Cayce Comprehensive Symptom Inventory (CCSI)
 Workbook and Manual
Version 1.0



    The purpose of this lesson is to help you understand and appreciate the role of the nerve systems in maintaining health and healing illness.


    By studying and applying the information in this lesson, you should be able to:

  • identify the NERVE SYSTEM section of a physical reading,
  • recognize several specific components and factors of nerve functioning as emphasized by Edgar Cayce,
  • become knowledgeable about the general functioning of the nerve systems, especially the cerebrospinal, sensory, and sympathetic systems,
  • understand some of the major pathological patterns that can manifest in nerve functioning and the treatments Edgar Cayce recommended for them,
  • become more aware of your own nerve systems and how they maintain health in your body.


    After the BLOOD section, Edgar Cayce usually focused on the nerve systems.  In a typical physical reading, the NERVE SYSTEM section deals with three major aspects:

    The cerebrospinal system consists of the nerves that have their cell bodies in the brain or spinal cord.  In later readings, the cerebrospinal was also sometimes called the central nervous system, the modern designation for this system.  The sympathetic system is consists of the nerves that have their cell bodies in the sympathetic ganglia along the outside of the spinal cord and the sympathetic nerve plexus scattered throughout the body cavity and viscera.  Generally, the sensory system is associated with the organs of sensation and their nerve supply.

    This lesson will focus primarily on coordination of the cerebrospinal and sympathetic systems as they were most often discussed in the NERVE section of a typical reading.  The sensory system was most often dealt with in the ORGAN section and will be addressed in the next lesson of this workbook.  This lesson will focus on some key concepts of nervous system functioning, including:


    The cerebrospinal system is the primary or central nervous system of the body with the cerebral brain as the primary nerve center.  The cerebrospinal system is associated with conscious (voluntary) processes as contrasted with the sympathetic system (unconscious/involuntary).

    In the cerebro-spinal centers, here we have the brain, the spinal cord - which enters through all the cerebro-spinal system, passing through each vertebra, and the impingements on same often cause much of the distress to the body-physical.  (4125-5)

    Reading 603-3 provides a more detailed explanation of how impingements on cerebrospinal nerves can cause distress to the various systems of the body by reflex action.

    IN THE NERVE FORCES OF THE BODY, here we find rather a complex condition.  You see, there has been in times back an injury here; slight at first, the second made for periods when the kidney activities were disturbed at the time.  This just below the 9th dorsal, or between the 9th and 10th, making for a pressure upon the solar plexus center.
    Thus that reflex activity that is felt at times through those areas about the gall duct area, and the attempt of the system to adjust itself aids in bringing about periods when these disturbances arise.
    This then partially, as has been indicated, from the circulatory forces as well as the causes in the cerebrospinal system, produces a sympathetic condition which makes for a complex condition at the cerebrospinal center between the cerebrospinal and the sympathetic systems.
    The organs of the pelvis, the abdominal organs - that is, through the colon, through the lower portion of the spleen's activity - all of these have a part in the condition, from the pressures indicated just in the lower portion of the 9th dorsal area.   (603-3)

    Later sections of this lesson with discuss nerve reflexes and the resulting nervous system incoordination that can result from dysfunction of the cerebrospinal system.


     In the Cayce readings, the sympathetic nervous system refers to 1) a double chain of nerve cords running on either side of the spine from the head to the tailbone, 2) three great gangliated plexus
(cardiac, solar and hypogastric), 3) various smaller plexus in relation to the organs of the viscera, 4)
numerous nerve fibers throughout the body which influence blood vessels and other tissues of the

    IN THE NERVOUS FORCES OF THE SYSTEM, we find that these have at various times suffered under various ways and manners.  Sometimes these have taken on the form of a disturbance between the cerebrospinal and the sympathetic system in such measures until the body would almost break out in a cold sweat, but from what - the entity could not determine within itself.  At others it became cold and clammy and shaky in various portions of the system.
    This is a reaction to not only the sympathetic or vegetative nerve system (which is the double system that runs along the cerebrospinal and functions for the coordinating or the governing between the mental body and the physical body), but to the cerebrospinal system (which is rather the deeper nerve forces that supply energies to the various portions of the body, the organs and the locomotory centers, for responses).   (1055-1)

