Health, happiness and self-disciplined goals

Blog Post No. 157

23rd October 2017

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Blog: Health and happiness are the most important goals in (a moral) life

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Introduction

It’s been quite a while since I posted a blog, because I’ve been extremely busy.  I am still very busy, finishing off the writing of a new book, but I thought it was about time I shared some ideas with the world.  The main theme of this blog is health and self-healing, using food and physical exercise.

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Writing about diet and exercise for mood control

Front cover, 8For the past few weeks, Renata and I have been writing our book which is titled, How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity.  We have finished writing the five sections, and I am working on constructing a comprehensive index for the back of the book, to make it optimally user-friendly, as a resource.

Several days ago I constructed the index section on diet and nutrition, and type of diets.  And, by finishing time last Friday, 20th, I had just completed a section on Essential fatty acids (EFAs). And today, Monday 23rd, I will begin to work on the index entries for the section on physical exercise.

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Self-healing

Last Thursday, I turned my body, suddenly, while leaving my feet relatively stationary, and pulled a muscle in my back.  Did I run to the doctor?  No!  Did I get some ‘painkillers’ from the chemist?  No!

Why did I not go to the doctor?  Because the doctor would have simply recommended “painkillers”!

Why did I not buy my own painkillers from the chemist?  Because most of the painkillers used today are what are called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). And the problem with NSAIDs is that they cause ‘leaky gut syndrome’, which not only allows whole molecules of food to enter the bloodstream, and trigger various forms of inflammation in the body (paradox of paradoxes!), but they also compromise the blood/brain barrier, which can precipitate mood disturbances!

So, what did I do with my terrible back pain?  I got out my copy of ‘Body in Action’, by Sarah Key, and did five of her exercises for improving the functioning of the muscles and joints in the lower back.  (I’ve done this several times in the past, and I know it always works).

I did the exercises on Thursday and Friday, and by Saturday the back pain had gone – completely!

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Sharpening the saw

Rest and recuperation are very important parts of my self-management of health program.  So, on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, I had a siesta (of three hours each time).  I had been feeling tired because of overworking on the index of our new book on how to control anger, anxiety and depression, using diet and exercise systems.

CreasespaceCover8, diet-nutrition.jpg

I also had a restful evening with Renata, and I was in bed by 9.45pm.

By 5.45am today (Monday 23rd Oct) I was fully rested, and so I got up and made my breakfast.  A solid bowl of chunky salad.

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Food for health and mood control

Book-cover-frontI chopped up the following ingredients into small chunks, of perhaps 3 or 4 mm at the widest point:

3 oz of red cabbage; 6 oz of cucumber; 1 spring onion; 1 organic carrot; half an organic apple; and put them into a soup bowl.

(See the Appendix on Diet and Nutrition, in our book: Holistic Counselling in Practice.***)

Then, I added a teaspoon of Maca powder; a dessertspoon of ground flaxseed; two dessertspoon’s of mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, ???), ten almonds, three walnuts, four hazelnuts; ten blueberries; 2 ozs of cooked beetroot (diced); two small tomatoes (halved); and half a kiwi fruit (diced).

I then added some brown rice miso, and some sauerkraut.

After consuming that breakfast, I meditated for 30 minutes.

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Physical exercise for health and strength and mood control

Standing pose 2Let me now describe the exercises that I went on to do, after meditating:

Twenty minutes of Chi Kung exercises.

Followed by a couple of minutes of ‘The plank’ exercise, which is like ‘stationary press-ups’: https://youtu.be/kiA9j-dR0oM

Then I did my own press-ups and sit backs, for about 5 or 6 minutes.

I then moved on to do fifteen minutes of my old Judo Club calisthenics (or whole body warm up exercise), which combine strength training, stretching of muscles, and aerobic exercise, all in one.

Then ten minutes of Zhan Zhuang (pronounced Jam Jong, and meaning ‘Standing like a tree’).  These are body poses which work on our postural muscles, affecting strength and speed and balance. They create a calm and happy mental state.  And they also relax the body and establish whole-body connection.

powerspinFinally I did some strength training using the Powerspin rotator, to build arm, shoulder and upper body strength.

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Reflections

This is clearly a time-consuming start to the day, compared with a bowl of cornflakes, a cup of coffee, and a brisk scratching of the head!

So why do I do it?

Because, I value my health above all things.  Without my physical health, I am unlikely to be happy.  And I am unlikely to be emotionally stable.

The people who do the least exercise, and who eat the worst diets, have the worst physical and mental health outcomes. (I have not seen a general medical practitioner for more than twenty-five years! And I am not about to start now!)

Most people leave their health (physical and mental) to chance, and to the vague belief that there are people who can “fix them up” when they fall apart.  Sadly this myth is totally misleading.  Once you’ve ruined your health – from sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep, and inadequate diet (such as one based on junk food, or an unbalanced diet, or too much alcohol [over the government limit], caffeine, sugary foods, gluten, and other toxic substances) – it is then ruined!  And a ruined body-brain is a burden to haul through life!

