Dr. John Upledger…Cranio Sacral Therapy

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For me, Dr. John Upledger was the answer to prayer.  Literally.

My 13 year old Cee Cee was in a coma, close to dying, from an apparently undiagnosable malady no one could figure out or fix.

I’d listened for days, as doctors tried to sound as if they knew what to do, knowing in my heart they didn’t.  Frantically, I’d begun searching for a miracle.  I heard over the alternative medical grapevine, that a doctor named John Upledger was working miracles somewhere in the South.  He was an osteopath and surgeon, they said, and something much more, that no one could quantify.  In my panic, I couldn’t remember where to look for him.  But some maternal instinct – probably the intuitive equivalent of being able to lift a car off your child in an emergency – told me he could help us.

Frustrated, exhausted, near despair, and in grave need of a shower and a change of clothes after several days at my daughter’s hospital bedside, I locked myself into the little study in which I wrote my books, and cried out to God for a miracle.  In sheer maternal desperation, I dropped to my knees and begged for help.  “Dear God, I don’t know what to do to save her.  I’ve done everything I know how to do and none of it has worked.  If this Dr. Upledger can save CeeCee, please, please find him for me.”

Feeling like a damned fool for having sobbed all this aloud, and a failure for not being able to save my child from whatever complex illness it was that threatened her life, I got off my knees and went to bed.

Early the next morning I received a phone call from a woman I knew only slightly.  Her name was Elizabeth.  She’d come to my ad agency years before, wanting me to help her position a new Brand, but it hadn’t worked out, as her boss had chosen another agency.  We’d had an occasional lunch after that, but then lost touch and I hadn’t heard from her in several years.

Elizabeth told me she’d moved and married, and her husband was an investor who was working with a medical genius.  “You’ve probably never heard of him,” she said excitedly, “but you will!  He can do things the medical establishment can only dream of.  He’ll be in New York for a day, would you like to meet him?”

Dr. John Upledger color photoHis name was Dr. John Upledger.

There has never been a particle of doubt in my mind that the hand of God had dialed that phone for Elizabeth.

A week later, CeeCee was out of the hospital and I was on a path that would not only change my life, but ultimately save it.  I had learned a new way to look at how the human body, mind and spirit functions, and had been given the gift of a miracle to reinforce the new knowledge.

The first class of John’s that I attended, is clear in my mind.  He began by asking the class to “suspend disbelief for one week of training.”  After that, he said, if we hadn’t proven to ourselves that his theories and system worked, we could go on our way, with no loss to anyone.   If, on the other hand, we ended the week having seen extraordinary results that flew in the face of conventional medical expertise, we’d be in for the ride of our lives.

“Why must we suspend disbelief?” I asked.

“Because you’ll be dealing with subtle energies and a whole new way of looking at the human condition,” he replied.  “If you waste the week letting your so-called rational mind shout down the validity of everything you’re experiencing because conventional medicine can’t explain it by conventional means, you’ll have wasted your own time.”

The Cranio Sacral System

Spinal Cord ImageJohn made a profound discovery one day, forty years ago, while assisting in spinal cord surgery.  He noticed a rhythm in the spinal column that was not accounted for by heart or respiration.  He theorized that the dural membrane, which wraps brain and spinal cord in a kind of semi-closed hydraulic system – cerebrospinal fluid pumped in and out at a rhythmic rate – had a unique rhythm of its own that could be palpated.  In order for this hydraulic system to work optimally, the cranial sutures (which American medicine at that point believed were rigid and ossified after infancy) had to be able to move enough to allow for the expansion and contraction that facilitated this pumping action.  He dubbed this the Cranio Sacral System, and hypothesized that if an area of this system were to become crimped, impeding its free movement and flow, then a variety of physical dysfunctions would ensue, as nerves, tissues, organ systems, etc., were kept from doing their work correctly.

I’ve seen so many “miracle cures” over 30 years of knowing John, and space permits so little here, but I want you to know about his work, and the hope it can provide.  I’ve seen John get paraplegics out of wheelchairs, heal terminal illnesses, and be asked to be the only non-traditional doctor on the 27 surgeon team that separated the renowned Egyptian conjoined twins (joined at the head).  I, myself, used many of his breakthrough techniques in my effort to keep Cee Cee alive for 18 years after I’d been told she’d be dead in a year by her conventionally trained doctors.

Over the years, I saw John cure “incurable” illnesses, find a way to give Viet Nam vets with PTSD back their lives and sanity after 30 years of suffering, and train 100,000 practitioners in a new kind of treatment modality, so I’d like you at least to know that his Cranio Sacral Therapies exist.  John is no longer practicing, but his legacy lives on at The Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  And, of course, in the tens of thousands of practitioners he has trained.


Many therapeutic “offspring” of CranioSacral Therapy have come into being over the years, through John’s and other brilliant alternative doctors’, indomitable pushing of the medical envelope.  New concepts and practices like those of Energy Cysts (trauma encapsulated in tissue memory), Somato Emotional Release (the ability of the body/mind itself to recreate trauma and release it), Therapeutic Imagery and Dialogue (in which the organs and cells themselves communicate with the patient and facilitate his/her healing), the Inner Physician concept (a way to access the seemingly infinite medical knowledge the patient’s body already possesses), Tissue and Cellular Consciousness (a means of dialoguing at a cellular level that’s capable of communication, thus triggering cellular regeneration), the high level of consciousness that the fetus and the newborn are capable of, and many other concepts that are revolutionary and life altering – all are well-worth learning about in your quest for health and well-being.  Jean Pierre Barral’s Visceral Therapy, Lymph Drainage, and many more remarkable technologies are both taught and practiced at the Upledger Institute, along with the methodologies I’ve mentioned above.  If you’d like to know more, I hope you’ll visit www.upledger.com. I believe your understanding of the human body/mind could be irrevocably changed by exploring this work.


© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2012

4 Responses to “Dr. John Upledger…Cranio Sacral Therapy”

  1. Theo Kyrkostas Says:

    Hi Cathy Wow! you continually are right on target sharing your wealth of knowledge and rekindling in our memories the ability to dream the possible. Happy Trails Theo

  2. Cathy Says:

    The ability to dream the possible is a gorgeous way to put it, Theo. Weren’t we lucky to have learned what we did from the great teachers and our own experiences…being able to share the knowledge is such a privilege. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Melissa Says:

    This gave me goosebumps! Just an extraordinary story. Thank you for sharing this very, very important information, Cathy.

  4. Cathy Says:

    I’m so happy to be able to do so! John was such an important mentor for me in my search for alternatives. The fact that he had the courage to buck the medical establishment made him a great force for good in the world. He taught so many to see the body in a vastly new and open-minded way..

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