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[NOTE: The following selection comes from "The Treatment of Schizophrenia" by David McMillin.  Copyright © 1991 by David McMillin.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  The Treatment of Schizophrenia is currently available from A.R.E. Press in Virginia Beach, Virginia.]
 

The Treatment of Schizophrenia
Appendix B 
 

The Pineal

     This and subsequent appendices will address various topics relevant to the treatment of schizophrenia by providing a general discussion of each subject which is followed by a selection of excerpts from the readings.  In this initial appendix addressing the pineal, the discussion section will be approached from three perspectives: a brief literature review, Edgar Cayce's view of the pineal, and a look at some contemporary perspectives on the clinical significance of a form of pineal dysfunction designated as "kundalini crisis."
 

Literature Review
 
     For centuries the pineal gland has been associated with paranormal phenomena and insanity.  Eastern philosophies have tended to view the  pineal as an important "chakra" or energy vortex, which if activated, opened the individual to psychic experiences and cosmic vision (Judith, 1987). Contemporaneous western philosophies also attached mystical significance to the pineal:
 
     The ancient Greeks considered the pineal as the seat of the soul, a concept extended by Descartes, who philosophically suggested that this unpaired cerebral structure would serve as an ideal point from which the soul could exercise its somatic functions.  Descartes thus attributed to the pineal a prominent function in uniting the immortal soul with the body.  Being influenced by this thesis, many 17th and 18th century physicians associated the pineal causally with "madness," a link that has been uncannily prophetic for the present day.  (Miles & Philbrick, 1988, p. 409-410)
 
     The reference to "unpaired cerebral structure" is an example of one of the many anatomical peculiarities of the pineal gland.  The brain exhibits a high degree of bilateral symmetry, a characteristic not shared by the pineal because it is not generally regarded as having left and right divisions.  The pineal is a small, cone shaped gland attached to the posterior ceiling of the third ventricle of the brain, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid.  Its location in the center of the brain, combined with its unique proclivity to calcify, make it a valuable landmark for neuroradiologists.
 
      Recognition of the pineal as an active endocrine gland is a recent advancement because the highly sensitive bioassays required to detect pineal secretions are relatively new. Melatonin is the most easily detected of the pineal productions and has therefore received the most attention in current research.  Thus, the frequent references to melatonin throughout this review is a reflection not only of its primary biochemical status among pineal secretions but also of its accessibility.

      There are numerous anatomical and physiological idiosyncrasies associated with the pineal.  "Relative to total body weight the pineal is small (50-150 mg in man; 1 mg in the rat), but its blood flow is second only to the kidney" (Arendt, 1988, p. 205-206).  Morphologically, the pineal has been considered as a homologue of the "third eye" in certain lizards (Gray's Anatomy, 1977).  The photosensitivity of pineal in humans derives from nerve impulses from the retina and may have a basis in the structure of the gland.
 
     Furthermore, it is interesting to note that some of the pigmented cells were arranged in a rosette-like structure reminiscent of developing retinal structures.  When one considers these findings along with the electron microscopic observation ... it is reasonable to conclude that human pineal glands exhibit transient cellular features reminiscent of developing photoreceptor cells as shown in other mammals. (Min, 1987, p. 728)
 
     The pineal has been labelled a "photoneuroendocrine transducer" due to its photoperiodic influences on reproductive cycles, coat color, coat growth and seasonal variations in behaviors of many mammals (Arendt, 1988). "Many other seasonal variations both physiological and pathological exist in humans and it will be of interest to consider their possible relationship to daylength and other seasonal synchronizers" (Arendt, 1988, p. 210).  Ralph (1984) has reviewed the role of the pineal in thermoregulation and emphasized the "adaptive" nature of the gland.
 
    The key word to understanding the pineal organ probably is "adaptation." That is, one can argue, with substantial justification, that the pineal organ participates in preparation for future conditions .... While the literature relating pineal organs to thermoregulation is not nearly as large as that dealing with reproduction, or rhythmycity, it is substantial and compelling.  (Ralph, 1984, p. 193)
 
     Pineal involvement in cycles of growth and development during the life span has long been recognized.  Pineal tumors have been associated with both precocious and delayed puberty in humans (Kitay & Altschule, 1954; Turner & Bagnara, 1971). Blindness has been linked to earlier menarche in girls and blind adults also appear to exhibit disynchroncities related to photosensitivity (Parkes, 1976; Lewy & Newsome, 1983). Melatonin secretions is known to decrease in amplitude from infancy to adulthood (Young et al, 1986) and during old age (Iguchi et al, 1982)

      Pineal involvement in circadian rhythms, particularly the sleep cycle within these rhythms, has received considerable attention in recent years.

