Approach To Life Inventory (ATLI)
Administration and Interpretation Manual
Version 1.0


    This is a manual for implementation of the Approach To Life Inventory (ATLI) in a clinical setting.  It is based, primarily, on the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce.  Mr. Cayce is widely regarded as the father of modern holistic medicine.  The expansive body of information which came through Edgar Cayce addresses the full range of the human condition - physical, mental, and spiritual.  With regard to health and illness, Cayce's intuitive process shed light on the full spectrum of illness - from wellness to "dis-ease," to the most severe and disabling conditions.



    The Approach To Life Inventory (ATLI), is a structured assessment instrument intended for use as an adjunct to traditional and alternative assessment procedures.  The ATLI consists of a wide variety of items representing basic aspects of mental and spiritual functioning.  The items can be scored as scales, each scale representing a basic concept utilized by Edgar Cayce in his system of assessment and diagnosis.  The scales can be grouped into nine categories:

1.  Ideals
2.  Application
3.  Spirituality
4.  Relationships
5.  Self
6.  Will
7.  Mind
8.  Emotions
9.  Balance

    Essentially, individuals taking the ATLI are asked to rate the degree to which they agree or disagree with each item.  Based on the responses, the electronic version of the ATLI calculates and produces tables and graphs representing the scales.


    Edgar Cayce (1877 - 1945) was an intuitive diagnostician widely regarded as the father of modern holistic medicine.  During his career, he gave "psychic readings" for thousands of individuals who sought his services.  Although many of the early readings were not recorded, 14,145 were stenographically transcribed and have been preserved by the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  The Complete Edgar Cayce Readings on CD-ROM is a collection of the Cayce readings.  This computerized version of Cayce's work was the primary database in the development of the ATLI as described below.

     As an indication of Cayce's interest in providing help to persons stricken with physical illness, over 9,000 readings were given for individuals suffering from various ailments.  When the therapeutic recommendations provided in the readings were followed consistently, many people reported improvement in their condition.  Some individuals claimed significant healing even in cases involving serious and incurable disease.

    Since Cayce's death in 1945, the vast collection of information in his readings has been applied by thousands of persons for a wide variety of problems.  In most instances, the afflicted individuals were following the advice in readings Cayce had given for other persons with similar symptoms.  In the absence of Edgar Cayce to provide the diagnosis and treatment plan, and no individuals coming forward with skills comparable to Cayce, the A.R.E. made available collections of readings on specific topics (such as disease categories).  In addition to these "circulating files," research bulletins, disease protocols, and books on the Cayce health information have been published to explain Cayce's readings and assist individuals in working with the material.  The ATLI, Version 1.0 was developed in 1998 by David McMillin to provide an additional resource for persons wishing to apply the Cayce approach.


    The ATLI is a tool for assessing psychospiritual functioning based on constructs from the Edgar Cayce readings.  The ATLI is intended as an adjunct to physical examination and clinical interview including a thorough history.   The ATLI is not intended as the sole assessment and treatment planning procedure.


    The ATLI can be utilized in various ways, including:

     Structured Clinical Interview - Simply going through the inventory with a client will provide a standardized format for gathering essential data and getting to know the person as an individual.
     Individualized Treatment Planning -  In combination with clinical judgment, the inventory can point to therapeutic options which can be incorporated into an individualized treatment plan.
     Outcome Evaluation - The inventory has the potential to provide outcome assessment data which can be helpful in tracking the healing process from a psychospiritual perspective.
     Research - The inventory may be utilized as a research tool, particularly with regard to exploring the concepts in the Edgar Cayce readings.


    The ATLI offers the following benefits:

     Low Cost - The ATLI is an inexpensive means of collecting and analyzing information about psychospiritual functioning.
     Simple - The ATLI is designed to be relatively intuitive with regard to administration and scoring.  In other words, practitioners do not need to spend a great deal of time learning how to use it.  The electronic format of the ATLI automatically tabulates and graphs the results to further simplify the process.
     Therapeutic Options - The ATLI scales list therapeutic options which Edgar Cayce recommended for particular psychospiritual patterns.  These options may be useful during the development of an individualized treatment plan.


    The ATLI can be administered electronically or manually.  The electronic administration is preferred as it will automatically produce summary scores and graphs for the scales.  This saves time and reduces the chance of mathematical error.  The manual administration requires simple math skills such as addition and division.

