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[NOTE: The following selection comes from "Alzheimer's Disease and the Dementias: An Alternative Perspective" by David McMillin.  Copyright © 1992 by David McMillin.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  This book is currently available from the A.R.E. Press in Virginia Beach, Virginia.]
 

 
CHAPTER TWO

AN ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE OF DEMENTIA 

 
     Edgar Cayce gave many readings for persons suffering from various forms of dementia.  In this chapter, I will provide some definitions and descriptions of Cayce's view of this group of neurological disorders.  In order to clarify the distinctiveness of this approach, I will compare and contrast this point of view with modern medical concepts.  Finally, I will provide real life examples of Cayce's perspective in the form of case studies taken from the readings.
 

What Is Dementia?

       The readings are in close agreement with modern medicine on the physical pathology of the dementias.  Repeatedly, Edgar Cayce provided graphic descriptions of the nervous system deterioration indicative of these disorders.  One almost gets the sense that Cayce used his consciousness as a modern researcher might use a high-tech probe or brain scan.  Often, Cayce's perspective was from the inside of the body, moving freely among the organs and tissue.  His portrayal of the delicate interactions within and between the nervous systems are particularly fascinating.  We will be taking a closer look at these reports later in this chapter.  For now, the important point is that from Cayce's perspective dementia involves a progressive degeneration of nerve tissue.  Consider these brief excerpts from the readings which explicitly convey the physical pathology involved in dementia:

    Dementia in the act that the repressions are as magnified, and will eventually - without correction - bring the softening of cell tissue in brain itself.  Hence we find there are periods when the body is not controlled by any reaction in self ... unless corrections are made - unless these may be given their proper incentive in the system to form normal reactions, we may expect a continued reaction; though at times bettered, then the general breaking down of the gray portion of nerve tissue, nerve cell matter, in the body.   (3997-1)

... there are distresses caused in the coordination of the sympathetic and cerebro-spinal nerve system, produced by PRESSURE in the lumbar and sacral region ... [we need] the application of those properties as will bring for the replenishing of the white tissue in the nerve cells themselves - THESE, we find, would be aiding and bringing the nearer normal reaction, will these be taken in time, before the pressure produces the softening of the brain tissue itself; until there is dementia in its
reaction.   (5715-1)

    This, then, is the difference between an unbalanced condition in a mental reaction and that of dementia - which destroys the reaction in the plasm of the nerve as fixed from the blood supply itself; though, unless there are some material changes, this may become the condition that will ensue.  (386-1)

       Many people are surprised by such graphic accounts of physical deterioration.  Apparently, there is a strong expectation that psychic readings from such a renowned seer should emphasize the nonphysical (i.e., mental and spiritual) phases of the condition.

      Certainly, this is not an unreasonable expectancy, for the readings do speak to the condition of the whole person. In fact, Edgar Cayce has been widely acclaimed as the "father of modern holistic medicine."  This title derives from the readings' perspective of the human condition.  According to
 this view, we are each triune beings consisting of body, mind and spirit.  The readings go so far as to talk of mental and spiritual bodies which coexist and connect with the physical body at definite anatomical centers within the physical body.

      Coordination between these aspects of the self - the physical, mental and spiritual - is essential for a normal functioning human experience.  Incoordination between these aspects can manifest as a variety of illnesses, including the dementias.

      Even when the readings consider a single aspect of the triune, for instance the physical, the emphasis is on taking a broader view of the body.  This is even true in cases of dementia, where brain pathology is undeniable:

    Too little importance is too often given by those who would aid in bringing a normal force for a body suffering under even dementia, that relationship between the sympathetic and the cerebro-spinal nervous systems ...  (5475-1)

       So even in illnesses of the brain, the readings insisted on taking a broader perspective and looking at the peripheral systems - in this case, the nerves running within and along the spinal column.

