Autogenic Discharge: Reflections 30 Years Later©

I began correspondence with Dr. Luthe in 1971 or 1972, when I presented him by mail with a brief account of a radically different idea about the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus, which suggested that Autogenic Therapy (AT) ought to be especially useful in the treatment of this degenerative disease involving anti-DNA antibodies. He became quite excited (if one could say that about Dr. Luthe's correspondence) because Dr. T. Abe in Tokyo at that very moment was treating lupus patients with AT and having unexpectedly positive results. He asked me how I arrived at my idea regarding lupus and AT. This led to a more detailed explanation. The idea came from a quantum chemistry model of the wave properties of the DNA molecule which I was later to develop in conjunction with a specialist at Cornell University in the numerical modeling of tornadoes. The onset of these severe electrical storms involves double-helix feeder bands with many space-time properties similar to those of the double-helix of DNA. The computer and conceptual modeling efforts were later to jump between the two as analogous models, in order to generate new insight into the microphysics involved in each case. I arrived at the idea about lupus and AT by imagining a DNA molecule (with superconductant quantum properties) in the brain's neural and perineural cells, and asking myself: (a) How would these quantum properties of DNA affect interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system?; (b) How would the electromagnetic properties of autogenic discharges interact with the interaction involved in (a)?

Dr. Luthe asked many questions about these ideas and it became apparent that a radical transformation of the whole Hess-Luthe-Penfield notion of how autogenic discharge activity was generated and orchestrated in the brain was implied, a transformation based upon application of quantum principles to brain discharge activity. But, as the correspondence between Dr. Luthe and I became more and more specific, the content of it became more and more technical. At a certain point, Dr. Luthe could not follow the required mathematics. He also was confused by the fact that I was using terminology from five or six different fields -- as there had not yet been a circumstance within which a new synthetic vocabulary could develop, and this was still a decade before the decisive emergence of the field of psycho-neuro-immunology. The correspondence continued by fits and starts as Dr. Luthe had time to devote to it -- mostly involving him asking probing questions, me forcing my thought and answering at length. The discourse came to focus on the inadequacies of the Hess-Luthe-Penfield model as most succinctly presented in two articles published in the 1965 collection edited by Dr. Luthe, AUTOGENIC TRAINING, Grune and Stratton, New York City: (1) Luthe, Jus, and Geissmann, “Autogenic State and Autogenic Shift: Psychophysiologic and Neurophysiologic Aspects”; (2) W. Luthe, “The Clinical Significance of Visual Phenomena During the Autogenic State”. As far as I know, the basic theory of autogenic brain discharge processes, as the informing paradigm for application of AT has not significantly progressed from the content of particularly the paper cited in (1), which Dr. Luthe knew from the early 1970s to be a grossly inadequate account.

In June of 1977, Dr. Luthe abruptly asked me to present a non-technical account of my ideas to the August symposium in Kyoto. I wrote back saying that I could not do that without informing him that I have no academic degrees and have been doing this research completely independently in informal arrangements, because it is impossible, so far as I know, to do such research in any university on an official status, given its extreme transdisciplinary basis. I explained that I had long since simply decided to follow the ideas, however much they may not conform to the institutions' conventions, and that I had found along the way institutionally attached researchers who were sufficiently interested in what I was doing to create informal settings to collaborate with me. He was a bit shocked, to say the least, and eventually said: “Okay, in that case, send me the completed article as soon as possible and I will circulate it to colleagues for prior approval; then no problems of propriety can develop later on.” We did this, and in late-July I received word to appear in Kyoto a week later.

The evening I arrived in Kyoto, Dr. Luthe asked me to present not only my own paper, but also that of Dr. Roland Fischer on comparing the “autogenic state” with that associated with the practice of Sadhipadhana -- as Dr. Fischer was stuck in Honolulu. It was at this presentation that I first met Dr. Yuji Sasaki, Japanís leading authority on the electrophysiology of Zazen. Along with Dr. Sasaki were a number of elderly Zen monks, and a long discussion transpired after my presentation of Dr. Fischerís paper, a discussion concerning “bright light states” and modified perceptions of time and space in meditation. Dr. Sasaki did not attend my presentation of my own paper, as I remember. I presented my own paper in the session with Dr. Shunsaku Kimura, who was then doing truly revolutionary work using AT in treatment of schizophrenics, and discovering ways to use the content of autogenic abreactions to push C.G. Jung's ideas about the structure of the unconscious decisively toward a quantum physics related model -- which was exactly complementary to what I and Dr. Luthe were attempting to do with the Hess-Luthe-Penfield model of autogenic discharge phenomena. (I kept in contact with Dr. Kimura, who fell away from AT as no one seemed interested in what he was doing. He currently runs a clinic in Osaka.) As Dr. Luthe and I had somewhat anticipated, there appeared to be very little understanding of what I was talking about when my own paper was presented, but, because of the indirect connection with Dr. Fischer, it was later published in the JOURNAL OF ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS, which he edited.

