In many ways, it really does “take a village”—a phrase some therapists call the “Barbara Streisand Effect”—meaning we need other people in our lives to love, support, and nurture us.
Barbara Streisand nailed it with her song “People” (Styne & Merrill, 1964):
“People, people who need people,
Are the luckiest people in the world;
We’re children, needing other children
And yet letting a grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you were half now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.”
When Lauren came to my clinic, she came in as a last resort. She had been to many traditional western medicine doctors who told her that she was fundamentally in good health.
For women, the mid-fifties is a time when the body starts to change in mysterious ways. For some, the changes are easier than for others. Lauren’s symptoms included slight fatigue, anxiety, ongoing back pain, weight-gain, and low-grade depression. She had been single for many years and enjoyed her work as a stockbroker. She had to wake very early to begin her day and retire very early to get her rest.
David was another patient. He was in his early sixties and exhibited almost the same symptoms as Lauren. He also had reduced libido. Both Lauren and David were not sick, but not well.
Quite often, I notice that patients with no relation to each other, who come in one after the other, have many of the same symptoms or complaints.
Both Lauren and David lacked a nurturing social community outside of work. They both found it difficult to reach out to others socially.
With acupuncture, I was able to assist in calming both their spirits and their low-grade depression. The needles moved qi, blood, and oxygen to their muscles and tendons, which lowered inflammation in the back and relaxed their nervous systems.
I gave both patients herbs to calm emotions, enhance sleep, and jumpstart their metabolisms. We created a plan that incorporated daily meditation, diet modifications, and exercise. As they both began to feel better, exercise became a “want to” rather than a “have to.”
Lauren and David both reported a greater sense of well-being and happiness in their lives. David also reported increased desire and sexual stamina.
We talked at length about ways in which they might enhance their lifestyles and venture out to generate support and find and develop new relationships. David was open to seeing a therapist, first alone and then with his wife. Lauren was a little hesitant, but as she became healthier (and with a little nudging) she found a therapist she was able to relate to.
I recommended a class one day a week—yoga, tai chi, joining a gym, finding a hobby club, cooking class or outdoor walking group—that would expose them to new people, ideas, and inspiration.
David and his wife started a weekly salsa class; Lauren joined a women’s group and a dating website. As they both incorporated healthy movement, growth, new people, ideas, and inspiration in their lives, the have both gone from “not sick, but not well” to feeling very well indeed.
Styne, J., & Merrill, B. (1964). People [Recorded by Barbara Streisand]. On Funny girl: Original broadcast cast recording [CD]. New York, NY: CBS Records.