It takes self-discipline to get on a good diet, and to begin to do regular physical exercise, and to go to bed and have eight hours sleep, without mobile phones or laptops or tablets, and so on.  But the alternative to developing that self-discipline is a life ruined through serious illness, emotional distress, and early death.

Some people will argue with me, and insist that there are some things called “medicines” (and “surgeries”) which can be used to resuscitate their body-brain-mind once they have allowed it to fall into ill-health. The editors of What Doctors Don’t Tell You, strongly disagree with that fantasy!  See the article titled ‘Don’t trust me (I’m Big Pharma).***

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POSTSCRIPT: Of course, it takes time to build up expertise in ‘extreme self-care’; and it’s a good idea to do that one step at a time.  Gradually, over a period of time, this will build up into significant changes, and huge improvements in health and happiness.  And you don’t ever have to adopt the kind of ‘monkish’ approach that suits me.  Some simple changes in what you eat, and how you exercise your body (brisk walking for 30 minutes per day is enough!), will make a huge difference over time.  You can find out more about how to begin these small, easy steps in our book: How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity.

honetpieIf you want me to help you to figure out how to live a happier, healthier, more emotionally buoyant life, then please contact me:

drjwbyrne@gmail.com

Telephone: 01422 843 629 (inside the UK)

or 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

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I hope you have a very happy and healthy life!

Best wishes,

Jim

 

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

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Albert Ellis and REBT ten years later

Blog Post No. 156

21st July 2017

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The tenth anniversary of the death of Albert Ellis…

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Introduction

Ellis-video-imageAlbert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which is sometimes called Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE&CBT), died on 24th July 2007.  So we are very close to the tenth anniversary.

Since that event, Renata and I have posted something on each anniversary about Albert Ellis and REBT.  Initially, those posts were very positive about the man and his theory of therapy.  But as time passed, and we found more and more problems with the man (from his autobiography, All Out!) and from our reflective analyses of his theoretical propositions, our posts became more and more distant, and more and more critical.

Books about Ellis and REBT

Wounded psychotherapistIn 2013, I published a book on the childhood of Albert Ellis, which was an analysis of the ways in which he was mistreated and virtually abandoned at times by his parents, and the effect of these early negative experiences on his psychological development.  Here are the basic details:

A Wounded Psychotherapist: Albert Ellis’s childhood and the strengths and limitations of REBT, by Dr Jim Byrne

A critical review of the childhood of Albert Ellis and the impact of his suffering on the shape of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

‘A Wounded psychotherapist’ is a critical enquiry by Dr Jim Byrne.  It is an analysis of both the childhood of Dr Albert Ellis (the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT]), and how some of those childhood experiences most likely gave rise to certain features of his later philosophy of psychotherapy.  If you have ever wondered what the roots of REBT might have been, then this is the book for you.  it explores the childhood difficulties of Albert Ellis, and links those difficulties forward to the ways in which REBT was eventually shaped.  It also identified the strengths and weaknesses of REBT, and proposes an agenda for reform of this radical system of psychotherapy. Available now from Amazon, in two formats:

Paperback: for as little as £6.66 GBP

Kindle: for as little as £6.89 GBP

Buy it now: A Wounded Psychotherapist: The childhood of Albert Ellis, and the limitations of REBT/CBT

Amazon in the US Amazon in UK (and Ireland)
Amazon in Canada Amazon in Italy
Amazon in Germany Amazon in France
Amazon in Japan Amazon in Australia

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honetpieHowever, in that book, I was still very soft on some of Ellis’s major errors, such as his false definition of ‘awfulizing’, and his mistaken assumption that, just because ‘demandingness’ is often a ‘sufficient condition’ for human disturbance, therefore it is also a ‘necessary condition’, which, the Buddha’s followers would argue, it is not.  Any significant degree of desiring that the present be different from how it is, could, in theory, cause significant levels of negative affect.

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Tenth Anniversary of the Death of Albert Ellis:

On this anniversary, I have today posted some feedback from Dr Meredith Nisbet of my book on the childhood of Albert Ellis.  This is what she wrote:

Book Review – by Dr Meredith Nisbet:

“I learned so much about human nature reading your book (Jim) about (Albert) Ellis. I also learned from your book about Jim Byrne. The similarities are obvious. The differences are where most of the learning comes. You overcame your childhood experiences; he lived with his experiences, but the differences were that he needed help to conquer his experiences, but he never was able to “normalize” as you did. I’d like to hear your comments on what made the difference for you  – something within you or the people who helped you? Was his problem something he missed or didn’t think he needed? I think it was more the latter. What do you think?”