    Begin the administration by explaining the purpose of the ATLI as described earlier in this manual.  Be sure to cover the following areas as part of the general introduction:

     Time - Inform the client as to the amount of time required for the inventory (usually about 15 minutes for the electronic version).
     Cost - Inform the client of any fees involved in administering the ATLI.
     Confidentiality - Inform the client that the information will remain confidential.  The information may be used for research purposes is the client so agrees, but the client's name or other identifying information will not be included in the data collection process.
     Limitations - Inform the client of limitations of the ATLI with regard to diagnosis and treatment planning.  At this point, the ATLI is primarily intended as a research tool and clinical adjunct to other assessment procedures.  It is not intended for psychopathological diagnosis.

    Answer questions and make sure the client is clear about the purpose of the ATLI.

    For manual administration, you will need a pencil and copy of the ATLI.


    The ATLI requires the following background information:

     Name - Write or type the client's name at the top of the ATLI in the designated space.
     Date - Write or type the date of administration.


    Proceed with the administration by giving the following instructions:

    "The following questions look at your approach to life.  For each statement, write a number in the box according to how strongly you agree or disagree with the statement as it applies to your approach to life."
     3     Agree Strongly
     2     Agree Moderately
     1     Agree Slightly
    -1     Disagree Slightly
    -2     Disagree Moderately
    -3     Disagree Strongly


    The ATLI scales are derived from the readings given by Edgar Cayce.  Ideas and constructs that were frequently cited by Cacye were researched using the Complete Edgar Cayce Readings on CD-ROM (Windows and DOS versions).  Statements and phrases (or paraphrases) linked to each construct were compiled for each scale.

    The ATLI was administered to 220 adult volunteers.  Based on factor analysis the items for each scale were adjusted to provide optimal correlation with other items on each scale.


    The primary ATLI scales are:

1.  Ideals
2.  Application
3.  Spirituality
4.  Relationships
5.  Self
6.  Will
7.  Mind
8.  Emotions
9.  Balance

    The items for each scale are listed below:

    I have a strong sense of purpose in my life.
    I feel as though I am drifting through life, like a ship without a rudder.
    I do not have a clear sense of my ideal or purpose in life.
    My daily life is boring and unfulfilling.
    The work I do is meaningful and fulfilling.
    I feel that I am fulfilling my soul's purpose for being alive.

    I am a cooperative person.
    I rarely go outside myself to do something for someone else.
    I am gentle and kind to others.
    I have a helpful, hopeful attitude toward myself, others, and life in general.
    I am helpful to others.
    I am productive.

    I have a close relationship to a Higher Power.
    I pray or meditate often.
    I experience a powerful spiritual force or presence that is very uplifting.
    I do not feel the presence of a Higher Power in my life.
    My choices are influenced by a Higher Power.
    I believe in a divine energy within my body that can heal any illness.
    My relationship with a Higher Power contributes to my sense of well-being.

    I get along well with friends and family.
    I am seldom lonely.
    I have a helpful, hopeful attitude toward myself, others, and life in general.
    There are plenty of people in my life to support me when I am having difficulties.
    I often feel that people just don't like me.

    I am seldom lonely.
    I am a good person.
    I have a helpful, hopeful attitude toward myself, others, and life in general.
    I enjoy my own company.

    I worry or obsess a lot.
    To a great extent, my life is controlled by others.
    I feel like a failure.
    To a great extent, my life is controlled by other people.
    I sometimes feel as if I am being punished for something but I don't know why.

    I have a helpful, hopeful attitude toward myself, others, and life in general.
    I am a positive thinker.
    I know what I believe.
    Thoughts are real things, my beliefs create my reality.
    I am a creative person.

    I am basically a happy person.
    I sometimes express my anger inappropriately.
    I am often sad.
    I do not hold resentments, even when I feel I have been mistreated.
    I sometimes have strong emotions which I do not understand.
    I am seldom anxious or depressed.

    Life is fun.
    I have hobbies or recreational activities which are enjoyable.
    The spiritual, mental and physical aspects of my life are well coordinated.
    I exercise on a regular basis.
    There are plenty of people in my life to support me when I am having difficulties.
    I like to play.
    I do regular volunteer service which I enjoy very much.
    I rarely find time to exercise or play.


