Tag Archives: Hypnotism with tags Hypnosis

The 12 Laws Of Life

These are non-negotiable and there are no escape clauses. No excuses are accepted.

Ignore them at your own risk.

I got this information over decades of living, but many people never learn these rules at all. And so they live in”quiet desperation.” You don’t have to settle for that. If you consider these Facts and test them against your experience (NOT your conditioning!), I predict you’ll adopt them, and you’ll be on your way to a life of freedom and accomplishment.

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1. SELF-MANAGEMENT AND PEOPLE SKILLS ARE THE KEYS TO YOUR SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS.

This is a MAJOR fact of life. And it took me a long time to get this. If you want to be smarter than me you’ll give this first principle serious consideration.

Your skill level in these two areas will determine the quality of your whole life. Every champion and high achiever knows this. These simple skills are the clear difference between winners in life, and losers.

If you learn to manage yourself you can accomplish anything you can dream up. You can deal with negative experiences wisely and you can add skills as you need them. You can become unstoppable. Self management puts you on the launching pad to all the success you desire.

Most people limit themselves by their unwillingness to consider personal change. They won’t learn new things and they won’t change their behaviors even when they discover they’ve been wrong.

The funny thing is, self-change is EASY. You are the one person that you can get to anytime you want. You don’t need permission or an appointment, and no one can stop you from learning and changing whenever you decide to. The only obstacle is you!

Self-management is actually the first step to building people skills.

Once you commit to changing yourself into who you can be, you will notice the people around you in a different way. Now you see them as fellow beings with their own fears and drives. And they will see you with new respect and attractiveness.

You are surrounded by people who can help or harm you, based on how you treat them. Learning how people work is a skill, just like learning how you work. These people can multiply your efforts and supercharge your succes

It takes leadership and persuasion skills – people skills.

People skills are like a booster rocket propelling you to your dreams. And the process of succeeding with others can be learned just like you learn to make toast. If you follow directions and practice, you can develop the skills that will make you very happy and prosperous.

2. YOU ARE AT THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE. STAY THERE!

As a young sailor I learned the hard way that when I was in a foreign port I needed to take my corners wide and keep my hands out of my pockets. In other words, I had to stay balanced, alert and ready to react to surprises. I’ve found that a lot of life’s situations are like “foreign ports.” They range from the bedroom to the boardroom, and you will encounter them throughout your life.

Keep your balance. Stay centered. Expect surprises.

Being centered has two sides; inner and outer.

Begin within.

Inner centeredness comes first; look there for your best self. It is how you will find peace of mind. There is a place in you that’s connected to something beyond you.

Spending time there will keep your mind clear and your spirit refreshed. That “doorway” is your center.

Until you’re connected to your core you won’t be very good at handling the rest of the world. Few people really get this. It is the single most important and least understood fact of life

Your center is easy to find. Every spiritual tradition in history teaches prayer and meditation — it’s the most important thing you can do for the quality of your life. Just take a little break a couple of times a day, and learn to be still and RELAX.

If you give yourself this little time each day you will become calmer, stronger and your physical and mental health will improve. You will begin to focus more on what you think of yourself than what others may think of you.

For outer centeredness, you need to gain awareness of your personal boundaries. This is critical. Pay close attention to where you stop and others start.

Protect your personal prerogatives and respect those of others. Allowing others to invade your boundaries will destroy your personal freedom and subject you to their tyranny.

If you cross the boundaries of others you become codependent with them, caring more about how they live their lives than how you live yours. You can care about others without having to run their lives. Let them go and feel the relief, once you get used to living only your own life.

3. WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MOST IS WHAT YOU GET.

There is a Law of Attraction in human nature. What is in your mind is reflected “out there,” in what you experience as your reality.

Afraid? Then all the goblins that you fear will be attracted to you. The only useful purpose of fear is to remind you to plan. Plan so that you protect yourself from harm, but don’t become timid. If you play it TOO safe you’ll freeze in place and trade your life away for nothing.

Angry? Then you’ll get a lot of angry people to tussle with. Your life will fill up with honking horns and people pushing you around, and you’ll spend all your time pushing back.

It’s a good idea to choose your habitual thought patterns carefully.

Love, optimism and gratitude are good choices. These states of mind inspire you to explore, to create, to grow and to give. People and opportunities will become attracted to you. And the goblins and angry people will get smaller and less important, and finally they’ll fade and go away.

The point of choice comes up when you have to deal with a challenging situation. Do you call it a “bad break” – some S.O.B. was out to get you? Or was it just something that happened, leaving it up to you to interpret in the most nourishing way?

You might as well be positive. Bottom line — it works better. It makes you easier to be around and more creative and good-natured. And your immune system will be strengthened.

Events are just events until our thoughts and reactions turn them into experience. What the experience means, how useful it might be, those are the choices that we make — they’re the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

We’re taught that it’s not ‘reasonable’ to expect to win all the time. Nonsense! That kind of thinking numbs ambition and smothers greatness. Even worse it leads to reasonable excuses. Excuses don’t accomplish anything so do NOT be reasonable.

Actually, achieving the impossible is quite normal — you’ve done it thousands of times.

EVERYTHING you do now was impossible for you before you did it the first time, from feeding yourself to balancing your checkbook.

Try this for a week. Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want. Practice the skills of optimism, gratitude, generosity and forgiveness and your life will expand.

Yes, that’s right. PRACTICE.

Good attitudes are skills that you develop through repetition, just like swimming or math. And skills become second nature through practice. You will become stronger and more relaxed when you decide that you might as well thrive.

Your commitment to expectancy is another skill, and it’s decisive and magnetic. It attracts luck and creates focus. People and opportunities will be drawn to you. Life starts to get easier. And more fun.

Go ahead and test it. What have you got to lose? The only way you can fail at anything is to quit trying!

4. YOU MAKE YOUR HABITS AND THEN YOUR HABITS MAKE YOU.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

It means that our lives are created by what we do, not by what we intend. It means that we can harvest only what we plant. And every day you’re planting something, so choose wisely.

The biggest and most important influences in your life are created by small daily acts. For example — Meditate, Study, Set Goals, Save Money, Exercise, Floss, Smile, and Say Thank You.

When you do the right thing at the right time it makes more difference than if you make a big dramatic effort too late. Cramming may work in school, but not in real life. The school term is over in a few months; life lasts longer. Days turn into years and those years become your life.

The most important qualities in life — Spirituality, Health, Relationships, Wealth, and Your Personal Character — are developed by regular acts done on a daily basis. They’re called “practices.”

Daily practices — done on schedule. What? Just “can’t do anything on a schedule?”

Baloney. You can do anything you want on a schedule, unless you’ve never gotten to a plane on time. It’s a matter of priorities. And your priorities create your quality of life.

Choose the practices of your life as if you were a farmer. You can’t skip spring planting if you want a fall harvest. Master this principle and you will live your life to its fullest.

Changing your life doesn’t take a lot of work — just repeat a single positive act daily for three weeks and it will become a habit. Good. Now add another one. Then another one. The force of good habits will automatically generate power and “good luck,” and your life will blossom.

5. GUILT ENSLAVES YOU. RESPONSIBILITY LIBERATES YOU.

Here’s a secret about “Original sin”. It’s guilt, and you get it from your parents.

Are you self-conscious? Most people are. They’re worried that they’re “unzipped.” They’re walking around thinking that people will notice their missing button, their bad hairdo, their poor credit and personal shortcomings.

These feelings are universal — we all got them while we were being taught how to behave as infants (“No!” “Bad!” “Don’t!”).

When we become adults we are supposed to leave these feelings of inadequacy in childhood where they were needed.

The way to do this is to forgive your parents for their shortcomings, whether they were minor or major. And then forgive yourself for all your sins, real and imagined.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you think what happened was okay. It just means that you free yourself from the work of remembering it and getting mad at people that are not even around anymore. Including the younger “you.”

You MUST do this if you want to be free.

6. “OBLIGATIONS” ARE A FRAUD.

Okay, take a deep breath here. This one gets a lot of people, because most of us have been brainwashed all of our lives to believe a huge lie. We’ve all been taught that we “owe” other people all sorts of obligations, and that we should expect lots of things from them in return.