      Melatonin secretion increases during sleep and decreases during waking hours (Axelrod, 1974; Arato, et al, 1985).  Since light both entrains and suppresses melatonin secretion, melatonin has been called a "darkness hormone"  (Arendt, 1988).  Arginine vasotocin (AVT), another pineal secretion linked to sleep cycles, has been found to induce slow-wave sleep in cats (Pavel, Psatta & Goldstein, 1977) and a specific AVT antiserum markedly increases the number of REM (rapid eye movement or dream sleep) periods while decreasing REM latency (Pavel & Goldstein, 1981).  However, the role of the pineal in the modulation of circadian rhythms such as sleep cycles cannot be considered as primary.  Rather, it works in conjunction with other systems and has its basis in evolutionary processes.
 
     Among the vertebrates, two areas seem to have assumed major importance in the organization of circadian systems - the pineal organ and the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus).  The pineal organ of lower vertebrates is photosensory in nature and it may have been this, presumably ancient, function that caused the pineal organ to assume such a predominant role with circadian systems.  Clearly, light is the preeminent entraining or synchronizing stimulus for circadian systems, and the pineal organ may have been involved in the perception of LD (light-dark) cycles.  (Underwood, 1984, pp. 245-246)
 
     In addition to being sensitive to variations in environmental light, the pineal appears to possess sensitivity to the earth's magnetic field and various electromagnetic influences.

      There is ever increasing evidence that the magnetic irradiation of a strength equal or approximate to that of the geomagnetic field exerts a variety of behavioral and physiological effects on the organism.  Some studies focused on the pineal gland as the most feasible candidate for a mediator of magnetic irradiation on the organism.  Such an approach is quite in keeping with the generally accepted concept that the pineal gland plays its physiological role through the modulation of the homeostatic and behavioral responses upon the changes in the living microambient. (Milin, Bajic & Brakus, 1988, p. 1083).
 
     The pineal may also serve as a somatic interface with other sources of environmental energy designated as extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic-field exposure. Wilson, Stevens and Anderson (1989) reviewed studies of ELF electromagnetic-field exposure in relation to health risks such as cancer, depression, and birth outcome (e.g. miscarriage, stillbirth).  Citing work from their laboratory and elsewhere which shows that ELF field exposure alters the normal circadian rhythm of melatonin synthesis and release in the pineal gland, the authors present evidence which suggest pineal susceptibility to such sources:
 
     Whether directly affected or not, the pineal is a convenient locus for monitoring dyschronogenic effects of these fields. It appears ever more plausible, however, that the pineal may also play a central role in the biological response to this environmental factor.  (Wilson, Stevens and Anderson, 1989 p. 1328)
 
     The link between pineal dysfunction and suppressed immune response highlights another active area of pineal research. In particular, research has focused on melatonin and its relation to cancer.  Depletion of melatonin by pinealectomy has been associated with proliferation of cancer cells (Rodin, 1963).

      Loss or reduction of oncostatic melatonin in the circulation is only one of the several possible mechanisms for increased cancer risk resulting from pineal gland dysfunction.  Melatonin appears to have a stimulatory effect on immune function in the whole animal.  (Wilson, et al, 1989, p. 1323)
 
     The minireview of this topic provided by Wilson et al. is a concise discussion of pineal research and is highly recommended to readers interested in the pineal/immune interface.  In recognition of the role of the pineal in current cancer research, Blask (1984) has referred to the pineal as an "oncostatic gland" and an entire conference was recently devoted to this subject (Gupta et al., 1988)

      Pinealectomy has been implicated in the production of convulsive states (Philo & Reiter, 1978).  Furthermore, melatonin has been shown to suppress seizure activity in humans and other mammals (Fariello, et al., 1977).
 
     Surgical removal of the pineal gland apparently produces rather uniform alterations in EEG activity and, under special circumstances (e.g., when rats are previously parathyroidectomized), severe seizures occur when the pineal gland is surgically extripated.  Several other rodent species ... and certain strains of mice convulse after simple pinealectomy, i.e., loss of the parathyroid gland is not a prerequisite ... The appearance of the convulsions suggests basic alterations in the biochemical and electrical activity of the CNS which are presumably due to the loss of some pineal constituent.  (Reiter, 1977, p. 257)
 
     The role of melatonin in brain excitability is an interesting example of the widespread explorations of pineal functioning and Albertson et al. (1981) have provided an excellent review, including results of their own research.  Their paper is an excellent resource for those readers interested in the relationship between the pineal and epilepsy.