    The electronic format of the ATLI is self-scoring.  At the completion of the final item, a worksheet provides a summary table of the scale scores and a graph illustrating the score for each scale.


    Manual administration of the ATLI requires that you add up the total for each scale using simple formulas provided on a manual scoring worksheet and plot the scores on a graph.

    Each scale score can be compared to the normative data provided in the next section.  Scale scores less than the 25th percentile or greater than the 75th percentile are generally interpreted as important areas for discussion and further assessment depending upon the nature and purpose of the assessment.
    The following summary reports may be helpful points of reference for interpreting each scale score:

Ideals Scale - High Score
    You have a strong sense of purpose in your life and a reason for living.  You seem to be well balanced in your approach to life.  Your high ideals can be a wonderful resource in gaining and maintaining optimal health.

Ideals Scale - Low Score
    A low score on this scale suggests that you may be struggling with the purpose and meaning of life.  Or, perhaps you feel as if you are drifting through life without a clear focus.
    Edgar Cayce often recommended an "Ideals Exercise" as a tool for gaining direction in your life and balancing the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions.  The Ideals Exercise consists of writing down one's ideals on paper.  The process involves making three columns headed: SPIRITUAL, MENTAL AND PHYSICAL and listing words under each which signify the meaning of each category.  The spiritual ideal is a person or concept which conveys the highest sense of purpose or meaning to which one may ascribe.  The mental ideal is the mental attitude which is consistent with the spiritual ideal.  The physical ideal is the behavior or physical manifestation of the spiritual ideal.  Thus, the holistic perspective is maintained by the coordinating of physical, mental and spiritual ideals.
    The use of ideals has important clinical implications.  Persons who have high spiritual ideals, but whose mental attitudes and physical behaviors fall short of these spiritual ideals, may be prone to self-condemnation for failing to live up to their own standards.  Or, they may project their perceived shortcomings onto others.  Self-blame or blaming of others is likely to lead to psychological and/or interpersonal problems.  On the other hand, a person with low spiritual ideals (or the complete absence of them) may find life meaningless, boring and empty.
    An obvious benefit of this exercise is its potential for focusing on beliefs which have been unconsciously adopted during childhood and adolescence.  The insistence that the ideals be written down and reviewed regularly is critical in this respect.

Application Scale - High
    You rate high in application.   You seem to "walk your talk."  Your compassion and empathy for others can be a great resource for you.

Application Scale - Low
    You seem to have difficulty with applied spirituality.  Make a special effort to "get outside yourself" by doing something good for someone else.  A kind word or gentle expression of support to others can be uplifting to you as well.  Patience, kindness, gentleness, long-suffering are called "fruits of the spirit" in the Christian tradition.  Find a way to work with these qualities each day in your dealings with others.   As you apply spiritual qualities, you will become more aware of the spiritual dimension of life.  Edgar Cayce often advised, ". be not only good; but good FOR something, and this not only as related to self but in its relations to others."   If you are at a loss as to where to begin, you may consider doing volunteer work with a service oriented organization.  Find someone who is worse off than you are and do something to brighten his/her day and lighten the load.  Often, the best way to help self is to help others.  We truly only have that which we give away.  If you desire health and happiness, help others to experience same.
Spirituality - High Score
    Your close relationship to a Higher Power can be a powerful resource for health and healing.  Continue to draw upon this resource as you apply the information provided in this assessment process.

Spirituality Scale - Low Score
    You seem to be having problems relating to God or a "Higher Power" by whatever name.  You may find it helpful to read something that is inspirational to you. Edgar Cayce often encouraged individuals to read and think along spiritual lines, leaving the definition of spiritual and the choice of material to each person.  Many bookstores carry titles which address this area.  Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the 30th chapter of Deuteronomy and the 14th 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John in the Bible discuss the concept of a personal relationship to God.  These selections speak of the closeness of God and the promise of help for those who have faith.  Also, a feeling of closeness to God is often experienced as we get close to nature.

Relationships Scale - High Score
    You seem to get along well with others and have a good support system to help you through difficult experiences.   Many studies have demonstrated the association between  social support and health and healing.  This is a wonderful resource for you as proceed on your healing journey.

