(RST)The biology of emotional disorders: self help for mood disorders, major depression, bipolar depression, manic depression, mental illness, psychosomatic disorders, alcoholism, addiction, and aggressive or violent behavior.
The self help measures in the article on this page bring rapid relief from depression and in time full and permanent recovery from bi-polar depressive disorders, mood disorders, major depression, clinical depression, manic-depression, co-dependency, alcoholism and all addictions, obsessive compulsive disorders, aggressive or violent behavior, emotional, nervous, and mental disorders, and symptoms of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The self help is proven effective because it is based on the scientific discovery of the biology of emotional disorders published in a medical journal, The toxic mind: the biology of mental illness and violence. Medical Hypotheses 2000; 55(4): 356-368 The article below is a lay version of this scientific article with self help measures based on this discovery.
Elnora Van Winkle, Retired Research Scientist, Millhauser Laboratories, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine. Mail to: Elnora Van Winkle, Murrary Hill Station, PO Box 893, New York, NY 10156
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The article: The biology of emotional disorders with the self help measures
There is a flood of repressed anger in the mind of
All children are born with an instinctive fight or flight reaction, which is Nature's gift for survival. We use this reaction throughout life to get our needs met and to avoid danger. Anger is expressed instinctively as a part of this reaction. The cry of a newborn child is an expression of anger. When parents mistreat or neglect their children, they usually cause them to suppress their justifiable anger. When the anger that accompanies the fight or flight reaction is continually suppressed, a toxicosis develops in the brain consisting of the neurotransmitter that processes anger. This is the source of future depression, emotional disorders, and addictions. It does not mean our parents were abusive people in the usual sense. It takes very little to cause this toxicosis. The sweet lullaby "Hush Li'l Baby Now Don't You Cry serves the parent, not the child, and can contribute to this toxicosis. We may have no memories of being abused or emotionally neglected, and those memories we do have are likely to be distorted, but most of us have been taught to suppress anger.
The list of disorders that result from this is long: chronic anxiety and depression, bipolar depression, mood disorder, manic depression, addiction, panic disorders, mental illness, compulsive behavior, psychosomatic disease, alcoholism, food, gambling, shopping, debting, sex, and other addictions, nervous disorders, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, aggressive and violent behavior, crime, war, and social violence. Most people end up in 12-step programs, AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, OA, Overeaters Anonymous, NA, CA, GA, DA, ACA, ACOA, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Alanon, and Codependents Anonymous, CODA
Anxiety and Depression
The toxicosis consists of excess neurotransmitters and other neurochemicals. When this develops in the brain, the neurons peiodically eject to much or too little of the neurotransmitter molecules, and periodic anxiety and depression occur. Depression is also caused by the clogging of receptors with endogenous neurochemicals and with substances from the environment such as unmetabolized food substances, drugs, and other toxins.
Detoxification crises cause anxiety and violent
behavior which is usally followed by more depression.
When cells in the body become toxic they usually die and are replaced by new cells. But neurons generally do not replace themselves, so when they become toxic a portion of the neuron breaks open and releases the toxins during what might be called a detoxification crisis. A detoxification crisis is an excitatory nervous symptom such as intense anxiety and many other symptoms. During a detoxification crisis excess neurotransmitter molecules and other neurochemicals flood the synapses. These toxins include excessive amounts of the neurotransmitter noradenaline, also adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, GABA, endorphins and other substances. The excess neurotransmitter overexcites the nervous system causing excitatory nervous symptoms that can range from mild anxiety to mania and to extreme acts of violence. The repressed anger has become repressed rage. Aggressive behavior and rageful acts are withdrawal symptoms. These excitatory symptoms are detoxification crises during which repressed anger, now rage, is released. These symptoms should not be suppressed, but instead the anger needs to be released and redirected toward past abusers who caused us to suppress the anger in the first place. Intense anxiety and fear, which is caused by the release of excess adrenaline, is a signal that anger is emerging, and the anger needs to be redirected toward early abusers during these detoxification crises, that is, during these excitatory nervous symptoms. The gift of the toxic mind theory is that recovery can be greatly speeded up by recognizing these excitatory symptoms as opportunities to release and redirect anger. Other symptoms that signal emerging anger are neurotic fear, panic attacks, compulsive thoughts or behavior, mania, paranoia, misdirected anger, resentments, feelings of rejection, and cravings for stimulants, chemical or psychological. Guilt, shame, low self esteem, and suicidal thought are anger turned inward, and are opportunities to release and redirect the anger. Depending on the location of the toxicosis in the brain symptoms can also be those of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, neurological disorders, and psychosomatic disease. Psychosomatic disease would be better termed neurogenic.
After a detoxification crisis, some of the neurochemicals clog up receptors and depression frequently returns. Recovery involves the periodic release of toxic accumulations of these neurochemicals, and if anger is redirected during the detoxifiacation crises (the excitatory symptoms) the toxicosis will be relieved. Neural pathways will be cleared and normal neurotransmission will be restored. There will be a release from anxiety and depression and eventually from any emotional or mental disorders and addictions.