    All tissue that has become involved, as cysts in the outer portion of the body, that has existed in one or more portions here - neck, body, and in other portions of same, internally, externally, by the directing of influence or circulation by suggestive influence to the sympathetic forces.  For, while we have (this rather an explanation for the whole) the activities of psychic forces which are of the mental, of the soul forces of the influences that direct between the physical body and the soul-mental body, these are active through GLANDS internally.  The expression of these is seen through the activity of the sympathetic nerve system, which is double in its nature, extending from the base of the brain - where it joins in the first cervical the glands - there is direct connection between the cerebro-spinal and the cranium nerve ducts, nerve activities and lobes themselves, and extend throughout the whole of the cerebro-spinal system.  And along each side of same, nerves from the sympathetic join at every specific center the cerebro-spinal in the activity of glands and of organs in varied portions of the body.  They extend internally and superficially, or externally, even more to the activity of the sensory organs and to the whole of the sympathetic system, or to the outer portion of the body.  Moving then as a greater area from which impulses are received to an active body.  That these may be magnified or raised to a greater or lesser degree in varied individuals, depends upon that which may be termed their susceptibility or, properly termed, their DEVELOPMENT mentally, spiritually, SOULLY, in their response to influences that come into their experience.  Hence, as given for this body, this body may be termed a very sensitive individual or body, and will respond from feeling (not from the sensory feeling), from sight (not just from the sensory sight but the feeling sight as well), from the auditory forces - that may be heard, not only from that which may be seen by self or about self, but as seen from within and from without.  Hence the body may be said to be able to create within self those influences of the greater nature that may bring the more perfect balance in the physical forces of the body.   (443-4)

    The close association of the sympathetic system with "soul" influences is noted in many readings, even describing the sympathetic system as the "brain manifestation of soul forces in the body."

    In the nerve system, the strain between the physical and mental, with the spiritual attributes of the individual, finds expression not only in the brain itself, but in that of the sympathetic system or the brain manifestation of soul forces in the body.  As in this, impulse will make portions of the physical body act, when mental forces will force the body of [4566] to act opposite, see.  In this we find then the centers in the nerve system show this strain, - that is the body physically examined from self or outside would be termed not an over-nervous person, when in fact internally he is above the normal in temperament and nervousness, see.   (4566-1)

    Hence, the sympathetic system is a primary psychological connection between psyche and the physical body.  Or, in modern terminology, the sympathetic system is an important part of the psychosomatic process.

    Byron Robinson, an influential medical doctor of several decades ago, wrote a major treatise on the sympathetic nervous system.  The Abdominal and Pelvic Brain, published in 1907, is a wonderful dissertation on the sympathetic system and is recommended to anyone interested in Cayce views on this subject.  Appendix G contains a brief description and illustration of the abdominal brain as described by Robinson.


     In the Cayce readings, the sensory system most often refers to the organs of sensation.  Thus, the ears, nose, eyes, and mouth were frequently associated with problems of the sensory system.  Cayce sometimes used the expression "sensory organism" when referring to this system.  The nerves associated with this system were also frequently discussed.  The cranial nerves (including the 10th cranial/vagus/pneumogastric) were generally regarded as part of the sensory system.  The next lesson on the ORGAN section of a typical physical reading provides more information on this system.


    Pressures on spinal nerves were cited in many readings as the source of underlying systemic problems.  Terms such as "lesion" (osteopathic) and "subluxation" (chiropractic) were often used in such cases with reference to structural (somatic) dysfunction which may result in physiological (functional) disorder.  In other words, lesions or subluxations along the spine could adversely affect nerve impulse to the organs of the system resulting in disease.  Typically, osteopathic or chiropractic treatment was recommended to relieve the nerve pressure.  Here are two excerpts which describe the systemic effects of lesions and subluxations.