      The neuroendocrine functions of the pineal affect a wide variety of glandular and nervous system processes.

      Although experimental results suggested many years ago that the pineal may inhibit growth of the gonads, substantial progress in this field has occurred only in the last ten years, since the pineal began to be considered as one of the central regulating mechanisms in charge of pituitary control rather than as an endocrine gland only.  (Moszkowska, Kordon & Ebels, 1971, p. 241)  Evidence that the pineal gland exerts a regulatory influence on several endocrine functions is rapidly growing.  (Motta, Schiaffini, Piva & Martini, 1971, p. 279)
 
     The prevalence of sigma receptors in the pineal has been noted by Jansen, Dragunow & Faull (1990) and may be an important interface with several systems and pathologies:

      The highest concentration of sigma receptors was seen in the pineal gland, an area which has not been previously studied. This is of interest as both sigma receptors and the pineal gland have recently been shown to play a role not only in the nervous system but also in the immune and endocrine systems ... Haloperidol and some other antipsychotic drugs bind sigma receptors, as do psychotomimetic benzomorphan opiates, suggesting that the receptor may be involved in psychosis. (Jansen, Dragunow & Faull, 1990, P. 158)
 
     Research indicates that pineal involvement in mental health may go beyond psychosis.  It is very likely that the pineal plays a significant role in the manifestation of several mental illnesses.
 
     Currently, much interest is focused on the role that melatonin may play in various psychiatric disorders, and pineal research now represents one of the active areas of current psychiatry research.... Present ideas suggest a positive involvement of melatonin in affective disorders, possible involvement in the schizophrenic psychosis, and potential involvement of this hormone in other psychiatric categories.  (Miles & Philbrick, 1988, p. 405)
 
     Reduced nocturnal melatonin secretion has been noted in depression (Wetterberg et al., 1979, 1981 & 1984) and schizophrenia (Ferrier et al., 1982).  Brown et al. (1985) found that lowered nocturnal melatonin concentrations differentiated between melancholic patients and patients suffering from major depression without melancholia.  The role of the pineal in depression may be related to neurotransmitters associated with depression.
 
     In that various theories of depression have suggested reduced serotonergic and noradrenergic function, and both of these products are involved in the synthesis of melatonin as a precursor and neurotransmitter, it would not in fact be at all surprising to find low melatonin in depression.... It is tempting to speculate that all anti-depressants increase melatonin production.  (Arendt, 1988, p. 218-219)
 
     Recognition that the pineal is photosensitive and plays a major role in the regulation of seasonal physiological adaptations has led to speculation that pineal dysfunction may be related to SAD (seasonal affective disorder).  SAD is a recurring winter depression presenting with weight gain, hypersomnia and carbohydrate craving (Rosenthal et al., 1984).  Phototherapy has been utilized in this and other forms of depression to ameliorate depressive symptoms (Kripke & Risch, 1986).

      Persons suffering from bipolar have been shown to be supersensitive to the inhibiting effect of bright light on nocturnal melatonin secretion (Lewy et al., 1981).  Research by Lewy et al. (1979) suggests that during mania (particularly during the early phase of mania) bipolar patients exhibit consistently elevated levels of melatonin throughout the day and night.  Because lithium has been shown to affect pineal functioning and may be linked to decreased photosensitivity, some researchers have speculated that some individuals diagnosed as bipolar may be suffering from circadian disorganization (see review by Miles & Philbrick, 1988).

      Structural similarities between melatonin and agents of known hallucinogenic potency (i.e., harmine, bufotenine, and psilocybin) has led to speculation about a possible connection between this pineal hormone and schizophrenia (Arendt, 1988).  Psychotomimetic agents (lysergide, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, and harmaline) induce HIOMT, a methylating enzyme, which increases melatonin production in the pineal (Klein & Rowe, 1970; Hartley & Smith, 1973). Furthermore, agents which produce symptoms closely resembling schizophrenic psychosis (i.e., cocaine, L-dopa, and amphetamine) also increase melatonin production.  Research into the assimilation of LSD in monkey brains reveal a propensity for LSD concentrations in the pineal and pituitary glands, these accumulations being 7-8 times those found in the cerebral cortex (Snyder & Reivich, 1966).  Winter et al., (1973) report that the pineal must be capable of functioning for hallucinogens to have behavioral effects.  Although melatonin has direct biochemical effects on dopaminergic function (Wendel et al., 1974; Zisapel & Laudon, 1983; Bradbury et al., 1985) and haloperidol is highly concentrated by pineal tissue (Naylor & Olley, 1959), direct evidence of melatonin involvement in schizophrenia has not be forthcoming (see excellent review by Miles & Philbrick, 1988).

