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

~~~

Diet, nutrition and mental health

Blog Post No.152

3rd April 2017 – (Updated on 16th July 2018)

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017

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

Introduction

Postscript: Since posting this blog, we have moved on, and produced a slim volume of research findings on the subject of How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression, Using nutrition and physical activity.***

~~~

Updated: 12th June 2018, and 16th July 2018

This book provides some clear guidelines regarding those foods which need to be excluded from your diet, in order to be healthy and emotionally well.  It also contains lots of stimulating ideas to help you to produce your own ‘personalised diet’ and exercise plan. And we have expanded Part 6 to provide a comprehensive guide to how to change any habit, so that readers can actually make the kinds of changes to diet and exercise approaches that appeal to them.

If you’re one of those individuals who has been waiting for the book to be published, then you can get the paperback here, for less than £10.00 GBP!

This book has proved to be popular with both self-help enthusiasts and with professional counsellors and psychotherapists, who want to be able to help clients whose disturbances are partly or wholly caused by problems with their nutritional or exercise approaches.

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon.it Amazon.nl
Amazon.ca Amazon.com.au Amazon.co.jp Amazon.de
Amazon.es Amazon.fr  Amazon.eu  Amazon India

~~~

For more information about this book, please click this link: How to Control Your Anger, Anxiety and Depression: Using nutrition and physical activity.***

~~~

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.***

~~~

[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.)

~~~

[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.

~~~

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

~~~

[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.

~~~

Stress management and love for counsellors and others…

Blog Post No.90 

Posted on 25th August 2016 (Originally published on Saturday 28th June 2014)

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne

A counsellor’s blog: Stress counselling; Ellis on love; and to hell with Socrates…

Introduction

Chill Out, coverEarlier today, I was discussing with Renata what I could write about this week.  She thought it would be good to write about stress.  But I have written a lot on the subject of stress, including a published book on the subject. However, Renata wondered if perhaps some of my readers often missed the point about the crucial importance of learning stress management skills, in the sense of this being a life and death issue.  I asked her what she meant, and she said she could write out two statements which would alternately make readers’ hair stand on end – regarding the importance of stress management, and the dire consequences of ignoring their own stress warnings – and another piece that would fundamentally reassure them that they could resolve all their stress problems satisfactorily.  So I said, “Okay; please show me what you mean”.  She then sat down and wrote the two following statements:

Today’s bad news:

Jim-Renata7.jpgAccording to The Times – Body and Soul supplement, page 4 – today, 28th June 2014, there was an interesting study on stress conducted two years ago by University College, London. It looked at the relationship between men in demanding jobs and heart disease.

This study tracked the health of 200,000 people.  The findings were these: The men most at risk of developing stress-related heart disease had two characteristics:

Firstly, they were in demanding jobs.

Secondly, they felt that they had no power in their job role to control the stressors around them.

How can we handle massive pressures at work if the job gives us no power to manage them?  What if we’ve got to keep working to pay the mortgage (or rent), to feed the kids, etc.?

~~~

Today’s good news:

Human-heart.jpgYou can immediately drop your stress level by deciding to take your control back.  You can’t (very often) change your job – but you can change yourself!  If you get a professional ally – a counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist – they will work with you to give you real, sustained backing as you learn to manage yourself, and learn to control what you can control.

This will have an immediate beneficial effect on your health.  Do you remember the Zeebrugger ferry disaster?  Research conducted in 1991 found that there was a 50% reduction in stress levels in survivors of that and other disasters, after they had talked to trained helpers, and had just eight weeks of help, one hour per week.

~~~

Thanks, Renata.  You made your point very well.  Stress is a hugely important topic for everybody to address, for the sake of their physical and mental health; and it is indeed possible to address it, at relatively small financial cost.

My expertise

Jims-counselling-div2I (Jim) have been studying stress management as a discipline for at least twenty years, and in that time I have developed about eighteen main strategies for reducing physical and mental stress and strain.  I have taught those strategies to hundreds of clients who have improved their physical and emotional health as a result.

See:

My introductory page on stress management.***

My book on stress management.***

~~~

Albert Ellis on Love

Wounded-psychotherapist-ellisTo summarise my conclusions (presented on 7th anniversary of Dr Ellis’s death, on 24th July 2014): Albert Ellis was damaged as a small boy by the neglect he experienced at the hands of his mother and father.  He was not actively loved, nor sensitively cared for.  Indeed, he had to become a little mother to his younger brother and sister, when he was about seven years old, and onward from that point.

As a result of his parents neglect of him, he did not understand what it meant to love and be loved.  This was clear from his description of his attempt to establish a relationship with his first potential girlfriend, Karyl, as told by himself, in his autobiography, All Out!