To see my response to her questions, please go here: https://abc-counselling.org/albert-ellis-a-wounded-psychotherapist/

~~~

Since 2013, my thinking about Albert Ellis and REBT has moved on again, into a more detailed critique of the foundational ideas underpinning his basic conclusions about human disturbance.  This work of mine is described in my latest boon on Ellis and REBT:

Cover444REBT Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes

The book that reveals the fundamental falsehoods at the heart of REBT/CBT

At a moment in history when thousands of counsellors and therapists are being coerced and cajoled into using the ‘flavour of the month’ therapy – CBT – in order to keep their jobs and incomes, everything is changed by one action! Dr Jim Byrne has produced a devastating critique of the original form of CBT: known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

Many of his criticisms of REBT apply equally to all forms of CBT which utilize the ABC model of human disturbance.

Dr Byrne begins by showing that Dr Ellis was wrong to claim that he had evidence that people are upset by their thinking, plus their thinking about their thinking.  In a line by line analysis of the relevant text from Dr Ellis, Dr Byrne destroys the basis of this false claim.

He then explores the value and veracity of some of the core principles of Stoicism , which are built into REBT/CBT, and find that they do not stand up to scrutiny!

There are at least seven key errors in the foundations of REBT, many of which overlap CBT practice.

For anybody to practice these forms of therapy, without taking Dr Byrne’s critique into account, would be a grave error and a serious miscalculation.  These systems of therapy are enjoying a short-lived popularity which will end in tears.  If you are being forced on to this particular bus, now is the time to object – to present a strong counter argument against this madness.

This madness which denies the impact of the social environment upon the body-brain-mind of the client.  This madness which blames the client for their emotional disturbances.  This madness which copies the delusions of a first century Roman slave, instead of the research evidence of modern social psychology, neuroscience, and interpersonal neurobiology!

Get this book today, if you want to retrieve your right to work for the client; to feel with the client; to champion the rights of the client; and to refuse to go along with the idea that helping the client to repress their feelings, in the name of Stoical bravery, is an adequate ‘therapeutic solution’.

Get the book here, now:

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia Amazon Netherlands Amazon Germany
Amazon Italy Amazon India Amazon France
Amazon Spain Amazon Brazil Amazon Japan

~~~

Albert Ellis was a man of his time, which was a long time ago.  He modelled his philosophy of psychotherapy[y on the idealistic notions of a Roman slave, instead of on modern theories of social psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and so on. He grossly oversimplified the nature of human disturbance; blamed the client for ‘choosing’ to upset themselves; and denied the value of moral language.

We no longer need to reflect upon the contribution of Dr Ellis.  It was very small.  His contribution is evaluated in the book above: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes.

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

 

Creative writing and the therapeutic journey

Blog Post No. 155

18th July 2017

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The art of writing; the frustrations of writing; complexity versus oversimplification; and the artist’s therapeutic journey…

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Introduction

Cover444It is now more than three months since my previous blog post was published.  The delay was down to how busy I’ve been, largely because of writing my latest book, which is now available at Amazon: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes: The case against Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.***

My main role in life, as a doctor of counselling, is to see individual clients who have ‘problems of daily living’ which they cannot resolve on their own.  I help people with problems of anxiety, depression, anger, couple conflict, attachment problems, and other relationship problems.  Dr Jim’s Counselling Division.***

drjim-counsellor1However, I also write books, blogs and web pages; and articles or papers on counselling-related topics.  And I help individuals, from time to time, who are struggling with their creative or technical writing projects.  Sometimes I help individual writers to stay motivated, or to process their repeated rejection by an unreceptive and uncaring world.

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The frustrations of writing

It is far from easy being a creative writer.  Frustrations abound, from conception of a new and useful writing project; doing the research; writing early drafts; then polishing, editing and publishing; and then trying to sell the end product in a world which is awash with information overload.

An example of the frustrations of having produced a useful book, and then having it be ignored, is this:

Chill Out, coverOver the years of my professional career, I have found it stressful coping with the excessive demands of an exploitative social and economic environment; on top of the stresses caused by my own ambition; and the pressures of my own goals.  As a response to feelings of stress, I have studied the nature of stress; the causes and cures for stress; and the best strategies for staying on top of daily stress and strain.  And then, in 2003 (or earlier) I began to write about the nature of stress, and how to manage it, so it does not spoil our happiness and damage our physical health and emotional wellbeing.

In my new book on REBT, I wrote about that period like this:

“As early as August 2003 (and probably earlier), I was writing about the fact that stress was a multi-causal problem.  That idea contradicts the ABC theory, which asserts that all emotional distress (including the common manifestations of stress: anger, anxiety and depression) are caused exclusively by the client’s Beliefs (B’s).  Here is an example of my writing from August 2003:

“I have developed a stress management programme consisting of fifteen strategies which help you to work on your body, your emotions, your thinking, and your stress management skills. This programme allows you to develop a stress-free life.

8-physical-symptoms-of-stress

“You may also be affected by many life-change stressors, e.g. Moving house; death of your spouse or other loved one; divorce; marriage; redundancy; bullying at work; promotion; demotion; change of lifestyle; etc.

“Your stress level also depends upon such factors as your diet, exercise, what you tell yourself about your life pressures, and so on. (What you tell yourself about your pressures is called your “self-talk”).

“And a lot depends upon your sense of control. Can you control your workload, your work environment, and/or your social life? Are you confident and assertive enough to at least try to control your workload, your work environment, and/or your social life? Are you wise enough to learn how to stoically accept those things which you clearly cannot control? The more control you have, the less stress you feel, according to the Whitehall Studies, conducted by Michael Marmot, beginning in 1984.” (Original source in footnotes)[1].

