Brain and Behavior

Getting to Know Your Three Brains: Part 1

Happy relationships make happy people. Perhaps the most important relationship we have is the one with our self. In fact, the better the relationship we have with our self, the better we feel, the easier life is and the better relationships we have with others.

When we judge our self harshly, we tend to judge others harshly as well. There is a direct correlation between how we treat ourselves, how we feel and how we treat others.

Regardless of whether you believe it, you do have power to change for the better. How do I know this? I know this because in my journey to become a health care professional, I had the great fortune of learning about the brain. This knowledge helped me tremendously.
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Brain and Behavior

Are You A Mystic? A Call To Participate In Mystics Anonymous

Traditional doctors say I'm a mystic.  I don't deny it. ~Bernie Siegel
On August 1 and 2, 2009 I had an extraordinary experience while sitting on a beach. It was as though I was having a low-grade seizure. I vibrated as if I were somehow a piano, guitar, or violin string being tuned to a tuning fork. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was by no means a joyous event. I couldn’t stop, not could I explain the quivering. I sat on the edge of the beach and watched the rhythmic waves of the ocean slap the shore.

I didn’t know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was extraordinary. I was hyperalert -- in awe -- being nudged into a type of anticipatory readiness.
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Brain and Behavior

The Secret to Remembering More

I was going to write this post weeks ago when I first read the story about triggering memory.

But I forgot.

I also forgot where I put the notes, and the research. But, I did remember the number for the Chinese takeout and to invoice early as per my client’s request.

What’s that about? Why do some of these must-do details stick in our memories, while others -- which we had contemplated just moments before -- don’t?
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5 New Theories on the Cause of Depression

I grew up thinking depression was as simple as one little transmitter getting lost somewhere on his way from one neuron to the other, much like I do when I venture farther than five miles from home. It’s an easy explanation -- a chemical imbalance in the brain -- one that pharmaceutical companies have adopted to craft creative commercials like the Zoloft egg not chasing the butterfly.

But depression is so much more complex than that.
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Depression After You’re Out of the Spotlight

For most of my life I aspired to do just one thing: write and publish my memoir.

I had spent more than 15 years networking among editors and literary agents to make this happen. I invested more than a few hours designing a publicity campaign comprised of the media connections that I had virtually stalked over the years. I tried to climb aboard the speaking circuit.

And yet despite all of my hopes and expectations, a few months after hardcopies hit the bookshelves, I felt the familiar pangs of depression. What was going on?

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Understanding Humor Can Lead to New Psychiatric Treatments

Research led by Swiss neuroscientist Pascal Vrticka and his U.S. colleagues at Stanford University has found that, among other things, humor plays a key role in psychological health. According to the study, recently published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, adults with psychological disorders such as autism or depression often have a modified humor processing activity and respond less evidently to humor than people who do not have these disorders. Vrticka believes that a better understanding how the brain processes humor could lead to the development of new treatments.

This is not the first study to explore the healing force of humor. In 2006 researchers led by Lee Berk and Stanley A. Tan at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, found that two hormones — beta-endorphins (which alleviate depression) and human growth hormone (HGH, which helps with immunity) -- increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. Simply anticipating laughter boosted health-protecting hormones and chemicals.

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Brain and Behavior

Words Can Change Your Brain

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can change your brain.

That’s right.

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain.

In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

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Are You Thin or Thick Skinned? Knowing Your Emotional Type

I am often told that I should grow a thicker skin. I’m too sensitive. I let things get to me too much. Most people who struggle with depression are the same. We are more transparent and therefore absorb more into the gray matter of our brain than our thicker-skinned counterpoints.

In his book, Your Emotional Type, Michael A. Jawer and Marc S. Micozzi, Ph.D. examine the interplay of emotions, chronic illness and pain, and treatment success. They discuss how chronic conditions are intrinsically linked to certain emotional types.

I found the boundary concept they explain in the book -- first developed by Ernest Hartmann, MD, of Tufts University -- especially intriguing.

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Mind Over Appendix? I Don’t Think So

I love it when you get hit over the head with your own words.

Today I read a meaningful email by someone who had read my book. She said it was the passage on page 120 to 121 that provided the epiphany moment she needed to seek help for her mood disorder.

I was curious to see what was on these pages, so I got a copy out and read this...

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The Psychology of Occupy Wall Street

Some people will see anything they want to see in any particular movement or demonstration. Movements like Occupy Wall Street are like a Rorschach Inkblot Test -- although it's just ink on a piece of paper, you can see the future and the past in every blot.

Psychologist and psychoanalyst Todd Essig sees what he wants to see in the movement. When contrasting it with the Tea Party, he idealizes the motivations and focus of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, as though they were all joined together in a common cause (other than the cause to agitate for change, something President Obama actually started more than 4 years ago).

What I have a hard time wrapping my head around is to understand how people who have such a deep understanding of psychology and insight can't see how they turn such demonstrations into their own personal Rorschach test.

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