That idea, in one word, is bullshit.

We waste an incredible amount of time either doing things we don’t want and don’t have to do, or feeling guilty because we didn’t do something we “should” have done. We also waste a lot of time and emotion being disappointed when we don’t get what we expect from others.

Freedom lies in the other direction.

The truth is, you don’t owe anyone anything and they don’t owe anything to you. This is all part of the “guilt” thing. It’s good for us to give to others, but ONLY when and how we choose.

The difference between free people who master their lives and those who are slaves is easy to spot.

Who sets their priorities?

Free people set their own priorities, while “slaves” allow them to be set by outsiders. Your life belongs to you and you alone — and not anyone else.

Want a formula for unhappiness? Make your welfare dependent upon someone else’s choices. Do you need “support” from those you love? Or approval from a parent or friend? Or permission from anybody to pursue your own path?

That’s not living — that’s slavery!

Don’t look to anyone else for your success or happiness. That’s your job and yours alone. You must tend to your own welfare. No one else will, nor should they.

7. EXPECT LESS FROM OTHERS AND MORE FROM YOURSELF.

Most people expect way too much from others while they themselves actually get very little done. Inertia and distraction are insidious and damn near universal — expect it in others but guard against it in your own behavior.

Everyone listens to his or her favorite mental radio station — W.I.I.F.M., which stands for, “What’s In It For Me?” So don’t take it personally when you’re overlooked, your call goes un-returned, and you go un-thanked.

Most of your fellow humans are so distracted and disorganized that they only get around to the most essential, familiar or urgent things in their lives. They’re on “autopilot” most of the time — aren’t we all on occasion?

This self-interest is natural and healthy. Use this knowledge of other’s desires in your plans and proposals.

Here’s the big principle. If you want something to happen, take control and do it yourself. Don’t get bitter if perhaps someone else didn’t keep a commitment to help you.

It is a waste of time to criticize others, and a bigger waste to pay attention to anyone’s criticism of you. Just know that you can get better at doing things on your own. It’s a LOT easier than trying to get someone else to change.

8. NOBODY WAKES UP IN THE MORNING CHOOSING TO BE THE VILLAIN.

Everyone alive thinks that they’re the “good guy.” He or she is the hero in their version of the story. They have a reason for what they do — even if it’s impractical or unworkable or has evil consequences

People who are troublesome aren’t worth changing. Don’t even waste time complaining about them

If someone hurts you, it’s not about you and you shouldn’t act like it was. People do what they do because of their own inner reality. Learn what you can do differently the next time, then forgive them and move on.

Really. Forgive them completely. And then, figure out how to manage, tolerate or avoid them in the future.

By the way, forgiving doesn’t mean that you think whatever they did is okay. It’s NOT okay. But here’s the thing — if you don’t forgive someone you can’t ever let it go. Then you have to go around with this burden of anger and sourness.

Wasn’t the original hurt enough for you? Why would you want to preserve it and remember it? Or them

Carrying grudges ties up brain cells that you could use to make life sweeter for yourself and those you love. So, after you forgive them, forgive yourself for getting hurt — and then LET IT GO!

9. THERE IS NO “HAPPILY EVER AFTER” IN THE REAL WORLD.

Friends and mates may change or leave, luck comes and goes, and there are no guarantees. The only certainty is that someday your life will be over, and only you can decide how it will be lived. If you want a happy ending you need to create it. Think about it. When would “Happily Ever After” start?

After you win the lottery? — Most lottery winners are broke within three years. When the wedding bells ring? — Over half of all marriages fail. When you retire? — 95% of those over 65 live from check to check.

Stories have to have happy endings, because the story ends before their characters do.

Real life is different. You’re going to live until you die, so you need to have a plan for every day of it.

Choose your goals, write them down, and track them daily. Your life will happen by accident unless you have a plan for it. Either way things will happen to you. On every day of your life, after every climax, every tragedy and every triumph, the sun will rise again.

You get a new day every morning of your life. And as long as you’re alive you’ll have to prepare for that next day and the one after that.

So respect reality.

Think as if you have a future, because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.

10. THERE IS A HELL, AND IT STARTS EARLY.

People create their own personal hell with moral shortcuts, regrets about lost opportunities, resentment, and guilt. Then they add jealousy and envy, and they’ve paid the toll to enter Hell’s suburbs.

What toll do they pay? They give up their peace of mind, and sometimes their self-respect.

They trade it for short-term pleasure.

Those who avoid doing anything that requires effort — physical exercise or forgiving or doing something for someone else — grow more narrow and less flexible day by day. Stunted ambition strangles their dreams and their enthusiasm dies.

By the time they enter “downtown Hell” they’ve got a bad attitude about most things in life. They complain and criticize because “life has let them down.” The truth is life didn’t let them down — they quit trying.

Pretty soon their immune system gets the message and then their physical afflictions begin — their relationships are desolate and life becomes an ordeal. They start looking and acting older than they really are.

When these people look ahead, the future looks just like the past. Stretching on and on, day after unhappy day.

And that is truly Hell.

11. YOU CAN CREATE PARADISE ON EARTH. MANY PEOPLE DO.

You can make your life sweeter bit by bit. It doesn’t take much, just some daily practice. Spend some time in solitude each day renewing your peace of mind.

Invest in good memories by managing your behavior so that you enjoy looking back on your life.

You create your Heaven by small acts of generosity to others, making them smile and feel better.

You create it by little acts of courage — doing the right thing when no one but you will ever know you did it.

By making promises to yourself and keeping them, which builds your self-respect. You create it by telling the truth even if it’s inconvenient or embarrassing. It makes you careful about what you do, or what you commit to doing. And that brings credibility and trust. And most important, you will know you’re liked for who you are instead of for some lie you’re living.

You’re in Heaven’s neighborhood when you notice the amazing number of things in life there are to be grateful for, especially as your gratitude becomes a constant part of your being.

Humans are the most flexible beings on this planet, and you build Heaven by stretching sometimes to try something new or a little scary.

Your reward is learning that you are more than you thought.

And you can always stretch more.

As you become older your personal Heaven becomes a bigger influence on those around you. Your life will expand faster than your physical abilities contract.

You will laugh a lot more than most people, and enjoy more contentment and peace than you ever thought possible. And it just keeps getting better and better.

If you choose to follow this path, you’ll be in Paradise long before you leave this life.

12. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE.

Everyone alive gets the same amount of time. 1440 minutes a day. 168 hours in each week. As long as you live. The only difference is in how you spend those hours.

You decide how to spend your time and you make that choice each minute.

You can begin to turn your life around in a second.

The only thing you need to do is decide to make it better. You can start to change immediately, beginning with a simple act and letting the acts pile up on each other, creating the change almost effortlessly.

You know the scriptural quote, “By their deeds you shall know them?”

It was talking about us. It doesn’t really matter much what we think or what we intend, until the thought is expressed as action.

The quality of our lives comes from what we actually do.

Experience comes in moments — and the moments will keep coming for you until they finally stop. Each moment is a gift, and the chance to make your life different comes to you during each one of them.

Each of these “Facts” boils down to a single principle. Decide.

You can decide how your life will go during any moment you choose. This may be that moment.

It’s okay to dream big. Where do you want to go from here? How do you want your next moments to be? It’s up to you.

IN CLOSING

I’d like to leave you with a personal note.

Odds are I’m older than you and I’ll confess something. I wasn’t born knowing these Facts of Life. I got them one by one, over decades that would have gone better if I had known all of these rules earlier. But the bottom line is I eventually got them, and with each new breakthrough every area of my life (health, wealth, relationships and happiness) has gotten better and better.

The very few regrets I have are mostly not about the “sins” I may have committed. No, they are about the things I didn’t do when the opportunity arose.

I invite you to avoid creating regrets in your future by embracing opportunities for growth as they appear.

This article may be one of those opportunities. And who knows?

You could decide to use these rules as guidelines, and spend your life turning your dreams into reality.

If you try it, I think you’ll like it.

