Walks in the Apricot Forest: Cases of Suspicion Causing Illness and a Hallucinatory Mirror


PureInsight | June 9, 2003

[In Chinese, "Apricot Forest" is another term for the medical community. For more details see: http://www.pureinsight.org/pi/articles/2003/1/23/1368.html]

[PureInsight.org] The use of psychology in therapy appears to be somewhat new to modern society. Actually, there are many instances of the use of psychological techniques in therapy recorded in ancient Chinese medical books. Here are two examples.

In the Tang Dynasty an unknown doctor in China's capital treated a women who had mistakenly eaten a worm. She came with her husband to Nanzhong, as she believed the worm remained inside her. She had become ill from being anxious over an extended period of time. She saw numerous doctors and no one could help her. Then she went to see an unknown doctor. This doctor asked her about her medical history and immediately understood what her ailment was. He chose one of her closest and most reliable servants, and told her, "I am going to prescribe some herbs that will produce diarrhea. You will be the one who cleans up the discharge. After she vomits, please tell her you saw a worm in the discharge. But do not ever let her know that you lied to her." The servant followed the doctor's instruction. The women's illness disappeared.

Another example is about a doctor named Zhao Qing. A teenager who always felt dizzy and thought there was a mirror in front of his eyes all the time, came for a consultation with Zhao Qing. Zhao Qing made an appointment, and promised to treat him with sashimi (a meal that includes thinly cut fish, mostly of tuna) the following morning. The teenager arrived at Zhao Qing's residence on time. He was asked to wait in the living room for Zhao Qing. The boy was told the doctor had a previous meeting with another visitor and would see him as soon as the visitor left. After a while, a servant put a table in front of the teenager and left only a bottle of vinegar with mustard on the table. There was no other food. He waited and waited, but Zhao Qing did not come. He sat there from sunrise to sunset but Zhao Qing did not show up

By that time, the teenager was close to starving. He smelled the vinegar and decided to take a small sip. He drank some more after a while. He felt suddenly light-headed and was no longer dizzy. Being pleasantly surprised, he decided to drink the whole bottle of vinegar. Zhao Qing knew when he had finished the bottle of vinegar and came back to the house. The teenager felt ashamed because he drank the whole bottle of vinegar, and so he apologized to Zhao Qing. Zhao Qing told him, "You ate too much sashimi. Since there was not enough vinegar in the meal, you had a lot of squama (a scale and skin from the fish) in your chest. That was the reason why you felt dizzy. So I prepared vinegar for you today and did not give you any other food, you had no choice but to drink it. It restored your health. I invited you for sashimi, and that was only a strategy. Now you can go home and have your dinner." Zhao Qing applied the same remarkable strategy to many patients.

Bei Meng Suo Yan
Note: Bei Meng Suo Yan was written by Sun Guangxian during the Song Dynasty. The book consists of many historical records from the Wuzong Era and from the later Tang Dynasty to the Five Dynasty, including anecdotes from the imperial courts and events and social customs from a number of places. This book has been a very important source for historians.

Translated from: http://search.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/3/3/20670.html

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