Say What?

I’ve previously discussed some of the pathways into diagnosis which the Heilkünstler can take, and today I’d like to introduce another avenue available through observing the language of the patient. I’m not talking about whether the patient speaks English, Portugese, or Japanese (since English is the only language available to my own understanding), but how they use language. This opens the doorway of diagnosis onto a whole world of content behind what the patient is saying, and which would otherwise be hidden if it were only the literal meaning of the words used by the patient that was taken into account. Aspects of speech and language which can contribute to the objective diagnosis include :

  • What turns of phrase do they tend to use?
  • What is their oral style – informative and descriptive? Narrative and poetic? Bureaucratic or legalistic?
  • What tone or tones infuse their speech? Whiney? Pompous? Cautious?
  • What is their overall breathing pattern? Are their sentences delivered in a natural rhythm, or are there many awkward starts and stops?
  • What is the underlying objective feeling of what they say, as opposed to the nominal content?
  • What topics do they not talk about – either by steering away from them, or avoiding them completely?
  • For any of these aspects listed, at what point does one or more of them suddenly change? For example, does the breath pattern or tone suddenly change when a certain topic is brought up?

The principles and structure of Heilkunst are universal, but they need to be applied to every patient as a unique individual. In this sense, the map for every patient needs to be uncovered, and participating what is behind their speech and language is a powerful way to start to reveal what forms their essence. Likewise, all of the diseases, conflicts, and beliefs which obscure their true essence will come out this way as well. I had a patient, for example, who ended many of her phrases with “you know?”, and in the overall context of her case, this confirmed my distinct feeling that she doubted herself.

Our language is not just “a bunch of words”, or a convenient way to order lunch at a restaurant, but a very powerful expression of our qualitative nature, both at the level of our essence, and that which blocks our full expression of it. The well-tuned ear of the Heilkünstler can go quite far in obtaining an objective diagnosis of the patient by focussing on this dimension.

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