      There exists a vast pineal literature which is undergoing phenomenal expansion.  As the present discussion is intended to serve as an introduction to the subject, interested readers are directed to these useful reviews for further elaboration: Wilson et al., 1989; Arendt, 1988; Ebels & Balemans, 1986; Miles & Philbrick, 1988; Mullen & Silman, 1977; and Reiter, 1984.

      In summary, whereas only a few decades ago the pineal was widely viewed as a vestigial entity, current research has revealed it to be an important neuroendocrine gland involved in thermoregulation, immune response, and the mediation of various cycles (i.e., circadian rhythms involving the regulation of sleep, seasonal rhythms affecting patterns of reproduction and physiological adaptations to the environment, and cycles of growth and development during the lifespan such as sexual maturation).  In consideration of the pineal's influence on the other endocrine glands, it can be viewed as a "regulator of regulators" (Reiter, 1984, p. v).  Further, pineal functioning may play an important role in mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and affective disorders.  Perhaps the most controversial area of pineal research may involve the gland's functioning as a transducer of environmental energies such as electromagnetic fields. "After years of disregard the pineal has taken its place in mainstream biology and medicine.  It is an organ of particular fascination in that it serves as an interface between the environment and the body" (Arendt, 1988, p. 205)
 
     The pineal gland, viewed historically as a "sphincter to control the flow of thought," as the "seat of the soul," as a "third eye," and depicted more recently as a "neuroendocrine transducer organ," now promises to portray more complex physiological functions than originally believed and forecasts to reveal more extensive implications in pathological processes than once deemed possible ...  Future investigations should be directed toward comprehension of the functions of numerous neglected neurotransmitters and biological substances found in the pineal gland.  The results of these investigations may bring forth multifunctional significance for [the] pineal gland not only in "temporal arrangement of various reproductive events" in mammals, in "rhythmical thermoregulatory process" in some ectotherms, and in "nightly pallor response" in amphibians, but also in major arenas of human suffering such as seizure disorders, sleep disorders, and behavioral abnormalities.  (Ebadi, 1984, pp. 1 & 27)

 
Cayce's Perspective of the Pineal
 
     The relatively frequent references to the pineal in the Cayce readings reflect the importance which the readings attached to this gland.  As previously mentioned, during the early decades of this century, the pineal was widely regarded as a vestigial organ of little physiological significance.  The readings acknowledged the prevailing view of medical science by describing the pineal as a "mass without apparent functioning" (294-141).  However, the readings continued to insist upon the preeminent role of the pineal as a major mediator of physiospiritual processes.  The research literature just cited in this appendix suggests that contemporary views regarding the pineal are rather expansive and tend to support the readings' insistence that the pineal is much more than a dormant, vestigial organ.

      To fully appreciate Cayce's perspective of the pineal, it is necessary to discuss the various ways in which the term pineal was used in the readings.  Although pineal was often used to designate a discreet, glandular entity in the center of the brain (a notion consonant with contemporary views of the pineal), the readings also occasionally spoke of the pineal as if it were a system.  This is more than just a problem of semantics, for in the readings the "pineal system" represents the interface of mental and spiritual dimensions within the body - it was described as the body/mind/spirit connection.

      When viewed as a system, other terms were often associated with the pineal such as the "cord of life," the "silver cord," the "Appian Way," and the "imaginative system."  In this context, the pineal seemed to be regarded as a life energy system as well as a glandular entity.  This perspective is congruent with certain eastern religions and occult traditions which emphasize the paranormal aspects of pineal activity by labeling it a major "chakra," or energy center in the body (e.g., Bailey, 1932; Besant, 1959).  In the Cayce readings, the energies associated with the pineal system carry several designations including: "kundalini," "kundaline," "life force," "psychic force," "aerial activity," and "creative energy."