Seeya,

Tom Hoobyar
StreetSmartCEO.com
http://perry.pdfs.s3.amazonaws.com/12facts.pdf
(Tom Hoobyar made his transition in the autumn of 2011.)
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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Hypnosis As Health Care Quietly Gains Ground

The last decade has produced a number of studies suggesting benefits. In 1987, Marilyn Bellezzo was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that was, for her, debilitating. “I was housebound,” Bellezzo said. She spent hours curled up on the bathroom floor, suffering from abdominal pain and diarrhea. “I had to raise my children through the bathroom door,” said the now 59-year-old resident of Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Over the next 12 years, Bellezzo tried medications and diets, to no avail. Then as a last resort, she started listening to audio tapes designed to treat IBS through hypnosis.

They made a difference. Now, she says her symptoms are virtually gone.

“I went from that level of severity to just having an occasional episodes lasting a few minutes,” Bellezzo said.

Over the last decade, more and more research shows there are benefits of hypnosis for medical problems. In addition to IBS, a number of rigorous studies have found the practice is effective at mollifying chronic pain and reducing stress and anxiety before surgery. Studies have also shown hypnosis reduces health care costs — patients who use it stay in the hospital for shorter periods and use less medication.

So why don’t more people and hospitals use hypnosis? Part of the reason may be its stigma — patients and doctors may think of it more as “hocus pocus” than science. Another reason may be problems with the quality of hypnosis studies, leading doctors to be wary that it wastes time and money.

All of these are misperceptions, its advocates say.

“Hypnosis is sort of the good kid with the bad reputation,” said Julie Schnur a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “It’s a fantastic procedure and can be very effective and very helpful to patients, but does come with this baggage,” Schnur said.

Hypnosis Myths

The concept of hypnosis might call to mind an entertainer lulling an audience member with a shiny pendulum, and then getting them bark like a dog.

But in medicine, hypnosis means putting a patient in an enhanced state of relaxation during which the patient is more open to suggestions, said Harold Pass, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York. The patient is not asleep, nor unconscious, and does not lose control over his or her actions, Pass said.

“People do not turn into a zombie, they will not quack like a duck, there are no swinging pocket watches,” Schnur said. “It’s using your mind and your thoughts to help yourself feel better.”

During a session, the patient is first brought into a trancelike state of highly focused attention. Some say people move into and out of this state every day, said Mark Jensen, vice chair for research in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center, and liken it to being completely absorbed, as in watching a sunset.

“It doesn’t feel foreign or strange at all,” said Bellezzo, who now works for the hypnotherapist who treated her. “It basically feels like that period of time right before you fall asleep.” You’re still aware of everything, but your attention is very focused, she said.

In this state, brain changes occur that make people better able to alter their perceptions, Jensen said. For example, a hypnotherapist may ask a patient to change the location, intensity or quality of their perception of pain, Jensen said, for example, imagining a burning sensation instead feels like water.

Hypnosis has its risks. Although rare, reactions such as headaches, nausea and anxiety happen to some people, according to the Mayo Clinic. And the use of hypnosis in patients with certain mental illnesses, or to help any patient relive earlier life events remains controversial because these uses might create false memories.

How well does it work?

Hypnosis is not magic — it alleviates symptoms, but doesn’t cure disease. And for chronic pain suffers, it rarely eliminates their pain, Jensen said.

And although not everyone can be hypnotized, studies show 70 to 80 percent of chronic pain patients experience pain relief that lasts for hours, Jensen said.

Michael Clark, director of the Pain Treatment Program at John Hopkins University, said there isn’t overwhelming evidence that hypnosis is effective for chronic pain, but there is evidence nonetheless. Clark has recommended the therapy to patients who are open to it.

“A lot of the alternative therapies like hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, Tai Chi — those types of therapies or approaches, they really don’t have any serious risk associated with them,” Clark said. “They may not have a huge evidence base, but the risk-benefit equation is favorable.”

According to a 2008 review article in the journal Nature, “there is an emerging body of evidence that hypnotherapy is clinically effective for the treatment of IBS.” Several well-designed studies have shown long-term benefits for patients, including reductions of abdominal pain, anxiety and depression, the researchers said.

In 2007, Schnur and colleagues conducted a study of 200 breast cancer patients who needed surgery. About half underwent a 15-minute hypnosis session before their surgery; the other half talked with a psychologist about their thoughts and feelings pre-surgery.

Patients who underwent hypnosis required less sedative during the surgery, and because they were more relaxed their surgeries lasted10 fewer minutes on average. They experienced less pain, nausea, fatigue and emotional upset following the surgery, Schnur said. The researchers calculated the hospital could save about $770 per cancer patient by employing hypnosis before surgery

Why isn’t it used more?

Patients and doctors may have misperceptions about hypnosis. They may think it’s flaky and not realize it is supported by scientific evidence, Schnur said. Doctors may be unfamiliar with hypnosis because it’s not taught in medical school and they may not read about it in journals, said Janet Konefal, assistant dean for complementary and integrative medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Doctors and hospital administrators may have misunderstandings about how much hypnosis will cost, who can administer it and how long it will take, Schnur said. But sessions can take as little as 15 minutes, and anyone licensed to perform medical services could be trained to provide hypnosis, she said.

Still, hypnosis for some conditions, such as IBS, may take longer, and the limited number of trained clinicians may restrict the number of patients who can try it, according to the 2008 Nature paper.

And studies have shown mixed results. For example, a 2009 Cochrane review found that while hypnosis seemed to be helpful in treating IBS, research on its effectiveness suffered from poor design and small sample sizes, so results should be interpreted with caution.

The Mount Sinai group is considering alternative ways to deliver hypnosis, such as over the Internet (perhaps through a video chat) or though a cell phone application.

Bellezzo said she also uses hypnosis to treat her chronic pain.

“Whenever I get that [pain], I play one of the sessions,” Bellezzo said. “Within 15 minutes, I’m pain-free. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Pass it on: Mounting evidence seems to show that hypnosis helps patients, but the practice still faces a stigma and suffers from lack of high-quality research showing its benefits.

By Rachael Rettner @ My Health News Daily

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44206689/ns/health-health_care/t/hypnosis-health-care-quietly-gains-ground/#.TlKWbRa4GKo.mailto

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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Compassion To Others – A Video Lesson.

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

COLOR HAS A POWERFUL EFFECT ON BEHAVIOR, RESEARCHERS ASSERT

By LINDSEY GRUSON
Published: October 19, 1982

WHEN children under detention at the San Bernardino County Probation Department in California become violent, they are put in an 8-foot by 4-foot cell with one distinctive feature – it is bubble gum pink. The children tend to relax, stop yelling and banging and often fall asleep within 10 minutes, said Paul E. Boccumini, director of clinical services for the department.

This approach to calming manic and psychotic juveniles contrasts sharply with the use of brute force favored as little as three years ago. ”We used to have to literally sit on them,” said Mr. Boccumini, a clinical psychologist. ”Now we put them in the pink room. It works.”

Not all psychologists are quite so sure; many, to put it mildly, remain skeptical. Nonetheless, officials at an estimated 1,500 hospitals and correctional institutions across America have become sufficiently convinced of the pacifying effect of bubble gum pink to color at least one room that shade.

Passive pink, as it is also called, is perhaps the most dramatic example, and certainly the most controversial, of many attempts to use light and color to affect health and behavior. Already, there are enough color schemes to spark nightmares about mind control: red to increase appetite and table turnover in restaurants, ultraviolet to reduce cavities and spur children’s I.Q.’s, and blue to swell the ratio of female chinchilla babies to males.

In industrial societies whose members spend more and more time in enclosed areas under artificial lights, any effect of color and light becomes important. And now that man is primed to build artificial habitats under the seas or in outer space, totally isolated from sunlight or totally exposed to it, the urgency of understanding the effect of artificial light can only become critical. As a result the ancient and once discredited field of chromotherapy has been rejuvenated. Many scientists have become convinced that light has a far greater impact on health and behavior than previously thought. (Chromotherapy is now called photobiology or color therapy to distinguish it from the once-popular work of Victorian quacks.)

”It seems clear that light is the most important environmental input, after food, in controlling bodily function,” reported Richard J. Wurtman, a nutritionist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Several experiments have shown that different colors affect blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates as well as brain activity and biorhythms. As a result, colors are now used in the treatment of a variety of diseases.