I first met Dr. Ikemi at this conference and spent a lot of time with his assistant Dr. John Goyeche. Dr. Luthe and I also spent a fair amount of time talking. It was now my turn to ask questions. I wanted to know why the model of brain function the theory of AT was based upon was so out-dated -- essentially based on the work done in the 1950s at McGill University. If AT is not kept in relation to contemporaneous neurological research, how can it hope to develop interesting experimental strategies? I asked. Why had AT fallen so far behind, when it had started out on a sound neurological basis? He said that it was amazing it was developed as far as it was, that I had no idea what he had been through or what was involved in creating a degree of acceptability for what it is that AT represents. I said that the extremely poor experimental strategies represented by the papers I had read in AT and the ones I had heard delivered in the symposiums were in major part due to the fact that the theoretical model of AT was wholly inadequate to inform more effective experimental strategies. He agreed and said awareness of that fact was part of the rationale for creation of the Oskar Vogt Institute at Fukuoka University Medical Center, but that this effort had not been particularly successful because Dr. Ikemi's interest is not focused upon AT and his position had simply facilitated creation of the Institute at Fukuoka University. Later, I asked Dr. Goyeche about this and he said the Institute was a door with a name on it through which no one went. Dr. Luthe asked me to attend the International Committee for Autogenic Therapy meeting at the end of the conference, at which the decision was taken to create a JAPANESE JOURNAL OF AUTOGENIC THERAPY. After that meeting, Dr. Sasaki, I, and Dr. Luthe shared a taxi back to Kyoto Hotel. In the cab, Dr. Luthe looked at me and said: “Now, perhaps, you have a better idea of the difficulties I have faced in creating a vehicle for AT. You just witnessed the culmination of ten years of effort to get a decision to start a journal of AT here in Japan. What do you imagine would be involved in starting a real research effort?” There was nothing I could say. Of course I had understood similar things a long time earlier, and that was why I was doing research in the fashion that I was. The three of us said goodbye at the hotel.

After the conference, I stayed on in Kyoto until I received a phone call from the professor at Cornell University saying that there had been a convincing breakthrough in the research and that he wanted me back there soon to help write up a paper on our superconductant DNA model for the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF QUANTUM CHEMISTRY. This we proceeded to do, and the article was published by the journal some months later. I subsequently became involved with a medical doctor doing Ph.D. research in neurology at George Washington University. Her name is Beverly Oliphant, and her husband is a research physicist very knowledgeable about plasmas and superconductivity. Beverly had multiple sclerosis and was deeply interested in my ideas about AT and why it might be important in treating degenerative diseases like lupus and MS. Along with her husband, we spent much time going over the content of the discussions I had had with Dr. Luthe about the inadequacies of the Hess-Luthe-Penfield model of brain discharge phenomena. I, of course, kept Dr. Luthe informed of this, and he asked me to present a paper on the content of these discussions at the Montreal conference in 1981. Which I did. The paper I presented in Montreal was even less understood than the one I had presented in Kyoto. Clinical activities associated with AT had become so dissociated from authentic research that very few participants were prepared to engage any substantive material related to the underlying theoretical paradigm of AT. This was a considerable disappointment to both Dr. Luthe and myself. We continued to correspond, at this point primarily sending each other relevant things we ran across related to the issues we had discussed.

At this juncture, I began writing, along with my wife, a long novel to explore the full spectrum of these research interests. The decision to write a novel was taken in part because the whole field of biological superconductivity had suddenly disappeared from the publicly available literature, and it was therefore impossible to do anything of consequence in this area. At some point, Dr. Luthe wrote me and said that he had just given a keynote address highlighting the “quantum DNA model of autogenic processes” as one of the two most important developments in AT in the past twenty years (the other being described in his last book). He said that during the question period after the address, there had been a dozen questions about the quantum DNA model, none of which he had been able to answer. He asked me would I please produce a detailed glossary of terms that he could hand out after his talks, and that this would be how he would deal with the questions. I agreed and compiled a long list of terms. But a year passed before I was able to complete and send it to him. In that year, I received several mailings from Dr. Luthe containing clippings, articles, and comments mainly concerning quantum models of brain function which he had been studying. It was clear to me that he had made a major breakthrough in comprehending the perspectives I had been outlining. I expected the extensive glossary of terms would also help.

