Hippocrates v Hypocrite  




It is a well attested fact that the human body consists of literally trillions of cells.....

It is therefore an extraordinarily complex matrix, and diagnosing and medicating any medical condition is an extraordinarily complex undertaking.

This fact has led the medical profession to regard the human body as something of an insoluble riddle, where nothing is straightforward and everything must be broken down into its constituent parts and tests and treatments devised for every one of those constituent parts.

What has been lost in the process is the idea that actually the body is a Gestalt – that is before anything else it is a sum of its parts -

And the identity that inhabits any given body has formed – and been formed by - the sum of those constituent parts


Gestalt therapy was extremely popular in the 1970’s and 80’s but has rather fallen out of favour latterly, giving way to the preponderance in contemporary psychotherapy of cognitive therapies. The Wikipedia article on gestalt therapy lists the following Principal influences:

•             Otto Rank's invention of "here-and-now" therapy and Rank's post-Freudian book Art and Artist (1932), both of which strongly influenced Paul Goodman.

•             Wilhelm Reich's psychoanalytic developments, especially his early character analysis, the later concept of character armor and its focus on the body.

•             Jacob Moreno's Psychodrama, principally the development of enactment techniques for the resolution of psychological conflicts.

•             Kurt Goldstein's holistic theory of the organism, based on Gestalt theory.

•             Martin Buber's philosophy of relationship and dialogue ("I - Thou").

•             Kurt Lewin's field theory as applied to the social sciences and group dynamics.

•             European phenomenology of Franz Brentano, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

•             The existentialism of Kierkegaard over that of Sartre, rejecting nihilism.

•             Carl Jung's psychology, particularly the polarities concept.

•             Some elements from Zen Buddhism.

•             Differention between thing and concept from Zen and the works of Alfred Korzybski.

•             The American pragmatism of William James, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey.

It will be seen from reviewing this list of influences the reason Gestalt therapy has fallen out of fashion is because all the listed thinkers – Rank, Reich, Kierkegaard, Buber, Jung, the European phenomenologists, Husserl, Heidegger et al, William James and Dewey - have all more or less fallen out of favour ..... But truth is not about fashion, or rather truth transcends the vagaries of fashion....

The reason we are failing so spectacularly to tackle the problem of Cancer – or COVID - is not because there is no resolution to the problem or that we are not capable of finding a resolution – but that we are tackling the problem in the wrong way – we are looking at it in the wrong way

We have become so fixated on looking through the microscope and finding a solution at the cellular level that we are missing the main point

And this is because we persist in assuming that the individual cells of our body have an autonomy that they don’t in fact possess....we assume that in some way we can affect the behaviour of a certain subset of cells without in some way affecting the behaviour of all the other cells that belong to the same matrix (i.e body)

And this is a serious error – as serious in fact as the error in mathematics that was exposed by Gödel’s Incompleteness theorems....

In these theorems Gödel drew attention to the fact that in any given system there will always be truths that cannot be proved without reference to a greater system – a meta-system.

The problem in medicine is no different from the problem in mathematics.

Each discipline creates a vocabulary within which that discipline’s adherents can operate and function. The vocabulary is always constantly fluctuating and like everything else in the universe is constantly expanding.

But it can never contain all the facts. It may be able to account for  the large majority of the facts  85 or even 90% of the facts - but it will never be more than that... there will always be a cut-off point beyond which it is no longer possible to answer

In the 1980’s Edward de Bono made a fortune out of proposing that mental health depended upon the capacity for lateral thinking – that is ‘thinking outside the box’...

It’s something for which there is no room within a closed system – whether that be mathematics or medicine

Science has always operated on the basis of the ‘minimum working hypothesis’ and largely this modus operandi works well; but when and where it ceases to work it becomes essential to look beyond the box – to examine the meta system (and it should be pointed out that for Gödel every meta system that the mind of man could conceive has its own meta system ad infinitum...)

And this has now become a matter of life or death for millions of people afflicted with chronic health conditions such as cancer or COVID

The American philosopher John Dewey made the concept of the working hypothesis central to much of his enquiry:

John Dewey used the concept of the working hypothesis as a pivotal feature in his theory of inquiry. Contrary to the principles of verification and falsifiability, used in formal hypothesis testing found within dominant paradigms of 'normal' science, working hypotheses were conceived by Dewey as neither true nor false but "provisional, working means of advancing investigation," which lead to the discovery of other unforeseen but "relevant" facts.[14] Dewey's development of the concept of the working hypothesis emerged from his contextualist epistemology in which absolute truth is unobtainable and replaced by "warranted assertability".

Thus, Dewey noted:

                The history of science also shows that when hypotheses have been taken to be finally true and hence unquestionable, they have obstructed inquiry and kept science committed to doctrines that later turned out to be invalid. 

John Dewey (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. Henry Holt and Company. pp. 142–143. ISBN 0-03-005250-5.


Dewey was writing in 1938. Nothing has changed since. The above sentence encapsulates the problem that I have termed The Disease of Modern Medicine. This iswhere better illustrated than in the case of cancer.

