Obsession, Compulsion, Addiction, and Phobias all fall into the category in Chinese Medicine of “disorders of the Shen-Qi”
Now I want to be clear here… just because you have any of the above does not make you “shen disturbed” which is a particular state of hyper or hypoactive Qi. But I would say that these disorders are part of a nexus of symptoms which indicate a Shen Disturbance.
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Addictions are almost 9/10 times a case of Qi deficiency of one organ or another. Only about 1/10 cases of addiction I see are caused solely by the psychic portion of a person’s Element type being out of balance due to some trauma, illness, or “environment” especially of the home. Of course they can be combined.
The most common Qi deficiencies are Lung, Spleen, and Kidney. In the case of Lung deficiency, the most classic example is of course: smoking. If there is a psychic component here it could be unrequited grief, or regret, or shame.
When it comes to Spleen deficiency we are talking about any of the following scenarios:
- pancreatic/metabolic deficiency, usually caused by poor childhood diet (mostly sugar)
- muscle atrophy (and fat hypertrophy), causing sugar and salt cravings, OCD
- odd disorders of the gut manifesting in hyper-active mania and addiction to “hot type” drugs and alcohols (like meth and vodka)
- deficiencies of the overall Qi, leading to “cleansing” addictions; raw-food, smoothie or shake abuse, colonics, sweat lodges, etc… all abused
- mental addiction, aka “pensiveness” with an excessive behavior of worrying, grinding teeth, “harping”, etc…
As for Kidney deficiency, there are two main courses. One is first the person drains the Spleen Qi, and the other is they are born with Jing-essence deficiency.
- Hormonal deficiency leads to odd dietary compulsions, addictions to certain foods and behaviors
- Weakened willpower and sexual drive leading to sexual addictions and porn
- Weakened organ function leading to self-medications (such as caffeine addiction)
- Weakened marrow, neural matter, or reproductive fluids leading to paranoia, or addiction or paranoid materials
There are also some addictions of the excess state, usually with deficiency below there is a failure to control above. So liver heat, liver fire, liver yang rising, heart fire, stomach fire, lung phlegm-fire are examples of patterns that carry an addiction to substances which heighten them (rather than control them). Alcoholism, drug abuse, rage-oholism and road rage, smoking and marijuana abuse are all outer addictive manifestations of organ pathology (in TCM).
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These are to be considered heightened states of the former. In these cases the Shen level has been disturbed, much the same way that a shaken can, once opened, fizzes over. There is an egregious amount of swollen or “backed up” hyperactive Qi in the nervous system which leads to behaviors of compulsion (random urges) and obsession (which provides the psyche with a mental substrate not inherently found within, such as sex to replace love not received from a parent). Sometimes the trigger is a trauma, such as rape, witnessing murder, war, assault, a fall, a loss of a loved one or pet. Sometimes the trigger is external, such as a drug or iatrogenic therapy which was inappropriate for the person’s case (I have had a patient who had a psychotic break related to using mushrooms and urine therapy, resulting in compulsions and paranoia).
Obsession, like addiction, is the need to replace a deficiency, but in this case we mean something in the psychic level of the “5 Elements” rather than in the tissues or organs. War games or online MMORPG addiction is just such an example. Also, classically think OCD, especially those who cannot touch others, or stop cleaning, even possibly resulting in agoraphobia (fear to leave the house).
These are typically some level of Qi deficiency, but can again be excess of heat, fire, or toxicity in the body’s substrata. heat and fire-toxins can be induced via diseases, but far more commonly it is drugs. They can also be induced by un-supervised or incorrect energetic practices:
- Sacred Geometry
- Kundalini or Hatha Yoga leading to Kundalini syndrome
- Ouija use
- Wiccan or other occult magical techniques
- Tantric sexual practices and “alchemy”
All of these in proper use can be enjoyable, or a nightmare. Please watch the video about improper yoga leading to compulsive violent behavior.
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All of the above in the heading fall under categories of Water element diseases. The Chinese Kidney includes two halves, one half is the female or “essence’ half, including the marrow, nerves, white, black, and gray matter, CSF fluids, plasma, eye and ear-fluids, semen, ovum, and to a degree menses. The male or “vitality” half includes the endocrine system from the ovaries and testicles, all the way up to the thyroid, pituitary, and hypothalamus. This means ANY deficiency of any androgen or female “estrogen”, as well as dozens of active regulators and hormones which can potentiate and activate neural receptors or other neural stimulators could potentially lead to a phobia or paranoid delusion.
But if the deficiency is on the physical level, such as a weak gland or a tumor producing too much or too little of something, is active you will see physical signs in the body. Clearly, Water people tend to be more susceptible. But they are honestly just as likely to be paranoid as anyone else. However introverted and skittish they may seem, Water types are not typically paranoid. Rather people who ruin or have ruined their Water element tend to become so.
Excessive trauma (as defined by the person’s tolerance, not a textbook “level”) can easily result in skittishness, fright-palpitations, and paranoia. For example I had a case where the woman had power of attorney over mother. Her sisters had her institutionalized to steal the PoA. Once they finagled the estate and her out of it, she was released from the institution.
I had another case of a woman who was raped and sexually molested. Later in life she had a rare form of seizures… in other words she had fire-water imbalances. She was actually a Fire type. In a church here in Lexington she had seizures and was exorcised in front of the crowd. This was obviously highly embarrassing and traumatizing/stigmatizing. Her fears of churches and doctors were thus justifiable, and backed up by trauma.
In any case, whether the fear is on a physical or psychic level the evidence will appear in the body or the Shen itself. While the former was “Shen disturbed” believe it or not the second was not. Fearful? Yes, very. But also generally stable. The former however had Shen blockage. Therefore, how these are dealt with are subject to the rules of excess and deficiency WHERE? A person mistreated for a psychic block by drugs may never see breakthrough, while those using therapy though the body is deficient (or worse: blocked by Aggressive Qi, “Possession” or “Parasitic” Qi) may not just be wasting their time, but precious opportunity and needed momentum to combat degenerating conditions interiorly. I realize any hypochondriac reading this ironically may be put into a fearful state and it could harm the Qi. But I am hopeful that it will give them the impetus to talk to their doctor, or myself, about the true causes of their condition and to be able to overcome the barriers of trust caused by fear and trauma (however justified or unjustified) to seek competent medical help.
~Shifu R. Careaga