Many of the terms commonly used to describe emotional illness are accurate in a physiological sense. A nervous breakdown is just that, the breaking of neurons to release toxins. Madness is about getting mad. A detoxification crisis is often an exaggerated fight or flight reaction with anger released as rage. Edgar Allen Poe in "The Tell-Tale Heart" wrote that insanity is nothing more than an overactive nervous system. He intuitively understood that his character was driven mad by the loud beating of his own heart, an activity associated with fear and anger and accelerated by the release of toxic neurochemicals.
Because of the spatial characteristic of nerve transmission and the clogging of certain pathways, usually pathways where memories of early abusers are stored, during these detoxification crises nerve impulses may be diverted through the wrong neurons so to speak. This can cause all kinds of mental problems, including compulsive and disturbed thinking, delusions, hallucinations, psychosis, and unintended behavior, especially anger directed inward as suicidal thought or directed toward the wrong person in an aggressive assault. This is why is important to redirect anger during a detoxification crisis (an excitatory symptom). As an example a man might have a conflict with his wife that triggers in him unconscious memories of childhood incidents with his mother. During the current conflict nerve impulses will travel through neurons that store characteristics of both his wife and mother. This man may have been justifiably angry with his mother but had to suppress his anger. Therefore, during a detoxification crisis he may direct anger through the wrong neurons toward his wife. It is these vicarious detoxification crises--misdirected anger--that are painful to ourselves or others. In frame 1 of the illustration below the child is represented as a neuron in the brain with a long axon. The end of the axon is clogged up with neurotransmitter molecules (repressed anger). Mama is represented as a post-synaptic neuron. In frame 2 the child's axon ending remains clogged up and the child, now an adult, still cannot get mad at Mama. During a vicarious detoxification crisis an axon branches toward a post-synaptic neuron that represents his wife. The stored up neurotransmitter molecules are released (misdirected anger) and bombard his wife. The anger toward his wife may be justifiable and need expression, but much of the anger is probably repressed anger that needs to be redirected toward his mother. In frame 3, after therapy or the use of self-help measures during which he releases anger toward his mother, the neurons are cleared and neural pathways restored to normal functioning. There is no more rage stored up and relationships may be restored to harmony especially if his wife is also in recovey.
The child might be a girl who cannot get angry at her father and later misdirects her anger toward her husband or another man. Or the anger may be turned inward as guilt, even to the point of suicidal thought. This is an anatomical oversimplification because many neurons are involved, but it gives the idea and is a useful concept for persons in recovery who need to redirect justifiable anger in order to heal from emotional disorders.
The toxicosis is like a flood of neurochemicals in the brain that represent repressed rage, and the periodic detoxification crises are the opening of flood gates. The important contribution of the toxic mind theory and the concept of the wrong neuron is that by REDIRECTING most of the anger at the onset of a detoxification crisis (an excitatory symptom), one can clear out those neurons that are most clogged up. This greatly speeds recovery because it is like opening many more of the flood gates, and it also avoids the pain of re-experiencing the childhood trauma in detail.
The toxicosis that represents repressed anger is in the
noradrenergic (in the brain) and sympathetic nervous
systems. This is where the intial damage occurs and the
major flood is in these regions of the nervous system. A
detoxification crisis is a massive sympathetic discharge.
Toxicosis also occurs in the parasympathetic system when
feelings of grief, like crying are suppressed. Feelings of
grief often follow the release of anger and it is
important that these emotions be released. Crying may go
along with or follow the release and redirecting of anger.
The toxic mind theory provides the scientific proof of the effectiveness of nearly all types of experiential therapies that encourage the release and redirecting of repressed anger. While some therapies are more effective than others, it is important to remember that recovery depends largely on unconscious physiological mechanisms, and if one does not recover fully in a particular therapy it does not mean that therapy was ineffective. Regressive therapy is actually a misnomer because there is no regression in time in the brain. It is the re-directing of anger that allows neural pathways common to current and previous experience to clear. The primal scream is an example of the release of anger, and because it occurs during a re-enacting of a childhood trauma, the anger is likely to be redirected toward early abusers. However, re-enacting the experience in detail without redirecting the anger is less healing and may involve unnecessary emotional pain. A primal is a detoxification crisis, and the most successful primal is not vicarious, but one during which nerve impulses are able to travel through neurons that store memories of early abusers--neurons that have atrophied and been clogged up for years. Sometimes therapists encourage clients to re-enact childhood traumas in psychodrama and redirect anger toward early abusers by hitting a hard pillow with a padded paddle called a bataka. This kind of therapy, which encourages the redirecting of anger toward early caretakers who were abusive, is provided vy the Caron Family Services in Wernersville, PA and for juvenile and adult offenders by the Bethesda Family Services. Dr. Aletha J. Solter, author of Tears and Tantrums, has long understood the principles of detoxing emotions and has incorporated these principles in her techniques for helping young children heal by crying and raging. Her book is an excellent guide for all parents. Other therapists encourage deep breathing, use touch and massage, even manipulation of bones in the brain, to trigger detoxification crises. Therapists provide stimulation to initiate detoxification crises, and are most effective when they assist the person in recognizing the need to redirect anger. It is sometimes difficult to recognize that fear and other symptoms are signals that anger is trying to emerge, and it takes courage to go though the fear, recognize the anger and release it. Because of the redirecting of anger toward parents, therapists who use these techniques in treating young children might well explain to parents that there may be temporary hostility toward them, and even obtain written consent for the therapy.
