Phantom Limb Pain | Rick Leskowitz

Phantom Limb Pain

Rick Leskowitz

Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a form of chronic neuropathic pain that responds poorly to treatment interventions derived from the neuroanatomic understanding of pain and analgesia. Several new psychological and behavioral treatments (mirror boxes) that have proven more effective have been explained by invoking neural plasticity as their mechanism of action. Other novel treatments that are based on an “energy medicine” model also appear to be quite effective, including Therapeutic Touch and Energy Psychology (EFT, aka “tapping”). These approaches address the psychological trauma of the amputation itself, a factor that is generally overlooked in the standard surgical approach to limb amputation.

A speculative trauma/energy model for the etiology of PLP is proposed, based on the so-called “phantom leaf effect”. According to this model, the phantom limb is not a hallucinatory construct of the cerebral cortex, but is an independently existing physical phenomenon. Several methods for detecting this energy field complex will be described, along with the strengths and weakness of each approach: manual palpation, Polycontrast Interference Photography (PIP), Gas Discharge Visualization (GDV), and Kirlian photography. The model’s utility in explaining several anomalous aspects of PLP, as well as the clinical efficacy of energy therapies, is outlined. This model is proposed as a step in the development of simple and effective energy/trauma treatment protocols for this widespread and largely treatment-resistant disorder.

Recorded at the Society for Scientific Exploration conference at Yale University, 2017

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Published on December 20, 2018