Pulse Diagnosis and Emotions
- Although this was posted to another group's discussion, I thought it
might be interesting to those who do pulse diagnosis, too. JR
I think this group's discussion of psychiatry has gotten into social
and religious implications and off the mark a little bit of what it
is we actually do in clinic. It's not a question of being able to do
psychoanalysis or talk therapy on a patient because TCM practitioners
are not trained in any real capacity to do so. But you are
overlooking an important connection between Western medicine and
Chinese medicine that would easily solve this controversy. We know
from recent studies in neurobiology that emotion is not limited to
some specifically designed circuts of the brain that were once
thought to be the "center" of emotion. Emotions are nonconscious
mental processes, and are a fundamental part of the information
processing and energy flow that are central features of the
organization of the self. Emotion is an essential way that the brain
integrates and organizes itself and, in turn, the rest of the body.
As such, emotions are improtant for us to consider in clinical
practice. Emotion changes physiology, physiology changes physical
For that very point we have 5-Elements in the Chinese medical model.
We can see how emotion fulfills that function of integrating and
selforganizing in 5-Elements. From the perspective of 5-Elements,
mind and body cannot be separated. Unfortunately, when I teach pulse
diagnosis, I haven't yet had a student ask "how do we see the brain
and distinguish a problem in it separately from an organ problem.
(for example, a tumor in the brain from a tumor in the breast
tissue)." These and many other problems can't all be just reduced to
spleen vacuity. The answer is that when we divide the pulse into
different levels following the Nan Jing, we can distinguish emotion
from function, and from physical structure. Observing emotional
states in pulse diagnosis and checking their influence on disease
processes is of central importance. Emotional states are often
underlieing to many disorders in Western culture.
Psychoneuroimmunology is a fascinating field, and accessible to those
who understand 5-Elements.
We do this type of analysis in the Dong Han pulse diagnosis system,
and I believe it is also done in Leon Hammer's system as well. My
point is not that this information is inaccessible to all but a few
who have studied these two systems, but that this type of
information, in general, is available from Chinese models that are
already familiar to you but underutilized. For example, the study of
emotions discussed in Larre and Rochat's book, Seven Emotions, and in
Western medical literature as well fit in the 5-Element model.
Unfortunately, they are poorly described and not clearly understood
in the TCM model (here I'm using the national board's standard as a
common definition of TCM).
I look forward to the Blue Poppy's book on psychiatry because the
inclusion of Dr. Lake's own clinical use of Chinese medicine will be
groundbreaking. For far too long, studies and practices derived from
Chinese case histories have always been held suspect in America. The
case history reports of the successful use of Chinese herbal formulas
by a Western MD in psychiatric practice will go further than anything
else to validate Chinese medicinals and lend credibility to our
system of medicine.