Synopses & Reviews
Why does a "clean-living" person get sick, while a more obvious candidate stays healthy? Why does someone with a fatal illness suddenly become well, while another with a more benign condition dies? In Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, best-selling author, medical intuitive, and teacher Caroline Myss explores the deep-seated, spiritual causes of illness, and the symbolic lessons that underlie it. "In the 1980s, when the New Age movement was growing like crazy, people began to express a willingness to take responsibility for their illness," says Myss. "We were all convinced that complete recovery of health was just one psychological insight away. Yet after a few years of trying every available healing regimen and publicly sharing the inner wounds of their psyches, people still didn't get well." As frustrated and puzzled as everyone else, Myss privately began to wonder if somehow they were all on the wrong track.
Then in 1988 Myss had an experience that made her realize the power that lies in being wounded. "One day, in passing, I introduced a friend of mine to two gentlemen I was talking with," says Myss. "Within two minutes, my friend managed to let these men know that she was an incest survivor. Her admission had nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation we'd been having, and in a flash I realized that she was using her wounds as leverage. She had gotten to the point that she defined herself by a negative experience." Once Myss became attuned to this phenomenon, which she quickly dubbed woundology, she saw it everywhere. "In workshops and in daily life I saw that, rather than working to get beyond their wounds, people were using them as social currency," says Myss. "They were confusing the therapeutic value of self-expression with permission to manipulate others with their wounds. Who would want to leave that behind? Health never commands so much clout!" It was then that Myss began to challenge the assumption that people always want to heal.
Why People Don't Heal and How They Can shows how choosing to stay stuck in woundology often comes at a terrible price: the loss of health. "We are given a finite amount of energy to run our physical bodies, our minds, and our emotions, as well as to manage our external environments," says Myss. "When we choose to siphon off some of this energy to keep negative events in our histories alive, we are robbing that energy from our cell tissue, making ourselves vulnerable to the development of disease." Once this path is seen as the true energy debt that it is, choosing health means choosing to release the weight of the past. Too often, this is something that people just can't or won't do.
While the practice of woundology is a common source of illness, personal negativity is not always the cause; as contradictory as it seems, sometimes illness can be the answer to prayer. "Our spiritual development is meant to culminate in an ability to see things impersonally, to recognize the greater meaning of life's challenges apart from the literal events," says Myss. "To that end, illness can physically guide us onto a path of insight and learning upon which we would otherwise never have set foot. It is an unparallelled catalyst for expanding personal consciousness."
Why People Don't Heal details the intended path of one's spiritual evolution, asserting that it is a microcosm of the spiritual development of humankind over the ages. "With each astrological age (which lasts about 2,000 years), human consciousness develops in new ways," says Myss. "During each age a particular kind of energy dominates, and it affects people's lives, health, and spiritual outlooks, leading to certain perceptions about the nature of reality and the power of the human spirit." Since the ladder of awareness that humankind has climbed over centuries is the same one each of us is meant to ascend in our own individual lifetime, we can then study the spiritual lessons of the ages of Aries (Tribal power), Pisces (Individual), and Aquarius (Symbolic) and apply them to our own human natures; to fail to do so has distinct health consequences.
After describing the reasons why people don't heal, Myss delves into how they can; the first step often consists of calling one's spirit back, retrieving one's energy from the places it has gotten "stuck" in one's past. In practical terms, this means learning to see that difficult experiences are meant to be learned from, and gotten over. Why People Don't Heal and How They Can also details the process of learning to read the body, recognizing that its illnesses are very specific expressions of particular spiritual issues (an idea Myss introduced in her bestselling book Anatomy of The Spirit). In every case, seeing the spiritual lesson that underlies any illness requires a shift in consciousness. "I believe that all illnesses can be thought of as transformation experiences," says Myss. "Looking upon an illness as an opportunity to grow in self-awareness activates the potential for healing that lies dormant when you take a passive position or descend into self-pity. When an illness is a part of your spiritual journey, no medical intervention can heal you until your spirit has begun to make the changes that the illness was designed to inspire."
As easy as it might sound, the prospect of self-awareness is terrifying to most people, because every internal change in perspective or belief activates an external shift, usually destroying the familiar (and therefore comforting) outlines of their lives. Why People Don't Heal and How They Can scrutinizes why many people are so scared of change that they will unconsciously sabotage their own healing process rather than make changes in their emotional and psychological lives to effect a shift in their biology. "I often say that 'your biography becomes your biology,'" says Myss. "If you are sick, you must recognize that living life as you always have seemingly brought you to illness. Although there are no guarantees about healing, if you are able to enter into a process of change, then you maximize your chances of getting well if not on the physical plane, then more importantly in a spiritual sense."
Finally, Why People Don't Heal explains why an intellectual understanding of what you need to do to heal is not enough; to ignite the healing fire, you must believe it with your heart. "The greatest illusion of the New Age is that awareness alone heals," says Myss. "Believe me, awareness by itself does nothing! Putting the healing process in motion requires a regular spiritual practice and discipline, not just exercise and clean living."
About the Author
Caroline Myss earned her B.A. in journalism, her M.A. in theology, and her Ph.D. in energy medicine. In 1982, she began working as a medical intuitive, one who "sees" illness in a patient's body by intuitive means. In 1994 she stopped giving such readings (which Harvard-trained neurosurgeon C. Norman Shealy estimated to be 93% accurate), opting instead to deliver her message to a wider audience through lectures and workshops. Her schedule is now booked two years in advance, and her workshops draw an average of 1,000 people each. In 1996, Harmony Books published Myss's book Anatomy of The Spirit, which continued to hit bestseller lists a year after publication. As Sounds True's bestselling audio author, Myss sells hundreds of audiotapes each week. In December 1997, PBS will begin airing nationwide a special show on Caroline and her work, titled Why People Don't Heal and How They Can.