Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Treatment summary

In this chapter we will present readers with a general view of the way in which we treat patients. We will try to make our description as concise as possible.

Case histories must be carefully studied, of course, even though this may be time consuming, since it helps physicians determine special areas of treatment, for example by finding various clichés, and by classifying patients into one of the two following categories:

1. Predominantly psychological cases.
2. Predominantly organic cases.
In the first group, symptoms affect only the brain, and re-educa-tion of control can be started immediately.
The second group includes patients who attribute their illness to some organic disorder of the heart, stomach, intestines, and so on. Before beginning the training, a minute examination of the organ in question must be carried out, and if there is any kind of lesion, or even the slightest indication that medication or some special diet is required, it is preferable to postpone the training until these have been taken care of.

Ultimately, we ask patients to rely only on themselves, and not on some medication, so it would be futile to administer two diametrically opposed types of therapy at the same time.

Patients need to understand what is wrongAt the outset of treatment, patients need to know and understand what is wrong with them. They will only have confidence in the treatment if they can be shown why they are sick, what the causes of their symptoms are, and how they can be cured. This is not the usual kind of diagnosis, limited to a vague explanation like “It’s a nervous disorder” which has so often discouraged them in the past. Patients feel very encouraged when they are helped to understand what they could not out for themselves.

We could not carry out a program of re-education if patients were ignorant of the causes of their illness. And it usually isn’t difficult to pinpoint the faults in their cerebral mechanism, and the way insufficient control affects their behavior.
So we begin by explaining passivity in its different forms, and then go on to the treatment - conscious and voluntary actions. These actions must be repeated as frequently as possible during the course of the day. They constitute an effective training program, and are an excellent way to develop discipline.

At the same time, we begin with the first concentration exercises:

1. Concentrating on different parts of the body.
2. Concentrating on an infinity curve.
3. Concentrating on the number 1.

These exercises should be done for an average of ten minutes, every two hours.
As soon as patients are able to do these exercises well enough, we proceed with the re-education of willpower
These stages constitute the first part of the treatment. When they are completed, i.e. when patients are able to modify their cerebral functions through the exercise of willpower, concentration and/or conscious action, the real struggle begins. They must now attempt to modify all passive states using these techniques, in order to reduce or eliminate all their symptoms. All results, whether positive or negative, must be noted and analyzed, since it is this personal experience that will enable their confidence to grow. Patients have to convince themselves that they can get are told.
Despite the best intentions, patients will rarely make regular, steady progress. They should be warned that there will always be periods of relapse which, however, can be very useful, since it is during these periods that they learn to use the tools they have been given, and gain valuable experience. As a follow-up to the initial concentration exercises, we proceed with the various exercises on elimination and de-concentration, and then on concentrating on the concept of thought itself. Lastly, we search for abnormal thoughts, abnormal cerebral functions, and clichés. This gives you a general idea of the treatment procedure, which can be modified according to the specific needs of individual

Length of treatment

The length of treatment varies, of course, but we estimate that two or three months are sufficient to teach patients to carry on by themselves. Less serious cases may require only three to six weeks, while in more serious cases it is preferable to check up on patients after a few months, in order to see how far they have come on their own. This
follow-up treatment is meant to rectify errors which patients can develop during the course of their struggle, and usually lasts for a short time.

Results of treatment

The more progress we make, the more we are convinced that insufficient control can, and must be cured, even in cases which seem hopeless, and even for people who have been sick for years. It would be difficult to come up with valid statistics concerning

the number of cases who are completely cured, since we would have to see all our patients one or two years after their treatment ended, which rarely happens. In any case, the results we do know about have far exceeded our expectations, and are ample reward for our efforts.

Practical exercises

left a prodigious quantity of notes on his exercises, which are an inexhaustible source of information about achieving self control and re-educating cerebral control. Here is a summary of those notes, with comments by Christian Godefroy, author and conference leader, and a specialist on the subjects of mental control and personal development.

How to make the Vittoz method a part of your daily life

The exercises that comprise the Vittoz method should be practiced while sitting down on a comfortable chair or couch, with your back towards the light source, and your eyes closed. However, you must not allow yourself to doze off, and good muscle tone must be maintained.

Close your eyes.

Ideally, two sessions of twenty minutes each will enable you to benefit fully from the method. But if you don’t have the time, remember that three minutes of exercise done properly is worth ten minutes of exercise done in haste, and that two or three minutes during the course of a day is better than nothing at all. After a few sessions, the mental attitudes prescribed by the Vittoz method will begin to affect your daily life. You will transform tasks that have become too mechanical into conscious actions. You will become tuned in to your own sensations. You will sincerely want and
attain whatever you decide to undertake. And you will take control of your life, instead of being controlled by it.
How to know if you are making progress he saying “Too much is not enough” applies here -if you use
too much salt when you cook, you ruin the meal. If you do too many exercises, or do them badly, you may not attain your objective, or you may even produce results which are opposite to what your intended. There are two negative signs, and one positive sign, to which you should pay particular attention:
1. Fatigue
If the exercises make you tired, stop. Read this book again, and resume the exercises at a later date. If necessary, consult your therapist or doctor. You should feel better after a session than you did before. Fatigue can be a sign that you are doing the exercises incorrectly, or that you have some kind of psychological resistance to them.
2. Headaches
Even the concentration exercises should not give you a headache. If they do, you are probably taking them too seriously. Treat them like a game - do your best, without putting in too much effort. often used to remind his patients of the three S’s:

Making too much of an effort may generate inner tension. The Vittoz method aims for the opposite effect - suppleness and agility of the brain. By improving perception, your brain can better adapt to new and varied situations. Think of these exercises as a kind of mental yoga or T’ai Chi, and not as strenuous gymnastics. Simple
The main advantage of the Vittoz method -and the main complaint made by intellectuals who seem to enjoy complicating things is that it is so simple.

The exercises are simple. The philosophy is simple. The images and designs it uses are simple. The more you practice this method, the simpler your life will become. You reduce complicated issues to their essential simplicity. Due to your improved perception, you discern the truth behind appearances. You will be able to accept criticism without having to justify yourself, and stop attributing responsibility for what happens to you to exterior events and the people around you.
SincereYou are not doing these exercises to please me or anyone else, but for yourself. No one but you knows what is going on in your brain. Therefore, it is essential that you be sincere with yourself.

Don’t cheat during the exercises. Don’t take short cuts. Do them sincerely, and they will work for you. The more sincere you are with yourself, the more you will be sincere with others. And you’ll soon realize that sincerity makes for much
more solid and true relationships than those based on lies and attempts at pretending to be what you are not.

3. The joy of living

An accurate measure of your progress is simply the way you feel about life. You may suffer setbacks or relapses during your treatment, but on the whole you should feel better and better about yourself and about life in general.
What does “joy of living” mean? A text found in an old Baltimore church in 1692 may shed some light on the question:
“In addition to maintaining a healthy discipline, you have to be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have the right to be here, and whether it is clear to you or not, the universe is no doubt unfolding exactly as it should. “Be at peace with God, whatever your conception of God may be. And whatever your accomplishments or dreams, make sure to maintain peace and tranquility in your soul, amidst the chaos of life. “Develop your ability to feel your oneness (with God), and you will overcome useless fears and fantasies. This will lead you back to
the joy of living.”

Control of actions

Read Chapter 6 over again. These exercises must be “conscious” and not “thought.” Thinking is emissive, while consciousness is receptive.

Your eyes receive waves. Let the waves simply penetrate your consciousness. Instead of focusing your gaze and moving from one point to another, embrace the totality of an object, with all its nuances and colors. Then close your eyes.
Visualize the image in your mind, but without thinking about it. Recall just the image, the visual impression it made on your retina. Then start again.

Look at a detail, a fragment of the object. Then close your eyes and visualize it, this time making it grow larger and larger, as if you were looking at it through a magnifying glass.

Practice developing instantaneous and total perception of images, in all their detail, like a still camera as it snaps a picture instead of like a video camera which pans across the scene, centering on one point
after another.


