Linda: Larry and Barbara didn’t begin their careers in medicine with a desire to become world-renowned experts in alternative forms of healing. It was their efforts to heal some of their own personal health issues that forced them to go beyond the limits of conventional medicine in their beliefs, practices, and teaching. Although they encountered a number of challenging circumstances professionally and personally, marital difficulty was not one of them. They were able to use the ever-growing strength of their relationship as a way of creating a base from which to meet the skepticism, doubt, and judgment with which conventional medical experts initially greeted their work.
Since they began their work together in 1968, Larry and Barbara have accomplished far more than they ever imagined they could. Larry has written ten books, several of the best sellers and Barbara has authored or co-authored twenty. And they have written or contributed to dozens of articles related to the mind-body connection.
According to both Larry and Barbara, one of the keys to their professional accomplishments lies in the role of relationship in their personal and professional lives. Perhaps one of their greatest achievements has been to create and maintain supportive relationships with each other, colleagues and friends throughout the world. They both agree that they know with certainty that they could never have achieved what they have with out that profound support. Their story reflects the incredible power of supportive relationships and it provides examples of how one can create high-powered connections with others, connections that can and often do mean the difference between a dream and a reality!
Larry came from humble beginnings. He was born on a farm two and a half months premature, in a poor area of Texas. His grandparents came in and took over making an incubator out of two dresser drawers propped up by the fireplace for he and his twin brother. Later when Larry became a doctor, he calculated that the chances of both twins surviving under such conditions to be one in a hundred.
No one in the history of his family had ever gone beyond the tenth grade. They had all been farmers. His parents were sharecroppers; they didn’t even own the land they worked. He and his brother started a new tradition in the family of achievement and education. Larry never felt deprived, although the family was poor. They had no running water and no electricity. He comes from a line of hearty, hard working people, and never takes anything for granted. He lives in gratitude for the breaks that come his way.
Both Larry and his wife Barbara have passionate callings to service. Barbara was in her second year of nursing school when she fell in love with nursing. As a young nurse, she worked with many critically ill patients. She loved taking care of patients when she could hear their stories.
Our wounds can inspire our greatest gifts
Barbara had a severe eye infection that left her with very compromised vision in one eye. It was a very painful recovery. Going through that critical eye crisis and post corneal transplant, Barbara practiced self-healing, utilizing meditation, breath work, and music that could control the potential of corneal rejection. These alternative treatments really helped her so she couldn’t wait to pass on what she was learning to others.
This was the beginning of her own transpersonal orientation to medicine, born of her own wound. Larry’s practice of holistic healing and transpersonal medicine also was influenced by painful personal experience. Since he was a child, he suffered with migraine headaches, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and temporary blindness. The headaches made it impossible for him to focus on anything and they came very close to ending his medical career even before it got started. When he was still in medical school, he realized that even temporary blindness during a migraine could cause him to inadvertently harm or even kill someone. For ethical reasons, he decided to quit school even though being a doctor was what he wanted more than anything. It was a painful decision but he didn’t see any other option. When he consulted his advisor about leaving, he talked Larry out of it insisting that eventually the intractable headaches would go away. But his advisor was wrong; they didn’t. In fact they got worse.
Larry had tried all of the traditional medical treatments and nothing worked. This was in the early days of biofeedback and for most doctors it was still a dirty word. It was something that “kooks” and “flakes” practiced. But Larry knew enough about it to know that biofeedback had real healing potential. In desperation, he went outside the traditional medical treatments, chasing all over the country to learn biofeedback. In those days the equipment was not easy to obtain. He had to purchase biofeedback machinery from Holland and set it up in his office. After he learned to use it on himself to treat his migraines, he began teaching the process to his patients and others.
Barbara and Larry were working in a large traditional hospital setting in Texas in the early 70’s. They invited a group of about thirty professionals including psychologists, nurses, doctors and other health professionals to meet with them on a monthly basis. All these practitioners had an interest in cutting edge medical treatments and alternative healing methods. In these meetings they would enter into dialogue about various modalities that they were using with patients and what results they were getting. Sometimes they would invite guest presenters. Barbara and Larry were both taking notes on what they were finding in their work with patients and colleagues, and from those notes writing articles. The articles eventually became their first of their many books.
Many of the things that they wrote articles about forty years ago are currently accepted in the culture as the body-mind connection. But when they first began, they got a lot of criticism. The fact that these two have been outstanding medical professionals has made them bullet proof. They have been able to be on the cutting edge exploring unconventional treatments.
Unlike many couples who go through rough patches or separations in their marriage, their difficulties were only those coming at them, not between them. They report that the attacks actually made their connection stronger. What was seen as recently as thirty years ago as an unscientific, unconventional, even irresponsible view has largely, as a result of the Dosseys’ pioneering efforts, now has become integrated into accepted medical knowledge and practice.
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