When I sent the glossary, I asked him for a thumbnail sketch of the history of AT in Japan so I could include it in the novel I was writing, THE MOON OF HOA BINH. Immediately, I received a reply thanking me for the wonderful, very clarifying, glossary and including, not a sketch of the history of AT in Japan, but a hand-written note on the early history of AT in Weimar Germany. No explanation was offered. Months later, when I learned of his death, I went to Vancouver to see “Daki” Luthe, his wife. After talking with Daki, I was able to piece together that he had had his heart attack the day after mailing me the sketch of AT in Weimar Germany. I experienced a great electrical shock at this discovery, and the first thought that came into my mind was: “My God, he suddenly saw the historical significance of the quantum model of brain function, and, being a German who came of age at the end of WWII, the shock was so great he had a heart attack.” (Some years later, following victimization in an apparent drug-and-rob incident involving attempted murder, which occurred in Chiang Mai on the same day a chemical company executive was pushed off a building to his death in Saigon -- a person with whom I had had a long discussion of the superconductant DNA model and ongoing efforts to mount a research effort relative to its implications -- the thought crossed my mind that there was some small possibility Dr. Lutheís death was not free of foul play. A conspiracy is not LIKELY in any of these cases, but the small possibility thereof has not been completely ruled out of consideration by me.)

Dr. Luthe had had no knowledge whatsoever that the in-progress novel, THE MOON OF HOA BINH, had as one of its main characters a German woman living in Kyoto through whom much material about Weimar Germany was being written into the novel. But his sending me that sketch of AT in Weimar indicates, so I believe, that he had suddenly seen the same things I had seen. The reason why this German woman is in the novel is because the principles underlying “autogenic abreaction” apply not only to the individual organism, but also to human population groups. Her character is used to explicate these ideas. Indeed, spontaneous discharge processes are characteristic of collective behaviors generally. I started working with the Cornell professor because he had recently written an article entitled “The Universal Nature of Discharge Phenomena”. Quantum physics is the physics of collective behavior; it is most specifically about this subject. In terms of autogenic brain discharges, the quantum model is about the collective behavior of neuron cells. Dr. Kimura's work with AT and schizophrenics was halfway between brain physiology and collective social behaviors. AT and quantum physics developed side-by-side in Weimar Germany. AT was pushed aside in late-Weimar by the advent of German-developed electro-shock therapy, and this was a prefiguration of WWII. Dr. Luthe, I believe, suddenly saw, from an AT and quantum perspective, what caused the Nazi pathogenesis. Understanding that, he knew beyond all doubt that an equivalent or worse catastrophe, in different form, is likely again to engulf the species. The central theme of THE MOON OF HOA BINH is just this: the AT and quantum perspective on the origins of mass warfare -- and what is required if there is to be an alternative human experience.

Autogenic Therapy's model of disease onset and the brain's self-directed therapeutics developed in Weimar Germany while treating individual members of a population group in process of collectively succumbing to a mass psychosis. The cause of this was mass engagement in “neutralization antagonizing forms of resistance”. Why this mass engagement transpired is written about at great length in THE MOON OF HOA BINH. The causes are much larger than Germany, and in many respects the German people can be regarded as victims. What is important here is that Autogenic Therapy's model of disease onset and self-directed therapeutics is an expression of what happened; it is in the form of what happened. The same thing is presently happening all over again. Not with the German people, but on a much larger scale; it has been globalized. I believe that a WWIII may well have started with the Persian Gulf War, in much the same way that WWII started with the Shanghai Incident and the Spanish Civil War almost a decade before the full global war broke out. I do not believe that the full development of a WWIII is likely to be prevented. When you look at collective sociopolitical events from the perspective of “autogenic abreaction”, it is easy to see that there are thematic patterns involved that simply WILL BE played out, just as occurs in any “autogenic neutralization” process. There does not need to be a collective brain with a centrencephalic-safety-discharge system for the thematic orchestration to transpire. The thematic orchestration is handled by the collective quantum properties operating in the population corpus, properties such as the “basins of attraction” of Chaos Theory, and so on. The knowledge base which AT represents is not likely to prevent this next great war. What it can do, and what it is better equipped to do than anything else, is to show the way to emerge from this coming great catastrophic abreaction such that the global civilization transits to a higher level of functional integration, rather than to a lower level.

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