Cayce Health Database
COMMENTARY ON MENTAL ILLNESS
[Presented to the Second Annual Symposium of the Medical
Research Division of the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Phoenix, Arizona,
January 13, 1969.]
It is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to
share with you some of the ideas expressed in the Edgar Cayce readings
on mental illness.
My paper is in no sense final, but is rather a report
of research in progress with some indications of the trends we have found
thus far. It is based on a study of 365 cases directly related to
the subject, and numerous other cases to which I was led for supplementary
As a psychologist, it was rather disconcerting to
note that Edgar Cayce did not recommend the services of a psychologist
or psychiatrist in a single case.
In one case (1428-1, M.30) Edgar Cayce was asked,
"Should the advice of any of the previous physicians be followed?" He
replied, "As we find, rather these suggestions that have been made here
Another question was "Would he be benefited by weekly
visits to Dr. Stewart of the Meadowbrook Hospital?" Cayce answered, "As
we find, if these are applied in the manner indicated, it will be better
than hospitalization, better than weekly visits. Dr. Stewart was
It was interesting to note also that Cayce saw a person
as a whole, with mind, body and spirit as a single unit, all so closely
tied that it was not possible for one aspect to be diseased, either physically
or mentally, without the whole person suffering the consequences.
Hence, I have entitled my paper, "A Holistic Theory of Mental Illness."
This point of view is expressed in the following statement from one of
For, the body-physical becomes that which it assimilates
from material nature. The body-mental becomes that which it assimilates
from both the physical-mental and the spiritual-mental. The soul
is all of that the entity is, has been, or may be. (2475-1)
In one case (5210-1, F.22) the patient asked, "Am
I slightly mentally ill?" Edgar Cayce's answer was, "No, save as to who
would be the judge. Every individual is slightly mentally ill to
With this general perspective in mind, let us now
turn to his diagnoses.
The symptoms of the patients I will describe were
the typical symptoms of the psychoses: disorganization of thought, disorientation
in time and space, withdrawal and autistic behavior, depersonalization,
extremes of mood, hallucinations, delusions, etc. Most of the cases
were diagnosed, in the language of the day, as dementia praecox or insanity.
Using a more current system of classification they would be labeled schizophrenic,
manic-depressive, or paranoid.
Most of these patients were brought to the attention
of Mr. Cayce as a last resort. They were grossly disturbed, and
some had been in institutions for many years.
In diagnosing a condition, Mr. Cayce seemed to be
able to tune in to the autonomic and central nervous systems of the person.
He believed that each cell in the body had an awareness of its own, and
that the totality of this awareness constituted mind, with which he was
It was apparent at times that he had a form of visual
perception which extended over the miles. Not only did he perceive
the conditions of internal organs but also external environmental features.
In one case (5167-1, M.30) in which there were lesions
in the brain caused by accidents, Cayce remarked, "My! What a mess!"
In another case (2248-1, F.24), he said, "Yes, the big house is here,
too!"; and in another, (5228-1, M.3 1), "That's where the railroad crosses."
With this description of the physical, mental, and spiritual health of
In order to share with you as broad a perspective
as possible in a short period of time, I thought that instead of discussing
a few cases in detail, it might be more productive to survey the highlights
of many cases and then summarize at the end.
I have abstracted 32 diagnoses which are representative
and contain examples of different aspects of Edgar Cayce's view of mental
illness. They will orient you to his point of view.
1. Prenatal condition which affected glands - especially pineal
and pituitary. Improper coordination between autonomic and cerebrospinal
systems. (4853-1, F. Adult)
2. Growth which causes pressure on pineal gland, thus affecting several
organs. (4849-1, F. Adult)
3. ". . the seat of the trouble [is] where the entrance of the sympathetic
with cerebrospinal and pineal nerves enter the brain. . ." Brain impressions
do not coordinate with sympathetic impressions from the sensory system.