However, the frustration was this: Although I had expertise about managing stress; and although I had packaged 15 different strategies for getting your stress under control, very few people bought my book!

And today, I believe, most people do not understand stress: How it destroys their happiness, damages their physical health, and causes all kinds of emotional problems.

Tough stuff! This is the lot of the creative writer.  The world most often seem to not to be ready for our insights!

~~~

People love simplicity and side-tracks

While my stress book was not selling to any reasonable degree, the simple books about the ABC model of REBT, produced by Dr Albert Ellis, were selling much better.  Those books presented an exaggerated claim that they could help the reader to quickly and relatively effortlessly get rid of any problem, simply by changing their beliefs about the problems they encountered.

My new book demonstrates that there was never any solid evidence that this claim is true.  It also demonstrates that, in the process, the REBT/CBT model blames the client for their own upsets, thus excusing the harshness of current government policy in the US and the UK, where the riche are enriched and the poor are squashed!  That squashing process huts, and causes emotional distress and physical health problems.

Here is the evidence that it is not the individual’s beliefs, but the social environment that has the most impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing:

While psychotherapists like Albert Ellis tended to emphasise the role of the counselling client’s beliefs in the causation of anger, anxiety, depression, and so on, Oliver James, and his concept of ‘affluenza’, tends to emphasise living in a materialistic environment. As Dr James writes: “Nearly ten years ago, in my book Britain on the Couch, I pointed out that a twenty-five-year-old American is (depending on which studies you believe) between three and ten times more likely to be suffering depression today than in 1950. … In the case of British people, nearly one-quarter suffered from emotional distress … in the past twelve months, and there is strong evidence that a further one-quarter of us are on the verge thereof.  … (M)uch of this increase in angst occurred after the 1970s and in English-speaking nations”.  People’s beliefs have not changed so much over that time.  This is evidence of the social-economic impact of the post-Thatcher/Reagan neo-liberal economic policies!

Oliver James (2007) Affluenza: How to be successful and stay sane.  Page xvi-xvii. (63).

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The singer, not the song

Wounded psychotherapistIf you want to know where Albert Ellis’s cockeyed theory of human disturbance came from, you have to look beyond his theory books, and get into the foundations of his life, by reading his autobiography, and biographies about him.  That’s what I did in the end, in order to understand him and his theory of REBT.  In 2013, I did the research on his childhood, and wrote a book which showed that his childhood neglect by his parents was so extreme that he became an extreme Stoic, with an incapacity to experience or expose himself to love.  He developed an avoidant attachment style, and a disregard for emotion as a guide to action in the world.  He became a cold ‘reasoner’, whose reasoning was cockeyed because he was afraid to feel the sense of rejection that would have been appropriate to his childhood abandonment.  You can read about his sad journey in my book titled, A Wounded Psychotherapist: The childhood of Albert Ellis, and the limitations of REBT/CBT.***

front-cover2But that then brings us to who I am!  What is my song, and who is the singer anyway?  You can read about the journey that I’ve been on, from birth to the age of forty years – the key experiences that shaped me – and how I did my therapy in the end (which Ellis failed to do!)  You can find that story here: Metal Dog – Long Road Home: A mythical journey.***

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Conclusion

If you are a creative writer, and you want to write your own autobiography, or autobiographical novel, or you need support with any aspect of your creative writing process, then I can help you.

Coaching, counselling and therapy for writers.***

Or you could take a look at my current books in print.***

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That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

 

Jim

 

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

 

[1] Source: My stress management page from 2003.  Still available online, at the Internet Archive WayBack Machine, here:           http://web.archive.org/web/20050829093647/http://rebt.cc:80/_wsn/page3.html

Post Traumatic Stress Solutions

Blog Post No.155 (was 119)

Posted on 4th May 2017 (Originally posted on Saturday 21st February 2015)

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: A counsellor blogs about ‘Living in the Present’… And Processing the Past!

Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2015

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A fly in my ointment

drjim-counsellor9About one week ago, I got up, ate my breakfast, meditated and did my physical exercise, as normal.  But something went wrong.

Just before I mediate, I am in the habit of reading some ‘thought for the day’ from a Zen source.  On that occasion, I read a quote from Chögyam Trungpa.[1]

This is what it said:

“…Once you begin to deal with a person’s whole case history, trying to make it relevant to the present, the person begins to feel that he has no escape, that his situation is hopeless, because he cannot undo his past.  He feels trapped by his past with no way out.  This kind of treatment is extremely unskilled.  It is destructive because it hinders involvement with the creative aspect of what is happening now, what is here, right now…”