      The language of the readings can be a stumbling block in certain cases because the entranced Cayce utilized the medical terminology of his day.  During the early decades of this century, the central nervous system (which includes the brain and spinal cord) was referred to as the cerebrospinal system.  The autonomic nervous system was referred to as the sympathetic system.  So if you encounter these terms in a reading, it may be helpful for you to translate cerebrospinal
 into its current equivalent - the central nervous system.  Likewise, you may wish to think of the sympathetic system as the autonomic nervous system.  This is a bit of an over-simplification since the readings present a much deeper appreciation of the way the nervous systems interact (and
 particularly the role of the sympathetic system).  However, for purposes of our discussion this will suffice.

      There are a couple of important reasons for expanding the discussion of dementia beyond the brain.  First, the brain does not exist entirely in isolation from the rest of the body.  True, it is surrounded by bone (the skull) and protected by a chemical boundary (the "blood-brain barrier")
 which allows in only those substances essential for brain functioning.  However, the brain is constantly reliant upon the rest of the body for nourishment and removal of metabolic
 wastes.

      The brain is also reliant upon the peripheral nervous systems for information about our external and internal environments.  I am speaking here primarily of the sensory nervous system.  If the sensory system is faulty, brain functioning will also be compromised.  As computer programmers have noted - garbage in, garbage out.

     Finally, because the readings insist that we are each triune beings or "ENTITIES," we might benefit from considering the interactions between these aspects of ourselves.  For example, ponder the following excerpt which addresses the physical and mental dimensions of dementia:

... for in almost every condition - even as in this - there is found that the centers from which the radial forces of impulse by reaction of the mental body - that is, the SENSORY system - to the sympathetic forces, in those centers where they connect with the cerebro-spinal - the cerebro-spinal, then, in as the brain's reaction to the PHYSICAL, or the MATERIAL body; while those of the SYMPATHETIC system are more those of the reaction to the MENTAL being, or the MENTAL body; these MUST coordinate, that the reactions in a PHYSICAL body bring about the proper reactions.   (5475-1)

       Note the references to the sensory and sympathetic nervous systems.  Even while the brain is the primary focus of pathology, the peripheral nervous systems are important. The reading actually identifies these peripheral systems as embodying the "reaction of the mental being."  In other words, the incoordination of the mental being (or mental body) with the brain's reaction is affected by the nerve connections along the spinal column and throughout the body.  The deterioration of mental faculties (such as memory and intellect) are likewise linked to the coordination of the nerves at these important centers or plexus in the body.

      In other readings involving dementia, the coordination of the spirit connection to the body was emphasized.  In these cases, the glands (which Cayce regarded as "spiritual centers" within the body) was often dysfunctional in some manner.

      Thus, the interface of mind and spirit with the body is regarded as quite literal - mind functioning primarily through the nervous systems and spirit manifesting through the glands.  From this perspective, the intimate interactions between the nervous and glandular systems is emphasized.  These systems work together to maintain the integrity of the whole self.

      Consequently the readings digress from modern medicine on the meaning of disease and how physical degeneration is related to the broader context of the human experience.  This context may be designated as holism, a term expressing the importance of considering all facets of human functioning.

      Even strictly at the physical level, this alternative perspective has practical implications.  The whole body is taken into consideration since mind and spirit manifest at various centers throughout the body.  This is particularly significant with regard to the types of therapies which were most commonly suggested in the readings.  We will explore these therapeutic implications in the next chapter.  For now, we shall focus on some of the causes of dementia by looking at a few exemplary case studies from the readings.
 

Some Case Studies of Dementia

       Mrs. [1553] was 71 years old when she received a series of 26 readings on her demented condition.  A concerned son-in-law (Mr. [1561]) wrote to Edgar Cayce on April 17, 1938 stating that her:

... "mind" remains not clear ... The illness is commonly called "stroke" - & hardening of arteries, plus chronic constipation ... I do not know how to ask pertinent questions, but could her brain cells function, either "renewed in life" or compensatory cells take on the work ... Now she has little control over her emotions - yet at times her mind seems clear and then it is her thought return to - "service" - to others - as has been her life experience ...

