Feeling stressed? Does your heart race? Stomach ache? Have unexplained muscle stiffness? Bad back? Fibromyalgia? Chronic Fatigue? Restless legs? Migraines?
Abraham Low, MD, could save a lot of people, if only more people kept an open mind.
Though Dr. Low, a native of Poland, was born in 1891 and died in 1954, his work goes on in quiet and unassuming ways.
Abraham Low came to Chicago in 1925, when he was appointed as an instructor in neurology at the University of Illinois Medical School and became a professor of psychiatry. In 1931, he was appointed Assistant Director and then, in 1940, Acting Director of the University's Neuropsychiatric Institute.
From 1931 to 1941, he supervised the Illinois State Hospitals and the staffs that had charge of some of the most severe mental patients in the wards.
Low's work is important for the way it is mostly ignored today. Most doctors, who are specialists in one field or another, have a lesser understanding of the body as a whole, and, when seeing patients, they are seeing, for the most part, strangers. They feel compelled to find a cause for the problem, and this often leads to incorrect findings and the waste of millions of dollars in treating symptoms but not the cause.
Low believed that many of the maladies that afflicted all but the seriously mentally ill were curable. Why? Because so many of the hospital beds -- even back then-- were filled with patients with "nervous" illnesses. They had ulcers, paralysis, back pain, chest pain, rib pain, leg pain, shoulder pain, vertigo, ringing in the ears, racing heart -- you name it. Yet, when examined, there was no real pathogen for their diseases. These people were chronically stressed and anxious.
Low established Recovery International, which became an independent organization, to help these people resume life to its fullest. The original purpose of Recovery International was to have other people help each other with illness caused by emotional upset, early support groups, if you will.
Low believed that people who were in pain or suffering in various ways needed to accept the doctor's diagnosis that nothing was wrong with them physically and that they had to only return to normal living and find the will to overcome their fear. When you met with your group at Recovery International, which was supervised by medical personnel, you would receive your "booster" to help to rid the fear. Low can be considered the father of Cognitive Behavioral Training.
Low wrote a number of books. The one that can be considered the most "self-help" like is Mental Health Through Will Training, which takes the person suffering from various problems and explains what the brain does to the body and what to do about it.
Low did not totally believe in Freud's theory that every malady was the result of hysteria brought on by repressed emotions. He recognized that people got caught in a vicious circle of fear-anxiety-fear, which kept many physical maladies going.
Break the fear; break the pain or the vertigo or the sore back or racing thoughts or racing heart or the anxiety.
Today, allopathic medicine is committed to the idea that emotions do not cause physical problems. Some will allow that emotions and anxiety contribute to problems, but are not the cause. Slowly, science is proving that emotions can and do cause a wide number of physical problems, from the sore back to fibromyalgia to migraines.
However, unless the right diagnosis is found --i.e., chronic stress-- the people suffering will never get better. If the patient believes that some unknown pathogen is causing the problem, they will go from doctor to doctor and live in despair.
The effects of chronic stress and what it does to a body should be required in every health class in high school, because chronic stress resulting in anxiety effects the same nerves and muscles and same bodily organs, always. Once these people were looked at and found to have no organic problems, then they could work to deal with the stress and resultant anxiety.
If medicine today continues along the path it has been on for the last 80 years or so, there will be more and more unexplained "syndromes" that come along that seemingly have no cure.
Ever notice how many physical therapy locations have sprung up over the last fifteen years or so? The same with chiropractor offices? It as is if the American body has somehow just fallen apart, that somehow two million or so years of evolution has somehow failed in the early 21 Century.
Learn more about an original Chicago institution, Recovery International, and the rare contribution it has made to better mental health.