Relationships Scale - Low Score
    You appear to have difficulty relating to others.  Being connected to others in healthy relationships is very important to health and healing.  Many studies have demonstrataed the association between social support and health and healing.  You might consider seeking out a support group or becoming more active in social organizations such as churches or service oriented volunteer groups.  Remember, other people are mirrors in which we see ourselves.  If you don't like what you see in others, pay close attention to your own attitudes and emotions.

Self Scale - High Score
    You appear to have a strong sense of self-worth and esteem.

Self Scale - Low Score
    You seem to be having trouble with self-esteem or ego strength.  A healthy love of self is essential for a happy and fulfilling life.

Will Scale - High Score
    You rate high on the "will" scale which indicates that you have a strong "locus of control."  You make choices and take responsibility for consequences of your actions.  Be careful that your empowerment is respectful of others.

Will Scale - High Score
    You probably find it difficult to make choices and carry through on your intentions.  Remember that "will" is a special gift.  Edgar Cayce described it as a spiritual attribute.  The use of will distinguishes us from other creatures.  However, to be fully empowered, we must practice using our will and bring the will into harmony with our highest ideals.
Mark Thurston has written a book titled Paradox of Power that discusses the use of the will and bringing personal will into attunement with Higher Will.  You may benefit from reading and applying the principles in this book.

Mind Scale - High Score
    The high score on this scale suggests that you place great importance on mental functioning.  Because you are so focused in your mind, you may find that you are particularly adept at using your mind to gain and maintain health.  For example, you may find it helpful to practice visualization.  Visualization was occasionally recommended by Edgar Cayce as a means of changing one's experience.  However, Cayce also warned that this technique should be used in accordance with one's ideals.  In other words, be careful what you visualize, you may get it.
    A practical application of visualization is to improve the efficacy of the physical treatments.  The person receiving therapy should visualize the therapies working in the body - to "see" healing occurring during the actual treatments.  Used in this way, visualization is a safe and natural application of the principle "mind is the builder."
Mind Scale - Low Score
    You appear to be having problems keeping your mind on track.  As Jesus observed, what we think in our heart, we become.   You may benefit from practices (such as mindfulness meditation) which focus and discipline the mind.  Self-hypnosis and the use of affirmations are practical techniques for improving mental functioning.  If you feel that your mind is out of control in destructive ways, you may find psychotherapy (particularly cognitive therapy) helpful.

Emotions Scale - High Score
    The high score on this scale suggests that you are emotionally balanced and enjoy life.
Emotions Scale - Low Score
    The low score on this scale suggests that you are having emotional problems. If you feel that your emotions are out of control in destructive ways, you may find psychotherapy or counseling helpful.

Balanced Living Scale - High Score
    Balance is a primary attribute of health.  You appear to have a good balance in your life.  Edgar Cayce observed that ". all work and no play will make just as dull boy as all play and no work - and will make one eventually JUST as worthless, to self and to that it would desire to accomplish!"  Stay balanced in your living!

Balanced Living Scale - Low Score
    Balance is a primary attribute of health.  The low score on this scale may indicate that your life is out of balance.  Edgar Cayce observed that ". all work and no play will make just as dull boy as all play and no work - and will make one eventually JUST as worthless, to self and to that it would desire to accomplish!"  Budget your time to include both.


    Based on the scores of 220 individuals who completed the ATLI, the following normative scale data were obtained:

25th Percentile
50th Percentile
75th Percentile
    Factor analysis was used to construct scales of related items. Alpha coefficients were calculated to confirm the internal reliability of the scales.
1.  Ideals: alpha = .87
2.  Application: alpha = .70
3.  Spirituality: alpha = .89
4.  Relationships: alpha = .74
5.  Self: alpha = .71
6.  Will: alpha = .79
7.  Mind: alpha = .74
8.  Emotions: alpha = .76
9.  Balance: alpha = .75

    As a measure of concurrent validity, individuals completing the ATLI also filled out the SF-36, a wellness questionnaire developed by the Rand Corporation and the Cayce Comprehensive Symptom Inventory (CCSI), a structured questionnaire based on the Cayce physical readings.

