Says Roger Wolfson, “Some people often mistakenly refer to nerve pain in the residual limb of an amputee as ‘phantom limb syndrome’. I would first like to clarify that phantoms or spooks or in fact anything of that nature, have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what a patient experiences here. What is actually happening is that the source of the pain is the nerve of the residual limb. It is from here that the pain emanates. I usually find that once I clearly explain the facts to the patient, this goes a long way towards hastening the healing process. A positive attitude along with any other methods that work for the individual concerned can only improve the condition.’
Tremendous discomfort as a result of residual limb nerve pain
Many amputees feel nerve pain in the residual limb as part of their reality. And part of that reality often involves tremendous discomfort.
What follows is an interesting story involving the use of the subconscious mind to aid the healing process. Roger’s explanation clearly explains the medical facts. Yet, amputees often have the sensation of feeling pain in a limb that is no longer actually there.
The subconscious mind is prone to curious patterns of behaviour
Here, we refrain from going into lengthy details and definitions. In a nutshell, what we can say is that our subconscious mind is prone to rather curious patterns of behaviour. Unlike the conscious mind, whose prime directive is to literally direct and control the will that influences the subconscious mind. Of itself, the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what one perceives as real and what one imagines.
The subconscious mind is unable to tell the difference between what is real and imagined
This phenomenon has implications that are far reaching when we use a technique such as visualization. Visualization is a ‘Mind Power’ technique by world renown author and speaker on the topic, John Kehoe. Using this technique the conscious mind is soberly aware of the fact that visualizations are a creation of the mind. They are actually not ‘real’ in a physical essence. Yet, by contrast, the subconscious mind is unable to tell the difference.
Investigating the potentials of the subconscious would usually involve ‘gurus’
The subconscious mind accepts such visualizations unquestioningly. Persistently holding these visualizations in the mind over a period of time causes them to embed within. The discipline of investigating the behavior of the subconscious mind traditionally involves the likes of psychologists or even mystics in order to delve into its depths. Such ‘gurus’ are better qualified to explore these potentials. As a result, there is no significant body of research based in scientific experimentation investigating the potentials of the subconscious mind. There is no base upon which to substantiate evidential claims. Yet, there is, however, an interesting account of an experiment among amputees that demonstrates the wonders of the subconscious mind.
Inability to move or interact with amputated limb causes residual limb nerve pain
Due to their inability to move or interact with the amputated limb, amputees often report feeling pain in their residual limb. We refer to this as residual limb nerve pain.
In an attempt to come up with ways and means to help amputees manage residual limb nerve pain, researchers go about constructing a special device. This contraption enables them to ‘trick’ the subconscious mind. In this particular case we are dealing with upper limb amputees.
An experiment in ‘reality’
The device is fashioned like a box with openings on each side to accommodate ‘both arms’. The box is exposed on one side and on the other a mirror is positioned in front of the opening. The patient is asked to position both ‘arms’ in front of each opening and flex their ‘good arm’. Upon looking in the ‘mirror’ it appears as though the amputated arm is also being flexed whereby in actual fact it is ‘hidden’ behind the mirror .
This exercise gives the ‘appearance’ of the patient flexing the amputated arm. The conscious mind knows that this is all an act, in that the amputated arm no longer exists. But, the subconscious mind accepts the ‘mirror image’ of the arm flexing as ‘real’. After a number of weeks of repeating this exercise, patients report that their pain either diminishes significantly or disappears altogether.
One thing is certain, the facts are plain that anything which logically promotes the healing process is a case where the end certainly does justify the means.
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