Box set

A box (or boxed) set is a group of related items – books, recordings of music or films, games – packaged together and sold as a single unit. With traditional book publishing these collections are literally presented in a cardboard box. With modern print-on-demand and electronic publishing the box is a virtual concept, though some ebook sets do have 3D covers. The set may contain either a series of titles arranged in the correct order, or a selection of related titles by one or more authors. Usually costing considerably less than than the sum of their individual parts, they are currently very popular. My own first (and last?) box set Three Novellas: Carmen’s Roses, Blue Moon for Bombers, The Windflower Vibration combines the three short books which I published last year and is available in paperback or ebook versions from Amazon and other online stores.

It can be very easy to create a box set just by combining the original files, and I would certainly advise against making non-essential changes to their content. But when I made mine I did take some time to merge the front matter and back matter; to correct a couple of typos which I had missed before; and to adjust for any discrepancies in formatting. For example I found that my use of italic script as opposed to quotation marks, and of UK as opposed to US spelling, had not been consistent between the three books.

In Carmens Roses, an Englishwoman visits Auckland in the hope of recovering from a serious illness, and of finding forgiveness for an incident related to a love affair from her past. Blue Moon for Bombers is set in middle England, and tells the story of a World War Two airman coming to terms with his repressed trauma, interwoven with a modern romance. In The Windflower Vibration, featuring some of the same characters and settings as the previous books, a sudden death on an Auckland beach sparks off a quest to unravel a complex web of mysteries spanning two centuries and two hemispheres. Many people have asked me if they are autobiographical, and the answer is “not exactly”, but they do reflect some of the themes from my own life: moving from England to New Zealand, practising both orthodox and alternative medicine, interests in animals, music, aviation and the paranormal. Here again is the link to the Amazon page – if you are interested please have a look, and share with your contacts – thank you.


Self-healing from “incurable” diseases

Examples of spontaneous remission, in which a supposedly incurable condition recovers without treatment, can be found across the whole diagnostic spectrum. Having seen a number of cases over the years, both among my patients and clients when I was in practice and in my personal circle, I often wonder why occasional patients recover while most others with similar prognostic features do not. In orthodox medical systems, concerned more with illness than with health, these cases are often lost to follow-up and do not attract the interest they seem to merit. They may even be dismissed on the grounds that the original diagnosis was wrong.

Some reports do get published in medical journals, and mostly relate to cases of advanced cancer which were expected to be fatal. These accounts usually focus on biological factors rather than psychological ones. Books for general readers based on a more holistic study of individual patients include Remarkable Recovery by Caryle Hirshberg and Marc Ian Barasch, and Radical Remission by Kelly Turner, and there are many online descriptions.

Sometimes the unexpected recovery takes place for no apparent reason, but sometimes the patients in question firmly believe it is due to specific factors such as a change in diet, a more fulfilling lifestyle, a spiritual awakening, the power of prayer, or cultivation of the “higher” qualities of forgiveness, gratitude and love. Perhaps what these share in common is a sense of taking control of one’s own health, the firm intention to heal, and a firm belief that healing can happen. Such things are largely beyond the scope of the statistical analysis and controlled studies required in “evidence-based medicine”.

Episodic conditions such as asthma, migraine, epilepsy and autoimmune disorders can wax and wane for no apparent reason. Again, more mainstream research is focused on what triggers a flare-up than on why many sufferers have periods of good health in between, or even recover completely. On a personal note, since I reached my mid-60s my migraines have become much less frequent and severe. One explanation is the biological one that I am finally growing out of them. The prevalence of migraine is known to be lower in older people than younger ones and some sufferers, though sadly not all, experience fewer and less severe attacks in later life. This may be because the brain becomes less sensitive with age, or a result of hormonal changes.

Another explanation is psychological. Going back to cancer, ever since reading Laurence LeShan’s inspiring book Cancer as a turning point I have been interested in the idea that self-healing from this or any other disease can occur through what he called “singing your own song” – finding a purpose and joy in life, what is sometimes called being in a higher vibrational state. This makes intuitive sense to me and looking back over the years, during periods when I have been absorbed in some truly fulfilling project – most recently, a return to my childhood passion for writing fiction (see my Amazon page) – my migraines have been less of a problem. Since LeShan’s book was written, many researchers have studied the mechanisms which might underlie mind-body connections such as this. The complex science is well explained in several recent popular books, for example You are the placebo by Joe Dispenza.

Beliefs and expectations have been shown to play a role in predicting the prognosis of coronary heart disease and the same is probably true for any other condition, so although I realise that my severe migraines could come back at any time, I prefer not to think in those terms. The negative messages so often delivered by well-meaning clinicians, such as “there is no cure for x” and “it’s bound to get worse at some stage”, can destroy hope and are not helpful. Recovery may be unlikely, and can never be promised, but as one of my teachers in the holistic approach used to say “Anything can be healed”.



Comparing Bach flowers and homeopathy

What is the relationship between Bach flower remedies and homeopathic ones? Both are “energy medicines”, prepared from natural substances in dilutions too small to measure by chemical analysis.  Their mode of action is not understood, so as far as I know it is not possible to say what basic difference – if any – exists between them. Dr Edward Bach had studied homeopathy before discovering his flower remedies, and the two modalities certainly have some features in common. There are also several points of contrast, as listed below. It will be clear from what follows that the Bach system is much simpler than the homeopathic one.

* Bach flowers are prescribed on the basis of current emotional state, whereas the choice of homeopathic remedies requires a more detailed consultation taking both physical and psychological factors, both past and present, into account.

* Homeopathic remedies for particular disorders are identified on the basis of “provings”, according to the principle of “like treats like”. For example, if taking a certain remedy causes healthy volunteers to develop itching, that remedy might be effective for treating an itchy skin complaint. The Bach flowers, in contrast, were identified in a purely intuitive way by Edward Bach, who would experience a certain feeling such as anxiety or despair and then seek for a plant which would alleviate it.  

* There are thousands of homeopathic remedies to choose from, but only 38 Bach flowers.

* Homeopathic remedies may be derived from animal, plant or mineral sources, some of which are toxic in their original form. The Bach flowers are all (with the exception of Rock Water) made from non-poisonous plants.

* With classical homeopathy, the aim is to identify the single remedy which best resonates with the client. With Bach flowers, although there are some “type remedies” appropriate for different personalities, it is usual practice to choose a combination of several remedies up to a maximum of six.

* Homeopathic remedies are prescribed in a range of potencies and dosage regimes, whereas Bach flowers are taken on a simple standard schedule (4 drops 4 times a day).

Some practitioners say both systems can be used together, because they act at different “levels”, others believe they should be kept separate.

I am not a trained homeopath myself but have made some informal study of the system, and both Bach flowers and homeopathic remedies play a part in the plots of my three short novels.