This quotation was concerning for me, because it seems to support Dr Albert Ellis’s advice to “forget the god-awful past” – which I have rejected several times in recent years, in various pieces of my writing.

Dealing with tensions and contradictions

As a principled practitioner and researcher, I therefore felt obliged to address this statement by Trungpa; to investigate it; to see how it is constructed; and to come to some kind of resolution of the tension between Trungpa/Ellis, on the one hand, and myself on the other.

front-cover7I was very busy during that period, for perhaps the past two weeks – with much of my time going into editing my revised autobiographical novel.  (See Metal Dog – Long Road Home***)

Yesterday, I completed the current editing task, and today I wrote a little 29-page paper on the question of which is supportable: the suggestion of ‘forgetting the past’; or the suggestion of ‘processing the past’.

Please see: Personal history and the mind of the individual counselling client. The (frequent) importance of processing the past in counselling and therapy.***  

In this little blog post, I want to take Trungpa’s quote apart to see what it is made of.  Let us begin with the first element:

“…Once you begin to deal with a person’s whole case history, trying to make it relevant to the present, the person begins to feel that he has no escape, that his situation is hopeless, because he cannot undo his past. …”

This statement is:

(a) Not in line with my clinical experience. I could, given the time, write up lots of my client cases to show that many of my clients experienced dramatic levels of relief once they had finished processing some past, traumatic experience.

(b) Misleading.  The second clause – “…trying to make (the past) relevant to the present…” – is not a therapeutic task that has ever been proposed by any of the major therapists that I have studied.  This is either a misunderstanding or a red herring presented by Trungpa.

(c) Unsupported.  Which person “begins to feel that he has no escape”?  Certainly not any of the many individuals that I have helped to process their old traumas.  They have a very specific form of escape.

(1) They find and confront the troublesome past experience; and, simultaneously:

(2) They find a way to re-frame that old experience, so it does not seem so daunting; painful; impossible to bear.

(3) Once they have digested/re-framed the old, troublesome experience, they can let it go, and move on with the rest of their lives.

See my paper on ‘Completing your experience of difficult events, perceptions and painful emotions’.[2]

(d) Unclear.  Who is this person who “feels trapped by his past with no way out”?  Certainly not me.  (See my papers on processing my own childhood traumas, in Byrne [2009][3] and Byrne [2010][4]).

(e) Not about any known therapy.  The process which Trungpa describes, which he says “is destructive” is not a process that corresponds to any form of psychotherapy that I have ever encountered.  There is nothing to stop any client in CENT counselling from being in touch with the present moment, immediately before, and immediately after, their attempt to complete and re-frame an old experience.

An additional argument…

Trungpa goes on, in the next paragraph, to say: “As soon as we try to unravel the past, then we are involved with ambition and struggle in the present, not being able to accept the present moment as it is”.

Again, this does not correspond to my experience.  Whenever I have worked on processing old childhood traumas, I was perfectly able to accept the present moment as it was.  (I have been meditating since 1980, and striving to ‘live in the present’).

Let us look at one of my recent cases.  It should be of interest to Trungpa that I worked with one woman who had a hugely traumatic family problem dating from her childhood (when aged about seven years onwards), which we reviewed, processed, and I helped her to reframe it – in just three sessions of 45 minutes of counselling.  At the end of this process, she declared that she was ‘done’ – but that she would join a Meditation Group and continue to develop her sense of having been ‘washed clean’ by our therapy work together!

Certainly it is true (as Trungpa says) that processing the past involves struggles, but they are struggles that are well worth undertaking and completing, because they allow you to live more fully in the present when you have burned out the old hurts and pains in the (largely non-conscious) basement of your mind.

I have written an eBook on how to face up to traumatic memories of past experiences, and to process them, digest them, and burn them out, so they can be filed away in an inert file in long-term memory, from which they can cause you no further disturbance.  Her are the details:

NTS eBook No.5 – Facing and Defeating your Emotional Dragons: How to process and eliminate undigested pain from your past, by Jim Byrne

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Finale

It may well be that every philosophy of life contains its strengths and weaknesses.  Trungpa and Ellis are illustrations of that hybrid nature of philosophies of life.

So, by all means, try to live in the present moment; try to engage in ongoing mindfulness as you go about your day.  But if you are troubled by emotional (or physical) symptoms which may be connected to childhood, or early adult life trauma, then by all means engage in the struggle that is required to process and re-frame those traumas, so you can free your energies for a more enjoyable life in the present moment.

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne – Doctor of Counselling

ABC Counselling and Psychotherapy Division

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

