Accessing Your Inner Doctor

Brian O’Donnell, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Ann Arbor. He also teaches the Pathwork, a contemporary spiritual course of self development. In his article “Threading the Eye of Needle,” he discusses his journey with cancer and illness, and his shift in perspective after getting in touch with his own inner authority. 

By Brian O'Donnell

A fundamental shift of perspective is needed if we are to have access to the “inner doctor” that I referred to in the article Threading the Eye of the Needle. This “inner doctor” possesses a much broader and deeper resourcefulness than the limited and fragmentary perspective of the everyday egoic mind.

This shift of perspective is the understanding that illness is not the enemy. The view that illness is the enemy is the usual and reflexive stance most of us take when confronted with an undesirable physical condition. We instinctively want to eliminate it, to get rid if it with medication, surgery, or, even those with a more spiritual bent, through meditation and prayer.

A more empowering perspective is to see that illness is also the medicine. It is not an enemy but can be conceived of as an ally that is attempting to communicate to us regarding an aspect of our lives that may be out of balance. This approach recognizes that we aren’t victims in a random and chaotic universe but instead recipients of a finely calibrated and deeply attuned holographic intelligence seeking to re-establish health and alignment.

“A more empowering perspective is to see that illness is also the medicine.”

For example, this way of holding illness changes the typical attitude we find with cancer. Our usual language and orientation is to have a “war with cancer.” This stance of resistance and opposition can evolve into one of listening, inquiry, and learning what may be being communicated. Of course this doesn't mean we submit to the cancer or illness either. There is a middle ground between war and capitulation.

This fundamental shift doesn't preclude or prescribe any particular intervention. There may be an allopathic treatment, alternative remedy, no treatment, or some combination. Each has their place and can serve the wholeness. What is different, though, is the ground from which these options are considered. A ground that is as free as possible from fear and opposition, to one that is open to intuition, seeming contradictory truths, and revelation.