Self help measures
Self-help measures that allow for the release and redirecting of anger have been used by many people in the past. This is the basis for recovery in Adult Children of Alcoholics, where members talk of their abusive parents. The discovery of the biology of this process brings a new way to speed the detoxification process and to recover rapidly and with less emotional pain than in traditional therapy. Since there is no time regression in the brain, it is possible to speed recovery by releasing and redirecting anger at the first sign of a detoxification crisis, which is an excitatory symptom such as a feeling of neurotic fear. It is not necessary to re-experience all the childhood traumas in detail and the emotional pain associated with them. Hopefully primal therapists will incorporate the redirecting concept for their patients who experience primals. What is necessary is to redirect anger in order to clear those neural pathways where memories of past abusers are stored. If the man in the example recognizes that the intensity of his anger is out of proportion to the incident with his wife, he might redirect some of his anger toward his mother by pounding with his fists on a bed and yelling at her while thinking about her or picturing her. This is NOT an attack on her, but on her sickness. It is important to stay out of ones head and to go with the feelings. Compassion for our parents will be there when the detoxification process is finished. Forgiveness comes naturally when all the anger is gone. His wife would be spared the brunt of his anger that was never intended for her in the first place, and the detoxification process will be accelerated. Most of us want to think our parents loved us unconditionally. No parent is perfect or needs to be perfect. It is not the mistreatment or emotional neglect that injured us so much as the fact that we were not allowed to complain about it. Most of our parents were forced as children to suppress their own anger. As children we loved our parents but were afraid that if we got angry at them we would lose them. There is no harm done to them if we express our anger in therapy or in self-help measures. Writing an account of early childhood relationships and later relationships that were abusive is a good way to trigger the anger that need to be released and redirected.
Detoxification crises will be triggered throughout the day and the more often the anger can be released and redirected at the first sign of an excitory symptom the faster the recovery will be. If a bed is not nearby, or it is not possible to yell outloud, the anger can be released and redirected mentally by talking to oneself. Some have gone to grave yards and pounded on the ground, others to the woods and yelled at trees pretending they were parents and other abusers. It is important to direct anger not only toward our parents, but also toward all past abusers, who were probalby parent substitutes. This might include relatives, bosses, authority figures, clergy who told us anger is a sin, friends, and partners in intimate relationships. Remember, common characteristics of these people are stored in the same neural pathways, so when we get angry at these people we are getting angry at our parents as well, and this is healing. It's good to get mad at God too. It's not really God who we are mad at but a false notion of God as a punitive parent.
The self-help measures are consistent with adivce given in 12-step programs. Melody Beattie, author of Codependents' Guide to the Twelve Steps, has in her ninth step for recovery from co-dependency a section on 'dealing with those who have harmed us.' Co-dependencies are unconsciously formed to set a stage for healing. We tend to get into relationships with people who remind us of our parents, and these seemingly loving relationship can turn abusive. In these relationships our anger is triggered, and if we undersand that it is repressed anger from childhood, it is an opporutity to redirect the anger using the self help measures. If the pain of rejection by society, a friend, boss, or partner is intense it probably signals anger at having been rejected by our parents. This is an opportunity to redirect anger toward all those who rejected us in the past.
Perhaps the man in the diagram will beat himself up and feel guilty rather than get angry at his wife. This would be misdirecting his anger inward toward himself--also wrong neurons. If he keeps in mind the fact that his mother made him feel ashamed of himself, again he might pound with his fists on the bed--have the temper tantrum he should have been allowed to have as a child. Suicidal or other self-destructive thoughts are a signal to release and redirect anger. Stage fright is an example of neurotic fear and may have developed from some early experience. For example, in a kindergarten musical event I was told to pretend to sing by a teacher who was afraid my voice would spoil the event. Years later when I was asked to sing by myself as cantor in a chant group, I felt some stage fright and low self-esteem, but after pounding on the bed and expressing my anger at that teacher, my stage fright lessened. Obviously, one such expression of anger in the right direction will not be a cure-all for any specific symptom, but over time the consistent recognition of excitatory symptoms as related to childhood traumas will provide an opportunity to redirect emotions. Whenever I felt guilt or shame (anger turned inward), I could hear my mother's voice saying, "You should be ashamed of yourself," and I would say, "Get out of my head." It is important to mentally redirect anger as often as possible. Writing letters to our parents but not sending them can be another outlet for anger. It is useful to have witnesses when we are experiencing symptoms. Often when I was angry at someone I needed a friend to tell me the intensity of my anger was out of proportion to the incident, and then I was able to redirect the anger and appropriately express anger in the current situation as well. When I see someone yelling at a bus driver for some minor offense, I think to myself, "wrong neurons."
