According to the theory of biorhythms, a person's life is influenced by rhythmic biological cycles that affect his or her ability in various domains, such as mental, physical and emotional activity. These cycles begin at birth and oscillate in a steady (sine wave) fashion throughout life, and by modeling them mathematically, it is suggested that a person's level of ability in each of these domains can be predicted from day to day. The theory is built on the idea that the biofeedback chemical and hormonal secretion functions within the body could show a sinusoidal behavior over time.
In the nineteenth century, studies first began on certain life rhythms or cycles that were later termed "biorhythms". The word biorhythm is a compound of two Greek words, bios and rhythmos, which mean life and a constant or periodic beat. The theory of biorhythms defines and measures three basic and important life cycles in man: the physical, emotional, and intellectual.
Wilhelm Fliess, a highly respected and prominent doctor in Berlin, did pioneer work on biorhythms in the 1890s. Fliess, who had observed 23- and 28-day rhythms in many of his patients, began to collect statistics on the periodic occurrence of fevers, childhood disease, and the susceptibility to disease and death. With these statistics in hand, Fliess believed he had detected rhythms which were fundamental to man's life.
Dr. Fliess later developed two major biorhythm theories: first, that Nature bestows on man "master internal clocks" which begin counting time at birth and continue throughout life; and second, that one of these clocks regulates a 23-day cycle influencing man's physical condition and another regulates a 28-day cycle influencing emotions or degree of sensitivity.
Male and female biorhythms
A widely read man, Fliess speculated on why these two rhythms should prevail. He believed, much as we do today, that man is essentially bisexual in nature, composed of both male and female elements. Fliess called the 23-day physical cycle the male cycle, since it influenced strength, endurance, and vitality. He considered the 28-day cycle to be representative of the female element in all human beings; it governed sensitivity, intuition, love, and creativity-the entire emotional spectrum.
Subsequent research has reinforced the idea of the 23-day physical and 28-day emotional cycles. Of course, today few would agree with the premise that all physical components are male and all emotional matters female. Instead, both are now considered to be essential characteristics of each sex.
Wilhelm Fliess wrote extensively about the biorhythm theory, but the mathematics and statistics he used to support it were so massive and confusing that few people bothered to closely examine or to understand them. Still, the basic premise of the theory caught on. The idea of periodic rhythms in man created a considerable controversy among his colleagues, one which still exists today. Most scientists have accepted the fact that man's physical and emotional states are in constant flux, but many do not agree that these changes are influenced by regular biological cycles that start at birth.
One of Fliess' contemporaries who kept an open mind to his ideas was Sigmund Freud, a man with extremely revolutionary ideas of his own at the time. Early in his career, Freud showed extreme interest in and admiration for Fliess' theories, and they soon became very close friends. One hundred and eighty-four letters from Freud to Fliess have been published; unfortunately, the replies from Fliess have been lost.
Biorhythms are cycles that attempt to describe energy levels or capacities for performance in various areas. The three "primary" biorhythms are:
•physical (23 days), describing your physical energy, reflexes, strength, stamina
•emotional (28 days), describing your emotional stability and empathy
•intellectual (33 days), describing your mental aptitude, creativity and problem-solving capabilities
The fluctuations of the 23-day physical cycle are thought to influence man's strength, endurance, energy, and general physical well-being. We're all aware that our energy levels vary. Some mornings we can scarcely pull ourselves out of bed; others, though we don't quite wake up somersaulting, we are ready to go even before taking a cup of coffee. The biorhythm theory suggests that we can calculate days we might be more likely to zip through and days when we'll drag along.
Let's use the sample physical curve below to become acquainted with the theory. During the first half of the 23-day cycle (11,5 days), one's physical well-being is increasing. This portion of the cycle is sometimes referred to as a "discharge period," analogous to the time when a battery is discharging electrical power, using up its stored energy. During this first half of the cycle, a person is quite vigorous and appears to command a powerful source of energy.
The second half of the 23-day cycle (also 11,5 days) is a time of reduced vigor, recuperation, and storage of new energy, as when a battery is recharging. These are the days when the curve on the chart is below the base line. To an athlete, this is the time when he is in a slump, and the stay-at home experiences his own kind of slump as well. During this time, man is more content to rest and regain his strength. That's not to say that work, tennis, and spring cleaning simply cease every other 11 days, but the drive slows down, the time-outs become a little more frequent, a good book and a catnap begin to look more attractive. Doctors who follow the theory find this time ideal for a patient's recuperation or therapy.
It is important to emphasize that the curve does not divide into a "good" half and a "bad" half. Neither portion is necessarily better or worse than the other-fortunately, since each adds up to half a lifetime! The theory of biorhythms aims to alert you to your capacities and potentials, the days when your basic drives (in this case physical) are at high, low, or critical tide. A low period is no more evil than a low gas tank in your car. lf you read the gauge properly, you won't plan to drive 500 miles that day. You'll add more fuel-for the human machine, this means a little rest, a little bit of being good to yourself. A low period that is observed and used wisely can nourish the body. An athlete, for instance, might adjust his training schedule to provide for more rest or less intense concentration during the second half of his cycle.
Properly used, a low period can give the same benefit as sleep to an exhausted man. A high day may not be an unadulterated blessing, either. Although more can be accomplished in the first half of the cycle, the physical plant can be tuned so high that a man might over-exert or try to go beyond his physical potential, ending up with a pulled muscle on the fifteenth hole of the golf course. A lot depends on individual condition. Professional athletes have often hit home runs, caught long passes, and broken records at the peak of their physical cycles.