       This description is certainly indicative of dementia, possibly multi-infarct dementia resulting from stroke.  Subsequent letters indicated that portions of the left side of her body were paralyzed and that her caregivers could not understand her speech.  She exhibited frequent fits of "crying and yelling."

      Her readings noted the paralysis and nervous system dysfunction.  To address these conditions, the readings recommended electrotherapy and suggestive therapeutics:

(Q)  Is it possible to restore the cellular structure of this brain or to bring about compensatory action whereby the mind may again function perfectly in this body?
(A)  As indicated, if there is the ability for sufficient of the properties to be absorbed through the vibratory forces of the Gold impulse, and the suggestions for creative activities in the system are kept, it may be done.   (1553-5)

       There were also frequent recommendations pertaining to diet, massage, hydrotherapy, and laxatives.  These were all commonly prescribed therapies in the readings and we will address them in the next chapter.
      Fortunately in this case, abundant correspondence was exchanged which provides valuable insights into the progress of Mrs. [1553].  A few excerpts are provided to convey the general direction of treatment and therapeutic outcome:

May 23, 1939:
    Mrs. [1553] seems to, at times, gain in strength & have a clear mental coordination - less emotional - less crying - yes, MUCH less.
    Her inability to speak articulately, except a very few understandable words, of course makes it difficult to know her feelings & her thoughts - but generally - there is improvement - great improvement as compared to a year ago when the first readings were had - you see, she started back from very close to 'zero.'

July 5, 1939:
    Mother is certainly improving mentally - co-ordination.  Now she asks to be read to - much of the time - but - she seems to be losing strength - vitality - seems very languid.

September 10, 1939:
    We feel mother is better, she now enjoys being read to very much, but constipation seems to be a big problem as it has always been.

December 19, 1939:
    When I think of last Christmas time and then see how much better Mrs. [1553] is today it hardly seems possible, but it does make me so very thankful.

       The extensive group of readings given for [1553] is exemplary in its depth and scope (a total of twenty-six readings were given).  Virtually every issue which may arise in the treatment of dementia is addressed in this series.

      While there was apparently significant progress made over a period of about 56 months, the condition was not cured.  The question of additional progress was raised in reading 1553-26:

(Q)  How much progress can we expect if we follow instructions?
(A)  We may find fifty to seventy-five to ninety percent advance in the body becoming more normal again.

      We do not know how much further progress, if any, was made in this case - there is insufficient follow-up data to allow a full evaluation.

      In reading 1553-26 the question of diagnosis was also raised:

(Q)  What would be the proper diagnosis of this case?
(A)  As we find, in the present it is a complication arising from the old conditions caused first by the breaking of cellular forces, producing spasmodic conditions, then plastic conditions in portions of the body, and partial paresis to the nerve forces and to brain centers.

       It is not clear whether the "breaking of cellular forces" referred to a stroke or some other acute illness.  Paresis usually refers to a "partial or incomplete paralysis" (Tabor's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary).  However, it can also refer to dementia paralytica (general paresis of the insane).  This form of dementia is caused by syphilis and produces typical dementia symptoms including memory deficits, delusional thoughts, and depression.
 

The Case of [5204]

     Mrs. [5204] was 51 years old when her husband wrote to Edgar Cayce requesting help for his wife:

    A personal friend of mine has recommended you to me as one who may be able to tell me what is wrong with my wife.  For 4 years now, my wife seems to have been losing her memory.  She is unable to utter very many coherent sentences, and yet, she seems to understand what is being said to her.  We have had her before innumerable doctors, and their diagnosis of her case has varied.  We have been married 25 years and we have had a very happy home life, although the last 4 years have been very trying.  She has forgotten how to do her housework and seems unable to cook a meal, although she always cooked our meals before.  She has forgotten how to light the gas in the range, and we are fearful that something may happen to her.  We no longer permit her to cook or attempt to cook.  For a while, we thought that she was going through her menopause and this was causing the disturbance; but the doctors tell us that she has passed that stage...  I am turning to you as a last resort...  My wife is a very well-educated woman.  She is kindly and sweet in disposition, and she went through college with honors, obtained Phi Betta Kappa honors, and was also a teacher of English in high school for a while.  I have read Mr. Sugrue's book about you, and it has given me hope that I may still be able to save the life of a very sweet woman...

