Vertigo: Losing Our Balance in Life

by Randy Kasper, LCSW, PhD

Recently, I have encountered several people who are suffering with vertigo. With the Covid-19 pandemic upon us, I thought that this may be a statement about our collective experience. I have learned that it is also likely to be a reflection of my own personal experience. As a therapist, I notice that what my clients present with is reflecting what I am presenting with - if only I have the presence of mind/heart to look. In fact, when a client walks through my door, I often ask myself with a smile, “Let’s find out what I am dealing with today.” I consider this one of the many blessings of this work.

As imagery reflects the connection between our inner and our outer lives as well as bringing in elements of “as above, so below” it also offers the opportunity to see others as reflections of ourselves. If you have had the fortune to participate in group imagery classes, you know this. During my years of group classes with Dr. Gerald Epstein, I watched students learn first-hand that what seems at first to be unique and individual is revealed to be part of universally shared experiences.

In service to my client, I research a bit about vertigo that can be related to inner ear issues, infection, migraines, inflammation of the vestibular nerve, etc. I also start to think about the meaning of the illness and what the body is revealing to us:

  • a sense of being off balance (inner ear issues),
  • an “illusion of movement,”
  • the world spinning to fast for us
  • possibly issues of hearing/receiving?

Thinking analogically, this certainly relates to me as well. There is a lack of balance in my life right now with work consuming much more than its fair share. Questions to explore: Is there an illusion of movement (i.e: is much of my activity intentional? Is it achievement or merely activity?) Am I hearing what is being said? And could this also be true of society at large? (answer: of course, we are all in this together!) But … back to the client’s current needs. Her specific experience of vertigo is a lack of comfort in her “base,” that she can easily fall, that she is not safe in her body. Her MD detected no physical problems, so she sought out imagery.

We crafted an imagery exercise together. The client reported relief from this exercise which she did three times a day for 21 days.

Click here for the imagery