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Patterns and Change

We all have patterns.  These are generally learned behaviours, but pervade every part of our life, conscious and subconscious. It’s hard to establish where these patterns come from and often hard to identify and be aware of them.
Counselling or psychotherapy, aim to deal with and examine the patterns that arise in our emotional and mental behaviour, aiming to understand how they manifest and how they impact on our day to day existence and relationships.

Our learned behaviours will impact everything from what we have for breakfast to how we relate two our siblings or maintain meaningful relationships throughout our lives.  We are taught and influenced by others ands by the environment around us.

What is normal?  What we might find unacceptable in our society or culture, is the norm in others. Religious, cultural, dietary or behavioural differences are generally just behaviours that haves been imparted to us and on us by our immediate surroundings.

If we are hungry and surrounded by chip shops, it stands to reason that unless we have a strong behavioural ethic which counters ours immediate need, we are going to eat chips.  Well I am anyway.

Constructed thinking might reason that if we wait a while, travel further and control our urges, some vegetables might be available.

Then we need to explore the mind which is tormented either by the guilt of eating the chips or the addiction to them.  Balance might be to feel that as I don’t eat chips every day and that generally my diet is fairly balanced, a portion of steaming chips out of the paper, might be a nice thing to experience.

In either instance we are dealing with the probability that we have been educated and encouraged to think in this way.  If our environment creates the norm that chips are standard daily parts of our diet, these thoughts might not even arise and unconscious destructive behaviours become a way of life.

So it is perhaps choice that demonises us? If we are ignorant of chips every day being bad, ignorant of other food choices and how to cook them, impoverished both culturally and economically then our behaviour becomes a standard, irrespective of its destructive qualities.

When we discuss diet as an example, the choices seem obvious, especially to the educated, affluent middle class who have both the means and the access to choice. Yet on many other levels choices are being made regarding behaviour, that is totally subconscious and yet may as easily be destructively counter to optimal health and well being.

Movement and posture is one such environmentally influential factor on all humans.  The way we move, work, sit, relax and sleep will be impacted by society and culture and the world around us.  Our immediate need defines the way we behave.  This can change instantly depending on the circumstances we are placed in.

A few years ago I travelled around India on a budget of five pounds a day.  This needed to include food, accommodation, travel and all day to day expenses.  Toilet paper at that time was very expensive, almost fifty pence a roll, ten percent of the daily budget.  If I was to use it, then I would have to miss out on other things.  The decision therefore was to go with the cultural norm of the country and use water and hands.  The pros and cons of this could be debated at length, but suffice to say the adaptation was fairly straightforward.

On returning to a western country however, I did not continue my Indian ways, but reverted immediately to type.  I use this story as an example of the remarkable adaptability of the human condition to work and take in board it’s own environmental norms.
If we for in with our societal norms in this small way, from a habitual perspective, why is it so difficult to see that we would take these on from an attitudinal and physical perspective?

Our immediate environment is going to impact on our behaviour at every level. The tattooed, pierced, punk, with high hair and outrageous clothes aims to stand out and away from this societal expectation and create a difference.

After a while, this too becomes the norm and some then seek more and more ways to extract themselves from the mainstream thinking.

Yet there will be few punks who will dress their children up the same way!

New Scientists

The plethora of sceptics who drag their ideas about what is or what is not scientific, seem to be growing in number.

People who have no idea about a particular field or way of thinking, seem to feel that it’s appropriate to deny that anything has no validity simply because it has not been proved to their satisfaction.

These people are not necessarily scientists but will use the word as justification to condemn most of what is outside of the field of human understanding.

The raging homeopathy debate is a case in point.  To date there has been no study which shows to any degree of scientific satisfaction, the effect of homeopathy.  It has therefore been condemned as placebo or a waste of money or expensive water etc etc.

Yet clearly something is working.  Horses, babies, and millions adults the world over, respond and relate to the therapy.  From its own standpoint however, the science world refutes and refuses to accept that any effect can be forthcoming.

It’s an interesting stand off but one which demonstrates a contradiction in science.  The claim is always put that science changes its thinking when evidence is presented to prove a position.

But what if the methods of measurement don’t work for the thing you are trying to test.  I love my kids.  More than anything in the world.  More than cheese.

But the statement, however true and widely acceptable by the world in general, is an untestable and un-provable statement.

Similarly I might feel that I can change someone’s back pain by addressing the connective tissues that relate to it.  But pain is again quite subjective and will have different causes for different people.

Even from a sound and structure bio-mechanical model, I can understand that this person has some pain because of the way that they hold their shoulders.  Someone else because the hamstrings have created a tension through the pelvis.

One treatment and advice will be different from the other, even though the pains are similar.  This makes the testing of the overall approach, be it Bowen or anything else, quite different.

It’s hard to accept for a scientist because it doesn’t fall into a convenient basket from which to generalize.  Instead it becomes part of the whole gamut of human behaviour.

Science can’t measure most of the things that we hold dear.  Our faith, our feelings for someone or something, our foibles or our habits.  It fails to address the reality of human emotion and behaviour and I am very glad it does so.

The essence of successful science is to practice reductionism and deny humanity as an influencing factor.  This is harmless enough if left alone.

But science at it’s worst is arrogant enough to think that everyone has to conform to its own set of criteria, or be useless.

Something might work.  A herb, a method of treatment, a prayer, a food, an exercise.  Yet unless it is tested, to standardized, rigourous methods, in conditions that are acceptable within the field, it is dismissed as un-scitentific and damned in perpetuity.

Then comes the amateur scientist and Daily Mail reader, who preaches that because something hasn’t been proven ‘scientifically’ irrespective of perhaps millions of people  attesting to its effectiveness, it is a sham, a nonsense, a lie.

In the field of health and social care the playing field is skewed.  There is some kind of bizarre belief that if a doctor ‘does something’ then it must be evidenced, have been researched, published and enshrined in the laws of medical practice.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Most medicine is not fully researched or evidence based, but instead relies on years of experience, intuition, feeling understanding what works, best practice, habit or even because there isn’t anything better to do.

If the health service were required to produce evidence for everything it does, the whole system would shut down. Immediately.

Of course this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be engaged in research or trying to understand what is going on when we put our hands on someone.  But research is an expensive and painful process. My response to a recent blog about how Bowen is under researched.

“Researching asthma is something I would LOVE to do, and I have no issues with any of the guidelines you lay out. Problems? Well it’s a vicious circle and a little bit like being homeless. Because there is no research on the use of Bowen and asthma, it’s difficult to find someone to give you permission to do research. Mental eh? It makes me smile when people assume that all you have to do is rock up and say you want to research something and then the doors open.

Sadly it doesn’t work like that. Ethics committees, statistics, box plots, pilots, etc etc etc. And then you have to have someone write it in a language that fits where it will be published, get it accepted, get it through peer review and then sit back and watch while every smart arse with half a brain cell tells you how crap it is!”

Before we start jumping around and getting het up because the useless ASA in their opinion don’t agree with an advert, we should have a look at some of the ‘truths’ we hold dear and not be surprised when we find how little evidence backs them up!


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