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Dr Claire Weekes was a remarkable woman; she was the first woman to qualify from Sydney University with a Doctorate in science and at age 37, became a medical practitioner.  This is a rare combination and to date is the most qualified therapist I have studied.

One of the things that makes her work unique was the simplicity in which she explained nervous symptoms, their creation and perpetuation.  She felt that many of her patients were propelled into an anxiety state by prolonged stress to the nervous system, and subsequently putting the two branches of it (parasympathetic and sympathetic) out of sync thereby creating “funny feelings” within the body.  The sufferer, not knowing how those symptoms arose, became fearful of those and created more fear (anxiety) and became bewildered.  A fear-bewilderment-fear cycle!  We have much to thank Dr Weekes for, her interpretation, understanding and excellent translation of the complexities of the impact on a client of a reverberated nervous system has allowed many, many people to recover from this vicious circle of psychological misery. She was awarded an M.B.E. and a Fellowship for her work on the nervous system

Having studied the work of Dr Weekes in great detail, one (amongst many) statement in particular intrigued me: “recovery lies in the places you most fear” and she said that after 40 years in medical practice treating nervous problems the one thing that was likely to keep a sufferer still ill would be memory, memory working through sight, sound, smell taste and memory brings back feeling.

For many years those words would intrigue me.

She would encourage her patients to go into situations they had been avoiding and accept the symptoms they were experiencing, “If panic singes the roots of your hair, if your body shakes, vibrates and trembles, let it, the panic will subside.  Panic cannot grow worse on its own unless we keep giving it the fuel that it needs”.  The fuel in question being adrenalin created by the “what if’s?” or the “oh my goodness” (the second fear) arising from the first fear a reflex reaction coming seemingly unbidden from memory”.

Robin Thorburn