Within the past decade, for instance, baths of blue light have replaced blood transfusions as the standard treatment for about 30,000 premature babies born each year with potentially fatal neonatal jaundice. Further, because the blue light irritates nurses working in these wards, many hospitals have added gold lamps to soothe their staffs.

Meanwhile, in England, London’s Blackfriars bridge was repainted blue in an attempt to reduce the number of people who commit suicide by jumping from it. The Soviet Union, one of the leaders in photobiology, showers coal miners with ultraviolet, which they believe prevents black lung disease, and supplements the fluorescent lights of schoolrooms with ultraviolet lamps.

The result, said Faber Birren, a color consultant for industry, is that ”children grow faster than usual, work ability and grades are improved and catarrhal infections are fewer.” Mr. Birren has published hundreds of articles and books on color and is widely considered the most authoritative source on the subject.

In the United States, ultraviolet has become a standard treatment for psoriasis. And white fluorescent light, in conjunction with photosensitizing drugs, is widely used to help heal herpes sores. More controversially, several municipalities are experimenting with passive pink to stop graffiti, while football coaches try the color in visitors’ dressing rooms, hoping to debilitate their opponents.

Though doctors and researchers may differ over how much is too much, they agree that some portions of the electromagnetic spectrum -such as X-rays, microwaves and ultraviolet rays – have significant effects on health. But by and large they reject such suggestions for visible light.

For example, Richard Wener, an environmental psychologist at the Polytechnic Institute of New York, said the claims made for passive pink were inflated. ”People love to see a magic bullet,” he said. ”It strikes me as very unlikely that we’ll find such a simple solution to very complex problems. In the real world, we usually find that the magical is fantastical.”

Some skepticism may be owing to the scars left by 19th-century color healers, who claimed to cure everything from constipation to meningitis with glass filters. Nor has photobiology’s roots in mysticism, which empowered color with symbolism and magic, added to its credibility.

In addition, most color studies have been psychological, focusing on how light and color may affect behavior. Assertions about physiological effects have not, at least until recently, been based on strict and scientifically designed research. Mr. Birren also asserts that the training of 20th-century doctors makes them favor ”pills and surgery” and ”shots and prescriptions” over such cures as color therapy.

Many color therapists complain that their work is dismissed out of hand. John Ott, a retired banker and a leading photobiologist who directs the Environmental Health and Light Research Institute in Sarasota, Fla., said he has been called ”a crackpot” for suggesting experiments on the relationship between color and behavior.

Color therapists themselves disagree about why and how color acts as they believe it does. Mr. Birren, who has concentrated on the psychological effects of color, said he does not believe those effects are directly physiological. As designers and interior decorators have discovered, color sets a mood; this in turn, Mr. Birren said, affects health because as many as half of modern man’s diseases may have a psychosomatic component.

But Alexander Schauss, director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research, said color had a direct physiological impact. The electromagnetic energy of color, he said, interacts in some still unknown way with the pituitary and pineal glands and the hypothalamus, deep in the brain, These organs regulate the endocrine system, which controls many basic body functions and emotional responses, such as aggression.

”Color very definitely has a physiological effect,” said Harold Wohlfarth, who is president of the German Academy of Color Science and a photobiologist at the University of Alberta. In an experiment at the Elves Memorial Child Development Centre, a private school for handicapped children in Edmonton, Alberta, he found that light had the ”identical” impact on the blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates of two blind children as on seven students with normal sight.

In the study, reported in the International Journal of Biosocial Research (Volume 3, No. 1), the walls of the schoolroom were changed from orange and white to royal and light blue. A gray carpet was installed in place of an orange rug. Finally, the fluorescent lights and diffuser panels were replaced with full-spectrum lighting.

As a result, Professor Wohlfarth reported, the children’s mean systolic blood pressure dropped from 120 to 100, or nearly 17 percent, The children were also better behaved and more attentive and less fidgety and aggressive, according to the teachers and independent observers. When the room was returned to its original design, however, the readings gradually increased and the children once again became rowdy, he said.

Professor Wohlfarth said the minute amounts of electromagnetic energy that compose light affect one or more of the brain’s neurotransmitters, chemicals that carry messages from nerve to nerve and from nerve to muscle. Several experiments on rats and other small mammals already have provided evidence, he said, that light striking the retina influences the pineal gland’s synthesis of melatonin, a hormone that has been found to help determine the body’s output of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. The precise role of the hormone, however, remains to be established.

As part of a $500,000 study of the effect of light on pupils in four schools in Edmonton, Professor Wohlfarth is trying to identify which of the brain’s thousands of neurotransmitters, besides serotonin, is affected by electromagnetic energy.

”Perhaps these are new beginnings,” concluded Mr. Birren. ”The magical properties of light and color, granted by men since the earliest of times, accepted, renounced and accepted again through the ages, have forever held fascination. It would be delightful, of course, if a thing of such psychological beauty – color – also held a mundane role in human physiological well-being.”

New York Times, Published: October 19, 1982

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Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
-Walt Disney

Words To Live By

Health:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to practice self-hypnosis.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did last year.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality:
11. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree…

Society:
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Life:
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. Belief heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, smile and say thank you.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:
40. Remember you are Unconditionally Loved!

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

THE HEALING POWER OF HYPNOSIS

There was nothing remarkable about Victor Rausch’s gallbladder operation. Nothing at all except that he underwent the surgery without so much as swallowing an aspirin.

Rausch, then a young dentist from Waterloo, Ontario, wanted to see if he could skip the anesthetic and rely on hypnosis to keep him relaxed and free of pain while his gallbladder was removed.

AS THE SURGEON sliced into his abdomen, Rausch entered into a hypnotic trance, focusing on Chopin’s lush Nocturne in E-flat as it was played in the film The Eddy Duchin Story. He visualized scenes in the movie, enlisting sight and sound to swaddle his mind in a virtual reality infinitely more appealing than the one he was living at the moment.

Throughout the 75 minute operation, Rausch maintained steady blood pressure and pulse rate; he even talked and joked with the surgical team. And implausible as it may seem, he swears he felt no pain–only a little tugging. After the surgery was over he stood up, walked down the hall and rode the elevator to his hospital room.

SOUND LIKE a medical parlor trick? Yes, surgery without anesthesia is a bit of a mind-bender. But the truth is, even in its less startling applications, hypnosis still evokes the image of its sideshow past. Just murmur, You are getting sleepy, very sleepy, and some people envision one of those 1950’s mad-doc movies in which creepy old men hypnotize lovely young women to do all sorts of things.

NEVERTHELESS, as researchers learn more about the mind-body connection, hypnosis is ever so quietly becoming part of mainstream medicine. Doctors and therapists often use hypnosis to help people quit smoking, lose weight, manage stress, diminish pain and overcome phobias– some of the more typical uses of the method. Health maintenance organizations and major insurers are generally willing to pay. In addition, patients are also being taught self-hypnosis to ward off asthma attacks and epileptic seizures; hemophiliacs are using it to stop their own bleeding; and last summer, after reviewing the medical literature, the National Institutes of Health concluded that the technique is effective for easing several kinds of discomfort, including headaches and pain associated with cancer.

It’s easy to imagine the advantages. Once you become proficient at hypnotizing yourself, you can do it anywhere and anytime. There are no side effects. And it doesn’t cost a dime. Such control is a powerful tonic for many patients, even when hypnosis is used as an adjunct to conventional remedies.

So how does this healing method work? How do you know if it will work for you?

Except for lack of props, current techniques aren’t all that different from those of early practitioners. Whether through counting backwards from 100 or asking the patient to concentrate on a peaceful setting, the goal is to relax the body while creating a state of mental awareness that makes it easy to assimilate therapeutic suggestions. An addicted smoker might be told to imagine h/herself as a nonsmoker, going through daily activities without a cigarette; a frustrated dieter might be encouraged to imagine h/herself thin and trim in a new swimsuit, eating only foods that are healthy.

ACCORDING TO electronic tracings of brain waves of people undergoing hypnosis, there is a surge of theta waves, which are associated with enhanced attention. That may explain why suggestions introduced during this state are particularly effective: The mind has tuned out everything else and is focusing exclusively on the new idea.

