An article based on Dr. Norm Shealy’s new autobiography, Conversations with G: A Physician’s Encounter with Heaven
During medical school, my intuition got me into trouble. I made a diagnosis I was supposed to be unable to make, doing just a physical exam. The professor severely criticized me and accused me of cheating. Interestingly, two years later he apologized and urged me to intern in internal medicine, even though everyone knew I wanted to be a neurosurgeon.
I also made a diagnosis of sarcoidosis of the pituitary gland, which the professor exclaimed I could not do as I was only a student. He and I co-authored a definitive paper on the subject! But it was in my neurosurgery residency that I became most amazed at the inadequacy and indeed barbarian way of treating pain — a cordotomy, cutting the front half of the spinal cord with a broken off piece of a single-edged razor blade! I also was shocked at the use of drugs for pain and mood problems — they never worked well long-term and created far more problems.
Thus, when I finished training, I spent three years doing basic animal research and came up with two major improvements — spinal cord stimulation and TENS, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, both still used worldwide!
But I soon learned that 94 percent of the chronic pain patients had been so damaged by multiple surgeries, Valium® and Percodan® that they were not candidates for either of my discoveries. Thus in 1971, I made a life-changing decision to quit a busy neurosurgical practice and open a pain clinic. By then, I already had been introduced to electroacupuncture — use of electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles instead of twirling them by hand.
Knowing nothing about psychology or and despising psychiatry, I began with behavioral modification, but soon added Past Life Therapy, biofeedback, autogenic training, and massage therapy, as well as facet rhizotomy, safe denervation of the facet joints.
In 1974 I entered Saybrook University to complete a Ph.D. in humanistic psychology, which resulted in my Biogenics program for retraining the brain. By 1978, I was enthusiastic in Holism and founded the American Holistic Medical Association. Conventional medicine is good for acute illness. Holistic Medicine is far superior for chronic problems.