Q: How did you come to start Torahpractic Medicine? What inspired you, how long has it been going, and what was your aim in beginning it?
When I was twelve, I was granted a vision of my life's purpose: to heal and to teach healing. And although there were many details as to how to conduct both the healing and the teaching, at the age of twelve all that I had been exposed to was western medicine. So I read medical texts, worked in a research lab and as a nursing assistant, and even enrolled in a pre-med program. However, the more I studied and experienced, the more I realized that conventional medicine was missing something essential.
Then, at the age of nineteen, while in the hiking in the mountains, I was granted another vision. This sent me on a search for my spiritual roots, and eventually led me to a Chabad Lubavitch rabbinical seminary. There I began my study of Chabad Chassidus and immediately recognized that it contains a vast literature of spiritual healing—in fact, a rigorous and detailed system of traditional Jewish medicine.
Over the last forty-five years, I have been researching, teaching and practicing that system—which we now call the Five Gates of Torahpractic Medicine.
Q: Can you sum up the Torahpractic healing approach succinctly in a couple of sentences?
Q: Describe some of your biggest successes or milestones with Torahpractic.
All of our healing successes result from the patient's recognition and acceptance that it is his or her behavior in relation to the Divine that is causing a spiritual disorder manifesting as physical, emotional or mental illness. From that point on, “passive sufferers” become active, purpose-guided individuals, and even the supposedly incurable can be resolved in ways that conventional and even most alternative medical systems consider impossible or miraculous. Such cases have included psoriasis, advanced stage cancer, chronic Lyme disease, autoimmune disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder, rachmanah litzlan (God should have mercy on us).
In terms of the development of Torahpractic, every day brings new insights into the over 5,000 year Jewish traditional approach to healing. Our greatest successes typically involve bringing those insights to the public—both to those seeking healing and healing practitioners—in ways that make them accessible and relevant.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges and / or obstacles? How have you overcome them?
The first is patients who say “Heal me but don't make me religious.”
The second is the widespread belief that our Torah-based tradition has nothing to offer with regard to spirituality and health.
As for overcoming those challenges: as Rabbi Akiva teaches, it is a matter of water dripping on a stone—over time, even the hardest rock yields. Patient by patient, lecture by lecture, we bring the message that it is not about being “religious,” but rather about connecting with the Divine, and that traditional Jewish medicine, or Torahpractic, is the most comprehensive and rigorous medical system for achieving true healing.
Q: How many people have trained as Torahpractic healers / spiritual doctors? Can you describe the ‘typical’ characteristics of a successful Torahpractic practitioner?
So far, approximately twenty people have completed the training to become a Torahpractic healing mentor. The only characteristic that distinguishes those who find success as a Torahpractic practitioner is an overwhelming desire and commitment to using a Torah-based approach to healing others.
Q: If someone one wants to learn Torahpractic, do they need prior training or experience? If yes, please describe what sort of things you require, and why.
Some familiarity with human anatomy/physiology, or experience as a healthcare practitioner—whether conventional or alternative, is helpful but not necessary. Our students have included a naturopath, life coach, reflexologist, as well as an artist and a retired fireman. We strive to create a supportive environment and forge an ongoing relationship with our students to help them fulfill not only their academic, but also their highest human, potential.
Q: What sort of illnesses or health issues have you found respond the best to the Torahpractic approach?
Torahpractic is applicable to all types of health issues. However, patients who suffer from chronic physical, emotional and mental health issues are often more open to the cognitive and behavioral changes required to truly heal.
Q: Are there are any health issues that you feel are NOT suitable for the Torahpractic approach? Why?
Every ailment is a communication from the Divine. Torahpractic diagnosis helps individuals decipher and understand that communication. Torahpractic treatment enables individuals to act upon that understanding. Even a stubbed toe or a 24-hour flu can be of significance. It all depends upon the individual's commitment to their attaining their highest human potential and achieving their life's purpose.
Q: Is Torahpractic only for Jews, or could it also be applied to other people too?Torah is universal. And yet it draws a distinction between Jews and non-Jews with regard to their relationship with, and obligations to, the Divine. Torahpractic, being wholly Torah-based, is likewise universal, applicable to both Jews and non-Jews. Yet there are distinctions in diagnosing and treating each. That notwithstanding, one of our most active and successful Torahpractic practitioners is a Bnei Noach (a non-Jew committed to fulfilling the 7 Noahide laws).