OF COURSE, HELPING people kick bad habits is one thing; if they are not trained in self hypnosis, getting them to take a surgical incision without anesthesia is quite another. However, Helen Crawford, a psychology professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, says the sensation of pain is like any other mental process that can be controlled to some degree. Indeed her tests of people experiencing hypnosis–she’s been mapping brain waves and measuring cerebral blood flow–have shown increased activity in the brain’s frontal region, which is known to inhibit sensory information. Pain still registers in other areas of the brain, but the hyped-up frontal cortex blocks its ascent into consciousness.

Brain maps or no, it’s precisely this squishy, is-it-or-isn’t-it proposition that keeps some people from taking hypnosis seriously. Think hard and you, too, can learn to ignore excruciating pain. Or more troubling: If it continues to hurt, perhaps you’re not tough-minded enough. These suggestive statements are giving the wrong message to the brain and therefore produce more PAIN. When the methods are properly used they work. Proponents insist, it doesn’t really matter whether the pain no longer occurs or the mind just shields you from it. Either way, you don’t feel it!

Some people do feel it, however, because they are not as receptive as other individuals. Artists and writers often make good subjects because they are comfortable with fantasy and learning new things, says Herbert Spiegel, a psychiatrist and one of the foremost experts on the medical uses of hypnosis. Yet many practitioners believe motivation is as important as innate capacity. Anyone can be conditioned to use hypnosis effectively, if they have normal intelligence.

PERHAPS THAT’S why people in acute medical crises are particularly responsive to hypnotic suggestion. This is where the miracles happen, says Marcia Greenleaf, assistant clinical professor of psychology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Over the years, Greenleaf has seen many patients in the cardiac intensive care unit with heart rates as high as 190 beats per minute. With hypnosis, they are often able to stabilize their condition within minutes, without using medications.

Burn recovery can be another of those wondrous turnabouts, says Dabney Ewin, a clinical professor of surgery and psychiatry at Tulane Medical School. His most startling case involved a 28-year-old factory worker whose leg had slipped into a vat of molten aluminum heated to approximately 1,750 degrees F.

EWIN, THEN THE PLANT physician, hypnotized him almost immediately. He told him that his leg felt “cool and comfortable,” and the man said that indeed that was how it felt. What’s more, after additional treatment in the emergency room, the burned skin healed much faster and better than physicians had anticipated, without infection and without forming any scar tissue.

The desire for long term results also can serve as motivation, and experts say that with training and practice almost anyone can use hypnosis for simple healing purposes. In a study sponsored by the government’s Office of Alternative Medicine, Crawford taught 17 people to use the technique to ease backache. In the laboratory, subjects reduced pain sensation by more than 80 percent. At home they felt significantly less depressed and were able to sleep better at night.

For Robert Jackson, a retired jet engine mechanic in Ft. Worth, Texas, hypnosis ended two years of torturous pain. As a consequence of radiation treatments he had undergone in 1993, Jackson’s esophagus was so badly scarred that eating had become almost unbearable. He ended up on a feeding tube, which left him feeling hungry all the time.

HE WAS CURIOUS ABOUT HYPNOTHERAPY, but the first physician he approached scoffed at the idea. Eventually Jackson wound up at the Center for Pain Management in Fort Worth. There, he says a doctor showed him the ropes. I learned to put my mind someplace else, he says, so the pain, though still real, wouldn’t dominate his experience. It took a while, but he is now so adept at hypnotizing himself that he goes into a trance almost instantly.

I have three children, and I’m relatively a young man at 50, he says. But two years ago all I could do is sit around and cry. I still have pain, and I still take drugs every once and a while, but my suffering is greatly reduced. Best of all, I can actually eat real food now. Sometimes, I even feel full.

Editor’s Note:

By Jean Callahan – Edited by Anna H Spencer, PhD

Edited and reprinted from YOUR HEALTH August 19, 1997, pages 27-30.
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

What makes tobacco so addictive?

New York Daily News
Tuesday, March 30th 2010, 10:21 AM

BILL: After President Obama’s recent health checkup, he was reported to be in very good shape. But the small print at the end of many articles said he still had not been able to quit smoking. This is the second time he’s gotten that kind of annual report.
You know, Dave, I’ve heard more than one 12-Stepper say it was harder to quit tobacco than drinking. But addiction prone as I am, I never smoked, so the subject is a mystery. What makes tobacco so addictive?

Dr. DAVE: In a word, the brain chemical Acetylcholine. Nicotine dramatically increases the levels of that neurotransmitter’s action throughout the mind and body. It’s the only drug or addictive behavior that triggers this powerful brain chemical.

BILL: I am always surprised by the sheer craving my fellow writers and recovering drunks have for their smokes. Both notoriously mainline their nicotine to meet an editor’s deadline, or while waiting for the start of an A A meeting.

DR. DAVE: Those two or three Pall Mall non-filters pushed into the lungs in the morning send Acetylcholine action out into the entire muscle system, revving up the human engine …

BILL: … just in time for a few shots of espresso to throw the smoker into gear for the day. But 12 hours later, he’s sucking on the last of his second pack to calm down enough to go back to bed!

DR. DAVE: Nicotine adds a unique excitement to the central nervous system. It heightens attention and other brain problem-solving functions.

BILL: Thus giving you a feeling you’re hitting on all cylinders, and better able to resolve whatever problem you face?

DR. DAVE: Problem solved, time for bed. From early morning until late at night, the smoker feels nicotine is a drug for every occasion.

BILL: So, even with professional treatment and the new online support networks like Quitnet, so many people — and our President too — haven’t been able to reach recovery.

DR. DAVE: I’d like our readers to know that, thanks to the Tobacco Settlement monies, some of the best medical programs are given away free. Even the American Lung Association’s gold standard of cessation programs, Freedom from Smoking, is now given away through the internet link and by regular mail.

BILL: What I’ve been wondering is, can hypnotherapy help? “The sub-conscious mind,” Los Angeles Clinical Hypnotherapist, Dr. John McGrail told me, “is like a combination of a three-year-old child and the hard drive of a computer. The three-year-old believes whatever it’s told and the computer must play the programming it is given.” Dave, you’re a psychologist, what do you think?

DR. DAVE: In general, I like the way Dr. McGrail frames it. In typical re-lapse prevention programs, like CEN APS, the alcoholic or other drug addict works on maybe a “deadly dozen” of relapse cues and cravings to use again. I presume Dr. McGrail is setting the stage to encourage a similar wide spectrum approach?

BILL: Exactly. “Basically,” he told me, “hypnosis creates a very receptive state of mind in the smoker. We can then `speak’ directly to the three-year-old, remove the old smoking habit software, and program the computer with new software (non-smoking). With appropriate reinforcement, the smoker quits and stays quit.” So what does the medical research say?

DR. DAVE: Well, if you turn to the authoritative Cochrane Library you’ll find great science explanations plus what they call “plain talk summaries”. According to Cochrane’s review of 50+ quality re-search studies, there is no behavioral intervention, by itself, including hypnotherapy, that has been shown to prevent relapse back into tobacco use. What they do say is that most smokers need to try several times, across several methods, to find their individual path to quit.

BILL: Not particularly encouraging, Doc.

DR. DAVE: Well, Cochrane does give solid guidance — “The verdict is strongest for interventions focusing on identifying and resolving tempting situations” — which does argue strongly for adding hypnotherapy to the person’s individual plan.

Read more

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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Using The Power Of Movies In The Therapeutic Process

This article was originally posted on the Zur Institute web site

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The 82nd Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010. Since the nominations appeared in the press, motion pictures have been on the minds of many clients. This gives us, as clinicians, the opportunity to “mine the gold of movies” through Cinema Therapy as an adjunct tool for the therapeutic process.

Therapists of varying theoretical orientations and clinical modalities are increasingly using feature films for therapeutic purposes.

In a recent survey of licensed psychologists of different orientations, 67% report using movies during the clinical process.

The appeal of using motion pictures therapeutically has been mainly attributed to the availability and accessibility of the medium, shared familiarity with the subject matter, and the ability of film to enhance rapport between client and therapist.