Cancer is a systemic condition – the tumour is only the last stage the manifestation of a process that has commenced at some point far antecedent.

The common denominator of all the so-called forbidden cures for cancer is that unlike the orthodox treatments they approach the problem of cancer as a systemic problem rather than as a genetic malfunction.

Thus  the forbidden cures address principally matters of lifestyle – that is how the body is expected to function within the universe it finds itself – at the most basic level what it ingests and how it excretes...

The focus is upon creating an environment hostile to the proliferation of the cancer cells – an environment therefore that is diametrically opposed to the environment that engendered the proliferation of cancer in the first place.

Now because we have no way of putting this approach on trial, because it is not possible to patent a lifestyle or a diet there has never, and probably will never be, the sort of controlled studies that could produce a definitive conclusion as to efficacy for any of the alternative methods of combating cancer ... that is any method that  has not been deduced from the limited vocabulary (subset) currently employed by the medical profession....

Until such time as the medical profession abandons its current working hypothesis, takes cognisance of Gödel’s theorems and realises the necessity of extending its researches outside the box, of expanding its researches to include factors belonging to an infinite regress of meta systems the only recourse for humanity – and for the millions of people afflicted with cancer - is to go it alone....

My starting point in researching the ‘forbidden cures’ was the work of Wilhelm Reich and I believe this was as good a starting place as anywhere – because the premise that Reich started out from was that we have to view the human organism as a functional unity....

In The Function of the Orgasm Reich writes:

 ‘It was…clear that biological energy governs the psychic as well as the somatic. A functional unity prevails’

 see page 265 Function of the Orgasm)

This may seem a harmless enough speculation ….but actually it cuts to the very quick of the entire philosophical and cultural edifice of our society – and undermines the most elementary of our assumptions re the functioning of the human organism….and this of course is why eventually Reich had to be silenced and was basically branded a criminal and a lunatic; because what he was asserting was actually threatening to every vested interest – particularly the medical and pharmaceutical industries…

Because he was saying ‘You’ve got it wrong’…

And the fascinating part of it is that it was through the study of Cancer and its causes that he arrived at his revolutionary conclusions.

Because cancer by its nature, and our inability to get to grips with it, exposes the flaws in our thinking about how the human organism functions….

I am convinced that Reich came closer than anybody to identifying the true nature of the problem of cancer; because he saw it as a systemic problem – not just at the somatic level, but at the psychic and emotional levels. He realised you cannot view the human organism and the ills that assail it other than as a functional unity

In his book Proust was a Neuroscientist John Lehrer explores how the old Cartesian dualism falls apart when examining the life and works of some of the great artists – many of whom anticipated in their work the findings of Science in the 20th & 21st centuries. He starts his enquiry with an examination of the life and work of Walt Whiman who all his life celebrated The Body Electric

Whitman got this theory of bodily feelings from his investigations of himself. All Whitman wanted to do in Leaves of Grass was put “a person, a human being (myself, in the later half of the Nineteenth Century, in America) freely, fully and truly on record.” And so the poet turned himself into an empiricist, a lyricist of his own experience. As Whitman wrote in the preface to Leaves of Grass, “You shall stand by my side to look in the mirror with me.” It was this method that led Whitman to see the soul and body as inextricably “interwetted.” He was the first poet to write poems in which the flesh was not a stranger. Instead, in Whitman’s unmetered form, the landscape of his body became the inspiration for his poetry. Every line he ever wrote ached with the urges of his anatomy, with its wise desires and inarticulate sympathies. Ashamed of nothing,Whitman left nothing out. “Your very flesh,” he promised his readers, “shall be a great poem.”

Neuroscience now knows that Whitman’s poetry spoke the truth: emotions are generated by the body. Ephemeral as they seem, our feelings are actually rooted in the movements of our muscles and the palpitations of our insides. Furthermore, these material feelings are an essential element of the thinking process. As the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio notes, “The mind is embodied . . . not just embrained.”….


Later Lehrer quotes extensively from Damasio’s researches to underline his thesis that mind and body are inextricably combined:


One of Damasio’s most surprising discoveries is that the feelings generated by the body are an essential element of rational thought. Although we typically assume that our emotions interfere with reason, Damasio’s emotionless patients proved incapable of making reasonable decisions. After suffering their brain injuries, all began displaying disturbing changes in behavior. Some made terrible investments and ended up bankrupt; others became dishonest and antisocial; most just spent hours deliberating over irrelevant details. According to Damasio, their frustrating lives are vivid proof that rationality requires feeling, and feeling requires the body. (As Nietzsche put it, “There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom.”)



Without a body there can be no feeling or reason. Feeling and reason are attributes of a physical matrix. It may be that it may be possible to experience feeling and exercise reason in another matrix than the one we inhabit – but we can have no knowledge of this – so it is pointless to speculate.

Wilhelm Reich would have understood exactly the point Lehrer is making and would have seen Damasio’s researches as only corroborating his own findings.