      The status of the pineal as a system is established in the readings by noting the diversity and essentiality of its functioning.  The pineal system was said to function through nerve impulse (e.g., 2197-1, 4800-1), glandular secretion (e.g., 567-1, 2200-1), and vibratory energies such as the life force or kundalini energy (e.g., 281-53) while mediating numerous processes including fetal growth, sexual development and functioning, and alterations in consciousness.  Two brief excerpts from the readings will be provided to portray the physiological and psychospiritual parameters of the system:
 
 ... for the PINEAL center is engorged, especially at the 3rd and 4th LUMBAR and the 1st
and 2nd cervical.... the mental capacities as related to the imaginative system refuse to coordinate with the rest of the activity of the body ...  as we have indicated, a constitutional condition, you see, which affects the glands of the body, as related to the pineal - which runs all the way through the system and is the GOVERNING body to the coordinating of the mental and physical.  (567-1)
 
       In this particular body [Edgar Cayce] through which this, then, at present is emanating, the gland with its thread known as the pineal gland is the channel along which same then operates, and with the subjugation of the consciousness - physical consciousness - there arises, as it were, a cell from the creative forces within the body to the entrance of the conscious mind, or brain, operating along, or traveling along, that of the thread or cord as when severed separates the physical, the soul, or the spiritual body.    (288-29)
 
     These excerpts contain some important examples of the diverse influences attributed to the pineal system.  The references to "the gland with its thread known as the pineal" and "the pineal - which runs all the way through the system and is the governing body to the coordinating of the mental and physical" indicate the anatomical expansiveness of this system.  The "thread" or "cord" which emanates from the pineal gland may be physical (e.g., nerve tissue), nonphysical (e.g., "vibratorial" or subtle energy), or both. The readings are particularly vague on the subject.  The readings compared the activity of the pineal to an aerial:

      In your radio you have what you call an aerial for communications that are without any visible connection.  This is not a part of that making up the framework, yet it is necessary for certain characters of reception or for the better distribution of that which takes place in the instrument as related to communication itself.
      So in the physical body the aerial activity is the flow through the pineal, to and through all the centers.  It aids the individual, or is an effective activity for the individual who may consciously attempt to attune, coordinate, or to bring about perfect accord, or to keep a balance in that attempting to be reached or attained through the process.... Understand the processes of activity through which there are the needs of the aerial in reception.  For, of course, it is a matter of vibration in the body, as well as that illustrated in the physical condition.    (281-53)
 
     This evocative description of pineal activity brings to mind contemporary research into the pineal's ability to detect variations in geomagnetic and electromagnetic fields.  Reading 2501-6 suggests a similar phenomenon relating the phase of the moon to behavioral changes - an association apparently mediated by the pineal through the sympathetic nervous system.

      Regardless of whatever the pineal and its "cord" may represent, the readings stated that it extended throughout the body and governed the coordination of mental, spiritual and physical energies (311-4).  Note also that the pineal provides the connections of body, mind and spirit which was regarded as a prerequisite for the functioning of consciousness (1001-9).

     The "pineal system" may be conceptualized as including the endocrine glands (262-20, 281-49, 1001-9, 1593-1).  The holistic perspective of the readings was frequently reflected in a systems approach to anatomy and physiology: "... there is to be considered ever the whole activity; not as separating them one from another but the whole anatomical structure must be considered EVER as a whole ... Then we find the endocrine system - not glands but system ..." (281-38)

      Certain glands within this system were noted as having an especially close affinity - the pineal/pituitary interaction was frequently cited in the readings.  The interface between pineal and leydig gland was also particularly important and deserving of close study (e.g., 263-13, 294-141, 294-142).

       The pineal system's close association with the nervous systems is exemplified by its role as mediator between the "mental body" and the central nervous system (1523-17). There are frequent references to both the pineal and the sympathetic systems as the "imaginative system" and the "impulse system" - expressions intimating the role of mind, in particular the unconscious mind, in the phenomenon of imagination.  The readings referred to the sympathetic nervous system as the nervous system of the unconscious mind while the CNS was identified with the conscious mind.  Thus, the readings frequent association of pineal dysfunction with incoordination between the sympathetic and central nervous systems may be related to its role as mediator of states of consciousness.  In this capacity, the pineal was said to be involved in such common phenomena as imagination and sleep, paranormal experiences such as kundalini awakening and past life recall, and pathological conditions such as psychosis and epileptic seizures.

      The "life force" energy discussed in the readings was said to function in two modes; 1) a growth and development mode (a health maintenance mode) and 2) a "supercharged" mode which the readings associated with "kundalini" experiences similar to those described in the meditative literature of the orient (281-53).  In the growth and development mode, the pineal was said to begin activity within the third week after conception by organizing fetal development (294-141, 281- 141).  In its activity, the pineal system could be conceptualized as a morphogenetic blueprint for embryonic elaboration, particularly the formation of the brain (294-141).  Just as it would later serve as the interface of physical, mental and spiritual bodies in the newborn child, during gestation the pineal system was said to serve as a conduit for mental and spiritual impulses from the pregnant woman (281-53, 294-141).

