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Chapter 1: The Making of a Regression Therapist

Marilyn Monroe Returns: The Healing of a Soul: The Incredible Story of the Reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe
Adrian Finkelstein, M.D.

It was early in the morning. The sun was still hidden from view. It was the fateful day of our arrival in Israel. I could hear in the distance the sirens of ships going through a port. They were very faraway sounds. The sky started to redden on the horizon. It was about six o'clock in the morning. It was still dark for the most part. My family was sleeping. I was watching from the deck of the ship with nostalgia and great expectations. It seemed like time itself was thick, tangible. I wanted to stretch it, stretch it as far as I could so that in no time I would see the shores of the Promised Land. Suddenly, as if my prayers were being answered, I could see land. It could not be any other land but the land of Israel. I started shouting with enthusiasm, as Israel symbolized so many things for all of us: that we had gone through suffering and pain, through anguish, through suppression and persecution and, finally, here was that land. In retrospect, I realize that it was not a nationalistic enthusiasm and discharge of feelings on my part; it was a release of all the deep-seated pain and negativity that, throughout the years, had burdened me. In that moment I was making use of that moment, using that land, using our destination as an opportunity for an outpouring of endless joy. I immediately awakened my parents. They came stumbling toward the deck very happy, especially my father, who was as enthusiastic as I. So was my mother, but she was more preoccupied with the practical details of our arrival.

We were supposed to choose where to go, whether to the ocean or the mountains, to Nahariah, or to Natsrat Elit (Nazareth Elit). We chose Natsrat Elit. The government provided us with a free apartment in Shikun that overlooked the highway and was almost on the top of the mountain. It was a beautiful town. Once my parents got jobs we were supposed to pay minimal rent for our apartment. It consisted mainly of two rooms, a living room and a bath. We were given provisions of sardines and other foodstuffs that would not spoil, and an icebox. Also, we had a small primus stove heated with kerosene on which to do our cooking. A small heating lamp was provided, too. It was February 4, 1961. I was 22 years old.

Shortly thereafter, I applied to the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, for concourse. The competition was fierce. I prepared myself very intensely, studying many hours a day without interruption. I was determined to succeed. I was forced, though I succeeded in the concourse, to start medicine from my second year. Although I had completed nearly three years in Romania, because the subjects were quite different they were not credited in Israel. Still, I was very happy that I was accepted. It was difficult to understand the lectures in anatomy and physiology or any other subject in Hebrew, but little by little I was able to grasp more, and my colleagues helped me understand the Hebrew and English languages. I was very grateful to them.

In the last year, 1965-1966, just before my graduation from the medical school, I had an elective in hypnosis at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv with Dr. Dan Medina, psychologist and head of the unit for memory research. I embarked on that elective because I was very impressed by the cure of an 18-year-old female university student who had to interrupt her studies due to asthma attacks. She would end up in the hospital at Hadassah Hospital with status asthmaticus four or five times a year, requiring the administration of large amounts of steroids--which produced bad side effects--in order to be brought back to life. One day, Dr. Dan Medina arrived and demonstrated how, with hypnosis, he could help this girl. Eventually, she recovered. This made a tremendous impression on me as I could see that with mind over matter, illnesses that otherwise cannot be cured or improved through medical means could be treated effectively. I had been thinking of becoming a surgeon or an internist, but after witnessing this miracle, I decided that mind over matter would be my direction from then on.

I got a diploma about one year after finishing the medical course and practicing as a physician with a temporary license in the army, and later in what is called "kupat cholim," a public clinic that treats patients on an outpatient basis. I obtained an official diploma with my M.D. degree in August of 1968. I undertook a second year of internship, this time in Denver, Colorado, at St. Anthony"s Hospital. The internships at Ichilov Hospital, as well as the one in Denver, were rotating. In other words, I had to go through the main branches of medicine and have exposure to them in my training.

When I was in my third year of medical school, I found Parvaneh-Shulah, my future wife in this lifetime. She was studying medicine in Jerusalem, in her second year, a year behind me. We met at Bible class but I got acquainted with her shortly before that through a friend of mine. We fell in love, but we waited to get married because we were studying. She is Persian-Jewish and I am Romanian-Jewish. Like others, we got into the melting pot of "Kibbutz Galuiot," which means literally bringing back together the diasporas. Our two daughters, Drorith, born in Jerusalem, and Segalith, born in Topeka, came seven years apart--like my siblings and me. Our family life has been typically middle class.

My specialization benefited me in the United States, where I was accepted at the Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka after completing two years of internship: one in Tel Aviv and one in Denver. My psychiatric residency training and fellowship took place initially at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and continued at the Menninger School of Psychiatry. I was attracted to that training center mainly because of its reputation as the foremost psychiatric center in the nation, and I wanted to learn as much as I could.

My graduation paper was entitled "The Relationship between Dreams and Symptoms under Hypnotic, Posthypnotic, and Natural Conditions." I wanted to prove that mind over matter is important in psychopathology as well as in our everyday lives. And indeed, through multi-analysis of various factors, it could be demonstrated that dreams precede a physical symptom whether these dreams are natural or induced through hypnosis. Furthermore, I wanted to demonstrate that even if a dream is not remembered, its impact is felt through the manifestation of the same physical symptom(s). In other words, whether the subject remembers or not, the dream is traumatic enough to precipitate the physical symptom(s) which still occur as severely as before.

