Based on an article by Winthrop H. Ware, M.D.
Few diseases are as ill-defined and as difficult to treat as alcoholism. Even nowadays there is still a question in the minds of some whether it is a disease or a moral issue. Edgar Cayce called it a disease, and most serious workers in the field today also call it a disease.
The physical consequences of alcoholism include cirrhosis of the liver, heart muscle degeneration, and destruction of the higher centers of the brain. Alcohol is a factor in 35% or more of fatal automobile accidents and one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
In all the readings which Mr. Cayce gave for people afflicted with addiction, he stressed the interaction or balance of body, mind, and spirit. This interaction or imbalance contributed to the addiction and was crucial to treatment and recovery. His philosophy was far ahead of his time, and it is only in recent years that the field of medicine has adopted this view. Needless to say many practitioners still do not accept mind and spirit as playing an important role in causation and treatment; they still regard the body as a machine only.
Throughout these readings Cayce stressed that healing only occurs through individual application and a resolve to change; unless the addict truly wanted to get well, recovery was impossible. In some instances he said the addict must submit his will to another. This thinking is similar to the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, although both organizations did not exist when Cayce started his work. The 3rd step of the 12 steps in AA reads: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…" The program of Alcoholics Anonymous fits closely with the Cayce principles in that it suggests that an alcoholic needs to help other alcoholics.
The advice given by Mr. Cayce almost sounds as if it comes from the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book:
Then for the mental, we find the body very capable, would it only guide itself in the manner in which it understands the knowledge of self. Spiritual understanding only comes from the understanding of the divine within self, and the attempt to correlate same will always bring the development of self mentally and spiritually. For those who call upon the God will not find Him afar off, but ever present, and ready to answer the self as it is found in the inner man.
Many families were deeply troubled or were broken apart as a result of addiction. One wife said that her husband was "precious" when sober but "mean" when under the influence. Just as important as helping the alcoholic directly is the helping of the spouse of the alcoholic to change her attitude toward him. It is here that Cayce gives some excellent advice. Here is what he says to one woman (1183-2):
Q: Just what should I do about my husband and home?
A: As just indicated, live right yourself. Never so act, in any manner in any inclination, that there may ever be an experience of regret within self. Let the moves and the discourteousness, the unkindness all come from the other person. Better to be abased yourself and have the peace within. For unless changes arise some great disturbance will come. But if ye so act that these appear to arise from thy neglect, or from thy not caring, then the regret would always be with thee. Then act ever in the way you would like to be acted toward. No matter what others say, or even do. Do as you would be done by; and then the peace that has been promised is indeed thine own.
Q: Is there any Chance of his ever overcoming the drinking habit?
A: Not if there's given the least excuse for his continuation in same. But kindness, gentleness, and prayer has saved many a soul!
In another place, Mr. Cayce makes a rather unique suggestion (1439-2):
Q: Can those assisting do anything to prevent the body from indulging in stimulants?
A: They can pray like the devil!
Mr. Cayce suggested a number of physical treatments in the readings for individuals dealing with alcohol and drug addiction as well. Some of these were:
- Osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments for the cerebrospinal system. This was frequently the case in readings for people with more than one health challenge; a common occurrence.
- Wet cell battery
- Electrotherapy/electrical treatment by static machine
Cayce also recommended a healthy diet for these individuals as well as exercise, prayer, and meditation. In several cases Cayce recommended a specific practitioner, hospital or sanitarium for treatment.
In summary, it would seem that what Edgar Cayce advocated some 30 years ago is what the foremost workers in the field of alcoholism still advocate today:
- The cycle of addiction must be broken by ceasing the intake of alcohol. This may be done by building the "chemical fence" with the patient's consent, or the cycle may be broken by placing the patient in an institution (Mr. Cayce recommended this for some, too). The patient may find the will to stop temporarily, but unless he has a sincere desire, nothing will work.
- The people closest to the patient must surrender their concern for him and let him be responsible for his own deeds. It is "cruel kindness" to support and lie for an alcoholic if this prevents him from "hitting bottom" and seeking aid.
- In all the readings which Mr. Cayce gave for people afflicted with addiction, he stressed the interaction or balance of body, mind, and spirit. The efficacy prayer should not be discounted.
- 1. MODERN CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY, Arthur P. Noyles, M.D. and Lawrence C. Kolb, M.D. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1967. P. 178.
- 2. UNDERSTANDING AND COUNSELING THE ALCOHOLIC, Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. Abingdon Press, New York, P. 301.