See my biographical sketch of Ellis’s life, and how it impacted the development of REBT: A Wounded Psychotherapist.***

Because he did not learn to love and be loved, he developed an avoidant attachment style, and related to significant others at a considerable, cool distance.  From this stance, it was important to him to invert Karen Horney’s principle, that we all need to be loved, and to thus arrive at his “Irrational Belief No.1”, which claims that “…virtually all humans demand that they absolutely must be loved by somebody, and often they demand that they must be loved by everybody”.  In my post on 24th July, I will demonstrate that, at most, about 20% of the population (of western cultures) may tend to have this sense of an absolute need to be loved.  For most other humans, the need for love is much less anxious and ambivalent; much less insecure.  Watch this space: Albert Ellis on Love.***

Love is hugely important.  Here’s my niece, Jenni, singing a song she composed for her sister (Ruth’s) wedding to Linval.  Love is a potent force in the world:

~~~

To hell with Socrates

SocratesI have done quite a bit of work on the subject of Socratic Questioning, and certainly enough to satisfy myself that Socrates should never be used as a role model by counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists, etc.

In my first study of Socratic Questioning, I concluded, in line with Dr Edward De Bono, that Plato’s-Socrates – (who is the only substantial Socrates known to the modern world) – held the beliefs that:

  1. Most people do not know how to think straight;
  2. That they tend to hold contradictory beliefs;
  3. That, in order to learn some better ideas – or perhaps to learn that they know nothing and are incapable of knowing anything – the first step is to demonstrate to them that they do not know what they are talking about.

How could these three beliefs form the foundation of the questioning strategies of counsellors or psychotherapists?  I do not believe they could.  I think it would be a dreadful abuse of clients to approach them with those three beliefs in mind. Not because those three ideas are necessarily wholly false, but because challenging people on that basis has the predictable effect of making them feel wrong, or stupid!

Socrates’ dialogues (in Plato’s dialogues) show a lack of sensitivity to the person to whom he is speaking – their vulnerability to feeling bad about themselves.  In Buddhism, there is the concept of ‘upaya’ – or ‘skillful means’ – which suggests that, when a Zen master is dealing with a student, they should aim to be skillful.  (Not that the approaches of Zen masters form a good model for counsellors: Remember it is not okay to throw your fan at a client; or to whack them over the head with your bamboo pole! :-))

And yet, when I challenged the idea of using Socratic Questioning in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Albert Ellis told me that, while he could see some merit in some of my critique of Socrates, nevertheless, REBT is “…substantially Socratic”.

Nierenberg-negotiations-book.jpgMy own argument, following Nierenberg’s ‘Complete Negotiator’ approach, is to consider that questioning in counselling and therapy has certain instrumental functions, as follows:

1. To cause the client to focus upon a particular point (event, or object);

2. To cause their thinking to start up;

3. To ask them for some information;

4. To pass some information to them (rhetorically); and:

5. To cause their thinking to come to a conclusion.

Nierenberg also argues that you can arrange those five questions in a grid, like this:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
1.  Combined Qs 1 & 3
2.
3.
4
5.

Dr Jim's photoUsing this grid, we can see that a question can be in two parts; e.g., 1+3 – To cause the client’s attention to focus on a specific event/experience, and to ask them for some information about that event/experience.

The great beauty of this system is that it gets rid of the “Socratic smart-arse” aspect of questioning the client.

The problems with classic Socratic Questioning include:

  1. That the client may interpret the therapist as ‘picking a fight’ with them;
  2. That the client may become anxious when asked particular kinds of right/wrong questions (perhaps because of re-stimulation of the humiliating experience of being at school and being subjected to interrogations, the aim of which was to find a reason to punish the client as a child).
  3. That the client may (as suggested by Asch, Milgram, Zimbardo) simply go along with the therapist’s inferences, as a form of obedience or conformity to authority.
  4. That the therapist never gets to *know* the client, because s/he (the therapist) is always tilting at the windmills of ‘innate irrational beliefs’ – or ‘negative automatic thoughts’).

And on and on.

~~~

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

 

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone:

