Autogenic training and specific clinical conditions – a personal view
Dr Brian Kaplan
As any researcher will tell you, the way to test the efficacy of any clinical treatment of any condition is by double blind controlled clinical trials. The normal method of doing this is not easily applicable to AT, as it is difficult to substitute a convincing placebo for AT. Nevertheless more trials of AT in the treatment of specific conditions need to be done. I suspect the shortfall in such trials is lack of funding. In what sponsor’s interest would it be to demonstrate AT’s effectiveness in treating anything at all? When we have perfected the means of bottling AT you can be sure the money will be there for controlled clinical trails, because, AT is clearly effective in a variety of disease and clinical syndromes.
The purpose of this article is to share with fellow practitioners of AT and Friends of the Society some personal observations on how effective AT appears to have been in ten years of using it in clinical practice. This is far from a scientific report, especially as many cases have also been prescribed homeopathic remedies as well as dietary advice. It has not always been possible to isolate the effects of AT alone but as the minority of the cases I have seen have not learned AT, it is reasonable to draw some inference form the result of those patients who have learned it.
Regularity of Practice: Most patients on courses or training individually practise 2 to 3 times a day during the six weeks between the last session and the follow up session. From then on, the majority of patients use it once a day and ‘whenever necessary’. Patients with serious physical problems, such as cancer, are often motivated to practise more often.
(mainly neurosis, anxiety and depression). AT has proved to be of use, to greater or lesser degrees, in almost all patients who learnt it and – there have been many. In some the effect has been quite remarkable. It must be noted that not all patients suffering from psychological problems have been thought suitable for AT, as measured against the normal criteria we use to exclude cases deemed unsuitable for AT. Patients undergoing psychotherapy have noticed a symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines, AT deepening the experience process of the psychotherapy.
One wonders about the qualitative differences experienced between those patients receiving AT and psychotherapy and those only receiving psychotherapy. It also appears that psychotherapists and counsellors have found AT useful too.
Based on my own experience, I have mixed feelings on the success of AT in the treatment/management of hypertension. Some cases in the ‘grey area’ of whether to begin treatment or not have ultimately not needed anti-hypertensives, but I cannot remember a case where the patient was able to come off existing hypertensives and maintain stable blood pressure. Perhaps those patients need to keep up three sessions a day for a long period of time (as is the case for patients with coronary heart disease). I would be most interested to learn of other practitioners’ experiences in this area.
Migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, cluster and tension headaches:
Wonderfully encouraging results here! Almost all cases report some benefit. In one case of severe trigeminal neuralgia, clearly exacerbated by stress, the pain disappeared after lesson 6 and no organ specific remedy was ever needed.
Problems of the large bowel e.g. colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohns disease, have often done well on a regime which has included AT. Sufferers of these conditions seem grateful for what they can directly do for themselves. Many cases have done well, even when the patient has, initially, expressed disappointment because ‘nothing has happened’!
Although it would be foolish to speak of ‘cures’ here, teaching AT to patients with cancer has been very rewarding. Often these patients practise very regularly and almost always reap the psychological and spiritual benefits of AT, too. This can obviously affect the soma, and patients familiar with the many books on creative visualisation and positive affirmation find AT very helpful in getting into a neutral state in order best to utilise these other self healing approaches.
Even though AT does not prolong life in these situations, it can help to improve the quality of the precious final weeks and days, giving patients a fine tool to find some sort of equanimity.
A patient with multiple sclerosis has been symptom-free for 5 years since learning AT, but it is really too early to infer anything from this. A patient with motor neurone disease was taught AT. The disease progressed according to the expected natural history, but it was quite gratifying to know that, even when this man would not be able to move or talk or swallow, his ability to do AT would remain.
Encouraging results, but one needs to be quite patient for results, as triggers such as infection, allergies and stress can unbalance the situation all too easily.
I can only remember one case where AT was not of a positive influence in reducing insomnia.
In my experience, AT is invaluable in the treatment and amelioration of a wide range of clinical conditions. This is not totally surprising, as many studies have shown that the majority of people consulting their GP have conditions caused or at least exacerbated by stress and psychological problems. An ideal health service might include AT in every general practice, the waiting area providing a natural venue for evening classes.
AT is a fine example of an holistic therapeutic technique, in that it always seeks to empower the patient to help him/herself. Even in the most refractory cases, AT remains valuable because it cannot cure disease; it can, however, always ameliorate suffering.