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the Encyclopedia of Jewish Healing – how does it differ from Torahpractic, and what are its main aims or goals?
Our primary goal is to make the Encyclopedia the most comprehensive, authoritative, accessible, and relevant compendium of traditional Jewish, or Torahpractic, healing wisdom and practice in over two millennia.
We envision it as a tool for both those seeking authentic healing and healing practitioners.
Q: How can people find out more about your healing approach? How can they get more involved?
To learn more about Torahpractic medicine, visit the Encyclopedia of Jewish Healing at: www.encyclopediajewishhealing.org.
To become more involved, send us a message via the Contact form on the Encyclopedia.
Q: If there’s one key message you want readers to take away from this interview, what would it be?Each of us has the very real potential to achieve total wellbeing—purposefully lived. The Five Gates of Torahpractic Medicine is the most comprehensive and rigorous approach to realizing that potential.
Thanks for the interview, Rabbi DuBrow!
To learn more about Torahpractic medicine, visit the Encyclopedia of Jewish Healing at: www.encyclopediajewishhealing.org.
I've been saying it for ages (and writing about it in my books...) but this week a new study came out that shows that so-called 'silent' forms of child abuse lead to depression in adults.
"The researchers found that some types of abuse had a particularly strong association with the development of depression. For instance, psychological abuse, such as “verbal and nonverbal acts by a close other in a position of power,” was more strongly associated with depression than any of the other forms of maltreatment. Childhood neglect, where a caretaker fails to provide for the child’s basic emotional and material needs, was also strongly related to depression."
I know no-one wants to look at this stuff, really, but instead of pushing more and more people on to anti-depressants and telling them nonsense about 'chemical imbalances', it's time we came clean as a society and admitted that people get depressed because their parents couldn't (for whatever reason...) give them the emotional caring and nurturing they required.
You can read the full article for yourself at the link below:
Q + A with Devorah Kur, Reflexology and Logotherapy Practitioner:
You can find a heads-up about what my latest book, Talk to God and Fix Your Health, is all about by taking a peek at the guest post I wrote for Jewish Values Online, HERE.
Over on Quora, every other person seems to be asking questions about whether they’ve got some sort of serious emotional issue or mental disorder. The first thing you should know is that there is no such thing as a standard, ‘normal’ person.
We’re all unique creations, and we all have our own unique path to travel down, and calling in life.
One of the consequences of this is that our emotional make-up, and mental abilities and capabilities vary considerably, from one person to the next.
That’s why one person will struggle to overcome their anger, while another person never gets ruffled. Or, why one person has to spend years fighting their way out of depression, while someone else is in a permanently sunny mood.
Even so, despite all these normal, natural and healthy variations, there are still a few standard things you can check against, to get a snap-shot of your current state of emotional health. The following 15 things are are a short-cut ‘emotional health’ checklist. The more you can tick, the more emotionally healthy you probably are.
But don’t worry if you can’t tick a lot of these! Self-compassion, patience and lots of prayer can and does work wonders for emotional health. Pick one to work on, start talking to God about getting it sorted out, and just watch how things start to improve.
The 15 habits of emotionally-healthy people
Emotionally-healthy people normally:
The other day, I was emailing a friend of mine who was going through a tough time, and who was starting to worry that maybe she really was manic-depressed, as she’d been suspecting for years.
We were emailing backwards and forwards when I suddenly realized a few things:
Let me explain.
Without experiencing my huge, horrible periods of depression, I would probably have turned out to be a pretty superficial person. I’d be obsessed with appearances and external ‘success’; I’d be relatively oblivious to other people’s pain, and I’d be dismissive and judgemental when other people hit emotional obstacles and mental blocks, and couldn’t just ‘make it happen’, whatever the ‘it’ in their life actually was.
My depressions were very debilitating and painful, especially when I didn’t know what was actually triggering them off. But thank God, now that I’m more or less out the other end of the process (although I can still have the odd bad day), I’m actually so grateful for all the insight, compassion and depth they left me with.
