A Missing Piece in Understanding Alzheimer's Disease by Maureen
Statistics reveal that someone is diagnosed with dementia every seven seconds worldwide. One in eight people will develop Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reach 65; by age 85, one in two – that’s 50% – will have developed it. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day in 2011, the number of Alzheimer’s patients could triple in the next 40 years. That represents a tidal wave of tsunami proportions!
Given these dramatic statistics, isn’t it time to understand a missing piece in Alzheimer’s disease?
The Missing Piece in Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Published in Recovering The Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing July2012-Vol. IV, No.3 -www.recoveringself.com
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease points to understanding the emotional components of disorders that underlie physical ailments.
Statistics reveal that one in eight people will have Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reach 65; by age 85, one in two—that’s 50%—will have developed this illness. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day in 2011, the number of Alzheimer’s patients could triple in the next 40 years. That represents a tidal wave of tsunami proportions!
Given these dramatic statistics, could there be a piece of this disease’s puzzle that we’re missing?
Materials and Methods (Case Study)
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain characterized by loss of memory and mental functioning. It often entails personality changes. By the time Alzheimer’s develops, the body may have cried out for decades with other ailments that were treated by medication, surgery, or other forms of traditional medicine. Yet the individual may not have realized what messages the body was conveying with each symptom, condition, disease, or broken bone.
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan is perhaps the world’s most famous Alzheimer’s sufferer. Let’s examine how his body may have cried out emotionally for years, yet the missing piece—the underlying psychological meaning—was not addressed.
In his book Messages from the Body, Dr. Michael J. Lincoln stated that the psychological meaning of Alzheimer’s disease is an inability to face life as it is. He believes they’ve been demoralized by having their competence and confidence undermined in childhood. There are feelings of insufficiency, inferiority, inadequacy, and insecurity and they come to a place where they feel angry, helpless and hopeless.1
Louise Hay, author of Heal Your Body, wrote that the mental cause of Alzheimer’s is a refusal to deal with the world as it is—hopelessness, helplessness, and anger.2
Individuals with this disease may have been emotionally abandoned in childhood, which may have undermined their competence and confidence. Granted, many children who’d experienced emotional abandonment have grown up to be highly successful. So how do they end up developing Alzheimer’s? Perhaps as they became older, they kept striving to be “good enough” in their parents’ eyes. Constantly seeking acceptance from the outside may have compelled them to keep creating situations in which they’d finally be accepted.
In addition, on a physical level, habitually experiencing hopeless, helpless feelings during one’s life can create chemical and neurological changes causing one’s brain cells to deteriorate.
The emotional determinates of Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to start at birth or early childhood than at retirement age. Why? Because a commonality exists between one’s way of operating—Modus Operandi or MO—and the programming experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. At the end stage of this disease, individuals appear to be in their own private world; they can’t let themselves out or let others in. This may have been their MO throughout life—that is, how they learned to operate early in life shows up in an extreme way later.
All their lives, people with Alzheimer’s have likely borne these two characteristics:
· Highly private. Although an innately private man, Reagan became a movie star, governor, and president—professions that often keep others at bay and can be unconsciously chosen by those who have difficulty getting close. Actress Connie Wald stated, “As warm as he was, he was always a very distant person. Charming, but very private—that was Ronnie.”3
· Unable to let themselves out or truly let others in. Reagan’s son said his father never hugged him until after he had developed Alzheimer’s. His daughter said he was emotionally distant.
Reagan had suffered several illnesses. Let’s look at the “messages” of these illnesses to consider how the missing piece--the psychological meaning could have helped prevent Alzheimer’s.
(1) At age four and again at age 36, Reagan contracted viral pneumonia. In his book Messages from the Body, Dr. Lincoln described the psychological meaning of pneumonia as:
... emotional abandonment at a very early age, to which they reacted with becoming a "self-made person" with a portable plexi-glass phone booth around them that effectively isolates the person from others. They are fearful and anxious to the point that they are overcome with futility feelings. They are struggling with confusion inducing conflict that there is failure to maintain immunity to negative ideas. They feel overwhelmed and restricted and angry.4
Note: This doesn’t mean if you’ve had pneumonia (or any of the diseases mentioned here) that you will develop Alzheimer’s. However, each illness presents an opportunity to look at the “message” of the disease. Any conditions Reagan developed did not cause Alzheimer’s; rather, they provide an opportunity to consider the role that the psychological meaning of disease plays in the development of any illness.