~~~

[1] Chögyam Trungpa, The situation of nowness, in: Josh Baran, 365 Nirvana: Here and Now.  Element/HarperColins.  2003.

[2] Byrne, J. (2011) Completing your experience of difficult events, perceptions and painful emotions.  CENT Paper No.13.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy.  Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/ 

[3] Byrne, J. (2009) A journey through models of mind.  The story of my personal origins.  CENT Paper No.4.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/

[4] Byrne, J. (2010) The Story of Relationship: Or coming to terms with my mother (and father).  CENT Paper No.10.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT.  Available online: https://ecent-institute.org/e-cent-articles-and-papers/

~~~

Hebden Bridge Counselling Books

Hebden Bridge Counsellor Writes and Publishes Books

6th April 2016

honetpieWe live in an era of information overload, so much so that you could live next door to a published author and not know about it!

You might we interested in what they wrote and published, if only you could find out that this work exists.

For this reason, I have decided to draw attention to the fact that I am a Hebden Bridge based counsellor/psychotherapist who also writes and edits and publishes books, such as the following:

♣  Paperback books.***

♣  eBooks on Narrative Therapy and Therapeutic Writing.***

♣  Dr Jim’s autobiographical novel: Metal Dog – Long Road Home.***

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Books-on-counsellingI hope you find this information interesting and helpful.  I am also happy to advise aspiring authors of similar books regarding the writing and editing processes involved, and the process of publication.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

 

Link between nutrition and mental health – Part Two

Blog Post No.153

4th April 2017

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The link between nutrition and ‘mental health’ (or emotional wellbeing) – Part 2

Introduction

honetpieIn Part 1 of this blog post series, I reviewed the scientific evidence, presented by Professor Bonnie Kaplan, that nutritional deficiencies can and do result in mental health or emotional wellbeing problems.

In particular, we saw that single nutrient deficiencies – like vitamins B1, B3, B12, and iodine, resulted in psychiatric disorders, or mental health difficulties.

At the end of her presentation of the scientific evidence of the importance of nutrition for mental health, Dr Kaplan raises this question: What happened next?

And her answer?  Nothing! 

Or: 50+ years of virtual silence on the role of nutrition in mental health in the realm of psychiatry or clinical medicine.

Bonnie KaplanShe then wonders: ‘Why?’

Her first inference is that this was the era of the development of pharmaceuticals!  (Which we now know to be little better than a placebo, but with hugely damaging side effects! [More on that later in this series!])

And she also mentions that psychologists and mental health workers were taught that nutrition was not important!

But that claim is spurious, and contradicts the scientific evidence presented by Dr Kaplan.

~~~

And here’s Julia Rucklidge’s Tedx talk on nutrition and mental health:

Evidence from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment

In an effort to keep a tight focus upon the research on single nutrient deficiencies, in my previous blog post, I skipped Dr Kaplan’s presentation on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.  I now want to return to that subject:

The results of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment have been summarised as follows, by two authors at the American Psychological Association:

“Amid the privations of World War II, 36 men voluntarily starved themselves so that researchers and relief workers could learn about how to help people recover from starvation.

“They reported fatigue, irritability, depression and apathy. Interestingly, the men also reported decreases in mental ability, although mental testing of the men did not support this belief.”  And their sex urge disappeared completely.” (Professor Bonnie Kaplan, who has studied the reports carefully, expands this list as follows: “Depression, hysteria, irritability, self-mutilation, apathy/lethargy, social withdrawal and inability to concentrate”[3].)

Given the insights of this research, why should anybody feel any sense of stigma about ‘mental health issues’?  What if all of their problems could be cleared up by working on their diet, their gut health, and their general level of stress?  (And perhaps re-writing or re-thinking their personal and family history?)

“The Minnesota Starvation Experiment … reminds us that in psychology studies of mind and body, science and practice can converge to deal with real problems in the real world.”[4]

Despite the fact that the American Psychological Association knows of this research, in which semi-starvation, or extreme nutrient deficiency, resulted in fatigue, irritability, depression and apathy, no significant evidence exists that counsellors and psychotherapists normally take the diet of their clients into account.  (A junk food diet is a form of semi-starvation from the point of view of nutrient-deficiency! And there is now evidence that trans-fats and high sugar content results in emotional disturbances, such as angry outbursts and depression).

~~~

Conclusion

Bonnie Kaplan has presented a range of evidences that nutritional deficiencies affect mental health.  I am very careful to eat a balanced diet – but, also in line with her thinking – to use a range of good quality micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to compensate for the poor quality of much agricultural soil today; and also to compensate for the fact that I do not know for sure how to compile a day’s menu which will give me adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients I need for my physical and mental functioning.

I would recommend that you follow this pattern.  Follow a good guide to nutritious eating – probably something like the Mediterranean Diet; and/or the Paleo Diet; with plenty of water (about two litres per day); plus a good strong multivitamin and mineral supplement; a strong (and preferably yeast free) vitamin B complex; a good quality digestive enzyme supplement (especially if you are over the age of forty years, when you digestive enzymes show a marked decline); and perhaps talk to a good nutritional therapist who can advise you on other supplements you might benefit from.  We also try to eat at least 50% organic; and we currently exclude all grains and dairy products (well 95% or so).

We also learn a lot of useful health tips from What Doctors Don’t Tell You.***

In her appendix on nutrition (Diet, nutrition and the body-brain-mind), in our book on Holistic Counselling***, Renata also recommends avoidance of caffeine, sugar, and gluten; and the taking of vitamin D3 supplements (but also getting vitamin D from sunlight); and getting omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish (and/or from supplements, like cod liver oil, or krill oil); and avoiding trans-fats (commonly found in junk food), which ‘rot your brain’.  You can also get support from a good holistic health practitioner, nutritionist or your regular healthcare practitioner.

But most important of all, do you own research.  Find out for yourself.  Become your own physician!  And remember, this is educational information, and not medical advice!

