“Out of Mind, Out of Sight” (Buffy, Season 1)


Sometimes, I’d love to make myself invisible — but only at the right moment.  I can’t imagine being made to feel invisible constantly.  So constantly that I actually become invisible.  In fact, I can’t even recall the name of the student who became invisible in this episode, even though I just re-watched it.

How would I as a clinician approach a patient who said, “I feel invisible to people”?  That is the question I would like to address through the medium of acupuncture and herbal medicine.  Unfortunately, while I can find herbs which allow one to see the invisible, or at least speak with spirits (the Divine Farmer’s Pharmacopeia notes these medicinals), making someone appear to others requires a bit more thought, and perhaps a more complex treatment.

The following discussion of Chinese Medical theory is purely theoretical in content and meant only for entertainment.

Unfortunately for this case, I am not accustomed to doing acupuncture on invisible subjects. They don’t really teach us that in school. Although I’ve heard of it being done in cases where the spirit of a departed loved one won’t pass on, I’ve never had — nor have I looked for — the opportunity to engage in such esoteric aspects of my craft.

I did manage to find herbs which make one’s facial complexion bright and shining.  That might be a start, since the invisible girl was so jealous of Cordelia’s looks.  I’m sure Cordelia would be interested in these herbs, too, and eventually in facial rejuvenation acupuncture.

The three herbs I found were Yu Zhu (Solomon’s seal rhizome), Ze Xie (Alisma rhizome), and Luo Shi Teng (Star Jasmine vine).  I don’t know about Sunnydale, but this last herb grows practically wild in San Francisco.  Drusilla mentions night blooming jasmine in a later episode, so Invisible Girl might just be in luck.

Two of these herbs are found in formulae which nourish stomach yin or treat the spleen:  Jia Jian Wei Rui Tang for Yu Zhu, and the two-ingredient formula Ze Xie Tang.  This latter formula strengthens the Spleen and clears thin mucus from the Stomach by descending turbid yin.  Interestingly, the Spleen and Stomach can be thought of as relating to society and societal interaction, in that yellow is the colour of the Confucian scholars who organised the smooth functioning of society from the Song dynasty onwards.  Treating the Earth element seems like a good way to begin, and clearing away anything that can veil the patient’s yang qi is of added value.  With a little more yang, she might be able to put herself out into society a little bit more.

Luo Shi Teng  invigorates the luo vessels, clearing any emotional blocks (= blood stasis) to change (= wind); and dispels throat bi — allowing a person to express emotions.  It also cools the blood, which might help Invisible girl cool her “hot” campaign of revenge against Cordelia.

A very simple formula can therefore be composed:

Bai Zhu (to strengthen the Spleen)

Ze Xie (to drain out the phlegm and descend turbid yin)

Yu Zhu (to give substance to the Stomach in the form of clear yin)

Luo Shi Teng (to direct the medicinals to the collaterals and open the throat)

In terms of acupuncture, one must first locate the person and feel around for their extremities.  An ability to find live points is essential in this sort of case.  Initially, I would have thought of using a Luo vessel treatment — perhaps focusing on the Small Intestine’s trajectory, since it’s symptomology concerns seeking or being comfortable with attention.  However, luo vessels manifest as spider veins, and so I’m not sure this is a viable option.

Transforming the herbal prescription into an acupuncture one, we could easily use ST-42 for Yu Zhu; a luo point for Luo Shi Teng could be either ST-40 or SP-4; SP-3 or SP-4 could stand in for Bai Zhu and Ze Xie.  I would consider CV-3 as well, the mu point of the Triple Heater, since Ze Xie Tang works on quelling minister fire.  I would also add ST-9, “Welcome to Humanity,” since this will help open the throat and release any blockages between the head and body.

The above discussion is meant for entertainment only.  If you or a loved one cannot be seen, please seek out the counsel of a qualified practitioner to address the particulars of your case.

Or find the men in black.

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