Again, I have to warn you that we will be doing a bit of "Osteopathic philosophy", most of the examples below are illustrative. I hope that you will not read these lines too severely and that you will enjoy your lecture as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I tried to classified these different interactions:
-Structure and Function our inherited DNA
-Our inherited family culture & diet
-Our inherited psychology and somatisation
Structure and Function, our inherited DNA:
In traditional chinese medecine they use the notion of Qi (chi). The Qi is the energy that animate you. A part of it is acquired by eating properly, doing sport, breathing properly (healthy lifestyle) and a part of it is innate or pre-natal, and this is the "Yuan Qi". This pre-natal Qi is given from the Qi of our parents: we can follow the same process, a part of it is aquired, and the other is issued from their respective Yuan Qi.
If we try to compare this chinese notion to our western point of view, it seems that our Qi at birth (mostly Yuan Qi) is the DNA that we inherit from our parents. This DNA relatively determines what we will become. From birth we are not equal physically, physiologically and neurologically and this thanks to our parents. If both of your parents are tall, there is a good chance that you'll be tall. if both of your parents are small, there is a pretty good chance that you will be small. Now if both of your parents have a "weak" heart, unfortunately there is a good chance that yours will be too. As our DNA predicts how our anatomy will develop, we can inherit from our parents, a big/small heart, big/small lungs, good/bad teeth(...). I remember a mother and her daughter who came to see me for some Osteopathic treatments, what amazed me was that both of them had the exact same left knee: both had an uncommonly excessive passive external rotation. Our DNA (partly) determines our anatomy and therefore our structure, we believe in Osteopathy that structure affects function, that means that our DNA package will partly influence our function and might lead us to certain weaknesses, functional or pathological problems.
Now something that I discovered recently (well not really discovered, i red it in a magazine of some sort) is that not all our DNA is used! in fact, certain part of it are expressed and others ignored. But what is really interesting is that the unexpressed parts of your DNA can express themselves under special circumstances, for example under a big stress or if you are facing a new environment.
One very interesting example is the one of the domestic pig. Some people may not like it but we are quite close genetically. A domestic pig has fine hair and a concave snout while a wild pig has thick coarse hair and a flat snout. The shape of his nose seems to be adapted for his alimentation. It has been noticed that a domestic pig if left in the Wild will see the shape of his snout changing and flatening. The crazy thing is that if you bring back this very same pig to a domestic life, his snout will change again and curves back to its initial state!
From a human point of view if we take 2 twins and that we place them in two different environments the expression of their DNA will be different. If one is sent in a rice field and the other one in Central London their morphology will adapt over time; one will develop strong low back muscles, and will probably suffer from osteoarthritis in his lumbar spine but will generally be very fit and strong physically while the other after spending years behind his computer will probably suffer from neck and shoulder pain and not being that fit physically. Their body morphology will be much different but their DNA the same. What changes is the expression of their DNA made to adapt their body to their need.
If we come back to the discussion about the Qi, this expression of the DNA could be part of this acquired Qi as well as a healthy lifestyle (which will affect the expression of your DNA).
Now, do we transmit this acquired Qi to our children at a pure DNA level ?
I don't know but I'd like to believe so.
In fact this would mean that the environment in which we evolve before having a child would facilitate the expression of the child's DNA for this specific environment from birth or even in-utero.
A bit lost ? So am I...
OK let's take an illustrative example:
hypothesis: is the environment in which our family evolve influence the expression of our DNA in-utero or at birth ? Will it influence our DNA selection over 3 to 4 generations?
Imagine that we have 4 pair of twins, 2 pairs of female and 2 pairs of male. their name are : F1, F2, and f1, f2. The name of the male twins are M1,M2 and m1, m2; now we match them with each other in order to obtain 2 groups of similar couples.
we obtain in the first group:
-couple 1:F1,M1 and couple 2: f1,m1
in the second group:
-couple 1: F2,M2 and couple 2 f2,m2
The first group will be sent in the country side and will have a rural type of life with some extra physical work while the second group is sent in town and lives an extremely urban life, no much sport, using cars to move around and a computer type of work.In both cases the next generation of children are following the same type of lifestyle than their parents. Now these children are getting married to each other respecting their cast (children of (F1,M1) with the one of (f1,m1) and same thing in the second group).
Now at birth, having had 2 generations of parents being either in town or in the country side and having a very different type of life, are these children much different in terms of weight, strength, shape ? is the expression of their DNA more geared towards a physical lifestyle or cerebral one? are the children of the rural group more adaptable to a rural lifestyle than the children of the urban group?
I would like to believe so, but I am not sure about that. If anyone knows about this let me know, because this could mean that the function of our life could determine the DNA or its expression that we pass on !