4. Lacerations to womb; also adhesions which affect the nerve system
and bring on hallucinations. (4624-1, F. 45)
5. Blood deficient in its rebuilding force, thus hallucinations. (4519-1,
6. Overtaxing caused incoordination of the sympathetic and cerebrospinal
systems. Engorgement in the 1st and 2nd cervical areas of the spine
and at pineal gland. (4432-1, M. Adult)
7. Birth injury to lumbar and sacral regions of spine - breech birth.
"In later years ... an accident to the end of the spine (four years ago
[on the] sixteenth of September . . . )" which damaged coccyx. (4342-1,
8. Incoordination in the glands of reproduction because of the fall she
had at six years of age which injured the spinal center and produced reflexes
in the pineal gland. (4433-1, F. Adult)
9. Poisons have entered the system from infected tonsils. (4290-1, F.
58) (Cayce said of this patient's nerve system: "This we find, as would
be slangily said, 'all shot,' see?")
10. Injury to spine to coccyx area which destroyed the connections between
systems. (Patient's problem began right after an accident on bicycle 10
years before.) (3223-1, M. 31)
11. "The conditions here, as we find, have been so aggravated by animosities,
and by hates, that we have a deterioration in the nerve force along the
spinal system; so that this is dementia-and now possession, such that
this may appear near to hopeless in this experience." (Edgar Cayce suggests
that emotional stress may destroy nerve tissue, and also that the patient
will have another incarnation in which to improve the situation.) (3315-1,
12. "Extreme nervous tension that overtaxed the system as received through
the sensory forces, until the cells broke here at the 1st cervical." (4097-1,
13. Illness of mind, not so much of body. He cannot respond to
kindness because of experiences. Study and strain. (Patient age
22, completed one year of college.) (5405-1, M. 22)
14. Pressures left in the coccyx, lumbar, and dorsal areas after infection
in the genitive system. Not true dementia, but incoordination.
"Also those surroundings, the environs, those activities have brought
about much of that which is a relative condition." (1428-1, M. 30)
15. "These are the result of chemical and glandular reactions in the
body; producing a deteriorating reaction in nerve impulses." (2614- 1,
F. 3 7)
16. Accident impinged the centers about the 3rd lumbar. This affected
the kidneys and caused uremic poisoning. (4186- 1, M. Adult)
17. "An injury to the coccyx from a fall when only about three and a
half to four years old." This caused glandular dysfunction. (Patient was
age 18 at time of reading.) (2721-1, F. 19)
18. Disconnection or disassociation of sympathetic and cerebrospinal
systems which caused lesions in the brain. Those on whom he is dependent
must bear the burden. There is no hope. (Patient was a 20-year-old
19. Coordination has been severed. There is no hope. (586-1, F.
20. Overtaxation of the system, physically and mentally, caused eruptions
in blood cells. Pressures are "functional, rather than organic in
their nature." (2359-1, M. Adult)
21. A lesion in the lacteal duct and that as coordinating with the organs
of the pelvis. "The reaction to the pineal becomes so severe as
to short-circuit the nerve impulse; carrying or producing a fluttering,
or an engorgement in static waves to the base of the brain." (2465- 1,
22. Pressures on spine from childbirth of her first child.
23. "The body-mind lost control of itself through overtaxing of the body-mind,
combined with a type of fever that was part of the experience when the
body so taxed itself, reducing the body forces to such an extent that
in many centers along the spinal column there came to be less and less
ability for the centers to coordinate between sympathetic and cerebrospinal
nervous systems." (2865-1, F. 31, M. D.)
24. Causes both psychological and pathological." Psychologically,
these have to do with the karma of this body, and those responsible for
the physical body." (3075-1, M. 24)
25. Patient at age 13 joined the Missionary Baptist Church." When
he was baptized he was stricken with a headache which lasted for years."
A physician said that the headaches were caused by masturbation.
Edgar Cayce said that a lesion in the brain centers caused a loss of control.
"The voluntary and involuntary reaction or impulse, as carried in the
white and gray matter of the nervous systems tends in certain centers
to run together and become confusing to the body." (3158-1, M. 37)
26. "It is purely a physical condition, from a pressure existent in the
coccyx end of the spine, affecting directly the organs of the pelvis."
(3415-1, F. 22)
27. Injury to coccyx area and pressure on the brush end of the cerebrospinal
system affects glandular forces. Glands of assimilation not functioning
well. This causes undue development of breasts and other areas.
