Illness

The Inner Flame

By John Diamond, M.D.

To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.
— Walter Pater

The start of all illness is the loss of the inherent will to be well. In fact, I believe that the illness itself is this loss of the will to be well, just differently manifested depending on various lesser etiological factors.

I have found that the will to be well is greatly diminished some years before cancer is diagnosed. It is this diminution in Life Energy which enables the other potential causes to have their effect – for example smoking, diet, trauma, etc. Using Freud as an example, he himself frequently acknowledged that the cigars he smoked were the cause of his cancer. And time after time he was admonished and exhorted by his friends and medical attendants to give it up. But, except for very short periods, he persisted until his death.

This is an example, unfortunately not an atypical one, of the effects of the loss of the will to be well, of a diminution of Life Energy. Even if the surgery had been successful and the cancer completely eradicated, Freud would still have been basically ill, for surgery does nothing to actuate the spirit, what Freud himself described as Eros, the drive for life.

The basic illness, the loss of the will to be well, affects the entire family. This is why every serious illness is a family problem and must always be addressed as such.

In my very first weeks as a doctor nearly forty-five years ago I was involved in the treatment of two young men in adjoining hospital beds, both paraplegic; the same diagnosis. They both developed the same infection, and they were both given the same antibiotic. But within a week or so one had recovered but the other had died. When I asked the senior doctor why, he replied that some had it and some hadn’t. He didn’t say any more about the “It,” but I realized then that this is what really mattered, not the antibiotics, not all the other treatments, as valuable as they may be. Basically, I had to learn about the “It” and how to encourage it. This I called Life Energy, and it has been, increasingly, the focus of my research and therapeutic endeavors ever since.

It was obvious that this was the essential difference between those two young men. The one who recovered was always bright and cheerful, genuinely so – not pretending. When I walked in the ward, he would be glad to see me and would give me a friendly welcome, as he gave everybody else. He continued his relationship with his girlfriend; in fact soon afterward they became engaged. He pursued his correspondence courses intensely, he did his exercises dedicatedly, and, perhaps most of all, he was solicitous and caring for his fellow patients. In spite of the terrible trauma he had suffered, he had “It,” he had high Life Energy, he had the will to be well.

And this is exactly what the other poor man lacked. He was always a misery, never smiling, never friendly, always complaining, wouldn’t do his correspondence courses, wouldn’t do his exercises. He broke off with his girlfriend and increasingly turned away from his fellow patients. No “It.” So with the same stress, the same infection, he succumbed whereas the other survived.

I realized the “It” was what really mattered. Without the “It” there may be treatment of the symptoms, of the particular illness even, but not of the deep illness, the one basic illness which is common to every serious disease, the illness in the soul – the loss of the will to be well.

Only when there is great enthusiasm for life, only when the Life Energy is high, can the Healing Power within bring about the true cure. Life Energy, the drive for life and for love, is our greatest gift. It is this that must be actuated and enhanced, for only then can true healing ever occur.

A woman was diagnosed as having severe myasthenia gravis, and thymectomy was recommended as her only hope, drugs having failed. One day she came to the realization, she described it as a blinding flash of insight, that she had the power within herself to cure herself. She stopped her medication, in spite of medical protests, and started an active program of visualization, and she furthermore completely confounded her doctors by taking up running. Some ten years later she was still completely symptom-free – all because she raised her Life Energy, rekindled her will to be well.

There were two men with amylotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal disease. One resisted all efforts on my part and others to activate his will. He told me quite bluntly that he just wanted to survive thirteen more months, because if he were alive then he would come into a large sum of money which he had left for his wife in his will. If he died before that, his widow would receive nothing. He died thirteen months and a few days later. He measured out his desire to live so very accurately and tragically.

Then there was the other man with the same illness, who when I saw him was in a far worse physical condition. He had given up his work and spent his days watching television, smoking, and drinking beer, waiting to die, wanting to die. He stayed but two or three days with me, and this time was devoted intensively to actuating his will to be well through music and other acts of Creativity. Soon after that his footdrop, which had prevented him from even walking well, had virtually disappeared and he was able to start running. He has confounded his doctors by being still alive and still running some twenty years later. And of course he stopped smoking and drinking – for, at last, he wanted to be well.

I like to imagine that each of us has an inner flame burning inside, almost like a fireball of passionate enthusiasm for life. But all too frequently an event occurs which is taken negatively, which is perceived as a trauma. And this stress has the effect of, as it were, turning down the heat of the inner flame.

This occurs many, many times to us throughout our lives. Nearly always the flame quickly burns bright again. But sometimes it does not, and now we are in a state of lowered Life Energy and we are predisposed to illness. And every illness has what I call a particular disease diathesis, a particular aspect of the inner flame problem that is specific for each chronic illness. So to really cure a serious illness, the inner flame must be reactivated generally, and also specifically in terms of the specific diathesis for that illness. For only when the will to be well is strong, only when the Life Energy is high, can true healing take place. For only then can there be Creativity: the best choices consciously and unconsciously for health, for life, and for love.

With the technique of Life Energy Analysis one can determine the precise trauma that caused the inner flame problem, and then, by invoking many modalities, including Creativity, turn it around and transmute it into the wholehearted embracing of life.

If a person has no will for himself to be well then he cannot have it for anyone else. Over the years I have investigated and researched a large number of patients and clients in both my own practice and in those of many other practitioners in many different areas of the healing arts. In at least ninety percent I have found that there is an inner flame problem, the will to be well is reduced. And even if there appears to be no illness, it may often be a question of time, for the diathesis has been established, the negativity is working. So whatever the practitioner does, if it is really to help the sufferer, it must first actuate the will. In fact, to do this and nothing more is very often quite enough. Once the Life Energy is flowing, once the Healing Power is actuated, the body itself so often makes the right choices for health and life.

But furthermore, I have found among practitioners, as with their patients, that about ninety percent of them also have an inner flame problem. And this not only prevents them from relieving it in their patients but also prevents them from even diagnosing it. The rekindling of the inner flame must be the primary aim of the practitioner, for himself and his patients.