Functions affects structure, which is another Osteopathic concept. It seems that there is something, some studies on diets have shown that if we have an "american style of diet" over 2 generation that it activates a "obesity gene" quite hard to get rid off giving a higher chance to our children to develop diabetes, HBP...We'll come back to this later. So far we have shown that the DNA will affect our anatomical development which in turn can favor us to suffer from such and such condition or problem, and there is a possibility that the lifestyle or "acquired Qi" of our parents influence on our DNA expression and possible structure, which in turn can also lead us to suffer from specific condition.
-Our inherited family culture and diet:
My mother once told me something that really surprised me:
"The other day I went to this restaurant where I ordered an andouillette (a kind of sausage made of porks' pieces which according to wikipedia and my girlfriend can have a taste of pork feces), each time I went to this restaurant with my parents they forced me to eating this, since then each time I go to this restaurant I was eating this plate, but I just realised that I don't like it at all!"
It impressed me because a lot of our comportment is automated and it is actually quite difficult to determine what is issue from our own choice (if any) and what is just a type of complicated pavlov reflex.
Here is just a quick series of illustrative examples:
-using the knife with the right hand
-having a cigarette with your coffee if you are a smoker
-yawning or caughing when someone else does
-have you notice that your mind anticipate automatic stairs? if the stairs are not working and you enter them, you seem to loose your balance forward and backward at the end of them.
-who do you sit next to in a bus, someone of the same sex or not?
-when you talk to a child or baby and are you having a baby talk? or when you meet someone for the first time is your voice of slightly higher tone?
-do you walk to work? do you always use the same pathways ?
-are you voting for the same political party than your parents?
-Are you following the same religion than your parents?
We constantly believe that we have a "free will" and our society relies on it, but sometimes I wonder if we really do have one...
Influence of the culture:
In Thailand for example, in the coutryside people tend to sit/squat. From the age of 10 months children imitates their parents and squat when they want to sit. For a westerner it is not necessarly easy to do so. First of all because we use chairs, but also anatomically it is not always possible. Exercise time! try to squat keeping you feet flat on the floor as low as you can. if you fall backward this means that you have either: tight calves, ankles or knee problems. What happens is that in Thailand the whole family will tend to sit that way and in their fifties there is a good chance that their knees will suffer from wear and tear. This sitting habit is deeply anchored in their culture and difficult to change (and why would we like to change it ?)
Muslims need to pray at least 4 times a day. During each prayer there is a succession of kneeling and flexion of the spine. One could argue that this ritual keeps them fit, but the repetitive full flexion of the knee and spine will change the structure of their body (function affects structure) and possibly make them more likely prone to suffer from specific "conditions".Another example is the one of the toilets. Again in Asia and in under developped or developping countries you need to squat when you need to p**. In fact this position is really natural (not really practical), because when you squat you open your pelvic floor making it easy to pass motion. In"Europe" being a bit lazy and not being able to squat, we sit! Our pelvic floor is not fully relaxed/opened which means that we need to push a bit more to achieve our goal: great for hemorrhoids !
Influence of the Diet:
Diet could be one of the biggest and influential factor on our body function and DNA. It has been shown in the US that the typical Macdo diet modifies our DNA making our children more likely to develop obesity or diabetes for example. A "recent" research has shown that within 2 generation a healthy japonese family that emigrated to the USA started to develop these type of diseases when following a "junk food type" diet. The horrible thing is that being the diet of choice for "non-rich" people, your social status is directly liked with your health.
In Europe culturally, we tend to heavily rely on alcohol, coffee, milk, carbonated drinks: it is an affront to refuse such a drink, and you may be seen as antisocial. These drinks are perfect coktails for increasing stomach acidity which leads to some gastritis or ulcers. From a gross Osteopathic perspective, this means antalgic posture around the stomach/duodenum, decrease amplitude of the left hemi diaphragm, fixations of the ribs 5 to 8 on the left, elevated first ribs, shoulder, neck and upperback pain...Talking about milk, have ever wonder what went through the mind of the first human who drunk some cow milk ??? Beurk !
Psychologically it has been demonstrated that children tend to imitate their parents: It means that if the parents demonstrate an interest in healthy food, sport, healthy lifestyle it is likely that the children will follow this way of life or at least be aware of it. But if the parents lives on junk food, they spoil all the chances to transmit to their children a healthy lifestyle, which in turns will fail to transmit it to their own kids. This unhealthy lifestyle will lead them to all sorts of complaints, symptoms and pathologies and as this way of life as been anchored since birth it is very hard to reprogram it.
Influence of our mind:
I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The following examples are shorten/cut/exaggerated for us to understand it. I am sure that some of you, readers, will consider it as vulgarisation or maybe pub psychology. Fair enough, the aim is just to open a bit more our understanding to an often misregarded field.
