be said to be cured until this desire for sickness is turned around.
Another major topic is one that I introduced in my first book Your Body Doesn’t Lie (2). It is that everything outside us and inside us, at both a conscious and an unconscious level, is impinging, influencing, and affecting our acupuncture system and therefore our emotional state, our organs, muscles and tissues. A facial expression, a note of music, a thought, a symphony, a conductor, a performer, a trumpet, a color, a shape: everything has its effect – however subtle – on us. Once you realize this, a whole world of research opens up before you. That is why I have spent so many years researching, among other things, art, photography, music, dance, musicology, anthropology, etymology, and philosophy. Every thought, every desire, every word – each and every stimulus that we ever encounter in our lives – has its effect on us. And we can assess all of these stimuli via the testing, for each either raises our Life Energy through a specific enhancement of meridian emotional states, or does the opposite. The potential for this mode of Applied Kinesiological testing, done correctly, is enormous.
An example comes to mind. I remember many years ago being asked by an anthropologist, who had just come back from South America, to help try to work out, through the artifacts they had found from an unknown tribe, whether this tribe was related to two other known tribes. Virtually all the artifacts from this unknown tribe had the same meridian attributes as the artifacts from one tribe but not from the other. Therefore, I was able to tell them, as they later confirmed, that these two tribes were related but the third one was not. The scope of what is open for investigation is limitless. The consequences for knowledge obtained by testing, used correctly, could be the basis of a whole new discipline that could collaborate with almost any academic department at any university.
One remarkable feature of AK testing is that it has given me immediate feedback of my intuition. Usually in psychiatry, when the patient says something, you form some idea of what it means and then decide what to do with it, but you have very little feedback to ever tell you whether you were right. In psychoanalysis, for example, the whole process is the endless interpreting of the person being analyzed: what the analyst believes the person is really thinking. However, you have no way of knowing whether you were right except by observing over time, and even then you very rarely sure whether or not other factors have caused the changed. But with the testing I can get an idea of whether this is what the patient was really feeling, and instantly find out whether I was right in my hypothesis or not.
Over the years I suppose I have done about seven million tests and with virtually every one I have formed a hypothesis and then seen whether it was correct or not by instant feedback. The testing is a tool that no other psychiatrist in the world has ever had, as far as I know, although when I tried to talk to psychoanalysts about this, nobody would believe me (even though my findings to a very large extent confirmed the deepest teachings of psychoanalysis). Nevertheless, I believe that ultimately the technique will be of enormous benefit to those psychiatrists who really want to refine their clinical intuition, for every clinician functions at his best with his clinical intuition at its highest peak.
I do not feel the same way if I work only physical Applied Kinesiology on the person’s body by correcting the muscles. I don’t get this same thrill, obviously because this is not my background. I would not expect someone who is coming at the psychology primarily through the bodywork to have the same experience, but I do doubt whether they get the same thrill working physically.
I feel that working with someone’s self-worth problem is somehow more exciting than working on his tensor fascia latae, neuro-lymphatics, and neuro-vascular reflexes and so forth, because I think I am getting deeper into the person and learning more about them as a totality. I think I am getting closer to his innermost workings, closer to his vital core, and that’s where I love to be – in that deep, deep area, at the very essence of the person. To me this is very thrilling, very exciting, and very humbling, in that it’s such a great privilege to be so deeply inside him.
Many years ago, when I was working in a hospital, there was a teenage boy who died in the operating room after about 14 hours of open-heart surgery. Because he died under anesthesia, the case had to be reported to the coroner who wanted to examine his heart. In those days, the coroner’s court was right at the other end of the city from the hospital. I was given the job of taking the boy’s heart to the coroner’s court. It was wrapped up in newspaper and I sat on the bus going to the coroner’s court holding this boy’s heart in my hands.
In a way, this is how I feel whenever I work in terms of finding out people’s meridian attributes or meridian weaknesses. It is like I am so close to their heart. It is like their heart is in my hand. I understand them. I understand at quite a deep level the very essence of them. That to me is the beauty of this work, which is the great gift I have been given, on the one hand by George Goodheart and Applied Kinesiology and on the other hand by all the wonderful psychiatrists I have known personally or through their writings over the years – all coming together.
When you really get to the heart of a person’s problems, when you go through whatever number of glitches, it always comes down in the end, at the acupuncture level to the lung meridian, the first meridian, the most basic: and it also always comes down to the mother. The basic problem, the basic misprocessing, whatever word you want to use, is not feeling beloved by one’s own mother. So all of my work, comes down in the end to this basic core problem of not feeling beloved by one’s mother. This is not to be confused with the issue of loving one’s mother. That is easy. Much deeper than that is believing that she loves you and loves you always. Overcoming this problem is the essence of life. The end point of all of this work, I believe, has to be of overcoming this anguish of the human condition. All the meridian points, all the little stars in the sky, come down to this one blazing sun, which is our own individual mothers.
I am frequently asked what I think about a certain technique that is now called Meridian Therapy. Well, I started Meridian Therapy! My work is based on proper Applied Kinesiology testing of the meridians. I personally have no experience with any of these other Meridian Therapies. None of these innovators have ever approached me to show or ask me about their work, which is always derived from mine, and I am always curious as to why they do not. So, I have stayed categorically disassociated from all these other Meridian Therapies because I do not know them.
I love the unconscious and have worked there, lived there, for many years, and I have not only a great belief in it but a great respect for it. I believe that you have to approach it with awe, respectfully, admiringly, and lovingly because to me it is the very heart, or essence, of the person. It is not something to be trampled on or approached without deep respect. I must stress that testing for the emotions is far different from Applied Kinesiology testing for other muscles. It is another mode of testing with many variables to be controlled in the subject, the environment, and most particularly within the tester. At the very least, the standards for good psychotherapy should be maintained. The minimal criterion before one can practice psychotherapy are most importantly, that one has one’s own unconscious examined and understood, so that you come relatively free to the patient or client.
There must be at least the same rigor of self-improvement before one goes to work with someone in meridian therapy. There needs to be more control of the therapist than in psychotherapy because the results can be so dramatic, so immediate, so powerful, and therefore so potentially damaging if not done correctly. It seems to me therefore only fair that there has to be a minimum standard. All good psychotherapists have themselves been in good psychotherapy, and that must be the standard. This is much more than a 100-hour basic course. It has to be seriously looking at oneself, at one’s motives and one’s own meridian problems. This is very important, as the essence of good therapy is the deep unconscious intention of the therapist. It has to be examined, refined, and encouraged.
This is the basis of all good treatment regardless of the modality. But it is nowhere more important than in this particular work. When the sufferer comes to you with his very heart and soul offered openly, trustingly, courageously, to you for you to help, there must be the greatest respect, the greatest humility, the highest aspiration, the highest of intention.
John Diamond M.D., Life Energy: Using the Meridians to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Emotions, New York: Paragon House, 1985.
John Diamond, M.D., Your Body Doesn’t Lie, New York: Warner Books, 1979.