    In the nerve supply we find these conditions in the cerebro-spinal nerve centers we find the first and second lumbar region near the brush ends, you see, a lesion formed, that being the seat of the trouble, this being in the false pelvic cavity and near the ilium plexus center, see.  This then, reflexly, see, produces another lesion at the 7th dorsal vertebra, which supplies and gives the incentives of circulation through the upper portion of body, namely through the secondary cardiac plexus center, through the neck, head and throat, that is, to the frontal portion of the body.  In the sympathetic centers opposite to these lesions we find the reaction and the refractory vibratory forces that produce this congestion in the functioning organs themselves, thus affected, hence we have the congested or the oversecretive forces in the throat, bronchials and larynx at times, soreness of a sort through the lungs, the refraction in the abdomen region produces the soreness at times across this portion of the body, this being really the seat, the other, reaction or the system attempting to produce the correct vibrations.  The well supplied forces from blood keep the body as near fit, as it is, see.  With the action of the sympathetic and the cerebro-spinal, the mind forces or that of mental work, the important factor that body being one well balances in the mental control of self using discretion and this is a very discrete personage, and there is a difference in personality of course and individuality (the personage we are speaking of here).   (4350-1)

    IN THE NERVE SYSTEM, this very good, though in THIS there is the greater activity toward those that would be subject to changes in the physical forces of the system; for through the subluxation as exists in the 2nd dorsal, we find there are reactions from same in various portions of the body that gives improper incentive in the functioning of tissue as radiates from the activity of this nerve plexus or ganglion.  This, as we see, to the upper portion - through the sympathetic and sensory system - affects the vocal forces, or the auditory forces, or the upper portion of the body, and we have that of a full or THUMPING, as it were, to all of the sensory organs of system at such reactions.  This, then, (the fullness as occurs at times to the body) is not a dis-ease, but a discomfort; not disease, but improper incentives for the radial action of the nerve centers.  In the LOWER portion, through that of the sympathetic and central nerve system, there comes from this same subluxation those conditions as exist in the functioning of the system towards the absorbing, through the action of assimilation, those properties that at times the body finds disagrees, or indigestion occurring.  This, only slight attack has EVER occurred as yet; yet there is the feeling of the fullness through the action of the hypogastric and pneumogastric plexus, through the activity of the ganglion as is controlled through the action of the secondary cardiac plexus.  Hence the body finds times when the appetite is good, but the minute it begins to eat it is immediately full.  This, then, is a reaction - rather than the conditions that NEED correction.  These are effects and NOT the cause of condition.   (2913-1)


    Lesions and subluxations can have the greatest effect when they influence primary centers along the spine or in the body cavity itself.  Understanding the concept of "nerve centers" is essential to appreciate the complex reflex patterns that can result from lesions and subluxations.

    Within the body cavity, the solar plexus, cardiac plexus, and hypogastric plexuses are primary nerve centers within an elaborate hierarchy of centers.  The solar plexus was especially emphasized in the readings.  The solar plexus is a great network of nerves and ganglia situated behind the stomach.  The solar plexus is a primary center of the sympathetic nervous system.  It provides nerve impulse to the visceral organs, including the liver, stomach, kidneys and adrenal glands.

    From the perspective of Cayce's hierarchy of centers, there are three primary centers along the spine at the 3rd cervical, 9th dorsal (thoracic) and 4th lumbar.  These are the centers where the  electrical appliances such as the Wet Cell Battery are most often attached to the body.  These are the centers which Cayce insisted that the osteopaths coordinate with their treatments.  These are the centers where the readings recommended that persons doing "magnetic healing" ("laying on of hands") should put their hands.