My depressions made me much more thoughtful, much more empathetic about other people’s suffering, and most importantly of all, they forced me to dig deep, to see past all the superficial fluff that modern life is so full of, and to work very hard on a developing a genuine relationship with God.
In that sense, they were priceless.
You get a lot done when you're 'manic'
Now, what about the ‘manic’ side of the equation? Well, if I was only depressed, and not manic with it, I don’t think I’d have got much done. As it is, that killer combination of manic-depression has given me the spiritual insights and personal experience to help other people with their emotional issues, and also the crazy bursts of energy I need to keep writing book after book and post after post, to get the information out there.
Now, you might think I’m being a little sarcastic here, but I’m actually really not. God created me exactly the way I need to be, to get my spiritual mission done in the world – and He’s done the same for you, too.
Being 'abnormal' is actually not a problem: it's a gift
Being ‘abnormal’ in some way doesn’t actually have to be the big problem the shrinks (and the drug companies) like to make it out to be. It all depends on your perspective, and how close to God you stick.
If I didn’t have God in the picture – I’d for sure be 200% bonkers, a bona fide lunatic. With God, I’m just 125% bonkers, which is hopefully just enough to change the world (because you KNOW that you have to be at least a little crazy to do that, don’t you?)
I’d like to develop this idea, so I’ll come back to it again from time to time. But let me leave you with this thought: If God made you a little bit crazy, it’s because He wants you to do something awesome with it. Your job is just to figure out what.
Apparently, medical researchers are starting to wake up the fact that exercise may be - gasp! - even better than amphetamines, when it comes to banishing ADHD in kids. You can read more about it for yourselves at the post below:_
The Encyclopedia of Jewish Healing is continuing to develop very nicely. They just posted up their latest section (which is all based on Torah healing sources and Kabbalistic thought), called the Book of Remedies.
You can take a look at it yourself at the link below:
If you're a regular visitor, then you probably already know that I’ve written a whole bunch of articles about this particular subject, a lot of which you can find in the JEMI Knowledge Base. A good one to start with is this:
Overcoming personality disorders: the mind, body and soul approach
Following on from the last post, there’s a huge amount of overlap with what official research is suggesting as the causes, but the main points where the two paradigms differ are as follows:
The Chinese Medicine approach which correlates the body’s energy meridians to the health of particular organs and emotions explains this differently, and to my mind, more logically.
Body affects mind, and vice-versa, and both are affected by the soul.
The main emotional ‘problem’ coming through again and again in personality disorders of all stripes is lack of empathy and compassion, either for oneself and / or for other people.
In Chinese Medicine, the energy meridian associated with empathy and compassion is the Spleen Meridian. The diagram at the top of this post shows you the 'pathway' of the Spleen Energy Meridian.
Modern society is very hard on the Spleen Meridian, and the following things take it out and weaken it:
What weakens the Spleen Energy Meridian?
If you compare the above with the official research, you’ll find the following things in common, when it comes to discussing scientifically-supported causes of personality disorders:
An alternative paradigm - and a possible solution to the problem
So to sum up, I think personality disorders are on the rise for the following reasons:
· Lack of connection to God = world is a very scary, stressful place (this is also has a direct effect on the lack of self-compassion and ‘resilience’ mentioned above.
· Modern life (including the traumatic way most mothers now give birth in modern hospital settings) wipes out the Spleen meridian – causing increased sensitivity and intolerance in the infant, reduced ability to feel compassion and empathy (a key PD trait), PTSD as a response to the trauma experienced, or feeling that ‘the world is not a safe place’.
· Modern technology and lack of interaction with others – continues to wipe out spleen meridian, and also exacerbates the problem as face-to-face connection with others builds empathy and compassion (the main problem underlying many PDs.) Also, kids who are plugged into Facebook 24/7 are defactoexperiencing parental neglect.
· Emphasis on materiality instead of spiritual development – means that people mistreat others, verbally abuse their children (and other people…), act selfishly and self-absorbed, and crush other people into the ground in order to get what they want.
Of course, all these things can be worked on, ameliorated and eventually fixed, which means that personality disorders don’t have to permanent features of life for the people affected, but can be treated and eventually, cured.
That's the question I was asked to answer, and here's what I replied (click the blue for links):
Great question, thanks.
