Charge of the Goddess: The Mother of Modern Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente

By Doreen Valiente

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If the mind can cause bleeding, then it shou~d be able to staunch it. Jack Schwarz, who painless]y shoves huge needles through his arms, is luckily one of those with such a mind. ' It bled for about fifteen seconds. ~Now it stops, said Schwarz, and it stopped. xt trial. Schwarz complied and even though the needle passed through a smaU vein he didn't blee:d when it was removed. The wounds dosed as Schwarz withdrew the needle, leaving two small red spots and no detectable bleeding beneath the skin~ The puncture site was not discolored the next day and in twenty-four hours one of the holes had disappeared.

A best-selling author of romantic fiction with more than two hundred books to her credit, she said that she goes into a 'trance' and lets her unconscious do the work. And work it does, writing a novel a week. Cartland supposes her stories are composed unconsciously bc·fore entering her trance because they arc so finished that she mere~y need~ to dictate them. Any writer must envy Cartland's compliant unconscious, yet the nature of her trance is disappointingly vague. Sleep, on the other hand, is an altered state of consciousness familiar to all.

But a conversion reaction, converting anxiety into some symptom or bodily pain , does not involve physical damage to the body. It is a condition in which the mind acts on the mind alone and not on the body - though it seems to. In conversion blindness, as in the coast guardsman's case, nothing is wrong with the eyes, optic nerve, or brain. And if the underlying emotional conflict is resolved, dispelling the source of anxiety, sight is restored. Though their problems are not physical, conversion patients are not pretending; their pains or other symptoms are quite real to them and may be completely disabling.

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