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98 of 110 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some problems with her vision of human energy field......., July 7, 1999
This review is from: Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing (Paperback)
Carolyn Myss writes about health and illness within the individual human energy system, but dosen't take energy thinking far enough--that's why some of her arguments break down. Her basic thesis is that we bring illness on ourselves by neglecting to deal with soul or emotional issues, that is, by not leading an "authentic" life. Clearly this can be true, for instance in certain forms of cancer or heart disease.
But when thinking about any sort of system, human or otherwise, you must consider the smaller energy systems which compose it, as well as the larger systems in which it is embedded. Each system "level" has its own sort of consciousness and imperatives to follow. The "level" at which our conscious egos work is only one piece of the complex puzzle of reality which composes and enfolds us.
Thus, from a systems perspective, disease can follow dysfunction on ANY level, from the cellular to the social or environmental (and maybe even the galactic). One example would be cancers caused by pesticides--here, the human collective's disrespect for the planetary environment results in the illness of individuals. There need not be a particular biographical factor in the genesis of such a cancer, for as individuals we are all subject to consequences following our collective actions.
Similarly, disease can spring from breakdowns on the cellular level of biological systems--thus, plants and animals fall prey to illness in the wild (as they also do from human-caused habitat destruction and pollution). Would Myss say that these non-human creatures were responsible for their illnesses because they did not do their soul or emotional work?
To say that biography is the only (or principal) factor in illness is taking a one-dimensional view of disease and the systems it disrupts. Things are more complicated than that. Yes, in much of our life we do have a choice and do indeed create our realities. But there are other things that come to us unbidden: floods, tornados, accidents, and yes, disease. To imply that we create that suffering to me seems uncompassionate. It is also a form of arrogance--assuming that we can control everything that comes to us in life.
Furthermore, there is the question of people who are born with congenital illnesses. Myss, who believes that before we are born, we enter into a contract about what life challenges to take on, would probably say that such people choose the challenge of such illnesses as part of their pre-birth "contract." But I think that many people with such illnesses would find that hypothesis offensive.
Myss also oversimplifies in her comparison of the Christian sacraments, the Hindu chakra system, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. These ways of seeing the human spirit-path are similar only on the surface--it would take years of study and personal practice of each of these traditions to understand each one, much less to undertake a "compare and contrast" exercise. Yes, there is a "perennial philosophy" that underlies the world religions, but there are also many fundamental differences as well.
Focussing on the chakras and the human energy system is indeed a start for understanding the energetics of human disease. But for an even more in-depth understanding of energy healing I would recommend reading some of the books out on systems thinking, especially as it pertains to biology. Also, any books which explore sub-systems within the human psyche (depth psychology) pertain to this field, as any ego-self wishing to heal will have to do business with the "others" which exist within and which have their own energies and axes to grind.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 20, 2010 10:57:54 AM PDT
Hi, I am sorry but after reading your beautiful summarized review, I still don't
unsderstand why 3 stars...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2010 1:24:54 PM PDT
...because of the points I covered in my review: Myss, in this book, focuses on the patient as cause of his/her illness, rather than exploring the many possible reasons for why we sufferer physical or mental lack of health.

Interestingly, I read a couple of years ago in "What is Enlightenment? Magazine" that Myss later backtracked on her position that all illness is brought on by the person experiencing the illness. She came to accept that there were often times when illness befalls a person through no lack or "fault" of his/her own.

But to claim--as she once did--that each person is responsible for their own illness, either because she didn't do her "soul work" or because she entered into a spiritual contract before she was born to suffer that illness is a) rather mean, if not cruel, and b) overly simplistic. At least in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2011 6:49:46 AM PST
M says:
I think the idea is that 1 star, rather than 3, would be most suitable. Your insight is valuable and welcome.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2011 8:10:40 AM PST
Thanks for your feedback. I guess I gave a couple of stars because she is a good writer!

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 8:38:41 PM PST
Mahalie says:
I have gotten a lot out of this book and continue to learn more subtle lessons each time I read it, however, I agree that it is overly simplistic and could be misconstrued to mean that people are responsible for any illness they have no matter what. But again, a great introduction. I would love to hear what other books on the subject, if any, you recommend for those who liked this one but are open to broader ideas and alternative theories?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2011 7:09:38 AM PST
Thank you for your comments, and yes, Myss does offer much to think about in her book. The book on healing that has impacted me the most, and has withstood the test of time over many re-readings, is "The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma," by Edward C. Whitmont, M.D. (available on amazon, but I don't know how to do a link from this post). His strengths as a thinker on healing are an erudite background in a broad range of subjects relating to the human experience, as well as a complete lack of fear in looking at the shadow side of the universe. Also, he is comfortable with ambiguity -- the sign of a truly creative mind. I think the weakness in much of the New Age approach to healing is the tendency to want to place things into neat categories, and that tendency is a reflection of the human mind rather than of the universe, which is a lot messier and often chaotic. Whitmont understands that the healing journey, either as patient or as healer, is a journey through states where those neat categories break down, or never existed in the first place. Good luck in your studies!

