mind and body; health and addiction .....

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Messages 1 - 19 of total 19 in this topic
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 26, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
Really nice radio interview of Dr. Gabor Mate, on Democracy Now.
About stress and dysfunctional parenting, and addictions and a bunch of other stuff. All rings true to me.

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/25/dr_gabor_mat_on_the_stress
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 26, 2012 - 04:00pm PT
Interesting what Dr. Mate has to say as it relates to the intimate connection between the development of disease and addiction based on body-mind interactions and early childhood development and the impact of stress and alienation in modern Western consumer culture. This undercuts the prevalent notion that all you need to do to correct behavioral problems is to dose kids with the right combination of psychotropic drugs. A way to evade the real social problem of dysfunctional families, I'd say. The whole materialistic genetic fallacy exposed. I've always suspected that what Dr. Mate says about the development of ALS in Lois Gehrig's case is absolutely true but never heard anyone say it before. My next door neighbor, who was a do-gooder Boy Scout leader, was struck down with ALS immediately after his mother's death. No coincidence there if you listen to what Dr. Mate has to say here. Tons and tons of stuff like that in this alienated, self-centered essentially narcissistic culture - all the time, each and every day. The self-made myth: BS! Family and community are essential to good mental and physical health.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Dec 26, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
Family and community are essential to good mental and physical health.

I can't agree more with this statement.

It rings true solely on the basis of timeline and human existence. How did communities cope before Freud and the like? Shunning, rites to exorcise demons, "witch" trials, and excommunication. These all came after the rise of Christianity. What about prior to that?

Exposure on a hillside for unwanted infants, banishment, stoning, and cutting off limbs, just to name the ones that come to mind first and easiest...

All these are ways of dealing with societal problems after offenses have occurred. It's the same all down history, really, so far as I can tell. Some folks are blessed with advantages, others cursed by fate to face life on their own.

We humans need to learn a lot more about root causes of addiction and psychological disorders, certainly, but there is no cure like prevention and that means nurturing and caring and teaching self-discipline. But when the parents aren't happening, or there are no others to take up the slack, it's easy to see what might happen.

I'd like to say the preamble to the interview is good to see, in that Democracy Now eschews corporate sponsors.

Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 27, 2012 - 12:39am PT
Of course long before old Sigismund Freud and his associates like Jung and Adler, there was the depth therapy provided by the Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) and the dreams one had in the Temple of Aesculapius. And Sophocles was certainly aware of the existence of the Oedipal complex in the play of the same name. Take a look at Hamlet's problems with his father's ghost in Will Shakespeare's play. Likewise, the French symbolists knew a lot about the role of the unconscious mind in the creative process. Only today the social psychologists are attempting to find answers to these same problems on a mass scale in the global village. Problems of scale created by burgeoning human populations all over the world. Factor in instantaneous communications and weapons of mass destruction, finding solutions to psychotic behavior becomes imperative for human survival on the planet.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Dec 27, 2012 - 05:19am PT
Think of the depth of misery behind a pissed-off African nine-year-old with an AK. He's starved all his life long, knows no kin, has no tribe, and is at the mercy of his masters--his food chain.

Then think of the well-brought-up son of church-going folks who goes out secretly and plans an atrocity of some kind just for...

You tell me.

And then tell me how to predict such and you get uber-Nobel-ed.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2012 - 06:12am PT
I have an 18 yr old niece who sort of went off the deep end into drugs and prostitution. Her father abandoned her before she was born and her mother showered her with every toy money could buy. It seems to me it was only simple and sincere affection that was missing. Then at 14 or so a new fiance moved in and that seemed to finally push her over the edge. Fits right in to Mate's thesis in my vision.
sullly

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 08:22am PT
I take issue with the Oedipus and Hamlet examples above. The application of Oedipus might be true in terms abandonment on a mountain as an infant. But it is not true in terms of slaying Laius in an act of road rage. Oedipus has no idea the man on the road is his father. With Hamlet, he is plagued with whether to kill his uncle (who killed his father) or not, just like Orestes wrestles with whether to commit matricide (retribution for mom killing his father, Agamemnon).

