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Why People Don't Heal and How They Can Paperback – September 23, 1998
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A woman tells you, within minutes of meeting her, that she's in a support group for incest victims. In theory, this woman is trying to recover from her childhood trauma, but in reality, Caroline Myss writes, she's one of a growing army of people who practice "woundology," the use of their pain and suffering to manipulate those around them. Myss first noticed this phenomenon in the late 1980s, and began to analyze why so many people seemed to choose to carry such painful problems so proudly through life, to define themselves by the awful things that had happened to them. She offers a program to use "symbolic power"--a deep, spiritual insight that surpasses any conjured by the conscious mind--to craft a genuine conclusion to the illness or injury. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
From Library Journal
Myss is a medical intuitive, a person who "sees" illnesses in the body by intuitive means. Here she writes about healing, the various attempts people make to do it, and why they get "stuck." A global thinker, Myss looks at the entire civilization and at "astrological ages" when discussing healing. She also explains the influence of chakras and astrological ages on healing. At the heart of the book is Myss's challenge to five myths that stand in the way of healing: My life is defined by my wound (perhaps the most original concept here); being healthy means being alone; feeling pain means being destroyed; all illness is the result of negativity; and true change is impossible. Myss believes that giving up these myths leads one closer to healing. Many will think her concepts too far out to be of use; others will see her as visionary. The latter will be looking for this book wherever New Age titles circulate well.?Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Digital edition.
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One story that really stuck out to me was about a lady who had breast cancer who didn't want conventional treatment (only alternative therapies) and who Ms. Myss perceived as still being caught up in the aftermath of her failed marriage. Ms. Myss told her that her energy was being expended on the marriage and she needed to refocus her energy on healing, suggested counseling, and said that in the meantime she "had to" reconsider allopathic treatments. The next thing she says about this woman is "Symbolically it made sense to her, but she could not actually make emotional contact with the image. While her mind found great comfort in the idea of entering into Individual power, her energy was unable to make the transition. Eventually her cancer spread throughout her body, and she passed away within a year of her original diagnosis." Um, what..?? First of all, for me reading this, this was seriously upsetting. Myss gives no further explanation of what happened to the lady or why, or if she tried allopathic treatments; even this last sentence doesn't give any factual information, but is totally Myss' own interpretations of what happened. For me, who was feeling upbeat and hopeful, this gave the impression that even if you know what you need to do, you still might not, for some inexplicable reason, be able to do it. And then you might die. Also, Myss' attitude toward this woman is very flippant. She seems to say the lady wasn't up to the task of overcoming her illness, that's why she died, and Myss can wash her hands of it but use it as a teachable moment. I'm not sure what the lesson is.. It seems to me that there must have been a further block for the woman that was preventing her from letting go of the emotional baggage of her marriage, or whatever else was draining her energy. However, Myss doesn't seem to think it's her concern to have dug deeper and found out what it might have been, and provided a suggestion to the woman that might have made dealing with it easier. This and the many other anecdotes in the book suggest to me that to Myss the world is divided into worthy and unworthy people: the worthy ones are capable of healing, and so tautologically deserve it; the unworthy ones practice woundology, or are stubborn, or 'don't have enough energy' and so don't deserve to be healed. Not impressive.
Another issue I have is with the idea that healing necessarily has to be difficult and require a lot of sacrifice. While this may be true, it isn't always, and it's also not the best perspective with which to view healing. She mentions a workshop where she asked people how ready they were to heal. Then she challenged them by asking if they would be willing to change their job, relocate, change most of their attitudes, change all of their physical habits, or live for three months in solitude in order to heal. I remember at another point she mentions that you should also be willing to leave your partner. And the quote: "Once you place conditions on healing, all you can achieve is conditional healing". I don't think this is how healing works at all. While strict regimens, attitude shifts, or leaving a negative relationship may be necessary, it depends on the individual and their situation. I don't think healing should be viewed in this oppositional lens: my healing vs. the rest of my life. Or that you need to give up things in your life that are good and positive in order to meet the requirements of healing. True healing should transform your way of life, not oppose it. She also complains about how, when she asked what people would be willing to give up, a woman said she wouldn't mind leaving her job, having more time on her hands and being able to travel. Myss complains about this because she's apparently showing an unwillingness to sacrifice because she's stating things she wants, rather than stating what she's willing to give up. I think the author is getting a bit zealous here. This lady seemed to be stating things that would be beneficial to her quality of life. I'm sure many people can identify with the feeling of being constantly rushed and not having enough time. It's hard for healing to take place in such circumstances. Myss should have encouraged her self-affirming wishes and had her examine how having these things might be able to help her quality of life and ability to heal, and how she could achieve them. Instead, she complains about everyone in the workshop for following the lady's example and talking about what they wish they had in their lives rather than what they're willing to give up.
I think overall Myss seems to have a very negative approach to healing. When I talked to my friend when I felt worried, the friend told me to imagine an authority (whatever authority I preferred) powerfully telling me that I would be alright, and to feel that in my solar plexus. I imagined it coming from the universe, and it was actually very effective. When I worried whether I would be able to manage such an illness, she assured me that I would. Talking with her was very uplifting, and helped me to feel my own strength. Reading Myss, in comparison, was very depressing and frightening. She seems to be very perceptive about people's emotional states, but not very compassionate or understanding, so I think what happens is that when she meets people she gives them her insights. For some, that's what they needed in order to see things more clearly. For others, just the insight isn't enough, and Myss doesn't help them. Myss seems to categorize the first group as inherently ready to heal, and the second group as not ready. In reality, I think she with her very limited (and judgmental) perspective is the weak link, but she externalizes all her failures.
I'm writing this review simply so that I can air out and discard the negative effect it had on me. If you have a potentially life-threatening illness, I would not recommend this book - it might frighten you and muddle things as it did for me. If you have a chronic issue that you just can't seem to overcome, this book might nail your issue, but you need to be capable of listening to potentially hard truths that aren't put softly.
For someone who's looking for empowering/effective alternative healing methods, I would instead recommend: The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice, and Music. It's also possible (though not necessary) to get a traditional Tibetan singing bowl on E-Bay for a totally affordable price.
Good luck with your journey.
As others have pointed out,she has no credentials, and isn't even a healer -- she is a professional busy body, telling others where to get off, and it is sad that people have actually gone to her in their desperation. There are plenty of New Age healers who aren't charlatans, who have a genuine gift of love and will to help others.
She basically says that some people need their illnesses for attention or whatever, and that others experience spiritual growth through their physical travails. None of this is exactly news. I just worry that people who come down with cancer or whatever will think it's their own fault if they don't heal, as she seems to think.
This book isn't really a waste of time -- but it is mean spirited, reduces a complex topic to a formula, and is completely lacking in a spiritual element. Which is ironic, because she is preaching spirituality. Scary.