submitted by Mary Ann Gray Voorhies
The following was taken from the book Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement Flexibility and Health by Thomas Hanna:
1. These problems are functional, not structural
The problems which on the surface look to be irreparable breakdowns of the body, are instead malfunctions of the nervous system. Viewed externally, they seem to be about bodies that are degenerating; but viewed internally, these are brains that have lost control of their bodily functions. To use my own terms, these are somatic problems — not bodily problems. They are functional problems — not structural problems. These are problems solvable by the patient — not by the doctor. These are problems reflecting loss of control from the inside of the human system — not a deterioration of bodily parts at the outside of the human system.
2. The functional problems are cases of sensory-motor amnesia.
People who come to me are suffering from non-medical problems. They are outside the reach of medical help, whose services they have exhausted. They are not suffering from infectious diseases, or physical lesions, or biochemical imbalance. They are suffering from a loss of memory; the memory of what it feels like to move certain muscles of their bodies, and the memory of how to go about moving these same muscles.
Their memory loss is, to be specific, sensory-motor amnesia (SMA). I know this to be the case simply because their being shows how certain muscle patterns feel, and how these contractions are accomplished, resulting in an end to their problems. They regain their normal functioning and normal bodily wellbeing without any need for antibiotics for infection or surgery for lesions or drugs for biochemical imbalance.
3. These SMA problems are caused by the quality of their lifespan and not by the quantity.
Everything that happens to us during our lives causes a necessary reaction n our central nervous system. Our brain responds to and adapts to the events that occur. If we live a restricted, narrow life, our brain adapts to it. If we suffer years of anxiety, fear, and despair, our brain adapts to it. If we suffer shocks, accidental injury, serious illnesses, or complex surgery, or brain responds and adapts to it. These are the events that bring on sensory-motor amnesia, causing us to believe we are helplessly deteriorating. On the other hand, if we enjoy years of contentment, confidence and hope, our brain adapts to that, and with very different effects.
The brain is an adaptive organ. It responds to the events of our lives in whatever way necessary in order to survive and keep going. But, because the brain directly or indirectly controls all of our bodily functions, this means that our entire body reflects what has happened to us during our lifetimes. The bodily malfunctions of my clients clearly reflect and internal somatic adaption to specific events that have occurred during the course of their lives. SMA is the unfortunate result of specific adaptations made by the central nervous system In response to what happens to us during our lifetimes.
4. SMA always affects the entire somatic system and has its roots in the center of the human body.
Not only does SMA always affect the entire somatic system. It has its roots in the waist, lower back and abdomen where massive, powerful muscles connect the vertebrae and ribcage to the pelvis. This area is the center of gravity for the human body. And it is precisely the area where symptoms of “old age” first begins.
5. Viewed internally and functionally, comma SMA is a single somatic problem. Viewed externally and structurally, SMA is a multitude of mysterious medical problems.
As I pointed out earlier, age is not the cause of anything like this, healthy or unhealthy. “Age” is a neutral term. Nonetheless, within the medical profession and in medical research the word age has a mysterious meaning, even though, by definition, the word has no pathological significance at all. In medical usage, it has strong pathological significance: it is the mysterious unknown cause of all the mysterious symptoms in elderly humans that one cannot effectively diagnose or treat. “Doctor, why can’t I be helped?” “Well, you’re not getting any younger. After a while things begin to break down. It’s more or less what you should expect at your age.”
This, of course, is nonsense. Age has nothing to do with the hundreds of problems it is blamed for. “Age” is crypto-pathology. Behind the mystery lies ignorance, which is, by and large, an ignorance of the somatic condition of sensory-motor amnesia.
In all of the clients who ever came to me over a 12-year period I made note of some of the complaints my clients had when they first came to see me. All of them had a clear connection with the central muscles of the body, and all were resolved when the muscles no longer constrained the other body areas they affected. In every instance, SMA was the single somatic problem at the route of the multitude of mysterious symptoms. In addition to painful feet, toes, legs, buttocks, chest, arms, hands, backs, necks and jaws, sciatic pains in the legs, swollen knees, varicose veins, weak ankles that turn too easily, stiff ankles that would not turn, leg cramps, numbness or pins and needles, chronic tension headaches, ringing in the ears, eye aches, shallow breathing, constipation, frequent urination, spasms of the urethra, inflamed joints, and restricted movement of the head. All of their complaints were chronic, all of them unresponsive to medical treatment, and all of them resolved once the SMA was cleared up.
Please note that I do not say that all of them were “cured.” Curing is a medical procedure which has no significance in respect to SMA. Curing and treating are what is done to a passive patient. An external feat that goes from the outside to the inside. Sensory motor remembering is an EDUCATIONAL PROCEDURE, done by an active person — an internal somatic feat that goes from inside the brain to the muscle system.
Many of what my clients suffered had been diagnosed by medical specialists as neuralgia, scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, arthritis, bursitis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, carpel tunnel syndrome, compressed discs, bulging discs, slipped disks, herniated discs, degenerated discs, subluxated discs, hypochondria, allergic reactions, post-surgical trauma and, in the end, undiagnosable pain.
From the medical viewpoint, the fact that the complaints, so diagnosed, persisted despite medical treatment meant that they were “incurable” and therefore the fault of old age. But, from the somatic viewpoint, this was only part one of a two-part investigation, the second of which disclosed that sensory-motor amnesia — particularly of the muscles of the body’s center of gravity — was the cause of these functional problems. Such functional problems cannot be cured by treatment; but they can be controlled, by relearning. Fortunately that is just what happened for thousands of people with the diagnoses listed above.