Cayce Health Database
OVERVIEW OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
Schizophrenia is a serious and persistent
form of mental illness. It inflicts about one percent of the
world's population and costs tens of billions of dollars each year
in scarce health care resources. However, the statistical profile
of this disorder does not convey the personal devastation which schizophrenia
wreaks upon the suffering individuals, families, and friends who must
endure years of insanity. To lose one's mind is the ultimate
SYMPTOMS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis.
As such, certain psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations
are inherent in the illness. Delusions are false personal beliefs
about external reality. Hallucinations are false sensory perceptions.
Thus, during the acute phases of the disorder, the afflicted person
may be said to be "out of touch with reality." At least out of
touch with reality as we know it. This qualifier is important,
as we shall see in a later section. Perhaps in certain cases of
schizophrenia, the individual is out of touch with this reality and
in touch with transcendent realms.
At any rate, the person will often hear voices
perceived as coming from outside of themselves. The voices may
be singular or multiple. They will sometimes provide commentary
or commands. Less frequently, hallucinations involve the other
sensory modalities, such as vision and touch.
Delusions are abnormalities of thought.
For example, someone may believe that they are being controlled by a
dead person or that their thoughts are being broadcast to the external
world. Delusions of persecution (paranoia) are also common.
The classic paranoid delusion is that of being pursued by the FBI or
some other powerful organization.
Being convinced that you are Jesus Christ
or some other famous historical personage is a typical delusion of grandiosity.
Unless you can walk on water or raise the dead, you will probably have
a difficult time convincing a psychiatrist that you really don't need
one of the powerful antipsychotic medications used to treat delusional
Emotional responses are often inappropriate
or totally lacking in persons suffering from schizophrenia. Not
surprisingly, interpersonal functioning is often disturbed; sometimes
by social withdrawal, occasionally by excessive closeness.
THE MEDICAL MODEL OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
Generally speaking, medical science views
schizophrenia as a problem of neurotransmission in the brain.
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers which allow nerve cells
to communicate with each other. In other words, the biochemistry
of the brain is abnormal. Specifically, the neurotransmitter dopamine
is the most likely candidate among the twenty-eight or so recognized
Contemporary research tends to focus on pathology
in specific areas of the brain. The limbic system (in the middle
of the brain) and the prefrontal cortex (the front of the brain) are
likely areas of pathology.
However, this simplistic view of brain dysfunction
is problematic. Research has implicated numerous other major neurotransmitters
and areas of the brain in schizophrenia. Furthermore, research
has clearly demonstrated that other parts of the nervous system are
involved (as well as other systems within the body).
Notwithstanding all the research and clinical
progress that has been made in this century, schizophrenia is still
regarded by modern medicine as an incurable brain disease of unknown
causation. The drugs which are used to treat it only suppress
symptoms; they do not cure. Some patients respond poorly or not
at all to these powerful drugs. In addition, unpleasant and dangerous
side effects can complicate drug treatment. Relapse is common.
EDGAR CAYCE'S PERSPECTIVE ON SCHIZOPHRENIA
Edgar Cayce gave many psychic readings for
persons suffering from schizophrenia. Actually, he never used
the term "schizophrenia." During his era, the accepted medical
diagnosis for the illness was "dementia praecox." Dementia refers
to organic brain degeneration, resulting in cognitive deficits and psychosis.
Praecox refers to the precocious or early onset of the illness (usually
in the late teens or early twenties).
Cayce provided graphic descriptions of the
brain deterioration in persons suffering from schizophrenia and recommended
treatments for regenerating the nervous system. He also acknowledged
the mental and spiritual aspects of the disorder.
Cayce's psychic readings cite numerous causal
factors. In some cases, hereditary factors are noted. Physical
trauma (such as injury to the nervous system during birth or later in
life) was a major causal factor. Glandular disturbances were often
linked to the nervous system pathology. Toxicity in the body was
sometimes described as contributing to the illness.
The treatments suggested by Cayce were typical
for cases involving nervous system incoordination. Osteopathic
treatment was one of the most frequent recommendations. Other
common recommendations included: electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, suggestive
therapeutics, companion therapy, and therapeutic milieu (environment).
The following points summarize Edgar Cayce's
perspective on schizophrenia.
- The diagnostic label of "schizophrenia" refers to a group of related
illnesses with varied etiologies and outcome.
- There is a strong somatic (biological) component to this disorder
which must be addressed in treatment.
- The symptoms of schizophrenia result from dysfunction within the
brain, but etiological patterns usually involve systemic dysfunction.
- Within the physical body, multiple systems are usually involved
in the schizophrenic process, primarily the central (cerebrospinal)
and autonomic (sympathetic) nervous systems, and the endocrine (glandular)
- In cases where the disorder progresses to a chronic condition, the
prognosis is less favorable. This condition involves brain degeneration
and is a difficult process to reverse. Early diagnosis and treatment
greatly improve the prognosis.