Clink a glass (crystal if possible) or ring a chime or a bell. Instead of listening with your thoughts, let the sound waves pass through your body without stopping them. Vibrate in unison with the sound. Perceive the sound as it continues, until it becomes almost imperceptible. Listen to other sounds, like the ticking of a clock or the regular
purring of a motor. Try to perceive all the nuances of sound, without anticipating them (as if you were hearing them for the first time). Instead of tensing up and feeling your muscles quiver whenever an unpleasant or sudden sound reaches your eardrums, accept it. Welcome it, as you perceive each vibration. Suppress all inner dialogue as you listen to the sounds around you.


Find someone to assist you, and ask them to place an object in your right hand, while you keep your eyes closed. Keep them closed throughout the exercise, in order to concentrate on your sense of touch. Perceive the whole range of sensations you experience through touching: first, hot or cold, hard or soft, moist or dry; then the texture of the material - smooth, rough, soft, etc. Don’t try to attach words to what you feel. Don’t try to determine what the object is. - Next, do the same exercise using your left hand. -Become aware of everything you touch and everything that touches you while sitting on your couch: all the points of contact between your body and the chair, the texture of the materials touching
you, all the objects (jewelry, glasses etc.) or articles of clothing that -Next, become aware of your own body. Concentrate on perceiving your body from head to foot. Feel the vibrations, the pulsing in each part of your body, radiating from the surface of your skin.

You may have heard the story about the two writers who were able to procure a can of sardines for themselves during the second world war, an occurrence which was extremely rare at the time. They opened it, began feasting on the fish, and started talking excitedly. Suddenly, one of them cried, “My God! I swallowed without tasting t!” Caught up in the discussion, he had swallowed his portion without even feeling what he was doing. This is exactly what you should not do.
Take some food that is salty or sweet, bitter or acidic, and savor it without trying to transform your sensations into words.

Do the same thing with various perfumes, or foods that give off a strong odor. Control of movement and perceptions
recommended doing exercises on movement control throughout the course of a normal day. For example:
-Instead of thinking about something else while brushing your teeth, feel the effect of the bristles as they brush over your gums and teeth.


Insomnia is one of the most persistent and depressing symptoms of psychasthenia. Patients suffer through sleepless nights, followed by bad days, and are so tired they don’t have the courage or will to react - their constant fatigue gives them an excuse to succumb to their illness. They place so much importance on sleep, and especially on how long they sleep, that sleep itself often becomes the main symptom of their disease. We’ve heard so many patients say, “If only I
could sleep, I’d get better.” This belief is more illusory than real. Certainly insomnia does make patients less capable of defending themselves, and more passive. But many patients sleep 10 or 12 hours a day, and still remain ill! We must accept the fact that getting rid of insomnia, as difficult as it is to put up with, does not guarantee a cure, and that it is the
quality of sleep, more than the quantity, that is the essential point. Sleep returns naturally as soon as there is some degree of improvement of other symptoms. However, since general improvement is sometimes slow in coming, we must look for ways to restore this essential function as soon as possible, in order to help patients to a more speedy recovery.
We will therefore explore the causes and describe the various forms of insomnia, and indicate possible forms of treatment.
Causes of insomnia

The basic, primordial cause is most often insufficient control, which takes on different aspects. Some patients can’t stop the flow of their thoughts; others suffer from some kind of phobia, for example an exaggerated sensitivity to noise, or even a fear of not being able to sleep.

Clichés are also a common cause. These do not prevent patients from falling asleep, but instead wake them up in the middle of the night, interrupting their sleep. We have seen patients suffer attacks of palpitations at the same hour every night. Sometimes, the memory of having been awakened on a previous night will repeat itself and keep
them awake for hours.

All these causes can be corrected through re-education. We can distinguish two main forms of insomnia:
1. Partial insomnia.
2. Complete Insomnia.

Partial insomnia

Partial insomnia is characterized by a kind of light somnolence which unfortunately does not give patients the feeling that have slept well.

In such cases, we advise patients to wake up completely, even a few times a night if necessary, and then to try and fall into true, deep

sleep by practicing the exercises we will describe a little later on. Another form of partial insomnia is when patients sleep deeply for one or more hours, but then wake up suddenly for no reason, and remain awake for a certain time. This is almost always due to a cliché, which must first be discovered, after which patients can concentrate before falling asleep in order to mentally set a more reasonable waking hour. When patients succeed in doing this, their insomnia is all
but cured. Hypersensitive hearing or phobias about noise interrupt sleep, but patients usually fall back to sleep as soon as the noise stops. In some cases, however, the phobia is strong enough to prevent patients from sleeping at all - they are so anxious about being awakened they can’t get to sleep in the first place. The most radical treatment for this consists of desensitizing patients to noise. There is another method: patients are instructed to concentrate on the source of noise as soon as they wake up. Such voluntary concentration will eventually cause the phobia to disappear. Complete insomniaThis is very often caused by a fear of not being able to sleep. This fear is so strong it can remain impervious to the most powerful sleeping pills. The best method we have found may seem a little strange, but it does produce results. It consists of getting patients to promise that they will resist falling asleep for a set period of time. They soon become
aware that if this instruction is really carried out, their anxiety

disappears, and they feel they can sleep. It is essential that patients keep their promise for the set time period,
and that they fight to stay awake. If their phobia reappears when they try to get to sleep, they must start again. Results will not be long in coming, and they will soon regain their ability to sleep peacefully. I have seen patients struggle with this method, not sleeping for one or two entire nights in a row. It takes quite some effort, but will always lead to success if they are sincere. Another form of complete insomnia is when patients do not sleep because they aren’t tired; they are not suffering from any phobias or clichés, their brain is calm but very awake, and they can rest without actually sleeping. This form is quite rare, and the exercises we suggest have hardly any effect, hypnosis being the treatment of choice in
such cases.

We will not be talking about cases of insomnia caused by various organic problems, or by physical pain, since insufficient control does not affect these types. We can now move on the exercises most appropriate for regaining the ability to sleep. All the exercises are effective, since they all work to calm the mind and re-establish cerebral control. Some, however,
are designed for specific types of insomnia. The procedure we have termed “de-concentration” almost always
leads to sleep, as soon as patients are capable of producing a state of rest for a certain period of time. Patients concentrate on the number 1, then try to suspend their thoughts for as long as possible while progressively distancing themselves from the number
1. Any distraction or new thought is stopped by resuming concentration on the

number 1.
Concentrating on the concept of calm and rest is also effective. A simple method is to concentrate on breathing, making it regular and pretending to snore a little, as if asleep. Visualizing the symbol of infinity (see page —) growing larger
and larger works well for some patients. A determined effort of will to fall asleep is sometimes effective, if
patients can dispel their doubts. To get results, these exercises require some training -obviously, if
patients are unable to concentrate, they will not be able to put them into practice. As for sleeping pills, we try to void them as much as possible. We are rarely forced to resort to them, and when we do it is only during
the initial phase of the treatment. The great disadvantage of narcotics is that patients are invariably in a passive state the following day, not to mention the dangers of addiction and harmful side effects.

Psychological treatment

Re-education the faculty of willpower completes the functional, mechanical part of the process of retraining the brain. Patients now have the tools to heal themselves. They know how to modify an abnormal vibration. They can concentrate, and they can exercise their willpower. All they have to do now is create new mental habits by keeping an eye on their level of control. And they can be assured that they will regain their mental equilibrium simply by applying the procedures
they have already learned.

In many simple cases, treatment can be limited to the functional level. In more complicated cases, it is sometimes necessary to compliment functional re-education with a more psychologically oriented training process.
This second part of the training is concerned with ideas, with the way thoughts are conceived, and with the various modifications patients make in their minds which distort ordinary facts, thoughts and feelings.
We are not going to talk about generalities here, but instead maintain a therapeutic point of view, and we must remind the reader of our stated intention to keep this work as simple and practical as possible, so that it can be used by patients as well as doctors. We will therefore limit ourselves to mentioning certain facts, certain anomalies which are useful to know about, since they arise in almost all cases of psychasthenia. These modifications can be easily detected by physicians and patients during the functional treatment stage, by analyzing the various determining causes of recurring symptoms. For example, fear of a certain kind of pain can immediately bring on the pain. Patients can usually understand that the thought precedes and determines the symptom, but are often completely ignorant of the psychological cause of the thought. It is this search for the psychological origin of symptoms that physicians must carefully help patients carry out, since once they become aware of the psychological causes, they can defend themselves and prevent symptoms from developing before they actually appear.