       A subsequent letter written prior to her reading provided additional information which was addressed in her reading:

    I am answering for my wife, because she does not feel well enough to do her own writing.  She is anxious to know whether a blow on the head, caused by the falling of a flag-staff has caused a tumor which makes her forget in the middle of a sentence when she attempts to converse.  Or, also, if there is such a thing as the atrophying of the brain which may cause loss of memory; or whether her present period of forgetfulness is caused by menopausal period...

       Edgar Cayce provided a reading for the woman on June 8, 1944:

    As we find, there have been outside influences which have produced a real nervous shock to the system in such a nature that the reflexes from the cerebrospinal centers, and the cerebrospinal center itself, have received a condition which prevents their coordination.
    These, as we find, reflect from clots which have formed on the capsule of the brain itself.  They are not as tumors, rather as clots.
    As we find, these may be removed by absorption or by operative measures.  While it would require much longer for this to be done by absorption, it would be much more in accord with the insuring of longer experience in the earth ...  (5204-1)

       The reading went on to recommend electrotherapy utilizing gold solution and spinal massage to induce "absorption" of the "clots."  A positive prognosis was given provided the treatments were applied consistently:

    These [treatments], if they are kept regularly, prayerfully, we may bring back memory, bring back coordination between cerebrospinal and sympathetic and the reflexes to the sensory system.

       Given her history of brain insult (as documented in her husband's letters) and the connection between brain injury and dementia (see Chapter One), one wonders if the "outside influences" and "shock to the system" noted in her reading might have been caused by her falling and hitting her head on flagstone.  Interestingly, an autopsy of her brain following her death in 1949 indicated that her condition was Alzheimer's dementia.

     The suggestions in the reading were never followed completely.  The family waited for one year after the reading was given to attempt applying the recommendations.  The physician who was recommended by A.R.E. secretary Gladys David was never contacted.

      Mrs. [5204]'s condition continued to deteriorate and was complicated by seizures.  The correspondence does not indicate whether there was any correlation between the attempt at applying the recommendations and the seizures.  At any rate, she was institutionalized in a private hospital and eventually was transferred to a state facility where she lived until her death.

      This is the only documented case of Alzheimer's dementia in the Cayce readings.  There are very likely numerous cases which would fit current diagnostic criteria.  However, it is impossible to say with certainty since brain autopsies were seldom performed in such cases.

      From a strictly statistical point of view, it is highly probable that several of the cases which we will discuss were Alzheimer's.  The readings were given for thousands of individuals, many of whom were within the high risk area of the lifespan.

      Even today, the only definitive means of identifying Alzheimer's dementia is by biopsy or autopsy.  Unfortunately, [5204]'s case was the only one in the readings which was documented by this means.
 

The Case of [5299]

       Mrs. [5299] was 57 years old when her daughter first wrote to Edgar Cayce requesting a reading for her mother.  The excerpts which follow clearly indicate the seriousness of the situation:

    My mother just came home from Medical Center after being there 10 days for observation.  Her case was called a rare brain disease and, as far as is known, there is no cure.  She is losing the power of speech and has already lost the power to write, tell time or do any actions such as lacing shoes, etc.  The doctors explained to me that between her brain and scalp there is only an air
space and her brain cells are drying up one by one... According to Medical Center this case of hers is not a form of insanity, as what little brain she has functions, but it is so pitiful.
    Her diagnosis is Pre-senile Sclerosis [Alzheimer's disease], which is premature old age, along with hardening of the arteries and the part of her brain which controls the power of speech is affected.  She is now getting pains in her head and we have no idea how long she will last.  Her age is as of a woman in her eighties.

