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odywork & Somatic Therapies
 

There is a wide range of attitudes among practitioners about how they view their role. Some think of themselves as healers or therapists, working with the whole person through the body. Certain approaches (e.g., the Rosen Method) are explicitly focused on engaging the person on the emotional level and working with emotional issues in the context of the body with subtle verbal suggestions. Others may take a more mechanistic approach toward working with the body. They may not wish to engage the client on the emotional level at all but rather concentrate on physical techniques. Some see themselves as facilitators, some as educators.

There is wide variation among practitioners, even within the specific approaches, as to how much verbal exchange takes place and the degree to which the practitioner is available for emotional or psychological support. Finally, some approaches require a series of sessions over a period of time (e.g., Rolfing, Hellerwork), which naturally fosters a therapeutic relationship and requires communication, instruction, and feedback. On the other hand, many European or Western forms of massage are complete in themselves as one session and do not really require any communication between practitioner and client. It is not unusual to experience an entire massage without a word being spoken.

A Doctor's Story

A patient was brought to our intensive care unit from another hospital emergency room, where he had been given a hundred milligrams of Thorazine (an antipsychotic drug) intramuscularly. Thorazine has a faster and greater effect when injected than when taken orally, but it also has a greater chance of lowering the blood pressure. This man had been given a very high dosage—and they hadn't noticed that he was drunk. You never mix alcohol and major antipsychotics because they are additive in effect.

When the patient arrived, the medication was just taking effect. He went under before the eyes of the admitting personnel, becoming less responsive and groggy, then turning gray. When I arrived, the pulse was so weak that I couldn't feel it and the blood pressure was 40/0, which indicates a coronary arrest with the imminent danger of croaking. By the time we got him into a room, he was totally unresponsive and just whitish gray, like a person looks just before dying due to lack of oxygen.

I put my knuckle into his sternum and dug in hard to elicit a pain reflex and stimulate adrenaline release, which sometimes can revive a person. Nothing. I didn't have the necessary medical equipment to do some of the things that Western medicine can do because this was a psychiatric unit. Here I was, looking at a guy who was going to have a cardiac arrest at any moment. I could stand by and watch him die or I could do something—anything. I suddenly remembered . . . a primary revival point and the most important one for loss of consciousness. So I pulled the patient's shoes off and, without explaining to the nurses what I was doing, proceeded to put my thumbs almost through his feet at these points.

It took about two minutes, three at the most. He started moving around a bit at first and then moaning a little. By the end of those few minutes, he had sat up in his chair and was talking to us. He had a strong pulse and a blood pressure of 90/40. There was an amazed look on the nurses' faces as they asked what I had done. I said I had worked with the acupressure points to mobilize reserve energy. I don't know if that made any sense to them, but they were amazed and happy that the patient was alive. Meanwhile, by the way, a priority code ambulance—with sirens and lights and the whole bit—was on its way to pick up a supposedly dying patient.21

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About The Author
William Collinge, PhD, MPH is a consultant, author, speaker and researcher in the field of integrative health care. He has served as a scientific review panelist for the National Institutes of Health in mind/body medicine, complementary therapies, and health care services; and for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs on breast cancer, prostate cancer, and......more
 
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