- Genetic factors often play a significant role in the development
of schizophrenia. Genetic factors are not simplistic entities,
but vary in influence from being "innate" (very likely to manifest
regardless of other factors) to being only "tendencies" (i.e., inherited
vulnerability as proposed in the diathesis/stress model).
- Pregnancy and birth complications (PBCs) play a significant role
in the etiology of schizophrenia.
- Spinal injury and other forms of somatic dysfunction are important
etiological factors in the production of psychotic symptoms.
- Stress is often an important etiological factor in the production
of schizophrenic symptoms.
- The human body contains interfaces with spiritual and mental dimensions
of reality. These interfaces (centers) exist within the glandular
and nervous systems. Chemical imbalances or injury to these
systems can disrupt these centers, producing the psychotic symptoms
associated with schizophrenia.
- The treatment of schizophrenia requires a holistic perspective
which typically involves spiritual, mental, and physical interventions.
These therapies include osteopathic or chiropractic treatments, massage,
electrotherapy, diet, companionship, therapeutic milieu, hypnotic
suggestion, exercise, and pharmacology.
- Cayce's holistic perspective involves spiritual and metaphysical
constructs, such as karma and spirit possession. These transpersonal
aspects are not cited in every case, and thus may be most appropriately
viewed as complications of the pathological process rather than specific
THE TREATMENT OF SCHIZOPHPRENIA
In keeping with the holistic philosophy of
the Edgar Cayce readings, the following is a therapeutic model which
addresses the dimensions of body, mind and spirit. In the simplest
possible conceptualization, this approach can be represented as:
- Establish a therapeutic milieu with an emphasis on "spiritual"
qualities, such as patience, gentleness, altruistic service, etc.,
while simultaneously providing opportunities for growth and development.
Outdoor activities in the sunshine and fresh air are also emphasized.
Companion therapy is sometimes necessary to implement and maintain
a therapeutic milieu.
- Provide somatic (physical) interventions which address the fundamental
physical dimension of this disorder. Manual medicine (such as
osteopathy, chiropractic and massage), electrotherapy (including vibratory
metals), diet, exercise, and appropriate pharmacology play a crucial
role in the physical treatment of schizophrenia.
- Utilize suggestive therapeutics to rebuild and redirect the mental
processes of the client. Various cognitive and behavioral techniques
are employed in conjunction with naturalistic hypnosis so as to apply
the principle "mind is the builder."
MYSTICAL ASPECTS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
Joseph Campbell observed that the schizophrenic
is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.
Edgar Cayce made the same observation in his readings (e.g., 281-24).
Cayce himself was a mystic who swam in some
rather deep waters. The philosophy presented in his psychic readings
is consistent with a long tradition of thought called the "perennial
philosophy." As with all versions of the perennial philosophy,
Cayce's perspective is expansive and comprehensive.
The terms "dementia praecox" and "schizophrenia"
are of relatively recent origin when one takes the larger view.
Throughout the ages, peoples of all cultures have recognized insanity.
It is the interpretation of the various forms of psychosis which sets
the modern viewpoint apart as distinctive.
To appreciate this distinctiveness, we must take into
consideration the world view (and even the cosmic view or cosmology)
of other cultures, both ancient and modern. At the crux of this
distinction lies our beliefs about the origin of our species, the nature
of reality, and the meaning of life. In other words, what constitutes
Modern medical science (including psychiatry)
is derived from and based upon a materialistic view of reality.
That which is real is physical, or at least can be measured in a physical
manner. From a materialistic viewpoint, reality is substantial.
This is no small point when we are determining
someone's sanity. In fact, the clinical assessment procedures
used to determine sanity are heavily weighted toward a materialistic
interpretation of reality. As has been noted, to be "out of touch"
with material reality is by psychiatric definition, to be psychotic.
The Edgar Cayce readings on schizophrenia
acknowledge that persons experiencing psychotic symptoms are out of
touch with material reality and find it difficult to maintain the activities
of daily living. Therefore, Cayce considered schizophrenia to
be an illness. Yet, he also noted that such individuals are closer
to the "universal" or divine consciousness than most sane individuals.
To explain the mystical aspects of schizophrenia,
Cayce often relied on terminology from perennial philosophy of other
cultures and times (such as Hinduism, yoga, etc.). Thus, his readings
on schizophrenia sometimes make references to kundalini, karma, possession
and so forth.
The various therapies recommended by Cayce
for this illness were not only directed toward nervous system regeneration
and coordination, but also tended to help the afflicted persons to be
more focused in material reality. Much emphasis was placed on
simple, physical activities to assist these individuals to be more incarnate
in their bodies and to attend to the physical world.
Two books describing Edgar Cayce's perspective
on schizophrenia have been published. The Treatment of Schizophrenia:
A Holistic Approach is a scholarly work written in APA (American
Psychological Association) style. Case Studies in Schizophrenia
is a less technical work describing individuals who sought Cayce's help
in cases of schizophrenia. Both books were written by David McMillin
and are available from A.R.E. Press of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
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