       Her reading indicated a karmic and physical basis for her condition:

    As we find, these are disturbances which may not be other than materially aided.  These are the result of karmic conditions for the body, as well as those about the body.  We may help, yes.
    While there are the disturbances which are causing premature senile conditions or the withering away of the control of mental reflexes, there should be care and loving-kindness, gentleness and patience administered to the body.  These will not only bring a greater attempt for the reactions but will bring the greater ability for the soul-entity's development.
    It would be well at times, as there are those bridges in the associations between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nerve forces, to be careful that the body does not injure itself or others; but do not put the body away, unless there becomes more of that which would be, or cause it to be, dangerous for others.   (5299-1)

       The treatment recommendations were typical for such cases - the use of the wet cell battery carrying a gold solution.  This was to be followed by a thorough spinal massage.

      A question posed near the end of her reading indicated that her symptoms were episodic - that is, she could function almost normally for short periods:

(Q)  In her present condition does she know what is going on around her, does she understand when spoken to or is it just certain times that her brain is completely normal?
(A)  Only at very small intervals.  But we will find much improvement and a quieter reaction with the use of the Appliance and the massage.

       Thus a cure was not promised, only "improvement and a quieter reaction."  A request for a follow-up report was sent to her daughter.  The letter was returned marked, "MOVED - LEFT NO ADDRESS.  Thus, we do not know the outcome in this case.
 

The Case of [3303]

       We are not provided the age of Mrs. [3303] - only that she was over 50 years of age.  A letter from her husband provided a medical diagnosis and a description of the primary symptom of her disorder - impaired memory:

    She has not been told that she has cerebral arteriosclerosis, and seems to think she is alright, - or at least near so, - therefore she is a peculiarly hard case to deal with for the doctors and for
myself.  She was a brilliant professional pianist 35 yrs.  ago ... but her memory had begun leaving her 10 yrs. ago ...

       Edgar Cayce provided a reading for her which noted glandular dyfunctions and pressures along the spine as key causes of the disease:

    As we find, there are disturbing conditions with this body.  These have at times been called varied names, owing to the age or the advanced stages of same.  But the condition here arises from pressures that exist in relation to those changes in the glandular activity of the body...
    Thus the body becomes forgetful, absent-minded, unable to recall.  There is not the reflex in the white and grey matter.  Thus these would eventually cause senility to the body, unless there are measures taken to supply new energies...
    Do these and we will find much bettered conditions for this body; not only a retarding of this disintegration in nerve and blood supply but a replenishing and a building back to better conditions for this body.  (3303-1)

       The treatment recommendations were standard for such cases: spinal manipulations and massage, electrotherapy with gold, basic dietary suggestions, and exercise outdoors in the open.

      This case is interesting since glandular dysfunction has been linked to Alzheimer's dementia (see Chapter One).  Because the diagnostic system of that era did not recognize Alzheimer's dementia as a discreet pathological entity, but included cases of pre-senile dementia within the category of arteriosclerosis, this may have been a case of which would fit modern diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's.

      Cayce's acknowledgment that "These have at times been called varied names, owing to the age or the advanced stages of same" appears to recognize the diagnostic ambiguity of the disorder.  He may have been referring to the distinction between pre-senile and senile dementia ("owing to the age or advanced stages of same").
 

The Question of Senility

       As we noted in Chapter One, until recently the term senility was commonly used synonymously with Alzheimer's dementia.  Hence it is difficult to apply current diagnostic criteria to the conditions represented in the readings because at that time senility was generally viewed as a normal part of the aging process.  Thus cases of dementia (and particularly Alzheimer's dementia) may not have been
 recognized as such.  Furthermore, as just cited in the previous case study, this ambiguity extends to cases of arteriosclerosis.  "Hardening of the arteries" and the resultant brain damage was viewed as the primary cause of Alzheimer's dementia.  Therefore, in considering the cases in the readings, we can sometimes glean valuable information about the causes and treatment of dementia from readings
classified as senility and arteriosclerosis.