As we have said, the various psychological causes are not difficult to determine. However, therapists must sometimes look to the past, to their patients’ memories, for answers. In the next chapter we’ll be looking at some of these causes in
order to emphasize their importance. Clichés All psychasthenic patients exhibit, at some time or other, certain
symptoms which appear suddenly, under certain conditions, and which seem, at first to be completely inexplicable. The symptom may take the form of general discomfort, fear or anxiety, or be more physical - pain, dizziness, nausea, palpitations, etc. The inexplicable cause of such a symptom is actually an ancient impression, crystallized in the brain so to speak, which always produces the same symptom through an unconscious mechanism. Patients are therefore almost always unaware of this mechanism or, if they do know about it, do not connect it to the symptom. We call this
the “cliché mechanism” because of its persistence. Here are a few examples: 1. Mrs. N... suffered for ten years from a stomach disorder characterized by vomiting at mealtimes. She had no organic illness, and could not find any plausible reason for the symptom herself. After a minute scrutiny of her past, she remembered suffering from a violent
emotional shock ten years before, just as she sat down to a meal. It was this incident, buried in her subconscious, that was causing her nausea: once the cliché was identified, the symptom disappeared.

2. In addition to the usual symptoms associated with psychasthenia, a certain Mr. B... presented the following behavior: after twenty minutes of walking, he would always start sweating profusely, his legs would start trembling, and he would have to sit down and rest or some time before continuing. This had been going on for seven years, and was probably the result of a severe flu he had once contracted, which had kept him in bed for three weeks. The first time he took a walk after recovering, he developed the symptoms, which persisted, although there was no organic reason. However, as soon as he became aware of the cliché, the symptoms ceased.

3. Another case concerns Mr. L... who suffered for a number of years from palpitations, brought on by the slightest effort. We identified the cause as a medical consultation during which the physician told him to be careful about his heart. The palpitations disappeared as soon as Mr. L became aware of their origin.

We could cite many more examples, since almost all patients have a certain number of cliché symptoms which are more or less pronounced. In addition to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea etc. a cliché can cause psychological symptoms, particularly fear, depression and anxiety. Identifying a cliché usually happens in the patient’s subconscious memory of the original event, without there being any obvious connection between the event and the symptoms as they continue to arise -at least it is impossible to determine through what process of deduction the brain connects the two. However, in some cases the connection can be identified, as we will see from the following:

One of my patients could not stand seeing or hearing the number

3, which always caused her to experience violent feelings of anxiety. We found the key by accident: a relative, to whom she felt very close, had had a serious accident a number of years before, on the third day of the month. The patient had completely forgotten about the cause, but still exhibited the symptom - a subconscious aversion for the number
three. The cliché symptom will usually disappear as soon as patients become aware that it is only a reaction to a past impression, and has no relation to the present moment. However, in some cases the cliché is so strong that it cannot be gotten rid of so easily. In these cases, patients must make a voluntary effort to remember the event, until the brain is under control. When the cliché is consciously and voluntarily recalled, it does not produce any psychological
or physical symptom. It is therefore important to look for these clichés and make them conscious again, so that patients can modify them be exercising their judgment and willpower.

Abnormal thoughts -abnormal cerebral functions

In this section, we will try to determine what constitutes an abnormal vibration from a psychological point of view, i.e. what peculiarities can be associated with thoughts, sensations and emotions emitted in a non-controlled or passive state. We call these thoughts, sensations and emotions abnormal, in the same sense that we call the functioning of a non-controlled or insufficiently conscious brain abnormal.

There are no thoughts which are uniquely the result of a passive state. Therefore, there is nothing abnormal about a particular thought itself, despite the fact that it is always erroneous in some way. The same goes for sensations and feelings. We should find the same causes here as we do for other abnormal vibrations:

1. Lack of awareness
Thoughts are almost always vague and imprecise, which easily leads to an erroneous mental appreciation.
2. Lack of concentration
This makes thoughts unstable; patients have difficulty thinking hings through, and are always distracted by other thoughts. Consequently, they often achieve exactly the opposite of what they intended. In addition, multiplicity of thoughts leads to mental confusion.

3. Lack of willpower
Thoughts are not tempered by willpower, and therefore tend to be exaggerated, resulting in obsessive behavior.
4. Lack of judgment and rationality
A lack of judgment results in patients finding what would normally be considered absurd and completely unreasonable behavior acceptable.
5. Lack of compassion
In the passive state, patients are usually preoccupied with their own sensations, and don’t give much thought to others. The state brings on a kind of inertia, with thoughts being limited to the past and future (and which therefore do not require any immediate action). The feeling of non-control also creates a sense of inferiority, which distances patients from their peers, so that they separate themselves more and more from the life going on around them, perceiving people
and events through a veil of self-centered anxiety. Everything seems unreal, since they are not in contact with ordinary day to day life. As you can see, the modifications created by the passive state are very numerous.
One abnormal thought process found in many neurasthenics concerns maintaining certain “misgivings” whose origins can be easily

determined. In their subconscious mind, these people never have complete confidence in their thoughts, actions and intentions, and always interpret them to their own disadvantage. For example, a neurasthenic will not admit to making a mistake; instead s/he will form doubts which seem perfectly reasonable, but which are actually an unconscious defense against possible error. The treatment for this problem would consist of showing patients that people with normal cerebral control, i.e. in the active state, do not experience such misgivings. They must accept the fact that having constant doubts is an illness, and therefore wrong, and that the only way to understand this is to exercise cerebral control.

Generally speaking, we can assume that any thought or idea which contains a suggestion that can mislead an individual is abnormal, and becomes what we call a “dominating idea” which, in its extreme form, becomes obsessive. Patients can easily recognize their own obsessive behavior, and usually try to combat it.

However, thoughts or ideas which are dominant, but which have not reached the obsessive stage, often go unnoticed. Patients do not fear such thoughts, since they seem reasonable and even logical. There’s nothing abnormal about the thought itself; what is abnormal is the fact that little by little it, because of its intensity, the thought supplants cerebral control and relegates it to a secondary role. Such dominant thoughts are usually also rather morbid. They flourish because patients are unaware of them, and therefore do nothing to defend themselves against them.
The feeling of guilt or responsibility, for example, can easily become a dominating idea, and can turn someone’s life into a veritable hell.

Any thought, word or action, even the most innocent, can become an incessant cause of anxiety through a specious reasoning process which patients do not realize is absurd, since it is based on what they perceive as a real or possible fact. For example, a patient drops a banana peel on the sidewalk one afternoon, and at night is still thinking about it, feeling responsible for all the possible accidents it may have caused. Next morning, the guilt is still there, as the patient is sure s/he was the author of all sorts of broken bones, concussions, and even deaths. A few days later, the patient remembers seeing a piece of crumpled paper in the street, and is convinced s/he should have picked it up, that in so doing s/he could have prevented all kinds of fantastic, and disastrous consequences.

These unfortunate people spend their lives worrying about hypothetical disasters that they caused. But they never actually go back and pick up the banana peel or the piece of paper, or whatever the cause of their anxiety happens to be.
In the same way sensations, like ideas, can become abnormal. They are just as bizarre and just as ill defined as abnormal thoughts; like thoughts, they become increasingly exaggerated and persist for no reason, in widely varied forms.
Dominant feelings are even less predictable; they may become very intense, but usually don’t last very long; in most cases they become obscured and forgotten, since patients are indifferent towards anything that doesn’t directly concern them. A mother suddenly stops loving her children, a lover wakes up one morning having lost all feelings of love for his partner; even religious beliefs, which are the most important thing neurasthenics have to hold on to, disappear.
However, we must hasten to add that all these can be regained as a patient’s illness is cured.