*Just as it is possible to gain insight from dreams, emotional responses to a movie scene or character can serve as a window to the unconscious or the pre-conscious part of a client’s psyche.

*Another Cinema Therapy approach utilizes clients’ capacity for vicarious learning. Characters can serve as overt or symbolic models of emotional and behavioral expression during the clinical process.

*Specific films can be prescribed to model specific problem-solving behavior or facilitate skill development.

*Movies can also help clients to learn “by proxy” how not to do something or how not to behave in pursuit of their goals. In such instances, feature films serve as cautionary tales. For example, Crazy Heart (multiple nominations for Academy Awards, 2010) can be a powerful tool when clients struggle with addictions or when a couple wants to work on their communication.

*Since many motion pictures transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect, they can result in an emotional release and may allow clients to explore and heal the underlying issues that are the original causes of depression or grief. Dead Poets Society (Academy Award winner for Writing, 1989), for example, is considered a tearjerker.

*Laughter also releases emotions and decreases stress hormones. Watching humorous movies can initiate the process that releases tension, stress, and pain – physically, as well as emotionally. Many clients find Annie Hall (Academy Award winner, 1977) humorous.

EXAMPLES OF HOW CINEMA THERAPY CAN BE USED:

*Addictions: Leaving Las Vegas (1995) demonstrates how addiction can ruin a life when untreated. Postcards From the Edge (1990), 28 Days (2000), and Crazy Heart (2009) demonstrate how addictions can be successfully overcome, even though the recovery process is challenging.

*Trauma:Clients can get in touch with and successfully process unresolved trauma through the use of movies such as Affliction (1997), Mystic River (2003), or Precious (2009) as an adjunct tool.

*Depression: Feature films, such as About Schmidt (2002), or The Hours (2002) can serve for psycho-educational purposes and in cognitive work with depression.
Grief: In America (2003) is an excellent tool for clients who tend to hold back emotions while grieving. Frida (2002) or Bridge to Terabithia (2007) demonstrate courage, determination, endurance, acceptance and the potential for transformation.

A more complete list of movies and themes can be found at Therapeutic Themes and Movies.

Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

The Americanization of Mental Illness

By ETHAN WATTERS

Published: January 8, 2010

AMERICANS, particularly if they are of a certain leftward-leaning, college-educated type, worry about our country’s blunders into other cultures. In some circles, it is easy to make friends with a rousing rant about the McDonald’s near Tiananmen Square, the Nike factory in Malaysia or the latest blowback from our political or military interventions abroad. For all our self-recrimination, however, we may have yet to face one of the most remarkable effects of American-led globalization. We have for many years been busily engaged in a grand project of Americanizing the world’s understanding of mental health and illness. We may indeed be far along in homogenizing the way the world goes mad.

This unnerving possibility springs from recent research by a loose group of anthropologists and cross-cultural psychiatrists. Swimming against the biomedical currents of the time, they have argued that mental illnesses are not discrete entities like the polio virus with their own natural histories. These researchers have amassed an impressive body of evidence suggesting that mental illnesses have never been the same the world over (either in prevalence or in form) but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places. In some Southeast Asian cultures, men have been known to experience what is called amok, an episode of murderous rage followed by amnesia; men in the region also suffer from koro , which is characterized by the debilitating certainty that their genitals are retracting into their bodies. Across the fertile crescent of the Middle East there is zar, a condition related to spirit-possession beliefs that bring forth dissociative episodes of laughing, shouting and singing.

The diversity that can be found across cultures can be seen across time as well. In his book “Mad Travelers,” the philosopher Ian Hacking documents the fleeting appearance in the 1890s of a fugue state in which European men would walk in a trance for hundreds of miles with no knowledge of their identities. The hysterical-leg paralysis that afflicted thousands of middle-class women in the late 19th century not only gives us a visceral understanding of the restrictions set on women’s social roles at the time but can also be seen from this distance as a social role itself — the troubled unconscious minds of a certain class of women speaking the idiom of distress of their time.

“We might think of the culture as possessing a ‘symptom repertoire’ — a range of physical symptoms available to the unconscious mind for the physical expression of psychological conflict,” Edward Shorter, a medical historian at the University of Toronto, wrote in his book “Paralysis: The Rise and Fall of a ‘Hysterical’ Symptom.” “In some epochs, convulsions, the sudden inability to speak or terrible leg pain may loom prominently in the repertoire. In other epochs patients may draw chiefly upon such symptoms as abdominal pain, false estimates of body weight and enervating weakness as metaphors for conveying psychic stress.”

In any given era, those who minister to the mentally ill — doctors or shamans or priests — inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized as legitimate. Because the troubled mind has been influenced by healers of diverse religious and scientific persuasions, the forms of madness from one place and time often look remarkably different from the forms of madness in another.

That is until recently.

For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science, believing that our approaches reveal the biological basis of psychic suffering and dispel prescientific myths and harmful stigma. There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness.

DR. SING LEE, a psychiatrist and researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, watched the Westernization of a mental illness firsthand. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was busy documenting a rare and culturally specific form of anorexia nervosa in Hong Kong. Unlike American anorexics, most of his patients did not intentionally diet nor did they express a fear of becoming fat. The complaints of Lee’s patients were typically somatic — they complained most frequently of having bloated stomachs. Lee was trying to understand this indigenous form of anorexia and, at the same time, figure out why the disease remained so rare.

As he was in the midst of publishing his finding that food refusal had a particular expression and meaning in Hong Kong, the public’s understanding of anorexia suddenly shifted. On Nov. 24, 1994, a teenage anorexic girl named Charlene Hsu Chi-Ying collapsed and died on a busy downtown street in Hong Kong. The death caught the attention of the media and was featured prominently in local papers. “Anorexia Made Her All Skin and Bones: Schoolgirl Falls on Ground Dead,” read one headline in a Chinese-language newspaper. “Thinner Than a Yellow Flower, Weight-Loss Book Found in School Bag, Schoolgirl Falls Dead on Street,” reported another Chinese-language paper.

In trying to explain what happened to Charlene, local reporters often simply copied out of American diagnostic manuals. The mental-health experts quoted in the Hong Kong papers and magazines confidently reported that anorexia in Hong Kong was the same disorder that appeared in the United States and Europe. In the wake of Charlene’s death, the transfer of knowledge about the nature of anorexia (including how and why it was manifested and who was at risk) went only one way: from West to East.

Western ideas did not simply obscure the understanding of anorexia in Hong Kong; they also may have changed the expression of the illness itself. As the general public and the region’s mental-health professionals came to understand the American diagnosis of anorexia, the presentation of the illness in Lee’s patient population appeared to transform into the more virulent American standard. Lee once saw two or three anorexic patients a year; by the end of the 1990s he was seeing that many new cases each month. That increase sparked another series of media reports. “Children as Young as 10 Starving Themselves as Eating Ailments Rise,” announced a headline in one daily newspaper. By the late 1990s, Lee’s studies reported that between 3 and 10 percent of young women in Hong Kong showed disordered eating behavior. In contrast to Lee’s earlier patients, these women most often cited fat phobia as the single most important reason for their self-starvation. By 2007 about 90 percent of the anorexics Lee treated reported fat phobia. New patients appeared to be increasingly conforming their experience of anorexia to the Western version of the disease.

What is being missed, Lee and others have suggested, is a deep understanding of how the expectations and beliefs of the sufferer shape their suffering. “Culture shapes the way general psychopathology is going to be translated partially or completely into specific psychopathology,” Lee says. “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.”

The problem becomes especially worrisome in a time of globalization, when symptom repertoires can cross borders with ease. Having been trained in England and the United States, Lee knows better than most the locomotive force behind Western ideas about mental health and illness. Mental-health professionals in the West and in the United States in particular, create official categories of mental diseases and promote them in a diagnostic manual that has become the worldwide standard. American researchers and institutions run most of the premier scholarly journals and host top conferences in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Western drug companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing medications for mental illnesses. In addition, Western-trained traumatologists often rush in where war or natural disasters strike to deliver “psychological first aid,” bringing with them their assumptions about how the mind becomes broken by horrible events and how it is best healed. Taken together this is a juggernaut that Lee sees little chance of stopping.