      For example, consider the case of [3631], a 72 year old woman suffering from "mental lapses and melancholia [depression] during which periods she seems to turn on those she loves the best ..."

      Her reading acknowledged the seriousness of her condition:

    Here we find it it almost too late to undertake to keep this entity in this particular experience.
    As we find, disturbances here are those contingent with senility, and thus there is a wasting away of the impulses or the active forces within the nerve cells themselves - those reflexes that would attempt to occur in the brain, through the activities in various centers (there are twelve of them), all of the cerebrospinal system and the coordinating of the cerebrospinal reflex with the sensory system.  Thus there is incoordination and voluntary activities in nerves gradually become involuntary - as memory, activity of the salivary glands, activity of the bladder.
    As we find, help is possible, but it will depend upon how consistently and persistently there would be the applications made that may renew nerve tissue and give life itself in the body-reaction.   (3631-1)

       In this selection, the phrase "wasting away of the impulses or the active forces within the nerve cells themselves" is suggestive of an organic degeneration within the brain.

      The description of pathology within the brain of Mr. [3701] is even more explicit:

    These have to do primarily with senility; that is, impulse in the gray matter in nerve force is lacking.  Thus gradually, unless measures are taken, there must come the softening of the brain cells so that the reflexes will gradually become less and less active for the flow of blood as well as impulse in the circulation through the central portion of brain cell ... (3701-1)

       Note the reference to "softening of the brain," a phrase often used in cases of dementia.  Senility was also associated with softening of brain tissue in the case of [5309], a 60 year old male:

    Yes, here conditions are rather serious.  From the injuries which have been received, there are the tendencies, from the jars to the body and the brain, for the softening or lack of virile energy being replenished; or senility.  Thus the tendencies for the lapses into a coma or semi-coma.  (5309-1)

       It would appear that in these cases the readings were using the term senility as it was commonly used during that era - as synonymous with an organic brain disorder manifesting as dementia.  The readings noted that senility was usually age related, with senior citizens being more vulnerable.  However, as we have noted and will re-emphasize in the next chapter, Cayce also recognized the condition of "pre-mature senility" (apparently in reference to the older classification of Alzheimer's disease, that is "pre-senile dementia").
 

Dementia Praecox

       In addition to cases of senility, I would also recommend a consideration of cases of dementia praecox for those persons who are contemplating applying the Cayce suggestions.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, dementia praecox was the diagnostic category applied to persons suffering from chronic mental illness believed to be caused by brain disease.  The term literally refers to an extremely early (precocious) form of dementia which is now included in the group of illness called schizophrenia.  Whereas today the dementias are usually associated with the elderly, the symptoms of dementia praecox typically arose while individuals were in their late teens and twenties.

      It is not necessary for us to go deeply into this subject here and I only mention it for those individuals truly interested in understanding the readings' view of the dementias.  I have written a treatment manual on schizophrenia which provides extensive documentation and a detailed consideration of the subject (see Appendix A for further information).

      The primary value of this related material is in its application.  The treatment suggestions for all the dementias were very similar.  Since there was an abundance of readings on dementia praecox with explicit descriptions of therapeutic principles and techniques, this information represents an
 important source of supplemental data on the treatment of dementia in the elderly.
 

Cautious Optimism

       It is crucial that readers recognize the difficulties involved in treating serious disorders such as the dementias.  This book does not, in any way, suggest that Cayce's approach is "full-proof" or easy to apply.  To the contrary, Cayce often remarked that the suggestions provided in the readings
 would have to be carried out patiently and persistently if progress was to be achieved.  He would then go on to say that if the persons administering the treatments were not dedicated to the healing process and willing to invest the resources necessary to follow the suggestions, it would be best that they not begin at all.  However, for those willing to follow the suggestions in the readings, hope was provided.