(3609-1, F. 35)
28. Cellular waste materials not being carried out of the brain.
29. ". . adhesions in the pelvic organs, as directly connected or associated
with the lyden (Leydig) and the pineal glands." (4002-1, F. 28)
30. "With the mental exhaustion of body, through taxation physically
and mentally, there came that almost complete disassociation between sympathetic
and cerebrospinal nervous systems. (5467-1, M. 45)
31. Hereditary tendencies to physical defects in the cerebrospinal nerve
system, so incoordination of systems. (Parents were first cousins.) (5690-1,
32. "There has already been departure of the soul ... no physical help
... may be administered. . ." (5344-1, F. 35)
To summarize the diagnostic material, the following points seem pertinent:
1. Cayce spoke of mental illness as basically a physical problem once
it is manifested. It could be caused by injury, glandular dysfunction,
or emotional stress; but the result was incoordination or a lack of balance
in the system.
The most frequently mentioned incoordination was between
the autonomic and central nervous systems. (Cayce used the term sympathetic
for autonomic.) This was physical, or perhaps chemical, in nature and
occurred most often along the spinal cord in those centers where the two
systems join. The readings are not specific about the details, but
they imply a separation or dysfunction of the synaptic connections.
Cayce mentioned spinal injuries as the cause in many
cases. In several instances, these injuries were confirmed by letters
from the patient or a relative. But he also stated very clearly
that emotional stress could produce the same effect. "This produces,
through these pressures, those spasmodic conditions to the reaction between
the sympathetic and the cerebrospinal system-which has been termed a mental
disorder. The reaction is not mental, but a physical-that acts to,
or on, the mental - so that the reflexes that come through the sympathetic
system are those that prevent a normal impulse from their reaction, causing
that pressure, that condition. . ." (2200-1)
In another reading he was even more specific: "And
thus the nerve forces for the body, this body as any body, any individual,
who makes destructive thought in the body, condemning self for this or
that, will bring, unless there are proper reactions, dissociation or lack
of coordination between [the] sympathetic and cerebrospinal system, and
it may develop any condition which may be purely physical by deterioration
of mental processes and their effect upon organs of the body." (5380-1,
One could not wish for a clearer statement of the
basic premise of psychosomatic medicine, and it was spoken long before
the recent rapid growth of this discipline.
In a few cases, Cayce was asked about the cause of
hallucinations. He described synaptic dysfunctions which resulted
in the reception of messages by the central nervous system which were
not sent by the sensory system. "We have just described how that
the supersensitiveness of the nerve forces opens the body to such influences;
or the body becomes what might be termed a human radio, but in giving
expression to what is heard may often deflect what is actually said, felt
or thought. For, thoughts are things! and they have their effect
upon individuals, especially those that become supersensitive to outside
influences! These are just as physical as sticking a pin in the
When we discuss, in a moment, the treatment programs
Cayce prescribed, we will see even more clearly what he meant by incoordination
between the autonomic and central nervous systems.
2. Another frequently mentioned condition was glandular dysfunctions.
These were caused by prenatal developmental problems, infections, injuries,
incoordination in the autonomic nervous system, etc. The pineal
gland, in particular, was mentioned numerous times.
Cayce implied that this gland included both autonomic
and central nervous system pathways and served a coordinating function.
3. Functional disorders, such as emotional stress, nervous tension, or
"overtaxing" were suggested as common causes of mental illness, but they
were manifested in a physical disorder.
Mental illness then, according to Edgar Cayce, is
caused by either physical, mental, or spiritual imbalance. But regardless
of the precipitating factor, all aspects are affected adversely.
The person is a complete unit which can only function as a whole.
Let us look now at his treatment program.
In order to provide a broad perspective, I have, as
above, abstracted several examples of treatment procedures. Each
was specifically formulated for the particular case. But before
I present these examples, I want to mention that Cayce suggested, in the
majority of cases, that the patients use either a wet cell appliance or
a radio-active appliance as a part of therapy. (These were instruments
which he described in several readings.) It is sufficient for our purposes
here to point out that these appliances provided a low-voltage electrotherapy.
In the wet cell appliance the current passed through a solution which
was usually chloride of gold. Specific areas on the body were designated
for the attachments.
