Joseph Heller and the Alternative Medical Treatment Known as Hellerwork

Joseph Heller is the author of the infamous blackly comic anti-war novel Catch-22. Another Joseph Heller is the inventor of an alternative medical treatment known as Hellerwork. The less famous Joseph Heller was an aerospace engineer in the 70’s when he got into the then-faddish alternative medical treatment known as Rolfing. Rolfing was very big for a while in the 70s and essentially consisted of manipulating soft tissue through massage. Like another alternative medical pioneer–Judith Aston–Heller grew disenchanted with Rolfing because it didn’t seem to take things to the next logical level. Aston went on to become the creator of Aston-Patterning while Heller created Hellerwork. Clearly, these two alternative medical pioneers are not of the ilk that is against self-branding their name.

What the Joseph Heller who didn’t write Catch-22 did was keep much of the Rolfing foundation while transforming it into a holistic approach that involves both the body and the mind. Hellerwork is doing quite nicely around the globe in places as far apart as Europe and New Zealand. What happens when you show up for a Hellerwork treatment is somewhat dependent upon the patient’s particular disorders. The massage element of Hellerwork focuses on the fascia, which is the name given to the parts of the body that tie the connective tissue together. Fascia works to keep muscles fibers tightly wrapped. Fascia facilitates the lack of stress on muscles by being loosely wrapped, but they grow tighter due to stresses placed upon them muscles by things like bad posture or emotional stress. What Hellerwork essentially seeks to do is bring the fascia back to the loose levels it was at before all the stress on the body wreaked havoc.

A session of Hellerwork focuses on proper alignment of the body and a reduction in the tension. This almost always involves getting the ribcage to become properly aligned over the pelvis and locating the sources of tension in the chestal area, as Bart Simpson oncer referred to it. The hoped-for outcome of Hellerwork sessions is that the chest will expand to a greater degree when the patient inhales. As your chest alignment improves, future sessions focus on getting your legs, knees and ankles in order. Tension must be released in the shoulders and the spine needs to be lengthened to the degree that it normally would be if it weren’t for all the dang stress.

Clearly, posture is a prime component of Hellerwork. Deep-tissue massage is utilized in a Hellerwork session to help you regain the good posture you lost or grant you the good posture you’ve never had. In addition to massage and alignment, Hellerwork sessions focus on educating the patient so that they can relearn basic skills they failed to learn correctly the first time around. Among those skills you can expect to relearn are how to stand up straight, how to sit up straight and how to lift things without putting undo pressure on the spine or other parts of the body. The holistic approach also takes on putting the patient into a much more serene state of mind so that they can become emotionally capable of dealing with stress in ways that are not actualized in their physicality. It may seem kind of corny, but the holistic approach of Hellerwork is itself actualized in physicality by granting themes to each session that tie in with both the emotional and physical concept such as Standing On Your Own Two Feet.