This description of the development of symptoms is necessarily oversimplified since nerve transmission involves highly intricate patterns of impulses. An emotional detoxification crisis is the sum of many crises in separate neurons, and depressive and excitatory symptoms can occur at the same time. Furthermore, detoxification crises occur in the brain and the periphery at the same time. It may not always be possible to recognize the beginning of a detoxification crisis, but it helps to know that the body is working toward healing all the time, and if we do not suppress the symptoms and try to redirect anger when it emerges, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms will subside. Depending on the intensity of an emotional release of anger during a detoxification crisis, there may be a "high" after the crisis. Releasing anger has a fast antidepressant effect. This does not mean one is cured. Until the detoxification process is finished the "high" may be followed by depression or a drug-like sleep. The depression will lift with the next detoxification crisis. The mind is brilliant in its capacity to heal and will seek stimulation to induce another detoxification crisis that will relieve the depression. There has been concern that one might get addicted to anger or more accurately to the 'high' that follows a detoxification crisis. This is not possible because the high is due to the release of excess noradrenaline, and there is a slow withdrawal of this substance. After each detoxification crisis the amount released becomes less and less. The 'highs' become less intense and the depression after the high is less severe. When one is post-flood, i.e. when most of the repressed anger is gone, there may be a let down because there are no more 'highs,' but there should be relief from anxiety, depression, and major mood swings. This may be followed by an intense grief period that can last for many months and there will also be lingering anger that needs to be redirected for a year or so.
To sum up, recovery is a periodic detoxification process that is physiological, but recognizing vicarious detoxification crises (excitatory nervous symptoms), as signals that repressed anger is trying to surface can greatly speed recovery. It is important to release and redirect anger at the first sign of a symptom. Detoxification crises may begin with feelings of anxiety, neurotic fear (the pounding sensation in the chest), low self-esteem, guilt, shame, paranoia, compulsive thoughts and behavior, judgemental, hateful, and revengeful thoughts, and misdirected aggressive behavior. Or they may be expressed as cravings for food, alcohol, activity, or people. These are signals that the neurons are detoxifying. An understanding that the symptom is the beginning of a detoxification crisis and that anger is trying to emerge can allow one to consciously redirect the anger toward past abusers and clear neurons that may have been clogged up since childhood. Usually angry feelings are released first, followed by feelings of grief. Since toxins flow through the circulation during the elimination process and can irritate tissues, there may be temporary physical symptoms, headaches, sweating, joint pain, sorethroat, colds, fever, palpatations, diarrhea, and so forth. There are also toxins from non-nutritious foods and other exogenous sources that are being eliminated and the same time. Recovered persons will not tolerate stimulants or junk food and be attracted to natural foods. This cycling will continue and diminish in intensity until the detoxification process is complete. There is no sudden cure, but a rather dramatic release from depression and intense mood swings.
The Bible, Old and New Testament, has many encouring words about doing this work, starting in Genesis with the 'hands off Cain' advice, and in Psalms, "Let not the sun go down on your anger." I believe this is how Jesus, who admonished his own mother, healed people from emotional and physical disorders. It explains his words in Matthew 10:34-36, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Some religious leaders are recognizing the need to feel and express justifiable anger as the way to forgiveness.
Post flood is post primal.
These self-help measures used along with therapy will lessen the therapy time, and are also are fully effective used by themselves. There are a number of excellent books with similar self-help measures: Cure by Crying, by Thomas A. Stone, Reclaiming Your Life, by Jean Jensen, Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. The toxic mind theory supports the work of Alice Miller, For Your Own Good, and the primal therapy of Arthur Janov. Post-flood, which is post primal as described by Janov, is not a point of cure, but is a point at which most of the repressed anger related to childhood trauma has been released. There will be relief from depression and major mood swings. My reason for defining post-flood as when about 95% of the anger related to childhood trauma is gone (when the highs and lows are at a minumum, and when most of the anger that surfaces is about current interactions) is to set this as a goal. At this point the major toxicosis is pretty much relieved. As after any flood there is a muddy basin period during which there will be lingering anger related to childood trauma and a need to continue redirecting during current interactions perhaps for a year or so. And when the anger is primarily about the current interaction, this anger needs to be acknowledged and, if appropriate, expressed calmly. It is possible for the neurons to become clogged up again, and this will cause future symptoms. There may be a prolonged period of grief and crying when the parasympathetic nervous system processes feelings of grief. People who are post-flood begin to identify with the comments made by post-primal people as described by Arthur Janov in his book, The Anatomy of Mental Illness and elsewhere. Post-flood people generally enjoy good mental and physical health. If diets are shifted toward raw foods, acute disorders like colds are likely to be infrequent. During the grief period the crying becomes less and less for oursleves and more for others. Eventually the fight or flight reaction is restored and all the emotions we were born with, anger, sadness and joy, are easily accessed. Here are some comments from Janov's post-primal people and from my own experience: I feel alive, yet calm and content. My life is simpler. I do less, go less, want less, talk less, everything is less. I can stop thinking about something, no more compulsive thinking or behavior. I trust my feelings now rather than others' feelings. No one pushes me around. I am more patient and tolerant and don't blow up. I am no longer violent and am incapable of harming another person unless in self-defense. I laugh easily and cry easily. I may feel sad but not depressed. I am no longer moody. I can sustain a relationship and I avoid abusive relationships. I am friendly and mentally present when interacting with people, who I find are more open to me. I can see into people, their needs and pain. I am less rigid. I am alone a lot, but not lonely. I don't get sucked into other peoples troubles. My face has changed. I stand and walk like a child. I don't take on impossible projects. I can concentrate. My creative abilities are restored and I work when inspired. I finish what I start, yet don't have to compulsively finish everything instantly. I can accept but don't need compliments. My body will not tolerate stimulants, processed or overly cooked foods. I am attacted to raw fruits, vegetables, and raw fatty fish. I eat Garden of Eden style.
