The Causative Factor (CF) is the heart of our work as Classical Five Elements Acupuncturists. CF is used to describe the imbalance which is the underlying cause within an individual. CF is vital to treatment in Classical Five Elements Acupuncture as it indicates the source of the client’s imbalance. Treating the source of the imbalance is the key to promoting healing.
Causative Factor is based on the idea that the Five Elements - Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal - exist within all of us. Ideally, we present with each of the elements at the same level and in perfect balance with each other. This ideal is, however, not reality. One of these elements inevitably tends toward becoming the weakest link of the elements within. This weak link is named the Causative Factor as it is the source of all imbalance.
There is a great sensitivity to determining Causative Factor and an even greater responsibility as a practitioner to treat each client as unique. The CF must not be regarded as defining who someone is fundamentally or constitutionally. CF only defines the source of the imbalance lying with one particular element. JR Worsley emphasized that the CF isn’t one’s essential nature and encouraged students of his to know their authentic selves and know the authentic selves of clients.
Everyone has a Causative Factor. The Causative Factor should not produce judgement toward any one element, but rather illuminate that that element within the individual is out of balance and causing any other imbalances. Whether deficient or excess, the element needs attention in order for the individual to flourish within their life experience. The CF shows the areas in which we are not yet enlightened. Causative Factor is not negative or positive, it just is.
The CF is diagnosed based upon the sensory information provided by the client. These include color, odor, sound and emotion, which present from the body in particular ways when an element is out of balance. As Neil Gumenick reiterates of JR Worsley’s teachings, “In addition, this elegant system recognizes that the health of each unique individual's body, mind, and spirit must be taken into account to fully understand and treat the cause of illness. Thus, no two patients are ever treated the same.” JR also stated that ”Practicing this system of medicine from your senses is very easy. Coming from your head, it is impossible." Furthermore, JR taught that everything one needed as a practitioner of Classical Five Elements Acupuncture to diagnose and treat clients lied within.
When we are in balance, all of the colors of the elements are within us. They show on our faces. When we are out of balance, the color of our Causative Factor becomes more evident. The weak element produces color. The more out of balance, the more obvious the color. The color associated with Water is blue, Wood is green, Fire is red, Earth is yellow, and Metal is white. We look for these colors around the eyes of a person.
Odor is perhaps the most definitive and irrefutable form of diagnosis. Odor is received in our reptilian brain, the most primitive part of our sensory reception. It creates and evokes emotion. The odor used for diagnosis is the general odor emitted from the body. It wafts off of us. We always emanate odor to some extent, even after washing. The more balanced we are, the less pronounced the odor. The odor associated with Water is putrid, Wood is rancid, Fire is scorched, Earth is fragrant, and Metal is rotten.
A well balanced voice has all the sounds and all the sounds occur at appropriate times. Appropriate expression is in harmony. Unbalanced sounds are indicated by disharmony between the emotion and the sound or maintaining one sound continuously or the lack of a particular sound. The sound associated with Water is groaning, Wood is shouting, Fire is laughter, Earth is singing, and Metal is weeping. Sound follows emotion.
When we are in balance, all five emotions will be expressed appropriately. When out of balance, we may not experience all the emotions or may be stuck in one emotion. Emotions may be conspicuously absent. The eyes are the window to the soul; as practitioners, we must look to the eyes to see the truth of the emotion rather than hearing only the words. The emotion that one feels most comfortable with can feel like home and become a shield for the client. The emotion associated with Water is fear, Wood is anger, Fire is Joy or lack of joy, Earth is sympathy or reject sympathy, and Metal is grief.
Just as in nature, there are boundless variations of colors, sounds, emotions and odors. Each individual is unique and will have a unique presentation of their Causative Factor. We don’t necessarily ever know the cause of the CF, but as Five Elements Acupuncturists, we are able to identify it and treat it.
Diving deeper into the diagnostics and foundation of Classical Five Elements Acupuncture, we must consider the importance of “distress signals”. Distress signals are subtle cues that the body, mind and spirit share with us so that we take note that there is something out of balance. These distress signals can get louder and more alarming if the source is left untreated. The distress signals can manifest into symptoms. Much of Western Medicine treats symptoms rather than treating the root cause producing the symptoms. This methodology will sometimes palliate symptoms for a period of time, but does not restore balance.
The nature of the body, just like the nature of nature is to maintain balance. The body is always seeking homeostasis, which allows us to infer that the body knows how to heal itself. Intervention such as Classical Five Elements Acupuncture through diagnosing Causative Factor touches the source of the imbalance in such a way that balance can begin to be restored.
Spending time with the Causative Factor reveals that while it is the source of the dysfunction, it also serves as the source of activation and harmony. There is a vast duality which can easily be misunderstood and perceived negatively. Turning our attention to the source gives us access to the greatest range of healing and possibility that exists within the individual.