~~~

That’s all for today.

More later…

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

End Notes

[2] Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henshel, A., Mickelson, O., & Taylor, H.L. (1950). The biology of human starvation, (Vols. 1–2). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

[3] Kaplan, B.J., Julia J. Rucklidge, Amy Romijn, and Kevin Flood (2015) The emerging field of nutritional mental health: Inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial function.  Clinical Psychological Science, Vol.3(6): 964-980.

[4] American Psychological Association: The psychology of hunger. By Dr David Baker and Natacha Keramidas, October 2013, Vol 44, No. 9. Online: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/10/hunger.aspx

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Diet, nutrition and mental health

Blog Post No.152

3rd April 2017

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The link between nutrition and ‘mental health’ (or emotional wellbeing) – Part 1

Introduction

Dr-Jim-Self-AcceptanceThere is now a growing consensus that there is a significant link between diet/nutrition – on the one hand – and ‘mental health’ or emotional wellbeing – on the other. (For example, see Mental Health Foundation; and  Mind UK.

I first began to take this emerging insight into account in dealing with my clients, perhaps twelve or more years ago.  Out of my curiosity about this link, I created what I called my Stress and Anxiety Diet.***

Last year, Renata wrote a substantial document on the link between diet and emotional disturbances.  This we published as Appendix E to our book on Holistic Counselling: (Please see Holistic Counselling in Practice.***)

Bonnie-KaplanMoving on: I recently reviewed Part 1 of a three part webinar on ‘Nutrition and Mental Health’, by Dr Bonnie Kaplan, a professor in the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada[1].

In her webinar, Dr Kaplan reviews 2,600 years of folklore and modern science to explore the link between nutrition and mental health.

The science of nutritional deficiency

In the realm of science, she presents evidence that, just as deficiencies in single nutrients can cause physical diseases (e.g. scurvy), they can also cause psychological/psychiatric symptoms.

She begins her science section with a look at the dire consequences of citrus deficiency: the development of a disease called scurvy, which killed 40% of the crews of ships that sailed without lemon juice.  In 1774, citrus was shown, in a randomized control trial of six potential treatments, to be superior.  But it took 264 years before citrus was made routinely available to all sailors.

Subsequent studies showed that single nutrient deficiencies could, and would, cause psychiatric symptoms, of which Kaplan mentions four:

# Thiamine/B1 deficiency causes Wernicke’s encephalopathy[2].  Korsakoff’s psychosis[3].

# Cyanocobalamin/B12 deficiency causes Psychosis of pernicious anaemia[4].

# Iodine deficiency causes ‘Myxedema madness’[5]. And:

# Niacin/B3 causes Pellagra[6].

The widespread recognition that these psychiatric conditions can be caused by single nutrient deficiencies is beyond dispute.  As Dr Kaplan points out, the DSM acknowledges that niacin deficiency can cause neurocognitive disorders.

How do we know that most so called psychiatric symptoms are not a result of single or multiple vitamin or mineral deficiencies?  Or a result of nutritional deficiencies plus dehydration?  Or nutritional deficiencies, sugar overload, and inflammation due to grain allergies?  The answer is: We Don’t!

But there is a growing field of nutritional medicine emerging which seems to cohere around one central theme: Food is the best medicine!  (Brogan, 2016[i]; Perlmutter, 2015[ii]; Ross, 2002[iii]; Enders, 2015[iv]).

[i] Brogan, K. (2016) A mind of your own: The truth about depression and how women can heal their bodies to reclaim their lives. London: Thorsons.

[ii] Perlmutter, D. (2015) Brain Maker: The power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain – for life. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

[iii] Ross, J. (2002) The Mood Cure: Take charge of your emotions in 24 hours using food and supplements. London: Thorsons.

[iv] Enders, G. (2015) Gut: The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ.  Scribe Publications.

~~~

 Vitamin B3 deficiency and the disease of Pellagra

Pellagra_NIH_manThe most obvious symptom of Pellagra is rough skin, or dermatitis of an extreme form.  According to Dr Kaplan, this disease was first described in 1735 in Spain.  But it was not until 1914 that Dr Joseph Goldberger realised that Pellagra was not an infectious disease, but that it was in fact linked to diet.  By 1937, it was precisely linked to niacin (or Vitamin B3) deficiency.  As a result, some governments began to fortify food with vitamin B3, to prevent this disease.

However, as mentioned earlier, Pellagra symptoms were not restricted to the skin, but also affected the brain-mind of the victim, causing mental disturbances sufficiently sever for sufferers to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals.  And Dr Kaplan cites one American hospital which estimated that 1 in 5 admissions from 1930-32 were solely due to Pellagra psychosis.

Much of this psychosis was caused by over-reliance on maize as the staple of the ‘poor man’s diet’.

What does this tell us about the stigma of ‘mental illness’?  Are we misrepresenting nutritional deficiencies as ‘madness’?

My own mother was hospitalized for depression when I was about twelve years old.  The one thing I know for sure about those years is this: We were all seriously malnourished!  (Of course, we must not get into the trap of swapping one ‘single cause’ of emotional distress for another.  We subscribe to a holistic model, in which diet, exercise, self-talk, relaxation, meditation, sleep pattern, family of origin, current relationships, environmental stressors, economic circumstances, housing circumstances, and so on, all play a role in determining the individual’s capacity to regulate their emotions; and certainly there were a lot of stressors [financial and relational] in my mother’s life at that time!)