Here are some other changes that may be observed. Blood pressure, temperature, and pulse normalize. No more palpitations. Fasting glucose and cholesterol levels are lower. Hypothyroidism disappears. I seldon have colds or other acute disorders. Digestion is good. Relief from constipation, headaches, allergies, backaches, colitis, peptic ulcer, dizziness, alcoholism and all other addictions, menstrual cramps. skin disorders, stomach pains, nausea, and teeth grinding. I have not found relief from osteoarthritis. I fall asleep easily and sleep restfully, but no more heavy drug like sleep. Seldom have scary dreams. My weight never changes. My posture is relaxed. Breathing easier and more deeply. Decreased sex frequency, more pleasure.
Wild animals are emotionally healthier than most
Neuroscientists from Russia have shown that wild animals selected for tame behavior have more noradrenaline and similar metabolites clogging up the neurons in their brains than other wild animals. As far as we know, wild animals do not suffer from symptoms of psychiatric disease, certainly not to the extent humans do, but animals kept in zoos may develop toxic minds and occasionally exhibit outbursts of violent behavior. Not long ago at a zoo in the New York City area, a visitor broke into a cage and was viciously attacked by a bear for no apparent reason. Some domesticated animals seem to be healthier than humans, perhaps because they are less able to suppress the fight or flight reaction than humans. Most cats are examples of good mental health. If abused they respond instantly with anger, and within moments are purring again.
The unity of disease.
A careful study of what are described as distinct emotional disorders will illustrate the unity of disease. When toxins accumulate in regions of the brain that control specific activities, the symptoms observed will be related to those activities, giving rise to
supposedly distinct disorders that are in reality the same detoxification process. While some of the symptoms may be due to the destruction of neurons, many neurons are just clogged up and can be repaired. Toxicosis is the cause of nearly all nervous and mental disorders, including schizophrenia, manic-depression, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Tourette's
syndrome. Also included are anxiety, panic disorders, depression, mania, autism, pervasive developmental disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, addictions, aggression, and criminal behavior. Alzheimer's patients may have suffered from abusive learning techniques as children. Persons with Alzheimer's disease usually have symptoms of other psychiatric disorders. A lady of perfect demeanor who develops Alzheimer's disease might suddenly begin kicking and biting others, because toxins are being released from the hypothalamus. Parkinson's patients frequently have mask-like faces, which may have been caused by continually suppressing emotions through facial expression. Patients often have multiple diagnoses or are rediagnosed many times throughout life.
No disease possesses its own special symptoms, but
scientists classify and arrange symptoms as if they
belonged to distinct
syndromes. They begin to regard subjective taxonomic orders as objective realities of nature and, for example, classify symptoms in one part of the body as a certain disease separate from symptoms arising in another part of the body. Inflammation of the brain and inflammation of the stomach are the same disease. In his book Human Life Herbert Shelton wrote, "The brain can't vomit and the stomach can't become insane." The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which undergoes constant revision, lists hundreds of mental disorders, each characterized by a group of symptoms. f the boundaries are unclear, a second or third diagnosis is superimposed upon the first. Mental illness is not a myth. What is a myth is that there are discrete incurable disorders.
Addictions to exogenous stimulants, chemical and psychological, commonly occur with emotional disorders. The fact that stimulants can trigger detoxification crises provides the physiological basis for "craving." It is paradoxical that the very thing that can accelerate the detoxification process is itself toxic. This explains homeopathy and the beneficial effects of psychological stimulation in therapy. It also explains why recovering alcoholics sometimes encourage active alcoholics to continue drinking until the detoxification crises are sufficiently painful for them to seek help. Addicts crave stimulation to initiate a crisis, which gives them a "high" because of the increased synaptic noradrenaline, and crave sedation to terminate crises and relieve excitatory symptoms. That these are factors in "craving" is supported by the observation of therapists that addicted persons in the kind of therapy that encourages the release and redirecting of repressed emotions gradually lose their craving for stimulants and sedatives.