      Across the lifespan, the pineal system was viewed as a regulator of cycles of growth and development and was responsible for the maintenance of health.  In this capacity, the life force was referred to as elan vitale (281-24) and was related to youth and vigor.  "Keep the pineal gland operating and you won't grow old - you will always be young" (294-141).  The life force was said to "strengthen and maintain equilibrium in the system" (1026-1) and "sustain coordination to the organs of the body" (5162-1).

      The readings recommended various forms of energy healing to reestablish a healthy state in bodies with insufficient or unbalanced energy.  Magnetic healing was one such modality and could be accomplished by raising the life force (i.e., "kundalini") and passing this energy into the body of the afflicted person by "laying on of hands" (281-14).  The readings described a specific technique for this intervention and provided guidelines for persons interested in utilizing it (e.g., using the hands in polarity, resting between sessions to maintain vigor, etc. - see circulating file on Magnetic Healing for details; available from the A.R.E.).

      This life force could be rebalanced by an apparatus called the radial appliance.  The readings stated that magnetic healing and the radial appliance utilized the same energy, frequently referred to as "vibratory energy" or the "low form of electrical energy," which was said to be the basis of life. This energy flows through the body and is particularly accessible along the spine at seven "centers" (3428-1), apparently corresponding to the seven chakras of eastern meditative traditions.  Three of these centers were preferentially noted as being key interfaces between the physical and soul forces:

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

     It is no coincidence that these three centers (and specifically the 9th dorsal) were frequently specified locations for attachment of the wet cell battery utilizing "vibratory metals" (i.e., gold and silver) to stimulate the regeneration of the nervous system in cases of dementia praecox.  These key centers were also consistently pointed out to osteopaths and chiropractors making the spinal adjustments.  Cayce even gave specific instructions for coordinating these centers using massage and manipulation.

      In the "growth and development" mode, the life force was described as a subtle influence which was generally not physically perceptible in its action or effects.  In the "supercharged" mode (such as kundalini), the life force was much more easily perceptible (occasionally painfully so) in its action and effects.  In this mode, the life force was said to vary its circulation through the body (281-53) by arising along the spinal cord to the base of the brain.  The "opening of the lyden [leydig] gland" was a prerequisite for this activity and could be accomplished by a variety of meditative and pathophysiological processes.  The utilization of traditional yogic techniques such as altered breathing (2475-1) and incantations (275-43) were noted as effective means of "awakening the kundalini."

      In several cases of psychopathology noted in the readings, the awakening of the kundalini was associated with somatic dysfunctions such as spinal injury and lesions in the reproductive system.  Throughout this book, such cases have been designated as "kundalini crisis."  A further consideration of this topic from the perspective of contemporary sources will be included in the final section of this discussion.

      To fully appreciate the readings' perspective on "kundalini crisis," one must keep in mind that the pineal system includes a "thread" or "cord" which extends from the pineal gland proper, along the spinal cord to various centers in the body (281-46).  Pressure upon this system can produce hallucinations and dementia (294-141, 4333-1).  It is unclear whether this pathology resulted from the secretion of a glandular substance by the leydig gland or as a result of some change in the "subtle energy" balance within the pineal system.  The readings are not explicit about this process and these two scenarios are not mutually exclusive, nor do they preclude other interpretations of this process.  The important psychopathological implication here is that the pineal system is quite vulnerable to somatic insult, particularly along the spinal column.

      The psychic readings of Edgar Cayce were said to have resulted from the activation of the kundalini within the pineal system (288-29, 2475-1) resulting in cosmic consciousness (2109-2).  In other words, Cayce apparently had a kundalini experience during each reading.  The possibility that he could be rendered insane by a misapplication of this process was noted in the readings and cautions were provided for the maintenance of a  healthy physical vehicle for a safe and optimal psychic experience.

      If one accepts the plausibility of psychic productions such as the Cayce readings or other such manifestations which are common within the tradition known as the perennial philosophy, one comes to view the pineal system as the "consciousness system" - i.e., altered states of consciousness such as kundalini experiences are produced by alterations within this system.  Psychosis which is produced by pineal system dysfunction (i.e., kundalini crisis) may thus be viewed as one of the alterations in consciousness mediated by this system.

      Epilepsy is another major pathology involving altered states of consciousness - a phenomenon which the readings frequently associated with pineal activity.  The overlap between epilepsy and schizophrenia has been discussed in Chapter 7 and will not be recapitulated here.  However, several excerpts from the readings on epilepsy have been included in this appendix to provide a context for comparing the role of the pineal in these two major pathologies.