My son - now flourishing at sixteen - must be an exception to Mate's thesis. From three months into my planned pregnancy forward it was the most stressful period of my life. I rarely knew where my husband was or who he was with. I lost my house, marriage and was raising a two year old daughter. Maybe the saving grace was nursing my son for a year and a half (to maintain nighttime custody). I taught full time. My husband came out three years after the divorce. My son does not have ADD or ADHD and is in honors classes. If anything he is "randy," but what sixteen year old male isn't?



SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:43am PT
Thank you Sully....once again, you know how much I appreciate you...
I haven't listened to the interview yet, but I will. However, the continual "catch all" phrase of 'stress' and 'dysfunctional' parenting gets a little old. Those concepts are on a continuum that appears to be infinite. I see someone yell "stress" and I think WTF are they complaining about? Others may look at me when I say stress and probably think the same. I think too much of this comes from being "outer directed" (problems come from 'out there') and lacking the courage to look inward and ask yourself what can I learn from this situation and how can I move forward....
Jus' my thoughts...

Susan
locker

Social climber
state of Kumbaya...
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:48am PT


Schizophrenia is blind...

kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:42am PT
hmm good share
toxo

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 01:24pm PT
Mate' talks as if there is no genetic component to these problems whatsoever. Of course traumatic life events are important factors but some people, such as those with certain dopamine receptor mutations, are more prone to long term depression and addiction as a result of trauma than others.

The child’s brain development depends on the presence of non-stressed, emotionally available parents. In this country, that’s less and less available. Hence, you’ve got burgeoning rates of autism in this country. It’s going up like 20- or 30-fold in the last 30 or 40 years.

Lol, that antiqued and useless "refrigerator mother" theory appears again! Guess human life was completely wonderful and stress-free before the predominant 21st Century US lifestyles came along, as others have already pointed out here.

Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 27, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
However, the continual "catch all" phrase of 'stress' and 'dysfunctional' parenting gets a little old. Those concepts are on a continuum that appears to be infinite. I see someone yell "stress" and I think WTF are they complaining about?

I think if you listen to Dr Mate in the following interview, you'll see that his definition of self-destructive 'stress' falls somewhere outside of what we typically label it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QrNxvpTDo_s

Accepting stress as 'normal' in an effort to be thought of as 'nice' seems to be a common denominator in the development of autoimmune disorders. Dr Mate, in any case, is definitely an original thinker who is not easily dismissed.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 27, 2012 - 04:05pm PT
I didn't suggest, Sully, that either Oedipus or Hamlet as characters are aware of the Oedipus complex. But Sophocles and Shakespeare most certainly were!
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 27, 2012 - 06:31pm PT
"The Poet [i.e. Homer, who else?] teaches Greece!"
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Dec 27, 2012 - 06:59pm PT
Accepting stress as 'normal' in an effort to be thought of as 'nice' seems to be a common denominator in the development of autoimmune disorders

I stand by my assertion that "stress" is a continuum. Refer to First World Problems thread....look at what Sully went through. Any reasonable person would find that overwhelming...yet she and her children came through it...much comes from the individual character that is forged...
As for stress being a contributor to disease and autoimmune disorders is a slippery slope. In some ways it's blaming the victim....ie, "if you remain in a state of stress you will get ill". Acceptance of stressful situations is the first step towards trying to move through them and learning something from them rather than being victimized by it. I am not a Pollyanna, I do believe that there are horrific things that happen that can create paralyzing pain and anxiety. However, I believe, that much of today's stress stems from anxiety over "what might happen" rather than what has. Hanging on to free floating anxiety is crippling and unfortunately many of us do it.