Abnormal cerebral function

Thoughts are rarely sustained and carried through to their logical conclusion; instead, patients get caught up in any thought that arises; these supplant the original thought, and are in turn supplanted by new distractions, and so on. The original thought or idea is completely forgotten, or recalled with difficulty. Normal persons can easily follow the progression of their thoughts. In the non-controlled state, a part of the mind is usually unconscious, and patients draw conclusions which are opposite to what they intended. I am not exaggerating when I say that a neurasthenic patient can come up with a statement like, “I am in perfect health, therefore I’m sick!” and this with the total assurance of being
logical and correct. All we have to do to understand what they mean is to add the patient’s unconscious deductions. “I am in perfect health, but I may get sick” may be what they mean. Or “What if I get sick...” or “I’m afraid of getting sick...” or simply “I am sick...” Patients only recall that in their minds they followed a plausible progression of ideas, so their conclusion must be correct. It would be impossible to explain how patients manage to produce certain symptoms if this fact were not taken into account. Another abnormal cerebral function is the constant analysis patients perform in their minds. Every thought is dissected, scrutinized and weighed to the point where patients invariably become lost in a labyrinth of deductions and doubts. They cannot reach any satisfactory conclusions which would be capable of dispelling their doubts and calming their minds,

nor can they accept any proof that a given idea is valid. They end up doubting everything, including their own sensations and feelings, as well as their thoughts. You can understand the extent of the mental torture such persons
undergo. Unfortunately, the intervention of another person only seems to aggravate things.
Patients think it is their superior intelligence which eables them to analyze their thoughts and feelings so extensively, and cannot accept things any other way. They do not realize that this involuntary, unconscious analysis deprives their mind of being able to perceive any valid sensations or emotions, which they immediately distort instead of accepting as they are. They do not see that what they take for reason and judgment are really faculties which are not controlled by their “superior self” and that the doubts they entertain are only proof of their own blindness. A succession of non-controlled ideas, which is the result of abnormal cerebral function, also leads to characteristic states of morbidiy
and depression. It begins with a sensation that may be normal and not exaggerated. Then a painful memory, or some kind of fear or sad thought - in fact almost anything - becomes a pretext for developing this form of harmful thinking. The state is characterized by the following behavior: the painful memory (or whatever the pretext is) spreads progressively
and indefinitely to everything the patient remembers, instead of remaining limited to the specific event which caused it in the first place.

Mr. X is a typical example: One day, during a discussion with one of his friends, something was said that hurt him. There’s nothing unusual about that. However this friend happened to be wearing a blue jacket, and since that time all blue jackets produced the same sensation of hurt, until eventually the color blue became enough to trigger the unpleasant reaction. And that’s not all: the discussion took place on a Friday, and that day became etched in Mr. X’s mind as a fateful day, on which he refused to travel, or undertake any kind of activity. The Friday in question also happened to be the ninth day of the month, so the number nine was also to be avoided at all cost. He would not get on a bus that had the number nine, and was very careful never to place nine objects on his dressing table. This uncontrolled association of ideas persisted and all but ruined Mr. X’s life, since he spent all his time trying to avoid anything that might remind him of the original unpleasant experience.

All such anomalies must be sought out in the course of psychological treatment. We have to open patients’ eyes and make them understand how these mental defects work, and teach them to accord little or no importance to all passive thoughts or sensations. Patients who become aware of the process can correct it. It is only ignorance that gives passive thoughts and sensations their power. A whole range of thoughts and feelings can be called intrinsically passive or non-controlled, although they are not abnormal per se. Fear, envy, hate, jealousy etc. are all non-controlled; other feelings, like remorse can be either controlled or non-controlled, active or passive. In active remorse, a person recognizes his or her fault and tries to correct it; passive remorse, on the other hand, can destroy a person as s/he cannot forgive the error, nor struggle to correct it. Passive sadness is a blend of egoism and indifference, while active sadness can be healthy and beneficial.

The difference between the two is of enormous importance, both from a moral and psychological point of view. A host of destructive consequences could be avoided by an awareness of this distinction. Any passive thought is a sign of trouble, of a psychological or even physical disorder, which acts as a real toxin on the organism. We could mention many other ways in which patients develop false attitudes towards life, how they refuse to accept obvious facts would go beyond the scope of the present work. What we have to do is teach patients to be on their guard against exterior impressions. Such incidents are not caused by abnormal cerebral function, but rather by a reduction, or even total absence, of
the brain’s reactive faculties.

Reduction of reactive facultiesIn normal persons, the brain is constructed in a way that allows it to react against any exterior influences that may disturb its functioning. Psychasthenic persons, on the other hand, are exaggeratedly impressionable. This condition is, relatively speaking, more pronounced when dealing with minor external influences than with major ones. We have, in fact, observed that these people seem able to bear the brunt of an intense psychological trauma, while becoming completely unbalanced by some minor incident. This can be explained by
the fact that an intense disturbance is strong enough to awaken their reactive faculties, while a minor one is not, and therefore leaves them defenseless.

All the little incidents that occur during the course of a normal day, including changes in the weather and atmospheric pressure, be they hot, cold, wet or dry (each patients has his or her specialty) has a detrimental effect on both the mind and body. A slight problem assumes tragic proportions, a minor setback becomes a disaster. This seems absurd to persons who react with normal cerebral control; their brain tends to automatically get rid any harmful influences,
like a rubber ball that bounces back to its original form after absorbing the shock of a disturbance. In patients with insufficient control, the opposite occurs - even a minor disturbance results in a very strong impression that tends to remain fixed in the brain. How can this exaggerated impressionability be modified and a normal reactive faculty re-established? That is what patients must learn to do.

First of all, they must be conditioned to accept the following axiom:

“No exterior influence has an absolute effect on the brain.” This mean that although we naturally perceive outside influences, both strong and weak, we must always consider ourselves capable of controlling our reactions and overcoming them. It would be useless to talk about control if this were not true. And as absolute as this axiom may seem to patients, they must use it as a basis for defending themselves. This is the only way they can awaken their normal reactive faculties, increase their resistance and self confidence, and cease being a slave of all and any exterior impressions. If patients refuse to accept this truth, they will be sure to suffer a relapse. They will never be able to defend themselves, since they believe that the sensations and symptoms they experience, although

caused by exterior influences, are logical and cannot be combated They would be true if exterior influences affected normal persons in the same way, but their error lies in the fact that it doesn’t - it has no effect unless a person’s brain is passive, and therefore incapable of reacting properly.

We ask patients to verify for themselves what we are proposing, through numerous experiments. When their attitude has been modified in a positive sense, they will be convinced that we are right. In most cases, exterior influences cannot produce harmful effects unless the brain is in a passive state. In its active state, the brain is always capable of reacting. If warned in time, and if they possess the ability to modify brain activity from previous training, patients soon learn to defend themselves. Relapses are insidious, usually stemming from a patient’s inability to differentiate between normal and nervous reactions.

The following case history is a clear example:

Mr. C left the treatment center fully confident that he was cured. On the trip home, he caught a slight cold. His doctor, who considered him to have a weak constitution, advised him to be careful and stay in bed for awhile. The patient gradually became depressed. He developed a persistent headache, and feelings of fatigue and lassitude grew until any activity became difficult, and all the symptoms of his neurasthenia reappeared. The patient placed all the blame on the fact that he’d caught a cold, and it didn’t even occur to him to react. He wrote me a month later and asked for my advice. As soon as I wrote back and explained his error, all his symptoms disappeared.

We could cite a host of similar relapses, some due to even more absurd causes like a bout of anger or some extremely minor, everyday incident like breaking a pair of glasses. We always find the same error - the patient does not react, thinking that any attempt to do so would be futile.

Causes of relapseThe preceding section called attention to the kind of errors we should look for as being the main causes of relapse, based on what we have observed in our patients. We are not referring to relapses which occur in patients who are not completely cured, since these are not real relapses, but only to those which occur in patients who have re-established normal control. The disappearance of symptoms may be temporary, and cannot be considered as absolute proof of recovery. We can see how, in cases of intermittent psychasthenia, the brain remains overexcited to a degree,
despite the appearance of health.

Patients may suffer a relapse for two main reasons:
1. The mechanism of concentration is not well established.
2. Psychological causes.

Faulty mechanism

Most patients who come back to us have not fully recovered because they have not fully integrated the laws of control into their lives. Treatment usually stops when symptoms have disappeared, or when patients feel able to control them. But this is not enough for a complete cure. Awareness, concentration and the exercise of willpower must become habitual. This does not always happen during the few weeks of therapy. Patients must therefore remain attentive and con

tinue the work on their own, until such time as normal control is fully established. Usually, concentration and willpower are fairly easy to maintain, while awareness of reactions breaks down. In such cases, it is usually enough to resume simple “conscious action” exercises to attain a definitive cure.

