3 books on the Spirit

Soothing the Troubled Mind   Acupuncture and Moxibustion in the Treatment and Prevention of Schizophrenia  Translated by Thomas Dey

Published by Paradigm Publications

Lou, Pai-ts-eng, Lou Hsing-huang copyright 1999

ISBN 0-912111-60-7


  Transforming Emotions with Chinese Medicine  An Ethnographic Account from Contemporary China  by Yanhua Zhang

State University of New York Press  www.sunypress.edu


Shen Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine  Elisa Rossi with Laura Caretto Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier  2007


ER- Acupuncturist, Psychotherapist and Private Practitioner in Chinese Medicine, Milan Italy

LC- Teacher and Translator in MidiCina, School of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Milan, Italy


ISBN 9780443101816


First published in Italian in 2002




These three books are different takes on Shen or psycho-spiritual-emotional issues in Chinese Medicine. Probably of most interest to the general TCM practitioner will be Elisa Rossi�s Shen: Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine. This text should be a requirement for State and National Licensing Boards. So many students and practitioners are fascinated by the psychological aspects of treating patients. Even as this is often problematic, students should at least get a better introduction to the field than the allusions/illusions found in the current most of the available introductory books we now have. I will get to this impressive text in a moment but first I�ll look at two other smaller books.


Dey�s Troubled Mind is most direct if not the most modest, taking on the extremes of schizophrenia and its treatment in modern day China. At a little over 130 pages herbal and acupuncture treatments share space with a fair amount of classical background, cases studies and modern theory. This seems to have been a textbook for a class in China and Dey is listed only as a translator. The acupuncture treatments are very interesting and reflect the minimal yet potent style of mainland China practices. There are numerous classical citations which makes for a satisfying read as well as an important resource for further research. The publisher is Paradigm and they have generously provided a number of additional case studies at:

http://www.paradigm-pubs.com/Soothing. The paperback lists for under $15 and is well worth it.


Zhang�s Transforming Emotions is a different animal altogether. Over the years I�ve realized the fascination that TCM has with anthropologists, linguists and sociologists. The structure of the clinic, the interpersonal conversations and the very well documented medicine is fertile soil for study. Yanhua Zhang is Assistant Professor of Chinese at Clemson University and I assume that this book is a result of her PhD and/or post-graduate studies. The academic element here is important and I love this kind of anthropological stuff. The value for practitioners reading Transforming Emotions is that Zhang relentlessly details each word and nuance of the process by which her subjects, Chinese doctors, approach emotional issues in the clinic. The emphasis is therefore not so much on the examination of the patient than of the doctors themselves and the context in which they practice the medicine.


I�ll quote one pagagraph. The book is very generous in its inclusion of both Pinyin and characters (which I will omit here for reasons of web encoding).


Chinese medicine has numerous words describing all kind of blockages and stasis in subtle differentiation. Yu is mainly stagnation of qi, which is invisible and which is closely related to disordered emotions: yu is stasis of tangible (youxing) fluids, such as blood; zhi is sluggish movement (of qi); ji is accumulation of something (shiji)is accumulation of food; jie is coagulation, sometimes in the form of a lump; zu is obstructions or blockage of the circulation passages. These physiological dysfunctions are often experienced by Chinese patients as tong (pain), du (blockage usually in heart or in one�s throat), men (stuffiness in the chest), and zhangman (fullness in the chest area). Yu (stagnation/blockage) occupies such an important role in the clinical manifestation of Chinese medicine that some famous doctors in the history of Chinese medicine insist that yu in the single most important factor that results in medical disorders. (p. 45)


This is nice stuff. For those who think that modern TCM is dry and soulless may want to check this book out for the descriptions of the personal interactions of the doctors and patients. It should also dissuade one from thinking that western acupuncturists have somehow invented or otherwise have a monopoly on psychodynamic treatments. For the practicing acupuncturists there might be little in the way of new treatments but will definitely introduce or remind one of many if not most of the terms and concepts involved in emotional work. This type of book, along with those by Elizabeth Hsu and Judith Farquhar among others, are aimed at a rather specialized academic population yet also give TCM practitioners a refreshing outside perspective.


Shen: Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Chinese Medicine was written originally in Italian by Elisa Rossi with assistance of Laura Caretto. The treatments are interesting in that they focus almost exclusively on acupuncture. The first section is basically a study of the terrain of the Shen. Here are long sections on the Po and Hun and other standard components of the CM emotions but rarely discussed in depth outside of the esoteric terms of Taoism. The first section of 70 pages on Hun, Po, Zhi, Yi and Shen are well worth the price of the entire book. The middle section of the book includes discussions on Constraint-yu, emotions and heat, agitation and restlessness, insomnia, diankuang, and classic syndromes. Section 3 includes excess and emptiness, classical texts and �the space shared by the patient and the acupuncturist�. The last part of the book is a collection of articles written by Barbara Kirchbaum, Qiao Wenlie, Julian Scott and others. Barbara Kirshbaum offers a chapter is on the tongue and emotional diagnosis. Julian Scott�s contribution concerns hyperactivity and ADD taken from his pediatric book.


Frankly, I like having mainly acupuncture treatments in this book. As the saying goes, � herbs are easy, acupuncture is hard.� There are many point combinations outside of the norm and discussion of common and some of the lesser used points. It has made me think a little more carefully about the actual syndrome and symptom being treated.


Shen is a remarkable book because it takes these Shen issues on the terms of Chinese medicine without transposing a western psychoanalytic terrain nor new age thought on to the discussion. This is not a book of obscure Taoist concepts and at the same time these are not just dry lists of the standard categories and disease names given in most of the modern TCM books out there. While there is a chapter on classical cases, at the same time the book is generously sprinkled with modern case studies that are anything but outdated. (My favorite is an all too familiar case of a cell phone tower �allergy�.) Shen is basically a book taken up to the modern times with a healthy mixture of classical quotes, references from the past and modern case studies. It doesn�t attempt to �update� CM theory, only show it where it can be relevant in our time. As much as possible the reader is receiving a �pure� transmission and that is a remarkable accomplishment.


Summary: All three of these books have their place in any acupuncturists library.