Hypersomnia and insomnia are conditions commonly suffered by psychiatric patients. Toxicosis accounts for dream paralysis and narcolepsy. Depressed persons often experience a prolonged and heavy drug-like sleep caused by toxicosis at postsynaptic receptor sites, and periodic detoxification crises account for insomnia and nightmares. Two compatible theories of sleep exist. The first states that sleep is a passive process occurring when the neurons become fatigued, noradrenaline activity is diminished, and there is decreased excitability of the reticular activating system accompanied by a reduction in peripheral sympathetic activity. This type of sleep is characterized by slow delta waves and is normal and restful. According to the second theory, which developed along with the interest in catecholamines, sleep results from inhibitory signals that are transmitted into the reticular activating system. The basis for this inhibition is the accumulatioin of dopamine, serotonin, GABA, peptides, and other substances. Serotonin is associated with hypersomnia. Drugs that increase serotonin levels have an antidepressant effect probably because they inhibit the reuptake of noradrenaline and a sedative effect because serotonin clogs up noradrenaline
receptor sites. In normal sleep the nervous system rests, and as a result of anabolism, metabolites and various structures are restored. During the overlying and often extended drug-like sleep, generally toward morning when elimination is most active, the neurons appear to accelerate the detoxification process. Paradoxical sleep, when emotional dreaming occurs, is thought to result from abnormal channeling of signals--wrong neurons--even though brain activity is not significantly depressed. Episodes of paradoxical sleep, also called REM sleep, are superimposed on slow-wave sleep in periods from 5 to 21 minutes every 90 minutes, the slow delta waves shifting to beta waves that are characteristic of the waking state. Paradoxical sleep is accompanied by irregular heart rate and other signs of increased sympathetic activity. Episodes of paradoxical sleep reflect detoxification crises during which noradrenaline and sympathetic activity accelerate. Dreaming probably goes on throughout sleep but is particularly emotional during paradoxical sleep. When the nervous system eliminates enough of the sleep-producing substances to allow noradrenaline to excite the reticular activating system, the drug-like sleep will end. If toxicosis is extensive, crises may recur frequently, and increased levels of noradrenaline will excessively excite the reticular activating system, contributing to insomnia.
Dreams and fantasies
Dreams are patterns that combined with patterns of past experience. In everyday experiences, specific characteristics are laid down in neurons along with the same characteristics that were in the patterns of childhood experience. This means that in the dream, current and early experiences can become mixed together, but appear as one scenario. Fantasies are likely to be similar to dreams, and the more toxic the mind, the more distorted the dream or fantasy. Imagination is memory of actual experience--only the characters and scenery have changed. The brain cannot create new experience, but designs new mosaics made up of bits of old experience. Because memories are often distorted, a "false memory" syndrome has evolved. But there is no such thing as a false memory, only a distorted version. The distorted patterns of memories are also the basis for the belief in previous lives.
The reticular activating system has a periodic excitability cycle occurring once every 90 minutes, increasing and decreasing in activity throughout the 24-hour day. This excitability cycle reflects periodic detoxification crises that occur as emotional dreaming at night and perhaps some other excitatory behavior during the day. Persons engaged in a fantasy world might be said to be "day-dreaming," and these periods of creating fantasies are influenced by the same physiological events that account for paradoxical sleep. Fantasies, like dreams, provide a release for emotions and are frequently stages for the re-enactment of childhood traumas.
Psychosomatic disease is better termed neurogenic. Psychological factors do not affect physical disease; rather, psychological problems and physical disease co-exist and both can stem from toxicosis in the brain. Since the hypothalamus controls the fight or flight reaction, pituitary and thyroid activity, and also the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, toxicosis from both endogenous and exogenous sources can result in malfunctioning of peripheral organs and contribute to neurogenic disease. The periodic shift in underexcitation and overexcitation in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems contributes to a variety of neurogenic disorders. Fluctuations in parasympathetic activity affect the heart, digestion, and elimination. Because the entire sympathetic system is usually excited at the same time, periodic changes in its activity affect most of the visceral organs. Increased release of catecholamines in persons prone to outbursts of anger has been linked to coronary heart disease. Decreased hypothalamic activity or increased tissue metabolism as a result of overexcitation of the sympathetic system may cause the thyroid to become hypoactive. People generally see a doctor when they are experiencing detoxification crises, namely symptoms, and may be diagnosed with hypothyroidsim when there is no pathology in the thyroid gland. In recovery, hypothyroidism usually disappears, and body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate tend to normalize as the activity of
the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems stabilizes.
One of the most harmful effects of toxicosis in the
brain is the inability of the body to carry out the daily
process of detoxification and elimination. Since the
sympathetic nervous system increases cellular metabolism,
it accelerates the release of toxins throughout the body.
Because of toxicosis in the brain, this system is
periodically over and under-excited. This means that
detoxification events, which might be expressed as a cold
or other acute diseases, will be periodic and intense.
When sympathetic nervous system activity is suppressed,
toxins will accumulate throughout the body. Tumors can
occur anywhere in the body where toxins are being
walled-off, but enervation in the central and autonomic
nervous systems is likely to contribute to cancer. Women
with metastatic breast cancer were shown to live longer
when they entered therapy for the release of repressed
emotions, and the patients who died more rapidly were less
able to communicate dysphoric feelings, particularly
anger. In recovery, the immune system improves, and
detoxification events in the peripheral organs are mild.
Post-primal therapy patients enjoy a number of
improvements in physical health that can be measured
in laboratory tests, for example, normalization of
thyroid hormone, cholesterol, and glucose. Increased
breast size in post-primal therapy patients who were
previously underdeveloped results from a clearing of
the neurons in the hypothalamus that control pituitary and
thyroid hormones. This allows for normal activity of the
enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which regulates the supply of
fatty acids to adipose tissue and the breast. Improved
nutrition is more effective because the central nervous
system that controls the metabolism of nutrients and daily
detoxification is now able to function normally.