The 'Official' Causes of Personality Disorders
On the American Psychology Association (APA) website, you’ll find quite a lot of material discussing the ‘official’ causes of personality disorders (you’ll see why I’m sticking that in quote marks in a minute.)
The following articles all shed some light on the subject, and are recommended reading (I’ve pulled out some key quotes from each article under each link):
Personality disorders--Treatment for the 'untreatable'
Personality disorders may change over time
Very useful research resource, suggests the following things contribute to Personality Disorders:
· Childhood trauma
· Verbal abuse
· High reactivity (ie, very sensitive to stimuli in their environment – I believe this is linked to a PTSD-type learned response and is also connected to weak Spleen Meridan, see below).
Personality disorders--Can the clinically inflexible learn to be resilient?
“People with personality disorders tend to show little behavioral flexibility,” says Art Freedman PhD, psych at the National Training Lab Institute for Applied Behaviourial Science.
“Building resilience – the propensity to weather the slings and arrows of misfortune – in people with personality disorders can help them to [bounce back].”
“People with personality disorders have so little resilience, it makes it especially important to deal with this deficit.”
Personality disorders: Where personality goes awry
“Studies continue to indicate that abuse, even verbal abuse, can amplify the risk of developing a personality disorder’”
“There is a pretty high prevalence of maltreatment by caregivers across all personality disorders,’ notes Patricia Hoffman Judd PhD, clinical professor of psychology at University of California. “One of the key problems appears to be neglect. Probably more of an emotional neglect – more of a lack of attention to a child’s emotional needs.”
“Even a single strong positive relationship – say a close bond with a grandmother – can offset negative influences in a dysfunctional household. “The child with a predisposition toward developing a personality disorder doesn’t need the perfect teacher or the perfect friends to not develop the disorder,” says Judith Beck PhD…”If the child is in an extreme environment, such as abuse or neglect, that may make the difference in terms of developing a personality disorder.”
“Offspring who experienced maternal verbal abuseduring childhood were more than three times as likely as those who did not experience verbal abuse to have borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive and paranoid PDs during adolescence or early adulthood.
“These findings suggest that childhood verbal abusemay contribute to the development of some types of PDs, independent of offspring temperament, childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, physical punishment during childhood, parental education, parental psychopathology, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.”
Reflecting on narcissism
“A lot of cultural forces – the internet and parenting in particular – are still pushing in the direction of narcissism,” – Jean Twenge PhD
A new American dream?
“Social psychology research shows that one way to reduce the negative behaviours that often stem from narcissism – such as hostility – is to promote connections and commonalities among people….promoting connections among people increases empathy and leads to more helping behavior.”
Golden rule redux
“From both psychology and physiology, it’s clearly the case that we’re set up to be compassionate beings,” says Paul Gilbert, PhD.
“People who score high on neuroticism tend to be less self-compassionate. And people who grew up in supportive homes with understanding parents are more likely to direct compassion towards themselves…’most people in our society are not that self-compassionate,’” Kristin Neff, PhD.
“Pilot data indicate that participation in self-compassion workshops decreases depression and anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connectedness.”
[As a side note, according to Chinese Medicine, the Spleen meridian is connected to an individual’s ability to feel compassion. More on this below.]
APA Search Results
Facebook: Friend or foe
“Children whose parents don’t ask them about their online activities and don’t monitor their use of Facebook are less healthy, more narcissistic and perform worse at school than children whose parents restrict their technology use,” Larry Rosen PhD, prof. of psych. California State University.
“His preliminary findings show that frequent Facebook use amongst teens correlates only with narcissism, but for young adults, it correlates with many disorders, including narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.”
Summing up the main points:
The latest ‘official’ research seems to suggest that the following things are causing and / or exacerbating personality disorders:
· Childhood abuse and trauma – particularly maternal verbal abuse, neglect and sexual abuse.
· Genes (more on this in a minute)
· Peers – particularly a lack of even one strong, stable, empathetic and supportive relationship
· Too much time online – especially Facebook and other ‘look at me’ forms of social media
· Lack of empathy and self compassion (more on this in a minute)
· Inability to bounce back or deal with life’s difficulties (more on this in a minute)
In the next post, we'll take a look at the alternative God-based holistic health view of what's causing personality disorders, because there's a huge amount of overlap between the two models. Stay tuned...