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Edgar Cayce, 1877-1945, was an individual with a special gift. According to many, he seemed to access what might be called "the collective knowledge of the Universe." While in a light trance state, he did readings, or consultations, for people who needed help. (The individual did not need to be present.) These readings, given in the early 1900s through the 1940s, addressed the full realm of physical and metaphysical topics. All readings were carefully recorded and are now archived at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), Virginia Beach, Virginia.
David McMillins Case Studies in Depression, Based on the Edgar Cayce Health Methods summarizes much of the information found in the A.R.E. archives relating to depression and manic depression. The premise is that medicines preoccupation with biochemistry is well founded but not complete.
McMillin explores the definition of depression and the interactions of physical conditions with brain functions. He explains current theories and treatments, and compares them to the readings done for individuals with depression. There are some interesting one-to-one relationships, suggesting that Edgar Cayce may have been on target with many of his diagnoses.
The Cayce readings indicate that depression should be treated from a holistic viewpointbody, mind, and spirit. No doubt, both psychiatrists and their patients would agree with this. However, someone with depression might ask, "Do methods from the early part of this Century apply to today?"
The answers would be yes, no, and maybe.
The excerpts of letters to Cayce, requesting help, are haunting. The writing may be in the genteel style of the first decades of the 1900s, but the symptoms of depression are timeless. The treatments which Cayce suggests (in trance) reflect simpler times: iodine solutions, mild electrotherapy, spinal manipulations, detoxification, exercise, relaxation, positive thinking.
Some of Cayces spiritual treatises on depression are cloaked in esoterica relating to karma, kundalini, and past lives. The readings occasionally note the spiritual bankruptcy of people with mental illnesses. This is offensive to many of us (patients) today. He also admonishes individuals to spend more time in prayer and Bible study. However, the people who sought help from Edgar Cayce expected these types of comments--they were hungry for any information that might come from the renown psychic reader.
Unfortunately, there was little follow-up from the people for whom the various treatments were suggested. We do not know if the Cayce methods actually work. Obviously some of the simpler methods are keys to good health, no matter what the ailment.
McMillin states that the purpose of the book "is not to convert, convince, or engage in philosophical arguments, but simply to present the Edgar Cayce material as accurately as possible" (p. 116). This he has done. McMillin also presents treatment suggestions, based on the readings, which could be part of a holistic therapy program for depression.
The book is recommended as an introduction to Cayces readings on mental illnesses. Mental health therapists exploring the history of holistic health might also find this book interesting.
Joy Ikelman has worked as a scientific writer and editor for more than twenty years. She has a B.S. from Concordia College, Nebraska, with additional coursework from the University of Colorado. She is published in the fields of geophysics and the history of science. Joy has also written newsletters, book reviews, and press releases while participating in various community organizations. Her favorite activity is enjoying quiet time with Ike, her sweetheart of 21 years. Her interest in mental health preceded her own diagnosis with bipolar disorder. Philosophically, Joy believes that knowledge is power, and that a patient with any illness has a fundamental right to question, learn, and contribute.
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