Acts of violence are committed by persons under the influence of drugs and by drug-free persons diagnosed as mentally ill. Violent crimes are often committed by persons who have been quiet and depressed. The courts are filled with defendants whose actions are the subject of much debate over whether the accused was mentally ill at the time of the crime. What the courts do not understand, assuming the accused person actually committed the crime, is that violent behavior is a physiological response to toxicosis. Murder may be the result of a vicarious detoxification crisis and as much a symptom of disease as the sneeze is a symptom of the common cold. It is not my intention to propose this as physiological evidence for innocence and certainly not to silence the justifiable anger of victims of violence. It is important not to try to forgive until justifiable anger is felt and expressed. Forgiveness will come naturally when all the justifiable anger is released. Victims who suppress their anger will
eventually release it, perhaps as revenge. Hopefully the theory will affect the kind of rehabilitation offered to violent offenders. Until the toxins are removed, violent persons will be compelled to continue some form of aggressive behavior toward themselves or others. Unless the vital powers of the body have been diminished to the point of exhaustion and ultimate death, the neurons will continue to repair themselves. The cure for violence or any other disease is in eliminating the toxins.
Whether we have conscious control over behavior
initiated by unconscious activity in the brain may depend
on the degree of enervation and the extent of the
toxicosis. If the detoxification crisis is sufficiently
strong, conscious thought may not be able to override it.
Furthermore, when we do express emotions, we may not be
able to control how they are expressed. This is the reason
many cannot explain why they committed violent crimes. The
anger is justifiable, but the detoxification crisis is
usually vicarious, and there is often no remorse. Guilt,
which is anger turned inward, may be felt, but true
remorse is possible only in
recovery, and even then it is not likely to be for past sins. The New Testament word for sin, hamartia, comes from the sport of archery and literally means "missing the mark" --wrong neuron. The Biblical command, Old and New Testament, is: "Be angry and do not sin." This condition of health or sickness in the neurons may provide the physiological basis for the exercise of free will. Whether we can control an exaggerated fight or flight reaction is the subject of moral appraisal and the frequent debate of ethical and religious thinkers. In every court of law it demands reflection by judge and jury as they consider the oftentimes violent behavior of the accused. It may be that free will is best exercised in a decision to embrace measures for recovery.
Because stimulants trigger detoxification crises,
abused children are attracted to violent TV programs. All
of us have toxic neurons to some extent and crave
stimulation. Many of us could not turn off the TV during
the Gulf War. Some sociologists
speak of man as having a need for enemies. This is an unconscious craving that will result in the release of repressed anger. In its extreme, this is what motivates cult leaders, terrorists, dictators, and all those who follow along in their paths of destruction. That there might be conspiracies behind acts of violence is because other individuals with toxic minds have the unconscious need to tag along and release their own pent-up anger. This explains why an eleven-year old boy needed to go along with his thirteen-year old friend on a murderous spree in Jonesboro, Arkansas. As soon as the lives of those who have committed violent acts are investigated, we see the truth in headlines, "In the End, the Oklahoma Bombing May Be the Work of 2, Not a Major Conspiracy," and "New Defendant in Trade Center Blast Is Described as Shy and Apolitical". The weapons amassed by David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, and Shoko Asahara were for the purpose of releasing anger stored up as toxic neurochemicals in the nervous systems of those individuals and probably had little to do with the purposes for which they were ultimately used. Adults who were abused as children are likely to fill the arsenals of the world with nuclear bombs.
The end of mental illness and violence
The toxic mind theory, by providing an understanding of the physiological effects of toxicosis on behavior, will have a positive influence on the way people deal with emotions in everyday life, on the development of therapeutic methods, and on measures taken by society to eliminate violence. When a theory is found that can help prevent and relieve suffering by explaining the causes of disease, a decision to embrace such a theory is ultimately a decision to support life itself. An understanding of this theory can provide the basis for therapy and self-help measures that will alleviate a wide variety of disorders. Hopefully this discovery will provide knowledge useful to everyone--children, parents, therapists, physicians, educators, religious leaders, the courts, prisoners, and those in charge of rehabilitation of prisoners.
Proper nutrition will help prevent deficiencies and toxicosis. Exogenous toxins from food and the environment are particularly likely to accumulate in the hypothalamus. It has been shown that when the nutrition of prisoners is improved, the likelihood of violent behavior is diminished. Nutrients in excess of bodily needs and nutrients that have been altered chemically by processing and overcooking contribute to toxicosis. Diets high in raw foods provide nutrients the neurons can utilize and facilitate the release of toxins, both endogenous and exogenous. But dietary changes may not bring optimal health without detoxification of endogenous neurochemicals in the the central nervous system. Furthermore, there may by excitatory symptoms due to overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system during detoxification of exogenous toxins. Once the work of relieving the endogenous toxicosis by releasing and redirecting emotions is finished, there is seldom any desire for non-nutritious food. When one is post-flood avoiding stimulants, refined sugar, bread, and milk products may help prevent future depression and nervous symptoms.
