talking behind my back

Two distinctives relating to my current living arrangements:

1.  I only understand 10 percent of what’s said in my presence.
2.  The household is comprised primarily of young physical therapists.

These two distinctives have two primary consequences:

1. I perpetually fear I’m being spoken about, not just behind my back, but in front of my face.
2. There’s constant experimentation with new therapeutic and diagnostic techniques.

Most of this experimentation has been most interesting: Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT),  Dervish and ayurvedic meditation, etc.  I do not have much physical pain in my life, but my emotional health is reaping benefits.  (N.B. I find it hard to believe any of the PTs I know in America are experimenting and being encouraged to experiment with Eastern spiritual exercises.)

Last night, I was introduced to the Godelieve Denys-Struyf Method, named after the Belgian osteopath and psychotherapist who identified the six muscle chains which reflect certain psychological modalities: extroversion-introversion, action-passivity, spirituality.  It’s commonly used throughout Europe to treat chronic pain, though is not practiced in America.

At dinner, I had the distinct impression I was the subject of conversation.  And indeed, when the translation came, I was informed that I had the only body they did not yet know in terms of GDS. Could they study it tonight?

When you have an open invitation to stay in a stranger’s home it’s hard to decline a request, especially when it’s fundamentally a pedagogical one.

So, after we’d stripped the table, I stood in the middle of the living room and stripped to my underwear.  I turned this way and that, bent forward and back.  They pointed and took notes and debated, performing my fear: talking about my scoliosis behind my back and something “tres interessant” full frontal.

Their diagnosis: I’m introverted to the exclusion of extroversion, prone to action, and spiritually aware.  Not sure I had to parade around in my underwear for an hour to discover that, but maybe it will help some old French man with chronic back pain in the future.

They each had different ideas for “treatment,” too, which raised all sorts of questions for me.

– What are you treating? If not a pain, described (either accurately or not) by me, then non-conformance with a standard model? Who determines what a “normal” posture is and why should everyone have the same?
– Why do your treatments differ? Do the variations reflect your personal postural abnormalities?

I was not subjected to any treatments this evening, but the fact that treatments were possible in response to no perceived problem or pain got me thinking about who and why and when people seek physical therapy.  Should spiritual leaders be trained to engage parishioners whole selves, including their bodies, when confronting life’s traumas?  Should physical therapists consider spiritual and emotional imbalance as causes and treatments for physical pain?  If we don’t seek treatment until we feel pain is it too late?

I’m told my next diagnostic test will be in the prone position, where I will once again willingly and knowingly let people talk behind my back about my back.  I think that’s healthy, n’est-ce pas?

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