~~~

Nutritional treatment of emotional problems

Dr Kaplan, in 2007, co-authored a paper on Vitamins, Minerals and Mood[7].  This is what the abstract said:

“In this article, the authors explore the breadth and depth of published research linking dietary vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) to mood. Since the 1920’s, there have been many studies on individual vitamins (especially B vitamins and Vitamins C, D, and E), minerals (calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium), and vitamin-like compounds (choline). Recent investigations with multi-ingredient formulas are especially promising. However, without a reasonable conceptual framework for understanding mechanisms by which micronutrients might influence mood, the published literature is too readily dismissed. Consequently, 4 explanatory models are presented, …. These models provide possible explanations for why micronutrient supplementation could ameliorate some mental symptoms[8].”

Dr Kaplan next moves on to present the result of the Minnesota Starvation Experiments, from 1950, which demonstrated that, when a group of normal, healthy students were deprived of a nutritious diet, and placed on 50% of normal nutritional levels, they developed symptoms of depression, hysteria, irritability, self-mutilation, apathy and lethargy, social withdrawal, and inability to concentrate. (Keys, et al, 1950)[9].

The link between nutrition and mental health is therefore, quite clearly, beyond dispute.

~~~

End of Part 1.  To be continued in Part 2.

~~~

PS: Soon after posting this blog, I got this response on Facebook:

Shannon Joy Glasser “I changed to a vegan diet about a year and a half ago, and I have experienced SIGNIFICANT improvements in my health, depression and anxiety. I’m a firm believer!”

PPS: And there are now randomized controlled trials (RCTs) which demonstrate dietary changes are more effective than social support interventions for reducing and eliminating the symptoms of depression:

https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/04/healthier-diet-reduces-depressive-symptoms/

https://www.thecounsellorscafe.co.uk/single-post/2017/03/15/Adding-back-the-body-to-the-counselling-client

PPPS: Finally, just in case you naively believe that ‘antidepressants’ can cure depression, please take an eye-opening look at The Emperor’s New Drugs.***

~~~

That’s all for today.  More soon.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

Doctor of Counselling

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

Telephone: 01422 843 629

Email: jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

~~~

Endnotes

[1] Here’s one online address where you can watch the video: https://www.hardynutritionals.com/videos/36-continuing-medical-education-series-nutrition-and-mental-health-part-1

To study this material for CE credits, then please go to the Mad in America site, here: https://app.ruzuku.com/courses/

~~~

[2] Wernicke’s encephalopathy (or Wernicke’s disease) is the presence of neurological symptoms caused by biochemical lesions of the central nervous system after exhaustion of B-vitamin reserves, in particular thiamine (vitamin B1).

[3] Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). Korsakoffsyndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse, but certain other conditions also can cause the syndrome.

~~~

[4] Psychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency: a case report.

Abstract

Psychiatric manifestations are frequently associated with pernicious anemia including depression, mania, psychosis, dementia. We report a case of a patient with vitamin B12 deficiency, who has presented severe depression with delusion and Capgras* syndrome, delusion with lability of mood and hypomania successively, during a period of two Months.  Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15029091

(*Capgras Syndrome, also known as Capgras Delusion, is the irrational belief that a familiar person or place has been replaced with an exact duplicate — an imposter (Ellis, 2001, Hirstein, and Ramachandran, 1997).)

~~~

[5] Myxoedema psychosis, more colloquially known as myxoedema madness, is a relatively uncommon consequence of hypothyroidism, such as in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or in patients who have had the thyroid surgically removed and are not taking thyroxine.  Source.***

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[6] pellagra (pɛˈlaɡrə,pɛˈleɪɡrə/) noun:

  1. A deficiency disease caused by a lack of nicotinic acid* or its precursor tryptophan in the diet. It is characterized by dermatitis, diarrhoea, and mental disturbance, and is often linked to over-dependence on maize as a staple food. ***

(* nicotinic acid noun BIOCHEMISTRY: A vitamin of the B complex which is widely distributed in foods such as milk, wheat germ, and meat, and can be synthesized in the body from tryptophan. Its deficiency causes pellagra.)

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[7] Kaplan, B.J., Susan G. Crawford, Catherine J. Field and J. Steven A. Simpson (2007) Vitamins, minerals, and mood. Psychological Bulletin, Sept; 133(5): Pages 747-760.

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[8] Source: Available online at NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17723028

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[9] Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henshel, A., Mickelson, O., & Taylor, H.L. (1950). The biology of human starvation, (Vols. 1–2). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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