This paper is a continuation of my previous work at McGill University, entitled "Dreams That Precede a Psychosomatic Illness." I was amazed by the results and especially the practical implication of dreams. If dreams can be such traumatic experiences in our lives that they can trigger physical and emotional symptoms, then it stands to reason that stopping such dreams, or changing them into more benevolent ones, would be a promising direction to pursue in order to prevent the occurrence of life-threatening symptoms such as heart attack, stroke, and the like.

I was surprised when my work was honored, not only for a distinguished award in 1972 for my research study at the Menninger School of Psychiatry, but also by the Central Neuropsychiatric Association, which granted me its first distinguished A. E. Bennett award in 1972 for the same study. It seems as if a higher power directed and guided my study and I am thankful for the positive results. What fascinated me was that I could prove that traumatic dreams occurred first in sequence, followed by the occurrence of physical and emotional symptoms. This sequence was also proven in a very convincing way by Nolan and Andrissani, who demonstrated that changes in the electroencephalogram during a dream precede the changes in the electrocardiogram at a time when a person experiences a heart attack.

Among the many cases in my study, I remember vividly one that made a significant impression on me. It was one of the volunteers in my research project at the Menninger School who happened to be one of my teachers, a psychoanalyst who had been suffering from severe migraine headaches for many years. He was involved in the biofeedback treatment program given by Elmer Green at the Menninger Foundation for two years prior to his volunteering for my research project. He happened to be a very good hypnotic subject. During one of our sessions, he entered into a very deep hypnotic trance, and I asked him to tell me the order of the occurrence--a symptom followed by a dream or a dream followed by a symptom (in this case, the symptom was his migraine headache). He indicated that a dream occurred first, which was very interesting. He described a dream wherein he was running along the top of a train pulled by an old black engine. He was running in the opposite direction from the engine. Looking to his left, he could see a very deep chasm and gradually but relentlessly his left eye started to hurt, after which the pain expanded to the left side of his head and gave him a full-blown migraine headache.

I asked him to forget about the dream at the count of ten and to come out of his hypnotic trance. When I would tap on the desk three times, he would be able to recall the dream and stop the migraine headache. So he did. However, upon coming out of his trance, he continued to suffer from a migraine headache. I asked him if he knew what had happened, to which he replied, "No, but all I know is that I have a terrible migraine headache." At that point, I tapped on the desk three times as I instructed him in the posthypnotic suggestion, and he recalled the entire dream (hypnotically induced). The migraine headache stopped. We had several more sessions, in which he discovered a childhood conflict he experienced with his mother. He associated the old, black engine of the train in the dream with his mother who had black hair. His running away from her was associated with his discomfort when he used to be forced by his mother to sleep in the early afternoon, after lunch, by her side (and by the way, she was sleeping on his left side). He could not help but see her through transparent clothing. As a ten-year-old boy, he felt a mixture of excitement and disgust. At the same time, he felt very guilty about his feelings. This resulted later in life in his left-sided migraine headache, which was his subconscious way not only of punishing himself for the forbidden urge, but also of distracting him from an intolerable experience.

Four years later, after I left the Menninger School and was engaged in my private practice, I received a letter from this subject. In the letter he stated that after I worked with him he never experienced another migraine headache. He asked me to write a scientific paper with him, which I regret to say I did not get a chance to do. But my purpose in conducting that particular research project was not to show that I could cure someone, or even that I had helped a particular person, but to prove that symptoms are preceded by a traumatic dream. The fact that he was helped was an unplanned bonus, but I was glad he benefited from it.

After my graduation from the Menninger School of Psychiatry, I became director of the outpatient psychiatry division at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. I accepted the position in addition to my full-time work as assistant professor of psychiatry at Chicago Medical School, University of Health Sciences. Then, after two-and-a-half years, I decided to move my private office to Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago. I also moved to another medical school and became an assistant professor of psychiatry at Rush University, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center. But, despite the academic positions that I held, I was soon to realize that my training was insufficient to help a large number of my patients. What was really required, I thought, was an empathic humanitarian approach. I decided to go into private practice.

As I still was infatuated with psychoanalytic theory, I undertook personal analysis for about seven hundred hours with a training analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute in Chicago. This training, perhaps more than any other, helped me to become more sensitive to my patients' problems. The experience also made me keenly aware of facts connected with a genetic explanation of a patient's psychological conflicts in this lifetime. It was years before I finally decided to acknowledge that, even backed by such a powerful approach as psychoanalysis, I could not accomplish what I wanted: to help a great number of people. It always seemed I would fall short of my expectations in helping many of my patients despite empathizing profoundly with them. Indeed, many times I did not know how to help them to become self- sufficient and able to solve their own problems. Though there were many patients who improved and did well under treatment, there were always a significant number who did not.

Despite my best efforts, it was apparent to me that there was more to the human psyche that standard techniques were not uncovering or, to quote the lyrics from a song in the movie, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, "There is more to us than surgeons can remove." Besides the body-mind connection, there is the unfathomable mystery of Spirit. At the time, I recalled another song from that movie, "On a clear day, rise and look around you and you'll see who you are . . . On a clear day, how it will astound you that the glow of your being outshines every star . . . On a clear day, you can see forever and ever more . . . ." The movie is about reincarnation and it reminded me of the bedtime story my mother read to me about youth without aging and life without death. It posited perfection as an ideal, which is an absolute, as opposed to disease or health, both of which are relative. If I could only penetrate the mystery of life and death, I might find the cure I was seeking. But, for the immediate future, this was merely speculation on my part. ...

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