When symptoms become intense, drugs and/or confinement
may be necessary. It is important to follow doctor's
orders in taking all prescribed drugs and especially to
discontinue them only with medical supervision. The
self-help measures can be used along with therapy and
drugs. When the detoxification process is finished therapy
and drugs will no longer be needed. People who are not
detoxifying through therapy and self-help measures may
need drugs for extended periods as ordered by their
doctors. If addictions develop, Alcoholics Anonymous and
other 12-step programs (AA, NA, CA, OA, GA, ACA,
CODA) are available for the detoxification of alcohol, other drugs, and food. Unfortunately members of these groups transfer their addictions to other members. This is commonly called co-dependency. Most members do not recognize the importance of releasing negative emotions. One of these groups, Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA, ACOA, also CODA), which might be better named Adult Children with Repressed Emotions, encourages the release of anger and is a place where a redirecting of emotions often begins. When the detoxification process is completed, these programs are no longer needed. Thousands of recovery stories are witnessed in these programs and in experiential therapy that encourage the releasing and redirecting of emotions. There are many paths to recovery and all are compatible with spiritual progress. If one thinks of God as Energy, recovery might be thought of as a restoration of Nerve Energy--the God Within. Some people begin to detoxify in 12-step programs, others begin in therapy, and still others begin through self-help measures or by making dietary changes.
Mental health depends on the ability of an individual to respond to stress with a healthy fight or flight reaction. In recovery, the fight or flight reaction is no longer exaggerated, anger can be expressed in non-violent ways, and symptoms of nervous and mental disease disappear. Post-primal therapy patients have been observed to recover from a variety of physical as well as mental disorders. Cleared neural pathways throughout the brain enhance memory, intelligence, and creativity. Neurotic fear, anxiety, and depression do not return. Noradrenaline levels at synapses fluctuate only slightly, and euphoria, best defined as "freedom from anxiety and distress," is permanent. Recovery is undeniable to anyone who experiences it and is a place of quiet mind. This is because the detoxification process is like a periodic opening of flood gates. When the flood is completely gone, recovery is virtually complete. As written in Revelation, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."
I am a retired neuroscientist and was engaged in research in biological psychiatry at The Rockefeller University and New York University School of Medicine. Since the time of Hippocrates it has been understood that symptoms of most diseases, other than degenerative disorders where irreversible organic damage has been sustained, represent the body's efforts to eliminate toxins. In 1962 we discovered a toxic metabolite of dopamine in the urine of schizophrenic patients and published many papers based on this finding. However, we did not correlate this with the damaging effects on the nervous system of suppressing emotions. The toxic mind theory is proven by over fifty years of research studies and because it is based on established physiological mechanisms, which reflect empirical knowledge gained from years of observation and experimentation. This kind of evidence is substantial, whereas statistics gathered from current studies cannot account for all variables are are often misleading.
Portions of this article are taken from the scientific article The Toxic Mind: The Biology of Mental Illness and Violence in the journal Medical Hypotheses. I am not a medical doctor and cannot offer medical advice. I hope however that an understanding of the biology will be useful to therapists and to persons in recovery. While the biological concepts have the authority of publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, the self-help measures are of the nature of advice given in self-help programs. I cannot assume responsibility for any interpretation and use the reader may make of the biological concepts or dietary approaches. If you use these concepts in your therapy, you do so at your own risk. If your depression is severe and you are suicidal please seek professional help right away. I recommend having a medical check up before using the self help measures to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong physically. This article does not suggest discontinuing therapy or the use of prescribed drugs as ordered by physicians. The self-help measures can be used along with therapy and drugs. If you recover using these measures and decide to discontinue medication, be sure to do this under medical supervisons. If your depression is severe and you are suicidal please seek professional help right away. The self help is not intended for children under age and in the care of their parents without parental permission.
I was not an abused child by society's standards, but I was left by my mother in my crib at birth to 'cry it out' and listened to my father rage, never at me, but at my mother, brother, and sister. I learned to suppress my justifiable anger very early. I was an autistic child and in my twenties was diagnosed as schizophrenic and locked for four years on the violent ward of a mental hospital. I spent much of the time in the 'mattress' room, where I raged against the tight sheets of a straight jacket, or I turned my anger inward in suicidal rage. One of the shock treatments didn't quite make me unconsious, and I felt pain and panic as the electricity surged through my body. It was like being electrocuted, yet still alive. Over the next thirty years I was confined in more than twenty hospitals, rediagnosed a number of times, and was given every drug known to psychiatry. At age 60 I was rediagnosed with major depressive disorder, then manic-depressive, and had symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. In my years of hospitalization, only one nurse had a sense of what I needed. She came into a room where I was tied to a bed in restraint, untied me, and gave me a tray of plastic dishes. "Throw these at the wall, dear" she said. If I had known to mentally picture my parents on that wall, I might have begun to heal. I wanted to be locked up in those hospitals. I never knew why, but it was an acting out of a fantasy. It was a re-enactment of having been imprisoned in my crib and an opportunity to have my justifiable anger. After making this discovery in 1995, and with the help of the self-help measures based on this discovery, I recovered in a short time. I am enjoying all the benefits of good mental and physical health as validated by diagnostic and laboratory tests. Since the posting of this article many have used the self-help measures. Those who used them consistently were relieved of depression in a few months and after about a year were virtually free of symptoms of emotional disorders.
Frequently Asked Questions
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The Biology of Emotions
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The biology of emotions
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