Susan
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:40am PT
The only problem with that 'strong character forged in adversity argument' is that 95% of all activity in the human brain occurs beneath the conscious level and these are important things we have no conscious control over like cognition, recognizing and distinguishing shapes, and language formation. A real bad episode of trauma alters the biochemistry of the brain in such a way that subsequent experiences that have a similar emotional valence will cause that same trauma to repeat (i.e. traumatic re-enactment). That's why a soldier who got PTSD when he was hit with a roadside bomb will go berserk many years later under the influence of powerful fight or flight situations like a big fight with the boss or his wife. Suddenly, he's right back in the same emotional space as the one created by the original trauma and he reacts with violence out of all proportion to the event that triggered it. A lot of this behavior has to do with the operation of the limbic area of the brain that mediates between emotions and memory. People's behavior, despite their arguments about free will, is to a huge degree programmed and conditioned just like the behavior of Pavlov's dogs. Not to say that you can't reprogram your fundamental behavior patterns, but that takes some real deep brain work to take emotions repressed in the unconscious and bring them into full consciousness. What you're doing is changing the biochemistry of your brain when you move your unconscious emotions (such as rage, sorrow and fear) from your primitive paleomammalian mind and make them conscious in the frontal lobes. That's part of the recovery process from PTSD. Some make it. Some do not and regress back into programmed addictive behavior like taking drugs, engaging in casual sex, drinking, and, in some cases, going berserk.

You'll notice too that a lot of autoimmune disorders like asthma, ALS, rashes, rheumatoid arthritis etc etc. manifest in patients immediately after some traumatic event in their life like the death of a spouse or parent, the loss of a job, loss of income, or even a slight traffic accident or minor fall. You'll also notice how many people follow their wives or husbands to the grave immediately after their better half dies. No one knows exactly how this happens, but every GP sees it happening in his family medical practice all the time. You just can't predict from looking at someone how they will react to stress, no matter how strong, self-willed and self-actualized they appear on the surface. A lot of stuff deep inside the human animal we still don't know a heck of a lot about yet.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:58am PT
Thank you Bruce.

I would like to promote the works of Dr. Gabor Mate and Dr. Stanley De Vlaming.

They have the courage of compassion and humility in offering their logic and love to what is a black hole of drug induced misery in Vancouver.

As said many times, no child started out hoping to be an addict on the downtown eastside of Vancouver. Mate and De Vlaming do good work and offer dignity to the afflicted.

Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 28, 2012 - 04:34pm PT
I don't think the problem is that people go around trying to blame their pain symptoms on early emotional traumas - thus, as you imply, Susan, blaming the patient - so much as that they blame them on structural, physical, genetic and biochemical reasons that tend to perpetuate their symptoms. For example, lower back pain and sciatica are often blamed on spinal anomalies and so-called spinal degeneration, so people spend billions of dollars each year on chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, spine surgeons, and pain-killing drugs trying to "fix" a physical pain problem that is actually emotional in origin. People are often stressed out in their unconscious minds without showing it in their surface demeanor because they're repressing emotions, like rage or sorrow, that are considered socially unacceptable to express in public. Lots and lots of nice, perfect, good people who are inwardly enraged like mad beasts in the jungle. Very rarely do they act out although that's what captures the headlines. Instead they develop physical symptoms like back aches, head aches, shoulder aches, knee aches, foot aches etc. that function like classical psychological defenses to distract them from the enemy within. The actual physical process that causes this to occur is complex and involves the limbic region of the brain, nerve pain pathways and the autonomic nervous system. The last couple of years though firm scientific proof for this process of repression and symptoms is starting to be uncovered by neuro-scientists like Candice Pert at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC. Where the work of people like Dr Gabor Mate, Dr John E. Sarno and Dr Howard Schubiner meets neuro-biochemistry is where the cutting edge is currently located. We're about to learn a lot more in the next few years about how psychology and biology interact and function interdependently. Very, very exciting times.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 28, 2012 - 04:58pm PT
Not to belabor the point, but Dr James Alexander, just sent me this excerpt from his book The Hidden Psychology of Pain (p144). Seems as though confronting, exploring and expressing your dark repressed emotions, rather than wall-papering them over (being 'nice'), is probably the best way to heal:

"In his illuminating book, When the Body Says No, Gabor Maté urges people to consider “the power of negative thinking.” Rather than advocating that pain sufferers wallow in their misery, Maté is arguing for the healing potential of delving into the negative aspects of our lives. Although it has become something of a cultural anathema, having the courage to explore
such negativity as hurt feelings, unhealthy relationships and damaging
experiences is one of the keys to improving health. Whether we want
to acknowledge the reality of the negative or not, it remains a reality in
everyone’s lives. As suggested in this book, if we choose to deny and suppress strong negative emotions, there is little chance of them actually going away. They tend to just go underground, deep into our unconscious, where they will manifest in one way or another. These repressed feelings may seep out in inappropriate responses which are out of proportion to a particular situation. Or they may manifest in extremely disturbing or violent dreams. They may also find expression in various health problems. And if the unconscious mind/brain is fearful of them bursting into our conscious awareness, they may trigger chronic pain.

The other option to denial and repression is to allow for the reality
of negative feelings, experiences, thoughts and perceptions. As stated in
Chapter 6, studies in neuroscience confirm that allowing space for negativity is associated with decreased neural traffic between the pre-frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, and with less chronic pain. Richard Davidson suggests that if we are wanting to create space for a more negative outlook, a deliberate focus on negative aspects of life and possibilities is likely to result in less activity in the pre-frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, and weaken the connections between them. Research conducted by Baliki and colleagues demonstrates that less neural traffic between these two brain areas is associated with less chronic pain.
Is the suggestion here that we should be deliberately cultivating
negativity in order to lessen the risk of chronic pain? No. The suggestion
is that we would be well served by consciously acknowledging the negative
aspects of our reality (not generating them), rather than attempting to force a cultivated positivity. Activities which deliberately cultivate positivity, such as writing down your positive traits, regularly expressing gratitude and complimenting others, are likely to improve your mood via strengthening the neural connections between your pre-frontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. And these neural changes are also more likely to make you vulnerable to chronic pain (as seen in the TMS-emotional pain see-saw diagram in Chapter 6).

Rather than leaping into defense mechanisms as default positions, we
are able to explore the negative aspects of our experience further. Creating space for the negative raises certain constructive possibilities. We may be able to address unsatisfactory relationships; we may be able to confront our fears and anxieties; we may be able to look at and heal trauma from our past; we may be able to work out how to manage bad situations; we may be able to seek and gain emotional support in facing our challenges. All of these actions are the opposite to suppressing emotional distress, and relying on defense mechanisms such as denial to help us avoid having to do the needed psychological work. The very act of acknowledging the negative can be healing in itself, even if we choose to do nothing about them. Maté suggests that this focus on the negative is powerful, and the many clients who I have seen recover from pain when they overcome their denial would support this contention. The very act of allowing the negative, of no longer attempting to force positivity in the face of bad circumstances or a traumatic past, is likely to create the brain changes which Baliki and colleagues have demonstrated are related to a decreased risk of chronic pain. Where this process of exploring the negative is simply too painful, a level of trauma may be evident. The less extreme end of the trauma spectrum may be successfully treated with self-help strategies as detailed later in this book. However, more severe traumas may very well require professional assistance."

(For more, see Dr. Alexander's web page: www.drjamesalexander-psychologist.com)

As far as climbing is concerned, I would think that confronting and consciously overcoming your repressed emotions during a hard, dangerous lead is an exercise that helps facilitate exactly what Dr Alexander is talking about in a healthy, controlled, constructive way. Here's a new title for the future: Climbing as Psychotherapy. On your mark, get set, write, write, write.
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