In less frequent cases, a “cliché” which has not been fully eliminated takes hold of the patient once again. This type of relapse is also not serious, and can be quickly overcome by doing some more work on eliminating the clichéd response pattern.

Psychological causes

Intense emotional shocks are not as often a cause of relapse as might be expected. Generally speaking, patients react well to such situations. Although they may become sad or depressed, they do notfall back into their old defeatist state. However, post operative shock due to narcosis can easily lead to a relapse which, however, usually doesn’t last very long.
A more common cause is lassitude: patients who have constantly to struggle against various kinds of problems may give up the fight, and sometimes voluntarily decide to suffer a relapse, since all they want is rest, hoping to escape the burden of life’s vicissitudes. We must understand these people, and try to help them. In all forms of relapse, previous treatment still has an effect, so that improvement occurs rapidly, however weak the patient’s motivation may be. Nevertheless, some motivation is necessary - patients must want to get better. We sometimes observe patients who, at the
last moment, step back and do not dare take the step that will free them from their illness.

Why does this happen? The possible causes are numerous, and patients rarely acknowledge them. It may be a real fear of resuming a normal life and the responsibilities that go along with it; in other cases, patients might want to stop suffering, but are unwilling to give up their negative habits; still others get some kind of absurd pleasure
from complaining, and wish to continue doing so. Unfortunately, such cases are not unusual, even among patients
who seem to want to get better, since it must be realized that deep down they may be afraid of being cured. Although very frustrating for treating physicians, these people should not be abandoned, for the simple reason that they are still sick.

This brings to an end our study of the re-education of cerebral control. We have dealt with those areas which we consider most useful to patients, and which will give practitioners an insight into our methods.
The section on psychology has been condensed a minimum, since our treatment in this area does not differ from traditional psychotherapeutic methods, which have already been amply described by authors more qualified than ourselves. The following sections will deal with insomnia, and the specifics of the treatment we use.

Will Power

willpower is brought into play. With this constant in mind, we can define willpower as a separate force, a special energy existing in each individual, independent of any thought or idea, which manifests itself under certain conditions
which we will specify in a moment. This force exists in every individual, and remains intact as long as that individual exists. Used in a normal way, it increases during intense periods of cerebral or physical activity, and diminishes during periods of inactivity. However, like all forces, it has its limits, and also needs periods of rest.

Therefore, this force is latent: it does not manifest itself as an increase in vibration unless a person wants to want something, and this process of activating the faculty of willpower is what we call...
The effort of willThe effort of will, which can also be called an expansion of willpower, can be compared to opening the tap of an energy reserve; the energy that flows out can be applied to an action, or to a thought or feeling. This is the simplest way of describing how willpower works. The force of willpower acts like a whip. It is temporary, but can
be renewed. Its intensity is regulated by a normal individual’s need at the moment it is brought into play, since an individual can control his/her emission of willpower, just as s/he can control all other aspects of cerebral activity.
In cases of insufficient control, we have to work not only on the aculty of willpower, which is weakened by inaction, but also on the way it is used, which is always defective. The reservoir of energy may have some leaks, or a patient may not know how to use the energy reserve at all.

What conditions are necessary for bringing willpower into play? They are, of course, the same in for persons suffering from insufficient control as they are for normal persons, and can be considered from two points of view.

First let’s look at the phenomenon of willpower from a mechanical point of view, which is the less important of the two, but which should be understood. This is what happens whenever willpower is used:

1. An effort of will is never possible when persons are exhaling. It always happens during the pause after inhaling, as if the brain were looking for a physical point of reference in the air contained in thechest cavity.

2. There is a more or less pronounced increase in pulse rate, and accelerated cerebral circulation.

3. An effort of will is almost always accompanied by a muscular contraction.

These three points describe the mechanical side of the effort of willpower.
To get patients to reproduce the same conditions, we make them do the following exercise:
They are told to inhale, and then hold their breath for 2 to 4 seconds while mentally repeating the phrase “I want” and clenching their fists.

This fulfils the mechanical requirements for making an effort of will: retaining air in the chest cavity, which also increases pulse rate and circulation; repeating “I want” in relation to an act or decision that has to be made (or simply saying “I want to want...”). Too much emphasis should not be placed on the importance of this little scenario. All that is required is that patients become familiar with the process through repetition, until it becomes almost unconscious.

Now let’s look at the psychological conditions, without which there is no emission of willpower. These are three in number:
1. Knowing what you want.
2. The possibility of getting what you want.
3. The sincerity and truth of wanting.

Knowing what you want

No effort of will is possible without definitive thought. We have to be precise about the nature and the goal of wanting. We often believe we know what we want, without realizing that the idea we have in mind is too vague and imprecise. In such cases, the mind cannot concentrate on the idea, which has no substance, and nothing is achieved. We must get into the habit of accurately formulating exactly what we want, in a clear sentence. We often realize how vague our desires are when we try to formulate them clearly. This indicates that we often really don’t know what it is we want.

Possibility of wanting
This second factor is easily understood - it is futile to want what is impossible. The mind knows when this is the case, and will not make any real effort to achieve what it knows is impossible. Sincerity and truth of wanting
Of the three psychological conditions involved in making an effort of will, it is most often this last which is defective, and I believe I am not exaggerating when I say that it is due to a lack of sincerity that most efforts of will fail. The causes are numerous: first there is paralyzing doubt, the fear of making any kind of effort, which can even be seen as a form of selfimposed suffering for daring to want something. Then we have the class of persons (and there are many) who lie to themselves, some unconsciously, others quite knowingly, but who because of weakness or moral cowardice, eventually expose themselves. Persons who do this unconsciously usually give up after “trying to want” which means that although they think they may want something, they cannot make the decision to actually want it. This can be easily corrected when
patients are made aware of their mistake.

Results are more difficult to obtain with the former group; it’s very hard to get people to admit that they don’t really want what they say they want, since they can easily hide behind all sorts of problems, some of them real, which will prevent them from making an effort of will.
So the first thing to aim for is sincerity - getting these people to be honest with themselves - and then the effort of willpower will achieve the desired results. However, we must also recognize that, aside from persons who fool themselves more or less consciously, there are those in whom the notion of making an effort of will has been entirely extinguished, especially if they have been ill since childhood. We must understand that during their long years of illness, any attempt to exert an effort of will was nothing more than a futile struggle. These repeated failures, where trying to exert their willpower was synonymous with fatigue and anxiety, eventually annihilated any vestiges of willpower they might have originally had, to the point where these people cannot even comprehend its existence in other people.

Such people do not know how to want, but always in the sense that they don’t know how to use their willpower.
These are the three main factors concerning the emission of willpower. Now let’s look at how we can use them to re-educate the faculty in problem cases. Re-educating willpowerThe first step consists of getting patients to experience the actual sensation of making an effort of will. To do this, we take the simplest kind of action, one which requires a minimum of movement and expenditure of energy, for example wanting to get up, walk, bend an arm, etc.

As in the exercises on control, patients must be made aware that it is really their own willpower which sets off the impulse to get up, or to walk. This point must be firmly established, since however feeble the emission of will is, it still constitutes a real effort.

Next, we gradually and methodically increase the expenditure of energy patients are required to make. At first we only ask them to perform a simple action for only a few seconds, i.e. almost simultaneously with the effort of will itself.
Little by little, we increase the level of difficulty by asking patients to do things which take more energy, and for longer periods, for example writing a letter, or even making a decision and carrying it out within a given time. Patients should be reminded that in the beginning of the re-education process, their willpower is a very temporary force, and should be taken advantage of while it is there. Also, any decisions they make should be carried through, otherwise they
will lose all self confidence.

The physician’s role is to make sure that any voluntary act or decision a patient makes is within the limits of his or her capabilities. It would not be prudent to attack a harmful symptom, for example, until a patient is confident in his/her ability to make an effort of willpower. Generally, patients quickly learn to evaluate their efforts at exercising willpower, and can determine whether the effort was well directed by feeling the energy it generates in them. difficulty, the physician should proceed in the following manner:

The first question patients should ask themselves is:

a. Do I want to try to want? (such and such an object, such and such an action, etc.)
If patients are sincere, and their thoughts precisely defined, the effort of will becomes easy. They will not have to fight against doubt, nor worry about success, since they will initially be asked to do only very simple things.

