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- How and When to Be Your Own Doctor - 4/55 -

A few years later I married an American and became the Mental Health Coordinator for Whatcom County, the northwestern corner of Washington State. I handled all the legal proceedings in the county for mentally ill people. After treatment in the state mental hospital I supervised their reentry into the community, and attempted to provide some follow up. This work further confirmed my conclusions that in most cases the mentally ill weren't helped by conventional treatment. Most of them rapidly became social problems after discharge. It seemed the mental hospital's only ethically defensible function was incarceration--providing temporary relief for the family and community from the mentally ill person's destructiveness.

I did see a few people recover in the mental health system. Inevitably these were young, and had not yet become institutionalized, a term describing someone who comes to like being in the hospital because confinement feels safe. Hospitalization can mean three square meals and a bed. It frequently means an opportunity to have a sex life (many female inmates are highly promiscuous). Many psychotics are also criminal; the hospital seems far better to them than jail. Many chronically mentally ill are also experts at manipulating the system. When homeless, they deliberately get hospitalized for some outrageous deed just before winter. They then "recover" when the fine weather of spring returns.

After a year as Mental Health Co-ordinator, I had enough of the "system" and decided that it was as good a time as any to return to school for a Ph.D., this time at University. of Oregon where I studied clinical and counseling psychology and gerontology. While in graduate school I became pregnant and had my first child. Not surprisingly, this experience profoundly changed my consciousness. I realized that it had perhaps been all right for me to be somewhat irresponsible about my own nutrition and health, but that it was not okay to inflict poor nutrition on my unborn child. At that time I was addicted to salty, deep-fat fried corn chips and a diet pop. I thought I had to have these so-called foods every day. I tended to eat for taste, in other words, what I liked, not necessarily what would give me the best nutrition. I was also eating a lot of what most people would consider healthy food: meat, cheese, milk, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.

My constitution had seemed strong and vital enough through my twenties to allow this level of dietary irresponsibility. During my early 20s I had even recovered from a breast cancer by sheer will power. (I will discuss this later.) So before my pregnancy I had not questioned my eating habits.

As my body changed and adapted itself to it's new purpose I began visiting the libraries and voraciously read everything obtainable under the topic of nutrition--all the texts, current magazines, nutritional journals, and health newsletters. My childhood habit of self-directed study paid off. I discovered alternative health magazines like Let's Live, Prevention, Organic Gardening, and Best Ways, and promptly obtained every back issue since they were first published. Along the way I ran into articles by Linus Pauling on vitamin C, and sent away for all of his books, one of these was co-authored with David Hawkins, called The Orthomolecular Approach to Mental Disorders.

This book had a profound effect on me. I instantly recognized that it was Truth with a capital "T", although the orthomolecular approach was clearly in opposition to the established medical model and contradicted everything I had ever learned as a student or professional. Here at last was the exciting alternative approach to treating mental disorders I had so long sought. I filed this information away, waiting for an opportunity to use it. And I began to study all the references in The Orthomolecular Approach to Mental Disorders dealing with correcting the perceptual functioning of psychotic people using natural substances.

In the course of delving through libraries and book stores, I also came across the Mokelumne Hill Publishing Company (now defunct). This obscure publisher reprinted many unusual and generally crudely reproduced out-of-print books about raw foods diets, hygienic medicine, fruitarianism, fasting, breathairianism, plus some works discussing spiritual aspects of living that were far more esoteric than I had ever thought existed. I decided that weird or not, I might as well find out everything potentially useful. So I spent a lot of money ordering their books. Some of Mokelumne Hill's material really expanded my thoughts. Though much of it seemed totally outrageous, in every book there usually was one line, one paragraph, or if I was lucky one whole chapter that rang true for me.

Recognizing capital "T" Truth when one sees it is one of the most important abilities a person can have. Unfortunately, every aspect of our mass educational system attempts to invalidate this skill. Students are repeatedly told that derivation from recognized authority and/or the scientific method are the only valid means to assess the validity of data. But there is another parallel method to determine the truth or falsehood of information: Knowing. We Know by the simple method of looking at something and recognizing its correctness. It is a spiritual ability. I believe we all have it. But in my case, I never lost the ability to Know because I almost never attended school.

Thus it is that I am absolutely certain How and When to Be Your Own Doctor will be recognized as Truth by some of my readers and rejected as unscientific, unsubstantiated, or anecdotal information by others. I accept this limitation on my ability to teach. If what you read in the following pages seems True for you, great! If it doesn't, there is little or nothing I could do to further convince.