      The pineal system is involved in two other major alterations in consciousness - sleep and death.  Sleep was said to be a "shadow of, that intermission in earth's experience of, that state called death" (5754-1).   According to the readings, the soul temporarily disengages during sleep to "visit" other dimensions and have experiences which are remembered during the waking consciousness as dreams.  "Each and every soul leaves the body as it rests in sleep." (853-8)  The idea that some aspect of the self dissociates during sleep and transits between dimensions (e.g., astral travel) is not original to the Cayce readings.  This is a common theme in the traditions of many cultures (Hanson, 1989).  In the readings, sleep is viewed as an op portunity for the mental being to review previous experiences and plan future actions accordingly (hence the retrospective and precognitive function of dreams).  During sleep, connection of the physical, mental and spiritual bodies is maintained by a "silver cord" which sounds strikingly similar to the "thread" or "cord" of the pineal system.

      Death involves the severance of this cord (262-20) whereas sleep may be viewed as merely a temporary "stretching" of it. The "projection" of consciousness out of the body during sleep may be related to the projection which Edgar Cayce experienced during his psychic readings.  In other words, perhaps everyone has a "kundalini" experience and psychic awakening each night while they sleep.  The physiological alterations which occur during "dream sleep" (i.e., REM or paradoxical sleep) seem to parallel those described in the readings as occurring during kundalini arousal.

      This may related directly to schizophrenia research because for several decades clinicians and researchers have recognized the similarities between hallucinations and dreams.  This apperception has led to the hypothesis that hallucinations represent dream intrusions into waking consciousness. "Schizophrenia may be characterized by a breakdown in the normal boundaries between the REM-sleep and waking states."  (Wyatt, 1971, p. 46) This hypothesis was bolstered by research confirming that schizophrenics tend to exhibit distinctive sleep patterns (most significantly, decreased REM rebound after deprivation; e.g., Azumi et al., 1967).  As with most areas of schizophrenia research, sleep and dream studies have suffered the effects of variability, thus the sleep anomalies in schizophrenia remain unexplained.

     From a transpersonal perspective, many dreams represent a conscious experience of paranormal realities (i.e., not just epiphenomena resulting from brain activation during sleep). Dreams may reflect an altered state of consciousness where the conscious mind has access to other dimensions of reality normally unavailable during waking states (Roberts, 1974). The experience of precognition, direct communications with discarnate entities, past life recall, etc. during dreams is thus viewed as representing a valid perspective of "reality."

      Hence some persons experiencing acute psychosis with paranormal features could be viewed as suffering from a form of "kundalini crisis," or a pathological activation of the pineal system resulting in psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations.  The Cayce readings indicated that such persons were close to the "borderland" and that pathological symptoms such as auditory hallucinations were "real" experiences to those individuals.  This pathological aspect of pineal functioning is the focus of the final part of the discussion section and will consist of contemporary formulations of pineal activation which result in psychosis.
 

Current Perspectives on Kundalini
 
     Numerous accounts of spontaneous "awakening" of the kundalini energy can be found in the modern clinical literature.  Gopi Krishna believed that the awakening of the kundalini force could go awry and produce acute psychosis.  His personal experience with kundalini provides valuable first-hand information about its effects:
 
     The condition [kundalini awakening] denotes, from the evolutionary point of view, a physiologically mature system ripe for the experience, and a highly active Kundalini pressing both on the brain and the reproductive system.  But the activity of Kundalini, when the system is not properly attuned, can be abortive and, in some cases, even morbid.  In the former case [when the brain is not ready], the heightened consciousness is stained with complexes, anxiety, depression, fear, and other neurotic and paranoid conditions, which alternate with elevated blissful periods, visionary experiences, or creative moods.  In the latter [when the reproductive system is dysfunctional], it manifests itself in the various hideous forms of psychosis, in the horrible depression, frenzied excitement, and wild delusions of the insane.  (in Kieffer, 1988, pp. 138-139)
 
     Thus, Krishna's emphasis on the enlightening properties of kundalini is balanced by his awareness of its destructive potential when awakened prematurely.  As Krishna observes, in some cases the difference between the two outcomes is difficult to assess:
 
     There is a close relationship between the psychotic and the mystic.  In a mystic, there is a healthy flow of prana into the brain, and in the psychotic the flow is morbid.  In fact, the mystic and the psychotic are two ends of the same process, and the ancient traditions class mad people as mad lovers of God, or something divine.  (in Kieffer, 1988, p. 110)

     Joseph Campbell expressed the same idea poetically by stating, "The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight" (in Mintz, 1983, p. 158).  Sannella (1987), a psychiatrist, also notes the dual manifestations of the kundalini experience:
 
     I have also witnessed this regrettable tendency among those who have stumbled onto the kundalini experience.  But this says nothing about the experience itself, which is not inherently regressive.  On the contrary, I view the kundalini awakening as an experience that fundamentally serves self-transcendence and mindtranscendence.  (p. 20)
 
     In 1974 Sannella co-founded the Kundalini Clinic in San Francisco, a facility dedicated to helping persons undergoing sudden kundalini arousal.