Second question:
b. Can I want? (This determines possibility.)
Third question:
c. Do I want to want (or will I decide to want) - this is the natural progression from establishing possibility -it affirms the decision to want and constitutes the completed effort of will. For patients, these three questions involve a real examination of their conscious ability to make an effort of will, and can thus be very useful. An attending physician will often observe the following initial results: trying to want is generally successful, while establishing the possibility is doubtful, and the “wanting to want” stage is not there.

After some training, the possibility stage becomes established, but the “wanting to want” stage is still difficult to achieve.
Efforts of will should not only be directed at actions, but also at modifying ideas, sensations and feelings. Patients must therefore get used to making more abstract efforts of will, formulating statements like: “I want to be my own master!” or “I want to be more energetic!” or “I want to want!” in order to awaken the sensation of wanting itself.
In certain cases, as an additional measure, it’s a good idea to look through a patient’s past in order to find instances where s/he did exert some measure of willpower, i.e. where s/he can remember experiencing what can be termed an “expression of will.” It is curious to note how each individual experiences his or her willpower in a different way. Some find it better to work with abstract ideas, others prefer a definite act or task they must accomplish, while others prefer
to work on their emotions. People have affinities for different things (as the saying goes: Different strokes for different folks!). An orator will find satisfaction in making a moving speech, while a businessman will enjoy working out a difficult deal. It all depends on the temperament and habits of the individual patient.

In describing the major factors involved in making an effort of will, we have already inferred some of the errors patients tend to make, such as a lack of sincerity, expressing ideas which are not well defined, not realizing the impossibility of a given desire, and so on. We must draw our patients’ attention to the frequent confusion between willpower on the one hand, and desire, impulsiveness and intention on the other.
The difference between desire and real willpower is particularly subtle, since for many persons desire is the only reason for wanting something. This confusion is so deeply ingrained that patients often object to the distinction, saying something like: “Well how do you expect me to want something if I don’t desire it!”

This confusion usually prevents patients from making an effort of will. However, it can be avoided by making them aware of the difference between desire and willpower.
Only willpower is an active form of energy, and only willpower expresses freedom of choice; desire is passive, subjecting persons to blind attraction/repulsion reflexes. If, as often occurs, we can reasonably want what we desire, it is

only after desire has been tempered by judgment and freedom of hoice. However, we should not wait for a desire to arise before wanting something, since this would mean giving up our freedom of choice. Impulsiveness is the same as desire, but exerts an even stronger influence. It is a powerful form of mental energy, but it is also disorganized, with no built-in braking mechanism, and therefore not an expression of freedom.

Impulsiveness is even more dangerous than pure desire because it is less rational, and can dominate an individual’s mind more completely. Once again, patients who cannot differentiate between willpower and impulsiveness believe that they want what they impulsively decide to want, without realizing that they are, in fact, slaves to their own impulses.

Intention, even more than desire, misleads patients. Isn’t intending to do the right thing enough? Well, no it isn’t, since almost all intentions remain just that - an intention -instead being transformed into action. Persons who rely on this false conception of willpower quickly run out of steam and rarely achieve their objectives. Intention is all the more dangerous in that it satisfies a person’s conscience to some extent - people are content with defining an objective, but do not make any real effort to attain it. Intention, although an illusory form of energy, can possess a certain amount of force, just like feeling sincere about the intention to do good can create the illusion of honesty.

However, with a little training, it is not difficult to differentiate between intention and willpower.

Only willpower can completely satisfy a person’s conscience; your conscience knows when a decision has been made - it is no longer preoccupied with finding an objective, nor with defining what it wants. When an outlet for its energy has been found, your conscience becomes calm. When only the intention is there, the energy is only encapsulated and not actually used - you always get the feeling that something is missing, that your intention is only half true. Physicians will have no problem differentiating between intention and willpower, since a patient’s desire will not lead to an exercise
of willpower, but only to a greater degree of inner tension. Patients can be helped to recognize this purely physical difference in sensation, and will eventually be able to tell if there is a real emission of energy (in the form of willpower) or simply an increase in tension (intention).

We will now attempt to explain why patients, when faced with two choices, cannot make up their minds to want one or the other option.
The error patients make here is to try and see too many of the consequences involved in choosing one or the other option. The major issues are obscured behind a host of secondary considerations, which in turn prevent patients from exercising any kind of clear and objective judgment. They can no longer find sufficient reason for choosing one option over the other. Patients must be taught to “go with their feelings” since the primal, instinctive choice is usually the right one, encompassing as it does the most important elements of both options. This is what patients should base their decisions on, and this is what will give them the right to want whatever it is they decide. Generally speaking, patients should get used to making rapid decisions as soon as the idea of what is wanted is clearly defined. The more they hesitate, the more objections they find, until they lose themselves in secondary considerations and end up not knowing what they want at all. The role of willpower in treating insufficient control Willpower plays a capital role in the re-education of cerebral control. When used properly, it can make all the difference. The exercise of willpower instills patients with a sense of self mastery, and forces their subconscious to remain within normal limits. It inspires confidence
and courage. In short, almost anything can be accomplished through a concentrated effort of will, including the re-establishment of cerebral control. Psychologically speaking, all passive and uncontrolled thoughts become active when they are controlled by an exterior force or influence. All mental symptoms of illness disappear as soon as the influence of willpower becomes possible. Anxiety which is produced voluntarily cannot last; even the strongest phobias make no impression against an effort of will.

We could therefore say that a patient who is able to exercise his or her willpower is all but cured.
As soon as patients get used to exercising their willpower, the faculty becomes almost automatic, especially in instances of insufficient control, and constitutes what we call Mental Recovery. It would be hard for psychasthenic patients to recover if they had to make a real mental effort every time they tended to act passively, without sufficient control.
Fortunately, this is not the case. A well trained brain makes the effort on its own, with hardly any conscious participation on the part of the patient. By simply being aware that s/he is falling, the patient will make the necessary adjustments to remain upright, without any conscious effort - balance is recovered so to speak. Although unconscious, this mental recovery is the result of an effort of will, and can be monitored in the intensity of vibrations felt through hand contact.
For some patients, mental recovery feels like a mechanical effort. One will find the sensation stimulating, another disturbing. What is curious to note is that these patients do not think they are exercising willpower, and see the change as simply a defense against passivity. When mental recovery assumes this mechanical quality, it may not last very long. There is a danger that such patients will resume their old bad habits. Real mental recovery, on the other hand, is a guarantee that control is stable, and that the habit of exercising control is firmly established.

Elimination, de-concentration

We teach patients how to concentrate and how they should centre their thoughts or ideas. We also teach them how to do the opposite, i.e. how to get a thought out of their mind. The usual way to do this would simply be to think of something
else. However, what seems simple to normal people is all but impossible for neurasthenics. All they seem to be able to do is concentrate even more on the undesired thought. They must be taught to eliminate such thoughts, by attacking them directly. The simplest training procedure is the following: Patients choose 3 to 5 objects and place them on a white sheet of paper. After studying the objects, they are asked to eliminate one by taking it off the paper and putting it aside.

They are then told to close their eyes and to make sure they can mentally eliminate the object in question. This is the main part of the exercise. A second and third object are eliminated in turn, until all objects are gone. If the exercise was done correctly, the patient will be left with a mental image of a blank sheet of paper, devoid of objects.

Although this exercise may seem infantile, it is effective. After a number of repetitions, the brain becomes accustomed to eliminating unwanted objects (or thoughts) from its mental image, an ability which is very useful.

Patients are asked to write 2 or three numbers down in their mind. They must then erase each number successively until their mental image is empty. Offer a patient two objects and tell him/her to mentally choose one and eliminate the other. The same thing can be done with two numbers, letters, words, phrases. etc. You can verify whether or not patients are doing the exercise correctly from the vibrations felt by placing your hand on their forehead.

If you ask a patient to mentally write the numbers 3 and 5, for example, you will feel a vibration on the left side when s/he writes the first number, 3 (since people write from left to right) and a vibration on the right side when s/he writes the number 5. Then ask the patient to eliminate one number. If s/he chooses the 3 and keeps the 5, for example, you will feel a vibration on the right side (and vice versa for the 3).

