Some Assembly Required (Buffy, Season 2)


It is a tribute to the ability of the writers that this episode, which is suffused with elements of grief, is nonetheless is filled with some of the most comic lines and dialogue yet.  We have the sorrow of Cordelia for her one-time crush, Darryl.  We have the inability of Darryl’s chain-smoking mother to let go of her once-deceased son.  We also have a brief insight into the grief or sadness that Darryl himself must be experiencing, unable to go out into the world and resume his life as a start athlete.  (Although, come on, this is Sunnydale.  Would anyone really have a problem with a Frankenstein-like corpse of a highschooler wandering around?  As long as he can come out in broad daylight, he’s not prone to eating anyone, right?)

I enjoyed Giles’ comment about (American) football:  why should anyone strap on forty pounds of gear just to play rugby?  But I digress.

Grief is a complex phenomenon.  In the last episode, we examined how Buffy responded to her grief at having died at the hands of the Master.  The grief in this episode takes a different cast, and I would propose to treat it differently.  I will focus my treatment plan on Darryl’s mother; Cordelia seems to be able to process her grief in much less pathological ways.

The channel system I would use for Darryl’s mother are the extra-ordinary vessels.  Among the EVs, the Dai Mai has the role of allowing us to hold onto things — or to let them go.  Jeffrey Yuen compares the Dai Mai to the closet where we hold all our “stuff”, and specifically the stuff which, after cleaning out the closet and putting five boxes by the road, is filled because by the end of the day we’ve gone back outside and brought two of those boxes back in.

The Dai Mai has other functions as well.  It is concerned with jing, and it has a role in regulating the uterus, specifically in terms of discharge.  This discharge can also include the fetus.  Using the Dai Mai in this instance also acknowledges that this is a mother grieving the loss of her son.

Finally, the Dai Mai is also involved in death and dissolution.  Two positions on this topic can be identified.   Either the Dai Mai acts as the first meridian to “let go”, allowing all the other meridians to unravel now that they have lost the weft which bundled them together (I have seen a great translation of “jing” meridians as “warp”, a more etymologically precise term, perhaps); or it is the final vessel to release its energy, allowing the hun and po to go their separate ways.  In this latter connexion to death and dissolution, I wonder how Darryl would react to a Dai Mai treatment?

For Darryl’s mother, I would choose as core treatment points, GB-41, the opening point of the Dai Mai.  I would add ST-25, because it is the mu-point of the large intestine.  By needling this point, I hope to access and regulate the qi of the metal element we discussed in the previous post.  Additionally, since she is having trouble “digesting” her experience, a point on the Stomach line is called for.  (I might think of adding ST-9 or LI-18, too, as window to the sky points which help in digesting experience, and bringing the pathogenic qi out through LI-4, but this is mixing primary and extraordinary meridians, and I’d like to keep this treatment to one system.)

If I wanted to focus on the Lungs and their capacity for grief, I might decide to close the treatment through the Ren Mai.  I would choose as points CV-12 (the start of the Lung meridian), CV-22 (she smokes like a chimney, and this happens to also be a window to the sky point), and close with LU-7 (which is an excellent point for grief, anyway).

I could choose to use the Yin Wei Mai instead of the Ren Mai.  The pathogen has gone deep inside the person, and is now woven into the person’s life.  Kia Sinay notes in the Spring/Summer 2009 CJOM that “Wei Mai represents the accumulation of past experiences that have been stored, and the habituation of predisposed response patterns stored at the constitutional level.”  I would argue, on the basis of the meaning inherent in “wei”– with its image of a net — that “woven” is a better image.  But it is woven into the person’s life on the basis of later events, not those with which the child was imbued at conception on the basis of its lineage.

With Yin Wei Mai as the closing vessel, I could still use CV-22, which lies on both the Ren and Yin Wei vessels, and close with PC-6, which will give access to the energy of the pericardium.  Not only will that help open up the person to life again, but it might also help protect the heart from any pathologies which might want to transfer from the lung organ.  I might also add SP-15, which is considered to lie on the Yin Wei Mai, but, for some reason, usually isn’t listed as being on the Dai Mai, even though it is in line with Ren-8 and Du-4.  Maybe LV-13 suffices for the Dai Mai-SP connexion.  LV-13 and LV-14 would make an interesting pair to use in this case, too — both LV-13, “camporwood gate” (the wood used in coffins), and LV-14, “completion gate”, might open up to bring Darryl’s mother peace.

With this in mind, I think I’d reverse the treatment, and open with PC-6 on the left, then needle CV-22, LV-14, LV-13, ST-25, and close with GB-41 on the right.  I would use a deep and vibrating needle technique.  Vibrating is the technique which resonates with the jing; depth is where the jing is located.  (Just beware of pneumothorax on the LV points.)  I would continue this treatment for three months, with the core four of GB-41, ST-25, CV-22 (or LV-14), PC-6.

As for herbal treatments, a simple formula would be to add Qu Mai and Dang Gui Wei to Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Windscreen Powder).   The base formula contains Huang Qi to secure the exterior, which is in some ways, hemorrhaging.  The Fang Feng expels pathogenic wind, the inability to cope with change.  The Bai Zhu strengthens the Spleen to transform events into nourishment.  I initially thought of adding Ze Xie to help separate the pure from the impure and drain it out through the Dai Mai and lower jiao.  But then I thought of Qu Mai, which which drains heat from the HT and SI while also moving blood.  In addition, the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica says it also removes eye screen and helps one drop the fetus.  While this last might be in cases of approaching labour, I would think this use can extend to the case at hand. (One might also think of using Deng Xin Cao, which does the same but resonates with the Heart and Small Intestine.)  I would add the Gui Wei to help move the intestines and invigorate blood; it also resonates with the hun.  Five herbs.

A more complex formula would alter Wan Dai Tang (Restrain the Dai Decoction) so that it actually releases the Dai Mai instead of restraining it.  For this purpose, I would remove Shan Yao and Cang Zhu but would keep the Che Qian Zi (it has functions of clearing LV and LU heat).  I would replace the Bai Shao with Chi Shao.  I would add E Jiao (to stop bleeding and guide the formula to the jing level (i.e. the Dai Mai, since E Jiao resonates with jing), and I might add Deng Xin Cao and Qu Mai both, for reasons stated above.

As always, although this blog is written for the purposes of entertainment and theoretical discussion, the concepts it discusses do exist within the context of Chinese Medicine.  If you or someone you know could benefit from its perspective, please refer them to a qualified practitioner.

Happy Slayage.

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