The other day on the Magical Experiments Facebook page one of my commenters asked whether or not magic could help with executive dysfunction. I asked her to explain what executive dysfunction was because I'd never heard of the term before, and she explained the following,
"Executive dysfunction is a term for the range of cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties which often occur after injury to the frontal lobes of the brain. Impairment of executive functions is common after acquired brain injury and has a profound effect on many aspects of everyday life."
"It is often associated with ADHD and other similar disorders. It is basically a clinical form of struggling to initiate any tasks, even every day ones. It's a bit like putting the key into your car's ignition and turning it, hearing the engine struggle to start again and again. Even if you really, really want to, you just can't get yourself to initiate anything."
Reading this made me think of my own struggles with bipolar depression. I don't know if bipolar depression would fall under the umbrella of executive dysfunction, but I do know that when I had it, there were times I struggled to get anything done. At the same time I didn't want to rely on medicine, because of the side effects. So I struggled through my depressive and manic episodes.
But I also looked to magic for a solution. I was certain there could be another way to deal with my bipolar depression that could permanently solve the issue. And it turned out there was. I've shared this story in Inner Alchemy, but what I did was use meditation to go into my brain, where I readjusted the uptake cycle for the neurotransmitter serotonin. Once I changed the uptake cycle I no longer had bipolar episodes, because I was making sure that the serotonin was staying in my brain long enough to have an effect.
My work with brain and body hasn't stopped there, and so when the commenter shared this question about executive dysfunction it got me thinking about what a person could do with magic to either mitigate or heal the executive dysfunction. Part of what would be required in this work is also a knowledge of what part of the brain is effected by the given dysfunction and/or if any neurotransmitters could play a role. Let's use an example of how this might work (from a theoretical perspective).
How Magic could be used to work with ADHD
With ADHD, we might look at changing the uptake cycles and levels of Dopamine, Noepinephrine, Serotonin, Achetylcholine, and Glutamate, because these neurotransmitters can affect parts of the brain that are impacted by ADHD. Additionally we might work with the systems of the brain that affected, such as the accumbens, amygdala, cuadate, hippocampus, and putamen, in order to improve the efficacy of those systems and even help with creating new neural pathways that strengthen those parts of the brain.
How would all this work?
First I would need to connect with the neurotransmitters and create relationships with them. Then I would work directly with them to change the uptake cycle, as well as any other aspects of the neurochemistry. This could be done through meditation, using breath work to connect with the body. If that didn't work, I'd alternately suggest pathworking and/or using an external system such as tarot to simulate the environment and create a causal link that could be used to connect with the neurotransmitters.
Once that work was done, I'd focus next on the brain and the specific subsystems affected by ADHD. My goal would be to stimulate additional neural pathways and to grow each of those systems so that they could help with the regulation of attention.
I'd also connect with the body and see if there was any tension that need to be expressed or movement that needed to be realized or any food desired, because sometimes those things can also prove helpful.
But would this really work?
I am not diagnosed with ADHD, so I can't say for sure that my suggested methodology would work. I do, at times, have issues with my attention span (ironically enough while writing this article) and when I recognized my attention was wandering, I stopped trying to write and meditated for a bit, focusing on my brain and stimulating the parts of the brain that help with focus. That did seem to help me get the focused attention I needed to finish this article.
But again I've never been diagnosed with ADHD, so I can't say for sure if it would or wouldn't work. I would point out there is no harm in trying and seeing what happens. If you're taking medicine to manage your ADHD, I don't recommend going off of it, but if you try to do some workings along the lines I've proposed, keep track of what you're doing, and see if it enhances the effect of the medicine or if you notice that you feel sharper and more focused with the combination of medicine and the proposed magical work here.
What about other types of executive dysfunction?
I used ADHD as an example, but I think the same overarching concept and work could be applied to other types of executive dysfunction, provided you do the research and know what that executive dysfunction effects in your physiology. Doing that research can help you target what neurotransmitters and physiology you'll work with. Then it comes down to doing the work of creating the relationships with the neurotransmitters and devising the magical techniques you'll use to help this process along.
I want to be clear I am not guaranteeing results. If you choose to do magical workings along this line, it is your responsibility and choice to do that work and deal with the results and consequences that come with it. I'm describing how it could work and what could be done.
I do think this kind of work is fascinating and I don't see any reason not to use magic for purposes of working with your physiology and neurochemistry. I've continued working with magic in that vein because I'm curious about the body as its own magical universe. I find it fascinating to see what we can do to unlock the natural potential within our bodies, especially when we work with the body as a universe in its own right. In my forthcoming book The Alchemy of Life, I'll be sharing some further insights and practices along this line of inquiry.
Incidentally, if you'd like to be notified when the Alchemy of Life comes out as well as learn some useful meditation practices that can help you do this work, grab my free e-book Meditation Made Easy.