The same occurs for objects - the object to the right of the patient will be inscribed on the right side, an object to the left on the left. It is interesting to note that nervous persons do the opposite of what they are supposed to do and, at the beginning of their training, it is always the object or number which they want to eliminate that they fix in their brain.

Once patients can eliminate numbers, they move on to letters, then to words, and finally to sentences. Words are first erased letter by letter, then as whole words. Sentences are first erased as words, then as whole sentences.
After a short period of training, patients succeed in eliminating obsessive ideas and phobias, temporarily at first, and then more and more permanently. We use another procedure of elimination which we call “de-con-centration.

” This, in fact, is the opposite of the concentration exercise. In this exercise, patients first concentrate on the number in question. They must then voluntarily and gradually eliminate the number. We insist on this point since, under no circumstances, should the number disappear without the patient’s consent. Here’s how to proceed:1. Patients can mentally write the number in smaller and smaller characters, until it disappears completely. 2. They can also imagine that the number is getting farther and farther away, until it becomes invisible.

3. Instead of making the number move farther away, patients progressively increase the interval of rest between efforts to concentrate on it. An initial rest period of 1 second is lengthened to 2, 3, 4 seconds; during these intervals, patients must eliminate all thought of the number.

4. After initially concentrating on the number, patients are told to relax their brain for as long as possible. As soon as a thought arises, they concentrate on the number again, and so on. These last two techniques have the advantage of getting the brain used to relaxing. If the state of relaxation is long enough, it leads to sleep, and is therefore the best way to cure insomnia.

WillpowerWillpower is the crucial point of the training, since it is the forcewhich will allow neurasthenic patients to regain

the faculties whichtheir illness has caused them to lose.The first thing we notice is that a kind of intrinsic willpower ex-
ists as a force in all individuals, whether normal or neurasthenic, andeven in persons suffering from abulia. Therefore, it

is not actuallywillpower that these people lack, but the ability and knowledge touse it correctly.

We will first define what willpower is, and to do so we will baseour definition on what happens in the brain when

willpower isbrought into play.Here’s what we observed: as soon as a person wants to want ordecides to want, energy is released in the brain, and cerebral vibra-tions double or triple in intensity, depending on the force of theperson’s willpower. In graph form, willpower looks like this:WillpowerThe increase in vibrations may last for some time or not, depend-ing on the individual’s state of mind, but it is always apparent when


Now that we have defined the states of conscious thought and action, let’s move on to the second essential quality of control - concentration. DefinitionConcentration is the faculty of being able to fix thoughts on a given point, to develop an idea without getting distracted, to be able to lose oneself in a book, in some kind of work, etc. The faculty is
completely lacking in neurasthenic patients. We will now outline the exercises we use to help patients acquire
the ability to concentrate.

At first, trying to concentrate on an idea is too difficult. So the first exercise consists of mentally following a curved line, for example a eight or the geometric sign of infinity. It is hard to imagine that such a simple exercise can present any
problems, yet many patients are incapable of doing it correctly.

If the exercise is carried out properly, a double regular wave pattern will be felt through hand contact; if done incorrectly, you will feel interruptions in the wave pattern, almost always occurring as the patient reaches the outer edges of the curves.Patients will become aware of this themselves with a little effort.

Ask your patient to follow the swinging pendulum of a metronome, while mentally repeating the ticking sound. Start with 10 to 15 repetitions, and then progressively increase the duration of the exercise.

Train your patients to try and retain the impressions they perceive when touching an object for a certain time. In these three exercise, we are trying to help patients develop mental concentration related to sight, hearing and touch.

Concentration on a point in the body: in this exercise, patients are asked to mentally determine the exact sensations they are experiencing, first in their right hand, then the left hand, then the right foot, left foot, and so on. When this becomes fairly easy, move on to the elbows, knees, ears, various fingers, etc. What happens is that in order to specify the various sensations coming from different parts of the body, patients are forced to concentrate on those points. The advantage of this exercise is that the patients themselves know if they are concentrating correctly or not.

After a few days, concentrating on a given part of the body will produce a particular sensation which patients can easily recognize, for example a feeling of pins and needles, or a slight shock, or the feeling that blood is flowing into the designated area. Hand application wll show more accentuated vibrations on the right side of the forehead when patients concentrate on their right hand or foot, and on the left side when concentrating on the left hand, foot, elbow, etc.
The doctor places his/her finger on any muscle, and asks the patient to concentrate on that point. If the patient is able to concentrate, the doctor will feel a slight muscular contraction under his finger.

Note that it is often necessary to wait a few seconds before getting esults. The exercises we have just described are easy, and can be improvised on to form infinite variations; we have only given the basic forms here - the rest is up to you.
Concentrating on the number 1: this exercise often presents real difficulties, and we have seen many patients take weeks before being able to do it correctly, although at first it seems quite simple. The exercise consists of writing and mentally saying the number 1, three times in succession, without allowing any other thoughts to interfere. In addition, between each written and mental repetition, there should be a pause of between half a second and a second. For example: 1
pause 1 pause 1 pause It is not necessary to maintain a mental image of the number 1 during each pause.

In this way, patients have to concentrate on sight, words, and mental hearing (since the word is heard in the mind as it is spoken in the mind) as well as on the act of writing, which also occupies the brain.

As soon as a patient is able to do the exercise correctly, increase the number of repetitions to 4, 5, 6, 7 etc. A patient who can do seven successive repetitions is able to concentrate sufficiently. Let’s look at what happens in the brain, functionally speaking. To start with, it must make an effort of will to suspend all other cerebral activity, then it performs the voluntary act of writing the number 1, speaks it mentally, and listens to it mentally at the same time. Then everything stops for a second, after which the process is repeated. The patient must therefore concentrate a number of times
in a row. It should be noted that without the pause the exercise becomes much easier, but at the same time loses much of its value. The exercise forces patients to be fully in control of their brain; that is why it is so difficult.

Page 60Chapter 8The presence of a controlling physician is indispensable at theoutset, since patients are hardly aware of

the errors they make.

A curve representing good concentration would look like this:1pause1pause1pauseEach 1 produces a clear impulse, followed by a period of relax-ation.When incorrectly done, the following curve is produced:1pause1pause1pauseWe should not place to much emphasis on visualization of thenumber 1: some patients never succeed in doing it. The effort to visu-alize can be useful at first, but it can be dropped later on, and re-placed by concentrating on the sensation of writing, mentally speak-ing and hearing.

Of course, any other number can be used, as well as grammaticalsymbols like dashes or periods. We chose the number 1

because itgets patients used to the idea of concentrating, which, in fact, meansfixing the mind on one single thought or

action.Patients will then make the transition more easily from this formof concentration, which is more or less mechanical, to real psycho-logical concentration. As a means of transition, we suggest that pa-
tients try to gather all their thoughts and concentrate on the number1. In other words, patients are told to mentally repeat

the number 1when they feel they have succeeded in gathering all their thoughtsinto a single, larger thought (which is really the concept of thought itself).

An image of the above would be a circle whose rays (separatethoughts) all converge on the number 1 at the center. Every patient has his or her particular concept for achieving this result: some imagine that they are shrinking their head until there only room for one thought or idea; others try to eliminate all thoughts except the thought of 1. If patients persevere, they will gradually become convinced that they are able to concentrate for a set period of time, no matter how
short. Once this conviction is acquired, it becomes a precious aid in their struggle. But it is not enough - patients must eventually learn to concentrate whenever, and on whatever they want.

This is certainly more difficult to achieve; patients should practice ignoring distractions, at first in solitude, and finally when surrounded by people, noise, etc. In this way, they gain confidence in their ability to concentrate at will. This ability becomes complete when they are able, through concentration, to put a stop to anxiety, or overcome a phobia.
Now let’s assume that our patients have acquired this ability: the next step is to ask them to concentrate on an idea.
Concentrating on ideasIn this exercise, patients are asked to develop an idea in their minds. For example, they may try to resolve a problem, or prepare a written summary of something they read, or listen to a conversation or lecture for a predetermined period of time, without allowing themselves to get distracted. To do this they must instantly stop all other
thoughts from entering their mind, except those which are directly related to the subject at hand. Patients will start to see practical results only gradually, after a number of failures. The allotted time period should be very short at first, so as not to discourage them, and the activity should be treated as a simple exercise and not some kind of test.