Now, a few examples of prescribed treatments:
- Wet cell appliance carrying vibration of the chloride of gold solution.
(Formula was given and attachments described.) Appliance to be used
three times per week for 30 minutes.
Massage with equal combination of witch hazel and
peanut oil. (Specific areas of massage were indicated.) (1513-1, M.
- Wet cell appliance with chloride of gold and also radio-active
appliance. Massage whole body and suggest "quiet," "peace,"
etc., when the patient is almost asleep. Follow a body-building
diet. Almonds, in small quantities, are good for the body. (271-1,
- Correct adhesions as related to the organs of the pelvis by an
osteopathic gynecologist or the condition may cause deterioration
of nerve plasm. (3475-1, F. 22)
- Wet cell appliance with nickel plate, massage with olive oil and
tincture of myrrh. One drop of Atomidine two days per week to
purify and cleanse the glandular system. (5014-1, M. I 1)
- Take the patient to a place near sun, sand and sea, with pine woods,
and wear as few clothes as possible. (386-1, F.20)
During massage the following suggestion was to be
repeated to the patient. I want to share this statement because
it explains, in part, the function of the appliance.
Now there is being created in the impulses from
the ganglia in the system the normal reaction to the sensory and sympathetic
systems of the body. And this is being normally acted upon by
the vibrations, and the reactions will be a perfectly normal balancing
in the mental, physical and spiritual being of the body...
... It is glands' reaction, and we are changing
these through the vibrations that have been set up; as indicated in
nerve impulses from the ganglia along the cerebrospinal system to
functioning of organs throughout the body. (386-3)
- There is complete disassociation of sympathetic and cerebrospinal
systems. This has caused lesions in the brain and there is little
hope. (Cayce advised those on whom the patient was dependent to bear
the burden.) (4991-1, M. 20)
- Castor oil packs over the liver and umbilicus plexus. This
will relax the system. Deep massage in sacral and lower lumbar
areas. Take Codiron tablets daily until several hundred have
been taken. Radio-active appliance each day for 30 minutes.
Use period of appliance for meditation. Read John 14, 15, 16,
17. (A follow-up letter said that Codiron tablets had been taken off
the market. Edgar Cayce suggested White's Codliver Oil Tablets.)
(1614-1, F. 38)
- Osteopathic adjustments were prescribed regularly. A typical
case was that of a female patient, 27 years old, who had suffered an
injury to the area of the 4th lumbar which caused pressure on the pineal
gland. This was Cayce's diagnosis. The patient was in St.
Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. Cayce prescribed
osteopathic adjustments to relieve pressure in the lumbar area of the
Numerous cases were similar to this one.
Some received results they considered "miraculous." Many others never
tried the treatment.
- Animated ash internally. Also ultraviolet ray and massage.
- "Or the gold may be taken internally in very minute doses, for
the stimulation of those gland secretions that make for creative energies
and forces through the activity of all the glands in the body..."
(915-2, M. 62)
- Other treatments prescribed were:
- Extract of the passion flower to quiet the body
- Colonics to aid eliminations
- Injection of liver abstract
- Submerge in hot water 15-20 minutes, then massage
- Mayblossom bitters
- Turpentine packs over kidneys and pubic area to drain bladder
- Concentrated beef juice
- Jerusalem artichoke - to provide insulin
- Milk and grape diet for three days in. Colors purple and lavender
about the body; also provide music on strings or organ.
I have not exhausted the examples of the various treatments
suggested by Edgar Cayce, but I have mentioned enough of the most common
ones to give you some orientation to his method. Now let me summarize
and comment briefly on the section on treatment.
First of all, let me point out that although there
were frequently many common elements in the treatment programs, they were
very specific for that individual. The exact location of the castor
oil pack was described. The precise amount of medicine was prescribed.
These varied from patient to patient.
Cayce emphasized the importance of carrying out his
instructions to the letter. In subsequent readings on a patient
he would frequently reprimand those in charge for not following instructions
precisely. He knew when they had not, and those who responded acknowledged
that he was right.
Cayce also suggested particular doctors to his patients.
Some of these doctors had never heard of Edgar Cayce, and he, in his waking
state, had never heard of them.