    In a more metaphysical vein, these key centers were cited as important "spiritual centers" where the spirit and soul forces were influential in the physical body.  These centers were associated with the flow of the "life force" or kundalini energy:

... the 3rd cervical ... the 9th dorsal ... the 4th lumbar .... These are the three centers through which there is activity of the kundaline forces that act as suggestions to the spiritual forces for distribution through the seven centers of the body.       (3676-1)

    Hence we find there are specific centers where the [nervous system] incoordination is shown; as in the lumbar (4th to 2nd), the 9th dorsal and specifically the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cervicals.  These are centers where the coordination between the impulse and the physical activity produces periods when there are the associations with not only the mental and physical but the spiritual activities - or the source of the ENTITY [SOUL] itself in its connection with the physical body.  (1087)

    Those tensions to be released in the physical forces of the body, in those centers where there are the coordinating forces between the mind and the physical reactions, - which are those centers through which the nerve forces in the sympathetic centers coordinate with the cerebrospinal or the central nervous system; or the spirit and mind system with the physical organism, - 9th dorsal, 4th lumbar, and throughout the cervical areas.   (2528-2)

    Thus the significance of these major centers is not only that they help to coordinate the nervous systems and the vital processes of the physical body, but they are centers of coordination between the physical, mental and  spiritual dimensions of the "ENTITY" or soul.  In this context, coordination takes on a more expansive, holistic meaning.

    Other important nerve centers along the spine are found at the coccyx (tailbone), 5th & 6th dorsal (cardiac plexus), and 1st and 2nd dorsal (brachial plexus).  By manipulating these and other nerve centers throughout the body, traditional osteopaths were able to assist the body in establishing health.

    The concept of centers was well known among the early osteopaths.  Almost all early osteopathic texts included sections, or even whole chapters, on the location and function of the various centers.  Cayce's view on nerve centers is virtually identical to the early osteopathic perspective, except that Cayce's perspective includes mental and spiritual (soul) aspects of the centers that are not addressed by the osteopaths.


    A reflex is an involuntary response to a stimulus.  Reflexes are transmitted by nerves.  The
"knee-jerk" reflex is an obvious, highly visible reflex.  Other reflexes are hidden deep within the body and much less apparent, yet significant in health and healing.

    Edgar Cayce often discussed nerve reflexes in his health readings.  In fact, his descriptions of
nerve reflexes sometimes resemble complex chain reactions wherein a pressure or lesion in one part
of the body ripples through the nervous systems producing diverse and seemingly unrelated
problems.  Nerve reflexes are the means by which lesions and subluxations affects centers and organs systems of the body.

    Reading 4872-1 is exemplary in its extensive descriptions of reflex actions resulting in numerous
and diverse symptoms.  It contains several explicit descriptions of nerve reflexes culminating in the
question, "Please explain what is meant by reflex?"  Edgar Cayce responded:

    Pressure in an area that through the nerve system produces REFLEX action in organs that are involved by pressures in that area, see?  As seen here:  The temperature that is produced in system (that is, abnormal temperature) by pressure on the sympathetic, in the cerebrospinal and sympathetic coordinating center in the coccyx area, makes for a high hepatic circulation.  How?  Reflexly!  The temperature, then, is a reflex action.  The reflex action in the glands of the system, as produced by abnormal conditions in the lacteals, causes the over-excess of activity to those of the thyroids - in CLEANSING the system - REFLEXLY."

    From a therapeutic standpoint, Cayce also recognized the importance of nerve reflexes.  His
frequent referrals to osteopathic physicians was based on their understanding of nerve centers and
reflexes utilized in osteopathic treatment.  For example, many forms of osteopathic drainage rely on
regulation of blood and lymph flow by reflex action through the nerve centers which the osteopath


     Edgar Cayce often emphasized the importance of nervous system coordination.  In many readings he traced the etiological patterns back to a lack of harmony between two primary nervous system divisions - the cerebrospinal (nerves with cell bodies within the brain or spinal cord) and sympathetic (nerves with cell bodies outside brain and spinal cord).  Some people have roughly translated this distinction as the modern designation of central and autonomic nervous systems.  This interpretation is probably an over-simplication of Cayce's perspective.