(2) At age 38, Reagan broke his right femur in six places playing ball in a charity tournament. Broken bones signify profound inner conflict in the depths of one’s being. According to Dr. Lincoln, the right femur represents difficulty with “self-support” issues and problems with manifestation of the masculine.5 The thigh area represents having difficulty coping, feeling unlovable, vulnerability-avoidant and confidence-undermined.6
(3) In 1985, he had surgery to treat colon cancer, which Dr. Lincoln noted the psychological meaning this way:
[They] are not happy with their life or with the world around them. They are in effect terrified of the universe due to being attacked from conception on. They literally can’t let go of yesterday’s wastes, so their digestion gets backed up and so does their hatred.7
Also, Hay wrote that cancer reflects “deep longstanding resentment. Deep secret or grief eating away at self. Carrying hatreds. ‘What’s the use?’ and colon is holding on to the past. Fear of letting go.”8
(4) Shortly after the colon cancer, Reagan underwent cryotherapy for two basal cell carcinomas, which is skin cancer on his nose. Hay wrote that the nose represents self-recognition. Dr. Lincoln described the psychological meaning of nose problems this way:
[They] are deeply disappointed, disillusioned, despairing and/or feeling powerless. Their experiences have resulted in their not trusting themselves. They never know when someone is going to pull a fast one. They are prone to humiliation and shame, and they tend to feel any honors they receive are for little achievement. They are lacking in self-pride and are also sexually ashamed and inhibited because of having been subjected to a confidence-undermining family.9
(5) Reagan then had prostate surgery in 1987—seven years before his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s what Dr. Lincoln wrote about prostate problems:
. . . Due to changes in their life such as divorce, aging, or illness, there are intense feelings of frustration, and uselessness. They are self-contained and lonely with a lot of deprivation, grief, and depression. There is a significant amount of fatigue, along with a breaking down and/or a certain giving up. They feel they just don’t cut it at being a male. Now it is coming to roost in the symbolic center of masculine sexuality. They are afraid that their purpose in being here is already over.10
Note: Because Alzheimer’s disease may develop from a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, it is especially significant to release any sense of uselessness, giving up or feeling that one’s purpose in life is already over. (This can be done using the MO or Modus Operandi Technique.)
(6) In 1987, Reagan was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, which Dr. Lincoln noted the psychological meaning this way:
[They] are a self-made person who believes that they are all they have got. They have felt cut off from the environment and from the Universe all their life, and that therefore they have to handle everything on their own hook, unassisted. This activates moments where things are getting out of control and beyond their coping capabilities. They bring on anxiety attacks and the resulting heart palpitations. It is resultant of never having received love and merging as a child.11
(7) Reagan then developed Dupuytren’s contracture of the left hand, which was operated on in January, 1989. This is an abnormal thickening of tough tissue underneath the skin of the palm causing the fingers to curl. Here’s how Dr. Lincoln noted the psychological meaning of the left palm for people with this condition: [They] are experiencing conflicts around vulnerability, feelings and relationships with practical management issues. They are inadequate to the cause of handling life’s demands on the day-to-day level.12
With these seven and all his other diseases (Reagan had several not mentioned here), his body may have cried out emotionally for 60 years or more before Alzheimer’s set in. In the end, Reagan succumbed to aspiration pneumonia, a common cause of death for people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
Those at the end stage of Alzheimer’s live in their own private world; they can’t let themselves out or let others in. This is significant considering “it is the power of being with others that shapes our brains”13 as Cozolino wrote in The Neuroscience of Human Relationships. He also pointed out that neurons by their nature are social; they shun isolation and depend on their neighbors for survival. “If they aren’t sending and receiving messages from other neurons on a constant basis, they literally shrink and die.”14
The results lie in addressing these key questions. (1) If neurons are social, shun isolation, and depend on neighbors for survival or they’ll shrink and die, does it mean that the brain’s neurons can “shrink and die” without strong emotional connections—providing a metaphor for people who live in their own private world? (2) Are having strong connections with self and others among the missing pieces in preventing Alzheimer’s? (3) How could understanding the “messages” of Reagan’s previous illnesses have prevented him from developing Alzheimer’s?
The psychological meanings of our ailments teach us, expand us, and move us on—if only we understand them and heed them.
My studies and clinic work over the past 14 years have shown Alzheimer’s can be halted by understanding our Modus Operandi, learning what psychological meaning each symptom, condition, and disease reveals, and releasing the related emotions.
How? The healing technique I invented—the MO Technique—releases the psychological meaning of any symptom, condition, and disease that resonates with the individual. The MO Technique doesn’t replace treatments and interventions from traditional medicine; instead, it’s used in tandem with them.
Of most significant value is incorporating the psychological meaning of disease into the healing process. This missing piece may be critical in understanding how we develop not only Alzheimer’s but all diseases.
 LINCOLN, MICHAEL J., Ph.D. Messages from the Body, Their Psychological Meaning. Talking Hearts, rev. 2006, (9th print 2008). p. 49.
 HAY, LOUISE L. Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them. Hay House: Calif., 1982, p.12.
 COLACELLO, BOB. Ronnie and Nancy-Their Path to the White House-1911 to 1980. Warner Books, NY, 2004. P 240
 Op. Cit. LINCOLN, p. 427-428.
 Ibid. pp. 359.
 Ibid. pp.526-527
 Ibid. pp.148
 Op. Cit. HAY, p. 22-25.
 Op. Cit. LINCOLN, p. 402-403.
 Ibid. p 435.
 Ibid. p. 65.
 Ibid. p. 271.
COZOLINO, LOUIS. The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain. W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. p.9.
 Ibid. p.39.