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 2:59:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 3:09:47 PM PST
L. M says:
"Furthermore, there is the question of people who are born with congenital illnesses. Myss, who believes that before we are born, we enter into a contract about what life challenges to take on, would probably say that such people choose the challenge of such illnesses as part of their pre-birth "contract." But I think that many people with such illnesses would find that hypothesis offensive."

Me: I work in the medical field and most of the patients find relief and understanding of their situation under this hypothesis.
Just my experience with them.

"To say that biography is the only (or principal) factor in illness is taking a one-dimensional view of disease and the systems it disrupts. Things are more complicated than that. Yes, in much of our life we do have a choice and do indeed create our realities. But there are other things that come to us unbidden: floods, tornados, accidents, and yes, disease. To imply that we create that suffering to me seems uncompassionate. It is also a form of arrogance--assuming that we can control everything that comes to us in life."

Me: Our enviroments, or "outer" world is just a reflexion/projection of our inner self.
Even a leaf falling from a tree in our backyard is telling us how we are inside.And it is not about egocentrism, it's about being co-creators, we constantly create our life (unconsciously and consciously). As Carl Jung said: "When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate."

After reading your review I am more than sure that this book suits my belief system, and I am sorry It didn't suit yours.

If you have any sugestions about other books, please, I would like to know..I like to explore different points of view, because the only truth is that we all are different and have different levels of existence as well.
Thanks for sharing your opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 4:55:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2012 4:58:18 PM PST
Thanks for your comments, and I respect the fact that it fits your view of how the universe works. And yes, I completely understand (and agree with) the Jungian notion that the outer and the inner worlds mirror each other. And I would agree there are probably many cases in which this is the cause of disease.

However, I also think that sometimes the outer world pitches new energy into our inner world, perhaps in order to change or challenge it, in the same manner the inner world can pitch its own energy out into the exterior world in order to effect growth, change, or some other as yet unknown end. In other words, there are many reasons something may befall us, and to hold to one seems rather inflexible to me.

My reactions to Myss's hypothesis are, of course, personal, and stem from observations, such as illnesses apparent in wild animals I saw while growing up as a child in a rural area. I do not believe that somehow those animals' illnesses (such as debilitating mange) mirrored an imbalance in their interior psyches. I do know that biological systems are complex, and, as philosopher Ken Wilbur points out, the more complex a system is, the more liable it is to having something in the system break down. That is a simple rule of complexity science.

Myss later went back on her hypothesis, as reported in an issue of "What is Enlightenment" magazine (now called "EnlightenNext," I believe). You can find one report of this recantation by googling the article "New Age Wake Up Call" by Ross Robertson. He writes,

"Then there was the daringly straightforward Caroline Myss, bestselling author and former medical intuitive, who shared a recent shift in her point of view: "I used to think we create our own reality, that our illness is only the result of our negativity," she began. "But we cannot control the whims of God. Now I believe that real negativity is the need to think in such private, personal, ridiculous terms. As if my pleasure and my pain are the most important things!"

In other words, stuff happens in the universe, and it may not be caused by something within me or you. So much of what happens is way bigger than any of us.

Posted on Sep 6, 2013 4:59:16 PM PDT
Rachel says:
I have studied this field and Myss work for years, and never came away thinking that she was "writing in stone" any "fact" that
energy patterns through our "biography" is the sole cause of disease. I feel her work merely brought to light the considerations
to look at this aspect of disease and healing along with everything else- this opinion, coming also from having studied with her
in person some years ago through longer term (week long) seminars. I believe a book can offer an overview, an introduction, and
she was aware that her descriptions were theoretical outlines, rather than intentional "oversimplifications" of complex paradigms.

I don't think she ever meant to accept her theories and work while rejecting other systems, science, genetics, environment,
diet, and all other factors involved in disease and healing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2014 11:18:34 AM PST
Moon Glough says:
i just ordered the edward c. whitmont book on your recommendation. thanks for posting the info.
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