    The strongest correlation is of the ATLI with the SF-36 Mental scale. Even though they use very different types of questions, they both appear to be measuring the same thing: the mental/emotional health of the person. The subscales of the ATLI, however, lead to therapeutic suggestions from the Cayce readings for mental/emotional issues. The ATLI is also positively correlated with the SF-36 Physical scale. This is not surprising, since mental and emotional factors have physical consequences and vice versa. The very low correlation between the SF-36 P(physical) and M (mental) scales confirms, however, that the authors of those scales were successful in separating physical and mental quality of life issues, a difficult task.

    Interestingly, age seems to have no relationship to the physical quality of life, and only a very small relationship to physical symptoms in general. Age is positively correlated with both mental quality of life, and the ATLI - that is, in this group of people, the older you are, the better you feel mentally and emotionally. These results are worth further exploration in a sample from a wider population.

    Surprisingly, the CCSI is correlated with both the SF-36 P and M scales; slightly more highly to the M scale, although this is not a statistically reliable difference.  A look at the individual scales of the CCSI can help explain the high correlation of the SF-36 Mental scale with the CCSI. Most of the scales of the CCSI are correlated with the SF-36 M, at an average correlation of about -.30. That is, more physical symptoms tend to lead to a lower quality of life in the mental/emotional as well as the physical realm. But a few of the CCSI scales have a much higher correlation with the SF-36 M - from .50 to above .60. These include Scale 15: Hypothyroid, Scale 18: Psychological, Scale 19: Hypoadrenal, Scale 25: Brain Dysfunction, and Scale 29: Spleen Dysfunction. All these scales include one or more symptoms typically thought of as "mental," e.g., depression or confusion. Clearly these symptoms would have an effect on mental/emotional quality of life, explaining the high correlation with the SF-36 M. But the set of symptoms on these CCSI scales could lead to further exploration of the possible physical reasons behind these mental symptoms, such as thyroid or adrenal problems, with therapeutic recommendations from the Cayce readings.

Table 1. Correlations among the SF-36, CCSI, ATLI, and Age (n = 202).

SF-36 Mental
SF-36 P (physical)
SF-36 M 
CCSI Sum      


   The following books are sold at many bookstores and can be purchased from the A.R.E. Bookstore at (800) 723-1112.  The A.R.E. Library in Virginia Beach, Virginia also makes them available to A.R.E. members.  The CD-ROM is sold through the A.R.E. Bookstore.

Books About Edgar Cayce:

Bro, H.  A Seer Out of Season.  New York: Penguin Books.

Smith, R. A. (Ed.) The Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Stearn, J.  Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet.  New York: Bantam Books.

Sugrue, T.  There is a River.  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wintson.

The Edgar Cayce Readings:

Cayce, E. The Complete Edgar Cayce Readings on CD-ROM. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Overviews of the Cayce Approach to Health and Healing:

Mein, E.  Keys to Health: Holistic Approaches to Healing.  St. Martin's Press: New York.

Reilly, H. & Brod, R.  The Edgar Cayce Handbook for Health Through Drugless Therapy. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Other Resources:

Carricato, J.  Edgar Cayce's Health, Healing & Diet.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Duggan, J. & S.  Edgar Cayce's Massage, Hydrotherapy & Healing Oils. Virginia Beach, VA: Inner Vision Publishing Company.

Duggan, S.  Edgar Cayce's Guide to Colon Care. Virginia Beach, VA: Inner Vision Publishing Company.

Karp, R.  Edgar Cayce Encyclopedia of Healing.  New York: Warner Books.

McGarey, W.  The Oil That Heals: A Physician's Successes with Castor Oil Treatments. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McGarey, W.  The Edgar Cayce Remedies.  New York: Bantam Books.

McGarey, W.  In Search of Healing.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D.  The Treatment of Schizophrenia. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D.  The Treatment of Depression. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D.  Living Nightmares: Case Studies in Anxiety (Based on the Readings of Edgar Cayce).  Virginia Beach, VA: Lifeline Press.

McMillin, D.  An Alternative Perspective: Alzheimer's Disease and the Dementias.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D. & Richards, D.  The Radial Appliance and Wet Cell Battery.  Virginia Beach, VA: Lifeline Press.

McMillin, D.  Principles & Techniques of Nerve Regeneration.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D.  Case Studies in Depression.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

McMillin, D.  Case Studies in Schizophrenia.  Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.

Pagano, J.  Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: The Pagano Organization.

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