In Osteopathy we tend to see and touch a lot of patients which gave us an interesting understanding and analysis of patients. There is often a link between the body and the mind of the patient. The director of a financial company will tend to have a rigid and stiff body, whilst someone who shows some flexibility and maleability at work will often have a flexible body. Look in the streets, some men will walk straight barely avoiding anyone, their are stiff in their postures, they are the big dominant bosses!;) Generally they are a "nightmare" to treat, meaning that they often present chronic condition (chronic low back) and as their body is stiff the full and long term recovery is often an illusion. Some big bosses can be less stiff or even relatively flexible, check on Utube Steve Jobs the Apple big boss, the way he moves clearly indicate a relative flexibility in his body and in his mind. But his job needs him to be creative, open to new technologies and concept; his mind need to be quite flexible.
The posture is also quite a good indicator of the type of person you are facing. Someone who is leaning forward tends to be ready for action, extraverted, outgoing constantly in motion, combative, assertive, dominant... The opposite is also often true, a lay back posture is quite often reflecting a lay back personnality, introvertion, shy, reserved, submissive, imaginative, scared... What happen is that these different type of posture will result in different and quite specific complains, for example: leaning always forward will make your back muscle work harder and you might develop some bilateral muscle stiffness of the low back while being lay back increase the extension of your lower vertebrae (L4-L5-S1) which will give more specific vertebral facets compression/pain. This is a very short example but the list is long, the body functions will be completely differently regarding the postures.
Now if we come back to their children, knowing that they tend to pick up these non-verbal communication expressions, they will themselves tend to imitate the posture of their parents which makes them prone to follow the same body functions and suffer from relatively the same type of pains and discomforts.
In a very interesting book that I read recently, the french title is "ces enfants malades de leurs parents" the literal translation would be " these children sick from their parents". In this book the authors talk about family secrets which are physical or emotional traumas that can happen to us and that we try to hide from our children. the first example is "anism". Anism is a condition in which when we need to defecate the anus contract instead of dilating. this leads to anal fissure, hemorrhoids, functional constipation and possibly low back pain. While anism can happen to anyone, it is predominant in children or adults that have been sexually abused in their childhood. More than 95% of abused children will suffer from anism. Be careful the opposite is not true. What is amazing it is that a mother who has been abused can unconsciously transfer this emotional trauma to her own children and themselves can develop this specific condition (and certainly other stress related conditions)!
Anniversary dates are also very important psychologically. I realised recently that christmas in my family was never not such a happy day: my grandmother once lost a child at christmas (family secret) and later on, my mother a husband. This example is unfortunately quite obvious, but if a patient lost his parents in a traggic accident at 12 for example, when his own children will turn 12 some changes may certainly occur in the psychological dynamic of this family.
Once a patient who consulted me was in her mid fifties and looked incredibly younger. She came to see me complaining of a low back pain that I related with her uterus. It happens that all her life she had a painful lower abdomen. She mentioned that she had her first periods quite late (at 16 or 17) and that she was a real Tom boy being young. In fact she had three older sisters and her parents desperately wanted a boy, but unfortunately she was a girl. One of her parent gave her a boy "nick name". Does the guilt of being a girl and betraying her parents could push her being a Tom boy? having her periods (female attributes) relatively late? having a symptomatic uterus (pain in her female parts)? I believe so and I actually read similar stories.
I wrote quite a lot about psychological factors, but how are they related to Osteopathy ? In fact many of our patients' complaints are "stress" related. Even if we can find a symptomatic tissue causing pain and some osteopathic findings predisposing and maintenaing this particular symptom, Stress is often there, increasing the sensibility of the body or somatised in the tissues. Being aware of different reasons that can affect a patient as a whole make us open our mind and allow us to grasp a bit more the concept hollistic therapy.
Influence of Reincarnation ?The first time I heard about this concept was while reading a book from Dr J. Upledger an american Osteopath. He describe a diagnosis and treatment received from JP. Barral (well known french Osteopath). Barral could apparently feel that Upledger was suffering from a spasm of the left ureter (little duct which goes from the kidney to the bladder). The thermal diagnosis revealed that this pain was more than 100 years old ! The only incident that Upledger could recall was being "stabbed" in a previous lifeliving as a farmer. Souvenir that he accessed a while ago during a previous regression hypnotic session.
I have an immense respect for both of these practitioners but I am still a bit dubitative about that one !
Lately I came across a book about reincaration written by a "medium" Joan Grant and a medical Psychiatrist Dr Denys Kelsey. In this book Denys explained how he became a firm believer in reicarnation and how he could, using hypnosis, successfully regress a patient to a previous life in order to treat certain symptoms affecting the same patient in his actual life. A major trauma in a previous life could apparently influence our behaviour in our actual life. I am not THAT open minded for the moment, give me another few years...
Let us try to find reasons in our actual life for the moment.