I return now to the time of my first pregnancy. In the face of all these new Truths I was discovering concerning health and nutrition, I made immediate changes in my diet. I severely reduced my animal protein intake and limited cooked food in general. I began taking vitamin and mineral supplements. I also choose a highly atypical Ph.D. dissertation topic, "The Orthomolecular Treatment of Mental Disorders." This fifty cent word, orthomolecular, basically means readjusting the body chemistry by providing unusually large amounts of specific nutrient substances normally found in the human body (vitamins and minerals). Orthomolecular therapy for mental disorders is supported by good diet, by removal of allergy-producing substances, by control of hypoglycemia, plus counseling, and provision of a therapeutic environment.

My proposed dissertation topic met with nothing but opposition. The professors on my doctoral committee had never heard of the word orthomolecular, and all of them were certain it wasn't an accepted, traditional area of research. Research in academia is supposed to be based on the works of a previous researchers who arrived at hypothesis based on data obtained by strictly following scientific methodology. "Scientific" data requires control groups, matched populations, statistical analysis, etc. In my case there was no previous work my dissertation committee would accept, because the available data did not originate from a medical school or psychology department they recognized.

Due to a lot of determination and perseverance I finally did succeed in getting my thesis accepted, and triumphed over my doctoral committee. And I graduated with a dual Ph.D. in both counseling psychology and gerontology. My ambition was to establish the orthomolecular approach on the west coast. At that time I knew of only two clinics in the world actively using nutritional therapy. One was in New York and the other, was a Russian experimental fasting program for schizophrenics. Doctors Hoffer and Osmond had used orthomolecular therapy in a Canadian mental hospital as early as 1950, but they had both gone on to other things.

The newly graduated Dr. Isabelle Moser, Ph.D. was at this point actually an unemployed mother, renting an old, end-of-the-road, far-in-the-country farmhouse; by then I had two small daughters. I strongly preferred to take care of my own children instead of turning them over to a baby sitter. My location and my children made it difficult for me to work any place but at home. So naturally, I made my family home into a hospital for psychotic individuals. I started out with one resident patient at a time, using no psychiatric drugs. I had very good results and learned a tremendous amount with each client, because each one was different and each was my first of each type.

With any psychotic residing in your home it is foolhardy to become inattentive even for one hour, including what are normally considered sleeping hours. I have found the most profoundly ill mentally ill person still to be very crafty and aware even though they may appear to be unconscious or nonresponsive. Psychotics are also generally very intuitive, using faculties most of us use very little or not at all. For example one of my first patients, Christine, believed that I was trying to electrocute her. Though she would not talk, she repeatedly drew pictures depicting this. She had, quite logically within her own reality, decided to kill me with a butcher knife in self-defense before I succeeded in killing her. I had to disarm Christine several times, hide all the household knives, change my sleeping spot frequently, and generally stay sufficiently awake at night to respond to slight, creaky sounds that could indicate the approach of stealthily placed small bare feet.

With orthomolecular treatment Christine improved but also became more difficult to live with as she got better. For example, when she came out of catatonic-like immobility, she became extremely promiscuous, and was determined to sleep with my husband. In fact she kept crawling into bed with him with no clothes on. Either we had to forcefully remove her or the bed would be handed over to her--without a resident man. Christine then decided (logically) that I was an obstacle to her sex life, and once more set out to kill me. This stage also passed, eventually and Christine got tolerably well.

Christine's healing process is quite typical and demonstrates why orthomolecular treatment is not popular. As a psychotic genuinely improves, their aberrated behavior often becomes more aggressive initially and thus, harder to control. It seems far more convenient for all concerned to suppress psychotic behavior with stupefying drugs. A drugged person can be controlled when they're in a sort of perpetual sedation but then, they never get genuinely well, either.

Another early patient, Elizabeth, gave me a particularly valuable lesson, one that changed the direction of my career away from curing insanity and toward regular medicine. Elizabeth was a catatonic schizophrenic who did not speak or move, except for some waxy posturing. She had to be fed, dressed and pottied. Elizabeth was a pretty little brunette who got through a couple of years of college and then spent several years in a state mental hospital. She had recently run away from a hospital, and had been found wandering aimlessly or standing rigidly, apparently staring fixedly at nothing. The emergency mental health facility in a small city nearby called me up and asked if I would take her. I said I would, and drove into town to pick her up. I found Elizabeth in someone's back yard staring at a bush. It took me three hours to persuade her to get in my car, but that effort turned out to be the easiest part of the next months.

How and When to Be Your Own Doctor - 4/55

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