Over the 26 years,since retiring from active medical practice (in 1963), Dr. Weekes wrote four books on nervous illness, which are well known worldwide. Before retiring she was a physician. That is the kind of doctor who treats physical illness as distinct from surgical and nervous illness.
However, physicians are sometimes asked to treat nervously ill patients and it is essential for them to know how to do this, or at least to know where to refer the patients satisfactorily. Gradually over the years, nervously ill people came to her for help, many of whom were acutely ill although they had been treated previously, some for a long time, by orthodox psychiatrists. She saw so many of these suffering people that she began to question the use of the psychiatric treatment commonly given in those days:
Freudian psychoanalysis. Treatment by psychoanalysis often called for a search for possible subconscious causes, a search which could demand weeks, months, even years. Not only were anxious, apprehensive people sometimes warned of the necessity of such long searching, the encouraging word “cure” was rarely used. It was even purposely avoided. The symptoms of nervous illness (used here to mean the anxiety state) felt by these people were often so upsetting that many sufferers came asking for urgent relief. These symptoms included: attacks of panic, rapidly beating heart, weakness, fatigue, trembling, a feeling of difficulty in swallowing solid food, of taking a deep breath, and so on. Can you imagine such people’s bewilderment and despair on being told of the possibility of lengthy investigation for a hidden cause?
She became so concerned that she found a way of not only giving a quick relief of symptoms but also of giving a practical program for recovery. She even mentioned “cure”. (talking about the anxiety state, mentioned earlier.) In an anxiety state, the sufferer is more or less constantly anxious, afraid—especially afraid of the symptoms his “aroused”, “sensitised” nerves have brought. The original arousal has often been caused by some stressful life situation. However, she often found that in time many nervously ill people were no longer concerned with the original cause of their stress. They were more concerned with the state they were now in (the “way they felt”) and with “what could happen next”! This was why they felt they needed urgent help. Some had even become agoraphobic. That is, they suffered incapacitating fear away from the safety of home, particularly in crowded places—anywhere where they believed they could not make a quick escape or get help quickly should their fears, as they thought, grow beyond them. This fear included traveling, especially in a vehicle they could not stop at will.
She was not then, afraid to use the word “cure”, because she explained her meaning of “cure”. It did not mean that the sufferer would not feel nervous symptoms again. she explained that the symptoms of nervous illness are no more than the symptoms of stress and that while we live, we must feel stress symptoms from time to time. However, because she showed how to cope with these symptoms and give a practical program for recovery, people learn to be no longer frightened or bewildered by them.
The basis of her teaching has always been to show how to heal oneself, so that one develops an inner voice of confidence that is born from the experience of having been through the fire and having brought oneself out of it!