      The most unfortunate aspect of the Cayce readings in this area is the lack of application of the suggestions.  For a variety of reasons (often of a financial nature; many of the readings were given during the "great depression").  Family members could not afford the recommended therapies.
 These cases were often chronic - the individuals involved came to Edgar Cayce as a last resort after years of failed treatment from numerous doctors and hospitals.  Cayce's insistence that recovery would require patient and persistent treatment for a minimum of several months was apparently too
 much to ask of people discouraged by years of suffering.

      In the few cases where there was consistent application of the suggestions provided in the readings, positive results were often produced.  The previously discussed case of Mrs. [1553] is exemplary in this regard.

     A letter from Edgar Cayce dated April 9, 1942 effectively conveys the cautious optimism with which he approached such cases:

    Am in hopes you have found the information for Miss [2721] of interest.  Of course I realize what it means to raise false hopes in the minds of others.  I realize any thing I may say would appear as if I were blowing my own horn, but please know I realize too that it is not of myself the work is done, but only as the Spirit of Truth may work in or through me.  We have had several cases of this nature that seemed hopeless, where seeming miracles have happened.  There have been a few people sent to the Macon hospital, so the work there will not be entirely new to them.  Do hope you will write them and if it is at all possible or practical, do hope you will give it a try.  Have had many where the condition was not such as real help might be given, but where help has been promised through a certain mode of treatment, or by certain places or individuals, when this was done the help promised has come.  Am sure, of the many thousands of rdgs.  that have been given, this has been true in practically ever case.  Many have, of course, been persuaded that the suggestions were all wrong and that the help suggested could not come from such a treatment, but where tried, whatever amount of help was offered has come.  We will be glad to try and help anywhere along the line with check up rdgs. from time to time.
    Do hope we may be the means of help, and may HIS Blessings, His Peace come to you.

    The reference to the Still Hildreth Osteopathic Sanitarium was significant in this case.  On numerous occasions, Cayce foresaw that the requirements for effective treatment would exceed the resources of the family as caregivers.  Often in cases of dementia (such as dementia praecox), he would make a referral to Still-Hildreth.  This institution utilized many of the therapeutic principles and
 techniques commonly advised in the readings.

      This is relevant because many persons currently suffering from dementia are in nursing homes.  For any approach to have a widespread impact upon the treatment of dementia, it would have to be integrated into existing institutional facilities.  Therefore, it is worth noting that the principles advocated in Cayce's readings are applicable to an institutional setting.  We will come back to this point in Chapter Six.
 

Summary

     This chapter has explored an alternative perspective of  the dementias.  While acknowledging the severe brain pathology present in these disorders, the Cayce material goes further to emphasize the importance of the whole body (especially the peripheral nervous systems).  Coordination between the central and autonomic nervous systems was specifically noted in the readings as being of great
consequence.

      However, Cayce's perspective goes beyond a mere biological analysis of pathology.  The term holism was presented in this chapter to encompass the expansiveness of Cayce's perspective.  All the aspects of the self are important - body, mind and spirit.  This emphasis on holism will become more prominent in the following chapters which focus on curative and preventative measures.

      We reviewed several case studies from the Cayce material to get a first hand look at his viewpoint.  A variety of types of dementia were represented including a case of Alzheimer's disease.  Since Alzheimer's dementia was not recognized as a formal diagnostic category during Cayce's
lifetime, it is very likely that numerous other individuals received readings addressing this illness.  However, they would likely have been diagnosed as "senility" or cardiovascular disease.  Some examples of each were also presented to illustrate the similarities to present criteria for
Alzheimer's dementia.

      Finally, the theme of cautious optimism was introduced and balanced by the recognition of the difficulties involved in treating the devastating group of illnesses known as the dementias.  The therapeutic approach underlying this hopeful perspective will be presented in the chapters which follow.

 
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