The most common error patients make at the beginning is to wonder if they are really concentrating properly during the exercise. This self verification naturally interrupts their concentration, and patients start worrying if they are able to concentrate at all. It should be explained that they will not be really concentrated unless they approach the exercise as simply as possible. This series of exercises cannot be directly controlled by the attending physician (except the one which involves concentrated reading, where hand application will produce a series of regular wave vibrations). For the rest, we have to depend on what patients tell us, and leave them to judge their own progress. However, there are a number of other exercises which can be verified through hand application, since the curves obtained from them
are very characteristic. One example is “Concentration on Tranquility.

We ask patients to try and establish a sensation of mental calm, of psychological and physical tranquility in their minds. To do this, they will mentally evoke an idea or thought which represents those feelings. For example, one person might think of a peaceful landscape, another of a particularly soothing piece of music, another of some elevated moral concept like compassion, or a prayer, etc. Once the feeling of tranquility is attained, patients must try to maintain it for as long as possible, through an effort of willpower. The image should become more defined the longer it is held in the mind. Objective verification is simple -as soon as the sensation of tranquility is established in the brain, the hand perceives a modification of vibrations, which become slower and stronger.

Concentrating on the idea of energyThis is done using the same method as in the above exercise. Patients are asked to try and feel the energy and strength pulsing through their own body, by remembering occasions when they were really
energetic. They will try to fathom what “energy” really is, or might be. And with a little perseverance, the sensation will become engraved in their brain.

During the exercise, hand application will detect a series of more accentuated, voluntary vibrations. Concentration on the idea of controlThis exercise is the natural progression of the two preceding ones, and requires a simple process of deduction. In fact, as soon as patients are able to remain calm or summon their energy at will, they are capable of self control. They will, therefore, not have much difficulty in defining the sensation of control. They simply have to be persuaded that, during those moments of voluntary tranquility or energy, they really are in control, in order for
them to gradually develop the faculty of real control which is so essential to their well being.

The vibration associated with control is stronger than the usual vibrations -rather than the series of short impulses produced by voluntary energy, these vibrations are slower, stronger and very regular. At first, patients only have to experience the sensation of tranquility, energy or control for a few seconds; as they develop the habit, the duration will increase. Patients should therefore do the exercisesa number of times per day, under varied circumstances.
Soon the sensations will become engraved in their brain, so that they are able to produce them instantaneously, which is extremely useful. The same method can, of course, be used to establish other sensations, depending on what we want to change in the patient’s behavior, and on each individual patient’s characteristics.

Physiological effects of concentrationThe ultimate aim of concentration is to regularize what we call “cerebral emissions” which are continually disturbed in the non-con-trolled state. Regular cerebral emissions are necessary to concentrate
thoughts on a given object, and to digest or classify that object; without regular emissions, no useful work can be done, since the mindwanders aimlessly, and is disturbed by all kinds of distractions. Concentration directs the thought process, and is the antidote for fighting obsessions and phobias.

The effects of concentration are not limited to the mind, since itcan act on the physical body. The physiological effects of concentration are worth mentioning here. To understand these effects, it must be assumed that concentrating
on any fixed point results in an influx of nervous energy, originating at that point. This nervous influx is proof that concentration does produce cerebral emissions which have a very special regularizing and healing effect, which we will now look at in light of a few sample cases.

Mrs. V, 45 years old, suffered from almost complete paralysis of her lower limbs for close to ten years. She could stand up for a moment, but could not walk; as soon as she tried, she felt as if her legs were collapsing; she had no conscious control of the muscles in her legs, although she could move her upper body and arms normally. She had no problems with perception, nor did she complain of any particular pains. But she did experience a sensation of intense fatigue,
which her immobility only aggravated. Aside from these primary symptoms, she clearly exhibited symptoms of cerebral instability, although these she all but ignored, preoccupied as she was with her paralysis. She was obsessed with the fear that she would never recover, since all treatments up to that point (electric shock, showers, massage, injections, etc.) had had no effect. It was not difficult to prove to this woman that her pseudo-pa-ralysis was the result of her brain not sending adequate nervous emissions to her lower limbs, and that prescribing appropriate exercises would soon alleviate the condition. This case was relatively easy, since a diagnostic error was hardly possible. However, when patients suffer from contractures, it is sometimes difficult to be certain of the results. The following case, on the other hand, proves that we should never give up hope unless a lesion has been absolutely identified as the cause of the disorder.

Mrs. W was bedridden for 14 years because of generalized contractures. All the doctors she consulted agreed the problem was caused by an incurable disorder of the medulla. I was only called in to provide some relief, since the contractures were very painful. The patient seemed to be resigned to her condition, and only asked for some relief from her pain.
My cerebral examination provided signs of excessive tension. This led me to hope that the cause of the problem was not a lesion of the medulla, but a defect in her motor mechanism. She agreed to let me treat her, and to my great joy she recovered completely in six weeks time, and has remained healthy for a number of years since. The heart also responds very well to these exercises. Here are two very revealing cases: Mrs. X came to see me about her angina attacks; she had suffered from acute dilation of the heart (muscle), accompanied by generalized dema and cyanosis. Her treating physician had concluded that cause of the disorder was an organic lesion, complicated by nervous problems. When she first came to see me her attacks were frequent, and she was under constant care, day and night.

Her slightest movement brought on dyspnea and palpitations. In my opinion, the nervous problem was the major cause of her disorder. I advised her to give up all medication, and prescribed a number of exercises. Fifteen days later she went home, completely cured. The second case concerned Mrs. Y, who had been bedridden since catching the flu, which was not serious in itself, but after her convalescence dragged on for weeks, her doctor concluded that her heart was in bad condition, that she was suffering from asthenia and palpitations, during which she tended to faint at the slightest movement. She spent two months in this condition, during which time I didn’t see her. She finally wrote me, asking if there was a possibility her disorder was of nervous origin. I wrote back, advising her to try certain exercises, and to verify any results with her treating physician. And in fact, a few days later her symptoms disappeared. The digestive system is susceptible to a host of nervous reactions, among them contractions of the oesophagus, stomach or intestines, hyperchlorhydria, constipation, ulcers, etc. Here too, emission of nervous currents through concentration can perform wonders. An example: Miss X had been suffering from attacks of hyperchlorhydria and vomiting for a number of years.

Her condition worsened, and she ended up having an operation (for gastro-enteritis). Unfortunately, this had no effect. Her pains and nausea persisted, and prevented her from eating anything. She was in this miserable condition when I began my treatment. With no medication, and no specific diet, her symptoms soon improved, and eventually disappeared.
If we had enough space, we could cite many more such cases whose origins appeared to be organic, but which were cured through re-education. However, since space is limited, we will conclude this chapter with a description of how nervous currents affect pain.

Pain Pain is a common symptom of neurasthenia, and can be easily influenced by nervous currents. We might conclude, at first, that it would seem inappropriate to call a patient’s attention to his or her pain. But this view is mistaken, since concentration, directed at the point of pain, results in a normal nervous influx which neutralizes and modifies the current of pain perceived by the brain. This can be proved by the following simple experiment: Pinch a person’s body hard, and ask the person to concentrate on the painful point: if the person can concentrate well, the pinching sensation will clearly disappear as soon as the current is directed at the point in question. Of course, the subject must concentrate on the
area of the body, and not on the pain itself.

This phenomenon is not a case of self hypnosis, since it is easy to see that the cessation of pain does not happen until the nervous current is created, and this in an incontestable manner. Mr. X had been suffering from intense pain in his right thigh for months. The pain would come in the form of attacks. His doctor diagnosed the cause as ataxia (loss of motor coordination due to a lesion of the central nervous system). Analgesics and injections of morphine could only partially alleviate the pain. Attacks usually lasted for a period of about three weeks. With my procedure, the pains
stopped completely after only two sessions. However, results do not always come so quickly, and sometimes require a relatively lengthy training period to succeed. Nevertheless, my experience proves than many cases of pain due to nervous disorders can be cured with this simple procedure.