“As Western categories for diseases have gained dominance, micro-cultures that shape the illness experiences of individual patients are being discarded,” Lee says. “The current has become too strong.”

Would anorexia have so quickly become part of Hong Kong’s symptom repertoire without the importation of the Western template for the disease? It seems unlikely. Beginning with scattered European cases in the early 19th century, it took more than 50 years for Western mental-health professionals to name, codify and popularize anorexia as a manifestation of hysteria. By contrast, after Charlene fell onto the sidewalk on Wan Chai Road on that late November day in 1994, it was just a matter of hours before the Hong Kong population learned the name of the disease, who was at risk and what it meant.

THE IDEA THAT our Western conception of mental health and illness might be shaping the expression of illnesses in other cultures is rarely discussed in the professional literature. Many modern mental-health practitioners and researchers believe that the scientific standing of our drugs, our illness categories and our theories of the mind have put the field beyond the influence of endlessly shifting cultural trends and beliefs. After all, we now have machines that can literally watch the mind at work. We can change the chemistry of the brain in a variety of interesting ways and we can examine DNA sequences for abnormalities. The assumption is that these remarkable scientific advances have allowed modern-day practitioners to avoid the blind spots and cultural biases of their predecessors.

Modern-day mental-health practitioners often look back at previous generations of psychiatrists and psychologists with a thinly veiled pity, wondering how they could have been so swept away by the cultural currents of their time. The confident pronouncements of Victorian-era doctors regarding the epidemic of hysterical women are now dismissed as cultural artifacts. Similarly, illnesses found only in other cultures are often treated like carnival sideshows. Koro, amok and the like can be found far back in the American diagnostic manual (DSM-IV, Pages 845-849) under the heading “culture-bound syndromes.” Given the attention they get, they might as well be labeled “Psychiatric Exotica: Two Bits a Gander.”

Western mental-health practitioners often prefer to believe that the 844 pages of the DSM-IV prior to the inclusion of culture-bound syndromes describe real disorders of the mind, illnesses with symptomatology and outcomes relatively unaffected by shifting cultural beliefs. And, it logically follows, if these disorders are unaffected by culture, then they are surely universal to humans everywhere. In this view, the DSM is a field guide to the world’s psyche, and applying it around the world represents simply the brave march of scientific knowledge.

Of course, we can become psychologically unhinged for many reasons that are common to all, like personal traumas, social upheavals or biochemical imbalances in our brains. Modern science has begun to reveal these causes. Whatever the trigger, however, the ill individual and those around him invariably rely on cultural beliefs and stories to understand what is happening. Those stories, whether they tell of spirit possession, semen loss or serotonin depletion, predict and shape the course of the illness in dramatic and often counterintuitive ways. In the end, what cross-cultural psychiatrists and anthropologists have to tell us is that all mental illnesses, including depression, P.T.S.D. and even schizophrenia, can be every bit as influenced by cultural beliefs and expectations today as hysterical-leg paralysis or the vapors or zar or any other mental illness ever experienced in the history of human madness. This does not mean that these illnesses and the pain associated with them are not real, or that sufferers deliberately shape their symptoms to fit a certain cultural niche. It means that a mental illness is an illness of the mind and cannot be understood without understanding the ideas, habits and predispositions — the idiosyncratic cultural trappings — of the mind that is its host.

EVEN WHEN THE underlying science is sound and the intentions altruistic, the export of Western biomedical ideas can have frustrating and unexpected consequences. For the last 50-odd years, Western mental-health professionals have been pushing what they call “mental-health literacy” on the rest of the world. Cultures became more “literate” as they adopted Western biomedical conceptions of diseases like depression and schizophrenia. One study published in The International Journal of Mental Health, for instance, portrayed those who endorsed the statement that “mental illness is an illness like any other” as having a “knowledgeable, benevolent, supportive orientation toward the mentally ill.”

Mental illnesses, it was suggested, should be treated like “brain diseases” over which the patient has little choice or responsibility. This was promoted both as a scientific fact and as a social narrative that would reap great benefits. The logic seemed unassailable: Once people believed that the onset of mental illnesses did not spring from supernatural forces, character flaws, semen loss or some other prescientific notion, the sufferer would be protected from blame and stigma. This idea has been promoted by mental-health providers, drug companies and patient-advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the United States and SANE in Britain. In a sometimes fractious field, everyone seemed to agree that this modern way of thinking about mental illness would reduce the social isolation and stigma often experienced by those with mental illness. Trampling on indigenous prescientific superstitions about the cause of mental illness seemed a small price to pay to relieve some of the social suffering of the mentally ill.

But does the “brain disease” belief actually reduce stigma?

In 1997, Prof. Sheila Mehta from Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama decided to find out if the “brain disease” narrative had the intended effect. She suspected that the biomedical explanation for mental illness might be influencing our attitudes toward the mentally ill in ways we weren’t conscious of, so she thought up a clever experiment.

In her study, test subjects were led to believe that they were participating in a simple learning task with a partner who was, unbeknownst to them, a confederate in the study. Before the experiment started, the partners exchanged some biographical data, and the confederate informed the test subject that he suffered from a mental illness.

The confederate then stated either that the illness occurred because of “the kind of things that happened to me when I was a kid” or that he had “a disease just like any other, which affected my biochemistry.” (These were termed the “psychosocial” explanation and the “disease” explanation respectively.) The experiment then called for the test subject to teach the confederate a pattern of button presses. When the confederate pushed the wrong button, the only feedback the test subject could give was a “barely discernible” to “somewhat painful” electrical shock.

Analyzing the data, Mehta found a difference between the group of subjects given the psychosocial explanation for their partner’s mental-illness history and those given the brain-disease explanation. Those who believed that their partner suffered a biochemical “disease like any other” increased the severity of the shocks at a faster rate than those who believed they were paired with someone who had a mental disorder caused by an event in the past.

“The results of the current study suggest that we may actually treat people more harshly when their problem is described in disease terms,” Mehta wrote. “We say we are being kind, but our actions suggest otherwise.” The problem, it appears, is that the biomedical narrative about an illness like schizophrenia carries with it the subtle assumption that a brain made ill through biomedical or genetic abnormalities is more thoroughly broken and permanently abnormal than one made ill though life events. “Viewing those with mental disorders as diseased sets them apart and may lead to our perceiving them as physically distinct. Biochemical aberrations make them almost a different species.”

In other words, the belief that was assumed to decrease stigma actually increased it. Was the same true outside the lab in the real world?

The question is important because the Western push for “mental-health literacy” has gained ground. Studies show that much of the world has steadily adopted this medical model of mental illness. Although these changes are most extensive in the United States and Europe, similar shifts have been documented elsewhere. When asked to name the sources of mental illness, people from a variety of cultures are increasingly likely to mention “chemical imbalance” or “brain disease” or “genetic/inherited” factors.

Unfortunately, at the same time that Western mental-health professionals have been convincing the world to think and talk about mental illnesses in biomedical terms, we have been simultaneously losing the war against stigma at home and abroad. Studies of attitudes in the United States from 1950 to 1996 have shown that the perception of dangerousness surrounding people with schizophrenia has steadily increased over this time. Similarly, a study in Germany found that the public’s desire to maintain distance from those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia increased from 1990 to 2001.

Researchers hoping to learn what was causing this rise in stigma found the same surprising connection that Mehta discovered in her lab. It turns out that those who adopted biomedical/genetic beliefs about mental disorders were the same people who wanted less contact with the mentally ill and thought of them as more dangerous and unpredictable. This unfortunate relationship has popped up in numerous studies around the world. In a study conducted in Turkey, for example, those who labeled schizophrenic behavior as akil hastaligi(illness of the brain or reasoning abilities) were more inclined to assert that schizophrenics were aggressive and should not live freely in the community than those who saw the disorder asruhsal hastagi (a disorder of the spiritual or inner self). Another study, which looked at populations in Germany, Russia and Mongolia, found that “irrespective of place . . . endorsing biological factors as the cause of schizophrenia was associated with a greater desire for social distance.”

Even as we have congratulated ourselves for becoming more “benevolent and supportive” of the mentally ill, we have steadily backed away from the sufferers themselves. It appears, in short, that the impact of our worldwide antistigma campaign may have been the exact opposite of what we intended.