There are two "critical" or "cautionary" days in every complete 23-day physical cycle. These are the first day, when each new cycle begins, and the halfway mark, between the 11th and 12th days, when energy switches into the recharge period. The body is relatively unstable and less resistant to stress on these days; heart attacks, for example,
apparently tend to fall on critical days of this curve. Again, it is important to note that the days in themselves are not critical. The person's condition on that day may bear watching; he might react badly to strain imposed by the outside world or by his own body. There is no magical hex or voodoo spell that will make a heart fail at the "critical" or "cautionary" point of the physical cycle, but a man who has recently had a heart attack might take extra precautions on such a day. A taxi driver might be extra careful too. Or someone working in a machine shop. Or someone shepherding fifteen pre-school children out to the playground.
The 28-day emotional cycle has a curve similar to that of the physical cycle, with the curve rising in the first half (14 days), or discharge phase, and falling in the second half (also 14 days), or recharge phase. The sample below will help you to fix its main characteristics in mind. Since this cycle probably influences sensitivity and creativity as well as feelings of love and cooperativeness, artists and writers may find their muses visiting them more often and their tempers sweeter in the first two weeks of this cycle. During the first 14 days, one is likely to be cheerier and more optimistic; during the second 14 days a little less open, friendly and hopeful; and on critical days, decidedly grumpy and irritable.
The individual pattern will no doubt vary with individual temperament. Someone with a sunny and very calm disposition may seem a bit cloudy at the low point of the cycle but is unlikely to storm a lot at any time. A more passionate and erratic type can swing through periods of bliss and then astonish us with an outburst of anger three days later. It seems quite likely that some people would experience their biorhythmic fluctuations more strongly than others.
An interesting Condition exists with respect to the 28-day cycle which is not true of the other two. Since 28 days make up four seven-day weeks, the important days of this cycle always fall on the same day of the week, the day of the week on which one was born. A person born on a Monday will know that every other Monday will be a critical day. Whereas "blue Mondays" are traditional, Monday's child will have a critical day one
Monday, a high day the next Monday, another critical, and then a low, and so on throughout the year. This same-day syndrome provides a means of testing the biorhythm theory for yourself. Does experience tell you that your emotionally shaky days are almost always on the same days of the week? It's best to test this out over a period of several months; there are always other elements to account for. Bad news can bring you down even on a high day, but you'll probably be able to handle it better.
The 33-day cycle is representative of man's intellectual fluctuations. To date, researchers have focused somewhat less on the intellectual than on the other two cycles, which is understandable since much remains to be done in aiding man to understand and use his mental powers. Some doctors claim this cycle is closely related to secretions of the thyroid. Independent medical studies have pointed out correlation's
between variations in intellectual performance and hormone levels; again, this is an area which has not been thoroughly explored.
The first half of this cycle (16,5 days) is the time when students and others engaged in intellectual pursuits are more able to absorb new concepts, be more creative, make notable progress. We all know that studying is a breeze at some times, a drag at others. The first half of the cycle is considered prime time for creative thinking, for progress in new subject areas, for mental successes when memory is at a premium,
and for work which demands accurate and immediate mental responses. Since the mind responds most rapidly to new challenges during this period, it would probably be the best time to be in a new assignment or a new job.
The second half of this 33-day cycle (also 16,5 days) is a time when one's ability to think logically is somewhat reduced. The IQ doesn't automatically lose 10 points; the brain just says it isn't quite so happy with a heavy load of new stimulation. Remember that energies have been discharged in the first half of the cycle. Now the mind wants a
little rest, in order to store up energy again. During this time, it is somewhat more difficult to absorb new ideas, to do creative thinking, or to perform mental exercises where concentration, memory, and quick mental response are required. This time is probably best suited to review of previously learned concepts, to practice of lessons which should be learned by rote, to absorption and consolidation of prior gains. The second half of the intellectual cycle seems to be the best time to practice your lines, go over your French verb endings, and edit the paper you wrote. The critical days in the 33-day intellectual cycle are the 1st and 17th days. These may be days when important decisions could best be delayed. If you know that a major matter must be resolved on
one of those days, it might be a good idea to try to see all sides of the question beforehand. But we all have to face some problems without any warning. Take a little extra time to think it over; it could be helpful. Also, as you will discover in a later chapter, the circumstances under which these critical days occur will make a difference. No part of life needs to grind to a halt just because it's a critical day or the low part of the cycle. A big exam or a big interview can be handled well even on the least promising day; most of us have taken one or the other with a cold and still scored high. We're a little cautious, or we work extra hard beforehand, or we make a special effort to get the adrenaline flowing. lf we know in advance that a task will be more difficult than usual, we
can be properly prepared, and this is where the biorhythm theory can be most useful.
These are the three basic biorhythm cycles-their monthly cyclical lengths and variations. But keep in mind that each person's cycles will be individual. Though everyone born on the same day in the same year will have identical cycles, they will obviously not have identical lives. Not only will their circumstances be different, but their income and learned reactions to events will also differ sharply. All three cycles will change with age: a young person's are likely to peak more sharply, an older person's to flatten out. Health, temperament, character, and probably heredity will influence the steepness of the curve and the way one responds to fluctuations in his potential. Awareness of where you stand in each of your life cycles at a particular time, and how you function while being at various points in each of the three cycles will help you determine the best coping mechanisms for your particular life style.
When the biorhythm line is above the 0% line, your capacity in that area is enhanced; you feel stronger, more alert, more connected, more empathetic. These are times when you are able to do more, be more, enjoy more. When the biorhythm lines are below 0%, your capacity is diminished, and conservative behavior is recommended. Finally, when a biorhythm line crosses the 0% line, or crosses another biorhythm line, energies are unpredictable and may not be favorable to you.
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