       The transformative potential of spiritual awakening with psychotic features (which we have designated as kundalini crisis) has been noted by Christina and Stanislav Grof and labelled "spiritual emergency."  Christina's description of her spiritual emergency and Stanislav's clinical insight into the transformative potential of these experiences provide a valuable resource in this area.  Their criteria for distinguishing between spiritual emergency and psychosis provides a helpful "yardstick" for clinical assessment.
 
      Among favorable signs [indicating spiritual emergency] are a history of reasonable psychological, sexual, and social adjustment preceding the episode, the ability to consider the possibility that the process might originate in one's own psyche, enough trust to cooperate, and a willingness to honor the basic rules of treatment.  Conversely, a lifelong history of serious psychological difficulties and of marginal sexual and social adjustment can generally be seen as suggesting caution.  Similarly, a confused and poorly organized content of the experiences, presence of Bleuler's primary symptoms of schizophrenia, strong participation of manic elements, the systematic use of projection, and the presence of persecutory voices and delusions indicate that traditional approaches might be preferable.  Strong destructive and self-destructive tendencies and violations of basic rules of treatment are further negative indicators.  (p. 256)
 
     Christina Grof founded the Spiritual Emergence Network (SEN) in 1980 to provide educational information and a referral service for people experiencing transformational crises.  It is currently located at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (250 Oak Grove Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025; 415/327-2776).

      Mariel Strauss (1985) provides a practical source of information about kundalini awakening in all its aspects. Recovering from the New Age: Therapies for Kundalini Crisis documents the symptoms of kundalini arousal and suggests therapies to minimize its distress.  Strauss describes "kundalini crisis" from her personal experience, while providing a scholarly review of the kundalini literature. Her familiarity with the Cayce philosophy and frequent citations from the readings serve as valuable stepping stones between the various sources and perspectives in this literature.  Her recognition of the pervasiveness of kundalini manifestations, both clinically in psychosis and subclinically in "dis-ease," accurately portrays the readings' perspective of this phenomenon:
 
     We must remember that Cayce found degrees of kundalini imbalance in many individuals, not just in those with the syndrome of extreme symptoms we have delineated  [i.e., kundalini crisis].  His cases ranged from those who were simply nervous and fatigued, as the above mentioned woman, to those who had been confined to hospitals or their homes for many years, sometimes since early childhood.  Therefore, his remedies dealt less with large alterations in diet and more with the other aids we will discuss, such as spinal adjustment and massage, mental regroupment, and treatments with the electrical appliances he designed.  (p. 45)
 
     Another excellent source of information regarding kundalini is John White's Kundalini: Evolution and Enlightenment. White's expertise as an editor is evident in this thorough discussion of the kundalini phenomenon.
 

Summary
 
      In summary, the pineal is an important endocrine gland which is probably involved in a wide spectrum of developmental and health maintenance processes including major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.  Its association with paranormal processes is documented in traditional and current sources and is congruent with the Cayce readings on the subject. Cayce viewed the pineal as the focal point of a system utilizing  subtle energies (e.g., kundalini) capable of pathological disruption.  Because such disturbances may present with paranormal features, clinicians are advised to become more familiar with the operation of this system and all of its transpersonal manifestations.  From the Cayce perspective, the most significant aspect of pineal functioning is its role as the interface of mental and spiritual facets of the self with the physical body.  This role has been acknowledged historically, and restated succinctly by Mullen:
 
     The human pineal is now under intensive investigation by various groups throughout the world.  In the next few years we can confidently expect the physiological and pathological roles of this mysterious gland to be elucidated.  The pineal which for Descartes was the seat of the mind and the immortal soul may yet turn out to be of interest for biological psychiatry.  The pineal has been called a neuroendocrine transducer but it could one day be more accurately termed a psychosomatic transducer standing as a mediator on the boundary between soma and psyche.  (Mullen et al, 1978 p. 370)
 
 

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