    The Cayce readings equate voluntary (conscious) activities with the cerebrospinal system and involuntary (unconscious) activities with the sympathetic system.  In approximately 120 readings, the voluntary and involuntary aspects of nervous system functioning are discussed.  In many of these readings, Cayce noted that a serious form of nervous system incoordination was present in which the voluntary activities had become involuntary and vice versa.  It was as if the two great divisions of the nervous system had gotten their wires crossed.  The result was often an obvious neurological dysfunction in which the individual was impaired in even simple daily activities.  Scale 16 addresses voluntary/involuntary nerve incoordination.

    Here are some examples in which nervous system incoordination was discussed:

    This is a karmic condition.  While the body might be benefited, it would require long, persistent and consistent effort on the part of some very loving, very careful individual.
    These as we find are those conditions which disturb, through the inability of proper coordination between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous centers.  Hence oft the things the body would do seem apparently unable to reach the consciousness.  Things the body in itself promises not to do, it does.  The voluntary and involuntary reaction or impulse, as carried in the white and gray matter of the nervous systems tends in certain centers to run together and become confusing to the body.  (3158-1)

    The incoordination that exists in the general physical forces of the body, also those activities between the sympathetic and the central nervous systems, and the voluntary and involuntary nerve forces, indicate the real existence of those spheres so often mentioned through this channel, - of body, mind and soul, and their relationships one to the other.
    They are one, if they are coordinant, they are recognized as being separate when - as here - they do not coordinate.
    Thus the inability of the body to control itself in body movements; and there is only partial coordination when the activity finds expression from the soul, and from the mind, and from the body.
    The more perfect understanding might be obtained through the life existences of the entity in the earth [past lives - reincarnation], but these also are dependent upon the individual entities who are responsible for the entrance of this soul into the earth.
    Thus, in making suggestions for pathological, psychological, psychopathic reactions, all of these factors must be taken into consideration.
    The inability of the activity of the vocal cords, the inability of controlling the vision, the inability of controlling speech of any kind, ALL have their deeper meaning in the GENERAL conditions of the body.   (3049-1)

    As we find, there are disturbing conditions which prevent the better physical functioning of the body.  These, as we find, are rather specific, while the reflexes which are produced by these conditions are rather complicated for they produce the incoordination between the sympathetic and the cerebrospinal nervous systems; and thus the lack of the ability of the body to store energies, and thus a general relaxed condition of the nerve forces of the body, or nerve exhaustion, so that with any general activity of the body, long on the feet, or in associations where arguments or any conditions where disputations might occur it brings on associations as a weakness and as a dizziness to the centers where the cerebrospinal and sympathetic coordinate.   (5385-1)


    Study reading 603-3 in Appendix D.

1.  Pay particular attention to the role of the cerebrospinal and sympathetic nervous systems.

2.  See how many patterns of nerve reflex you can identify in this reading.

3.  If you have access to The Complete Edgar Cayce Readings, you may find it interesting to review the first two (life) readings for a correlation of the psychological and physical aspects of this woman's situation.

4.  The work of Byron Robinson, M.D. represents a significant resource in understanding the sympathetic nervous system.  Robinson's masterwork, The Abdominal and Pelvic Brain has been translated into electronic format and is available from David McMillin.  Portions of Robinson's work are also available in a user-friendly format that draws comparisons to the Cayce material (Selections from the Abdominal and Pelvic Brain with Commentary by David McMillin).  If you are interested in a deeper understanding of Cayce's perspective of the nervous system, study either of these resources.


    Complete Scale 16 of the CCSI.  How is your nervous system coordination?  Are there any therapeutic recommendations for this scale which may be helpful for you?

Click here for Lesson 5.

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