NOWHERE ARE THE limitations of Western ideas and treatments more evident than in the case of schizophrenia. Researchers have long sought to understand what may be the most perplexing finding in the cross-cultural study of mental illness: people with schizophrenia in developing countries appear to fare better over time than those living in industrialized nations.

This was the startling result of three large international studies carried out by the World Health Organization over the course of 30 years, starting in the early 1970s. The research showed that patients outside the United States and Europe had significantly lower relapse rates — as much as two-thirds lower in one follow-up study. These findings have been widely discussed and debated in part because of their obvious incongruity: the regions of the world with the most resources to devote to the illness — the best technology, the cutting-edge medicines and the best-financed academic and private-research institutions — had the most troubled and socially marginalized patients.

Trying to unravel this mystery, the anthropologist Juli McGruder from the University of Puget Sound spent years in Zanzibar studying families of schizophrenics. Though the population is predominantly Muslim, Swahili spirit-possession beliefs are still prevalent in the archipelago and commonly evoked to explain the actions of anyone violating social norms — from a sister lashing out at her brother to someone beset by psychotic delusions.

McGruder found that far from being stigmatizing, these beliefs served certain useful functions. The beliefs prescribed a variety of socially accepted interventions and ministrations that kept the ill person bound to the family and kinship group. “Muslim and Swahili spirits are not exorcised in the Christian sense of casting out demons,” McGruder determined. “Rather they are coaxed with food and goods, feted with song and dance. They are placated, settled, reduced in malfeasance.” McGruder saw this approach in many small acts of kindness. She watched family members use saffron paste to write phrases from the Koran on the rims of drinking bowls so the ill person could literally imbibe the holy words. The spirit-possession beliefs had other unexpected benefits. Critically, the story allowed the person with schizophrenia a cleaner bill of health when the illness went into remission. An ill individual enjoying a time of relative mental health could, at least temporarily, retake his or her responsibilities in the kinship group. Since the illness was seen as the work of outside forces, it was understood as an affliction for the sufferer but not as an identity.

For McGruder, the point was not that these practices or beliefs were effective in curing schizophrenia. Rather, she said she believed that they indirectly helped control the course of the illness. Besides keeping the sick individual in the social group, the religious beliefs in Zanzibar also allowed for a type of calmness and acquiescence in the face of the illness that she had rarely witnessed in the West.

The course of a metastasizing cancer is unlikely to be changed by how we talk about it. With schizophrenia, however, symptoms are inevitably entangled in a person’s complex interactions with those around him or her. In fact, researchers have long documented how certain emotional reactions from family members correlate with higher relapse rates for people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Collectively referred to as “high expressed emotion,” these reactions include criticism, hostility and emotional overinvolvement (like overprotectiveness or constant intrusiveness in the patient’s life). In one study, 67 percent of white American families with a schizophrenic family member were rated as “high EE.” (Among British families, 48 percent were high EE; among Mexican families the figure was 41 percent and for Indian families 23 percent.)

Does this high level of “expressed emotion” in the United States mean that we lack sympathy or the desire to care for our mentally ill? Quite the opposite. Relatives who were “high EE” were simply expressing a particularly American view of the self. They tended to believe that individuals are the captains of their own destiny and should be able to overcome their problems by force of personal will. Their critical comments to the mentally ill person didn’t mean that these family members were cruel or uncaring; they were simply applying the same assumptions about human nature that they applied to themselves. They were reflecting an “approach to the world that is active, resourceful and that emphasizes personal accountability,” Prof. Jill M. Hooley of Harvard University concluded. “Far from high criticism reflecting something negative about the family members of patients with schizophrenia, high criticism (and hence high EE) was associated with a characteristic that is widely regarded as positive.”

Widely regarded as positive, that is, in the United States. Many traditional cultures regard the self in different terms — as inseparable from your role in your kinship group, intertwined with the story of your ancestry and permeable to the spirit world. What McGruder found in Zanzibar was that families often drew strength from this more connected and less isolating idea of human nature. Their ability to maintain a low level of expressed emotion relied on these beliefs. And that level of expressed emotion in turn may be key to improving the fortunes of the schizophrenia sufferer.

Of course, to the extent that our modern psychopharmacological drugs can relieve suffering, they should not be denied to the rest of the world. The problem is that our biomedical advances are hard to separate from our particular cultural beliefs. It is difficult to distinguish, for example, the biomedical conception of schizophrenia — the idea that the disease exists within the biochemistry of the brain — from the more inchoate Western assumption that the self resides there as well. “Mental illness is feared and has such a stigma because it represents a reversal of what Western humans . . . have come to value as the essence of human nature,” McGruder concludes. “Because our culture so highly values . . . an illusion of self-control and control of circumstance, we become abject when contemplating mentation that seems more changeable, less restrained and less controllable, more open to outside influence, than we imagine our own to be.”

CROSS-CULTURAL psychiatrists have pointed out that the mental-health ideas we export to the world are rarely unadulterated scientific facts and never culturally neutral. “Western mental-health discourse introduces core components of Western culture, including a theory of human nature, a definition of personhood, a sense of time and memory and a source of moral authority. None of this is universal,” Derek Summerfield of the Institute of Psychiatry in London observes. He has also written: “The problem is the overall thrust that comes from being at the heart of the one globalizing culture. It is as if one version of human nature is being presented as definitive, and one set of ideas about pain and suffering. . . . There is no one definitive psychology.”

Behind the promotion of Western ideas of mental health and healing lie a variety of cultural assumptions about human nature. Westerners share, for instance, evolving beliefs about what type of life event is likely to make one psychologically traumatized, and we agree that venting emotions by talking is healthier than stoic silence. We’ve come to agree that the human mind is rather fragile and that it is best to consider many emotional experiences and mental states as illnesses that require professional intervention. (The National Institute of Mental Health reports that a quarter of Americans have diagnosable mental illnesses each year.) The ideas we export often have at their heart a particularly American brand of hyperintrospection — a penchant for “psychologizing” daily existence. These ideas remain deeply influenced by the Cartesian split between the mind and the body, the Freudian duality between the conscious and unconscious, as well as the many self-help philosophies and schools of therapy that have encouraged Americans to separate the health of the individual from the health of the group. These Western ideas of the mind are proving as seductive to the rest of the world as fast food and rap music, and we are spreading them with speed and vigor.

No one would suggest that we withhold our medical advances from other countries, but it’s perhaps past time to admit that even our most remarkable scientific leaps in understanding the brain haven’t yet created the sorts of cultural stories from which humans take comfort and meaning. When these scientific advances are translated into popular belief and cultural stories, they are often stripped of the complexity of the science and become comically insubstantial narratives. Take for instance this Web site text advertising the antidepressant Paxil : “Just as a cake recipe requires you to use flour, sugar and baking powder in the right amounts, your brain needs a fine chemical balance in order to perform at its best.” The Western mind, endlessly analyzed by generations of theorists and researchers, has now been reduced to a batter of chemicals we carry around in the mixing bowl of our skulls.

All cultures struggle with intractable mental illnesses with varying degrees of compassion and cruelty, equanimity and fear. Looking at ourselves through the eyes of those living in places where madness and psychological trauma are still embedded in complex religious and cultural narratives, however, we get a glimpse of ourselves as an increasingly insecure and fearful people. Some philosophers and psychiatrists have suggested that we are investing our great wealth in researching and treating mental illness — medicalizing ever larger swaths of human experience — because we have rather suddenly lost older belief systems that once gave meaning and context to mental suffering.

If our rising need for mental-health services does indeed spring from a breakdown of meaning, our insistence that the rest of the world think like us may be all the more problematic. Offering the latest Western mental-health theories, treatments and categories in an attempt to ameliorate the psychological stress sparked by modernization and globalization is not a solution; it may be part of the problem. When we undermine local conceptions of the self and modes of healing, we may be speeding along the disorienting changes that are at the very heart of much of the world’s mental distress.

Ethan Watters lives in San Francisco. This essay is adapted from his book “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche,” which will be published later this month by Free Press.

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Maximum Power,

Dr. Dave Hill, DCH
http://www.drdavehill.com

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

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