You will remember that Cayce came to believe that
all of us live many lives. He was convinced by the data from his
own readings. In a few cases in which he suggested that the suffering
of the person was karmic - that is, related to other lives and for the
benefit of the person - he seemed to reluctant to prescribe a cure. (3700-1,
He also said that we must pay the price necessary
for our soul development.
Let me summarize the specific treatments Cayce recommended:
- The wet cell appliance. This was suggested in almost all
cases of mental illness.
- Osteopathic adjustments to the spine. This was very frequently
- The radio-active appliance. This was recommended primarily
for patients who were agitated or aggressively acting out.
- Massage. Both deep massage and gentle massage with specific
areas designated and the appropriate oils prescribed. Usually
these were olive oil, peanut oil, and lanolin.
- Cayce strongly emphasized that those who treated the patient must
be sympathetic. He said, ". . the greatest thought that comes
to the mind of man [is] 'somebody cares.' " (3365-1, F. 17)
- Then finally, he recommended numerous specific medicines to suit
the particular needs of each individual patient.
The most important treatment seemed to be the wet
cell appliance, so let me comment briefly on its theory.
This appliance provides low-voltage electrotherapy.
The current passes through a wire immersed in a solution of chloride of
gold. On rare occasions, the readings suggested chloride of silver
or some other solution. Typically, the patient was told to use the
appliance for 30 minutes, three times per week.
Since most all cases included a condition of incoordination
between the central and autonomic nervous systems, the appliance was recommended
to deal with this problem primarily. Edgar Cayce explained its purpose
in the following paragraph from the reading of a 30-year-old woman:
As we may see in a functioning physical organism,
electricity in its incipiency or lowest form is the nearest vibration
in a physical sense to Life itself, for it is the nucleus about each atom
of active force or principle set by the atomic activity of blood pulsation
itself, that begins from the very union of the plasm that creates life
itself in a physical organism. (3950-1)
In another reading he said that the appliance was
the instrument "that would build, as it were, nerve ends so as to form,
in those areas as indicated, connections in nerve plasm." (5088-1, F.
The effect is to create better connections at the synaptic centers, especially
where the central nervous system and the autonomic system join.
The electricity apparently creates nerve plasm or tissue which enlarges
the synaptic knobs and thus improves the connection.
Perhaps this is what happens on a more temporary basis
in electroshock therapy.
This theory makes perfect sense and does not contradict
current thinking relative to neural and synaptic transmission.
It is particularly interesting in light of Cayce's
explanation of hallucinations which I mentioned above. You remember
that he suggested that a misfiring, or spontaneous firing, of a nerve
impulse delivered a message to the central nervous system which was not
sent by the sensory system. Most doctors are familiar with the phantom
limb phenomenon in which a person "feels" pain in a foot that has been
amputated. Apparently this is also a case of a spontaneous firing
of a nerve impulse or a bad connection somewhere higher in the system.
Space does not permit us to look more closely at some
of the other aspects of the treatment program, each of which must be thoroughly
researched. I believe, however, that the wet cell appliance is the
Please note once again that Cayce's treatments involved
the whole person. He provided for the building of nerve tissue,
the cleansing of the system, the stimulation of glands and blood circulation,
proper diet, sympathetic attendants, and also a time for meditation and
What about the outcome of these cases? Was treatment
Edgar Cayce, after 33 years of readings, said the
following in a letter to one of his patients: "Wherever there has been
the wholehearted cooperation of everyone concerned, we have not found
a single instance where a definite change for the better hasn't been wrought
This is a remarkable statement, but it appears to
be true. The first part of the sentence, however, is very important.
"Wherever there has been the wholehearted cooperation of everyone concerned.
. ." This was the problem.
Those who precisely followed Cayce's instructions
got immediate results. Some of these patients and their doctors
wrote and used the term "miracle" to describe the patient's progress or
cure. Other patients who followed the instructions half way got
half-way results. Many patients, or their relatives, for a variety
of reasons, did not even attempt to follow Cayce's suggestions.
Some were unable, some had no faith in his prescriptions, and many were
advised not to by skeptical physicians with whom they consulted.
Over the years, when the Association has tried to
follow up with letters and questionnaires, the response has been very
poor. In most of the cases, we do not know whether or not the reading
was followed, or whether or not the desired results were obtained.
This is most unfortunate, because many of the patients for whom the readings
were given have died or are getting old. The number grows smaller
Despite this lack of "wholehearted cooperation," enough
patients did report their experiences to enable us to make some tentative
judgment relative to the success of the treatments. Cayce's statement
holds up very well. Where there was cooperation, "changes for the
better were wrought as promised."
If Edgar Cayce had been right about nothing, we could
dismiss him easily; but the more his readings are researched and tried
in the clinic, the more impressive this data becomes. There is a
lifetime of exciting inquiry for all of us if we will but accept the challenge
of the tremendously productive life of this man.
He said, "To be sure, these interpretations would
not be accepted by some as an explanation. And yet there will come
those days when many will understand and interpret properly." (3075-1,
Mental illness is our number one health problem.
It may well be that Edgar Cayce has provided us with the basic information
which is essential to the understanding that we need and do not have.
In any event, he was a man who set an example worthy of being followed,
for he was dedicated to relieving the suffering of his brothers.
He said, "Communicate then, in prayer, in meditation, in thoughtfulness
- not as to how ye may be this or that but as to how ye may do this or
that for thy Maker, for thy fellow man." (3691-1)
Cayce also said, "So does it behoove every soul to
so live and so act, in its contacts with its fellow man in its business
and commercial life, that it will not be afraid to stand on the corner
and watch self pass by - in relationship to its activities with its fellow
These quotes sum up Edgar Cayce's formula for good
mental health. He puts it into a single sentence with which I will
close. "Keep the eye single to a Service for spiritual understanding,
and a mental aberration ... may not touch thee!" (1442-1, M. 14)
1. Brozier, Mary A.B., The Central Nervous System and Behavior, Madison
Printing Company, 1959.
2. Cayce, Edgar, Readings, A.R.E. Library, Virginia Beach, Va., 1945,
3. Deutsch and Deutsch, Physiological Psychology, The Dorsey Press,
Homewood, Ill., 1966.
4. Gantt, W.A., Physiological Bases of Psychiatry, Charles C.
Thomas Press, Springfield, Ill., 1958.
5. Greenfield, N.S. and Lewis, W.C., Psychoanalysis and Current Biological
Thought, University of Wisconsin Press, 1965.
6. Harlow and Woolsey (eds.), Biological and Biochemical Bases of
Behavior, University of Wisconsin Press, 1958.
7. Hebb, Donald Olding, The Organization of Behavior, Wiley-Interscience,
New York, 1949.
8. Hebb, Donald Olding, A Textbook of Psychology (2nd ed.), W.B.
Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1966.
9. London, P. and Rosenhan, D., Foundations of Abnormal Psychology,
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, 1968.
10. McGarey, W.A., M.D., "Edgar Cayce and the Palma Christi," The
A.R.E. Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2, April, 1967.
11. Morgan, Clifford, Physiological Psychology (3rd ed.), McGraw-Hill,
New York, 1965.
12. Pauling, Linus, "Orthomolecular Psychiatry," Science, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., 19 April,
1968, Vol. 160, No. 3825.
13. Rinkel, Max (ed.), Chemical Concepts of Psychosis, McDowell/Obolensky,
New York, 1958.
14. Roessler, Robert, and Greenfield, Norman (eds.), Physiological
Correlates of Psychological Disorder, University of Wisconsin
Press, Madison, 1962.
15. Sheer, Daniel E. (ed.), Electrical Stimulation of the Brain,
University of Texas Press, Austin, 1961.
16. Stearn, Jess, Edgar Cayce - The Sleeping Prophet, Bantam Books,
17. Sternbach, Richard, Principles of Psychophysiology, Academic
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18. Wooley, D.W., The Biochemical Bases of Psychoses, John Wiley
and Sons, Inc., New York, 1962.
[Note: The preceding overview was written by James C. Windsor, Ph.D.
and is excerpted from the Physician's Reference Notebook,
Copyright © 1968 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]
Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis
or self-treatment. Please consult a qualified health care professional
for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health