01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

~~~

Blog Post No.89 

Posted on 25th August 2016 (Previously published on Saturday 14th June 2014)

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne

The Counselling Blog: A counsellor writes about “The importance of love…”

Kate-Atkinson-Life-After-Life.jpgI recently mentioned that I had acquired a copy of Kate Atkinson’s new novel. My intention was to read fiction for some part of each day – say 30 to 60 minutes – as a way to have a mental break from my tendency towards overworking.

I have now finished reading that book, at an average of three to six pages per day.  In a review, by ‘Bron’, at Amazon.co.uk, we get the following insight into the fundamental theme of Kate Atkinson’s new book:

“A seemingly small event can change the direction of a life completely: a chance encounter with a stranger who harms you or a conversation that detains you which means you miss bumping into the person, a meeting with the German you fall in love with and marry or being helped up from a fall by an Englishman. Life is full of moments which change the direction a person travels in and we have all wished we could go back and change something, or do it over again in a different way. And Life after Life explores this theme intricately, with sympathy, compassion and superb writing and plotting.”

Domestic-violence.jpgI was deeply moved by the emotional tone of Kate’s book, but I was never able to express what I was ‘getting’ from the experience.  It rattled some skeletons in the non-conscious basement of my mind, and sensitised me to some aspects of human suffering which were not previously in my range of experience – such as being a young woman, in her twenties, who is the victim of wife-beating and emotional abuse.  (Reading Kate’s vivid descriptions of wife-beatings, and eventual murder, happened on top of recently learning that one woman in three will be beaten by her partner.  What a world!)

I suppose a lot of my feelings were of being able to identify with a woman in a predominantly man’s world.  And, in addition, there were lots of descriptions of war and its horrors.

Soon after finishing reading this book, I sat down and wrote the following statement, which must have been, to some extent, inspired by reading Kate Atkinson’s narrative:

In CENT counselling, we are sometimes asked: ‘What is the purpose of life?  What’s it all about?’  This is our attempt at an answer: “We are born and we die.  We come into the world alone and with nothing in our hands, and very little in our hearts and minds.  And we leave this world alone and empty-handed.  The purpose of life, then, cannot be to get; to acquire; to want and desire.  The purpose of life must be to leave this world knowing we have made a difference (a positive difference!) to the lives of those people we met and knew and left behind.  The purpose of life must be to love; to give; to make a contribution to life on earth for our family, community and the people we love”.

~~~

Love-matters-Gerhardt.jpgSue Gerhardt’s book – Why Love Matters – is a wonderful analysis of how affection shapes a baby’s brain, and the long-term implications of childhood experiences in relationships with early carers.  She “…explores how the earliest relationship shapes the baby’s nervous sytem.  She shows how the development of the brain determines future emotional well being, and goes on to look at specific early ‘pathways’ that can affect the way we respond to stress, and can contribute to conditions such as anorexia, addiction, and anti-social behaviour”.

And she presents an easy to understand analysis of the emergence of attachment styles – secure and insecure.

~~~

This brings me to the problem of teaching my counselling clients – who often have insecure attachments to their parents – about love: its importance, what it is, and what it feels and looks like.  This is how I sometimes express it:

Teaching the client about the nature of love is one of the most difficult challenges a counsellor faces:  “There are no short-cuts to understanding what love is.  If someone has been deprived of the crudest infantile experience of love then he might be permanently crippled or, at least, have great difficulty in learning later what the word can mean.  In learning what it symbolises, I need to re-write my autobiography over and over again.  To grow is to re-organise the past now and to move into the future”.

Robert F. Hobson, Forms of Feeling: The heart of psychotherapy, Page 212. (25)

~~~

road-less-travelledI like to teach my clients M. Scott Peck’s definition of love: That love is a process of ‘extending yourself in the service of another person’.  It is not primarily about ‘nice feelings’, although nice feelings normally flow from the process, especially for the love object.  But, of course, what goes around also comes around – so ‘cast thy bread upon the waters, for it shall return after many days’.  Or, as Albert Ellis would say, “The best way to get love is to sincerely offer it”.

But this statement by Ellis is an anachronism.  He is right; but he most likely did not implement that policy in his own life, based upon the research I have been able to do on the subject.

Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) was greatly emotionally deprived as a child – on one occasion spending almost ten months in hospital, around the age of five or six years, during which time he just one or two visits from his mother, and none from his father.

Wounded-psychotherapist-ellisHe failed to understand how wounded he was, and went on to make a virtue of his insecure attachment style – trying to teach emotional coldness to his clients as a ‘superior, rational form of functioning’ –relative to having feelings of need to give and get love.

To those who told him they needed love, he objected, and insisted that nobody needs to be loved, and that they were ‘love slobs’ for thinking they did need love.  I wrote some more on this subject in time for the seventh anniversary of his death, here: About Dr Albert Ellis.***

If you want to find out more about Ellis’s childhood, and how his emotional deprivations affected the eventual shape of REBT, then please take a look at A Wounded Psychotherapist.***

~~~

That’s all for now.

Best wishes,

Jim

Dr Jim Byrne

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services

jim.byrne@abc-counselling.com

Telephone:

01422 843 629 (from inside the UK)

44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)

~~~

Counselling and psychotherapy blog

Blog Post No. 147

By Dr Jim Byrne

14th August 2016 – Updated on 15th August 2019

Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: Low-cost eBook on the integration of body-mind-environment in counselling and psychotherapy…

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2016

~~~

Introduction

Book-cover-frontOn 9th July, I published a post on this page which explored the role of the client in counselling and therapy.  Strangely, that was five days after the formal announcement of my new book on Holistic Counselling in Practice, but I forgot to mention the book at any point in that blog!

Unfortunately, that book proved to be very expensive – at £41 GBP – solely because it was illustrated in full colour throughout, and it consisted of 315 pages.

Now, however, there is an eBook form, which is available for just £6.11 GBP (which is approximately $7.99 USD).  You can check out the details, and view the opening sections, by going to one of the following Amazon stores:

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Amazon in Canada
Amazon in Germany Amazon in Spain Amazon Australia
Amazon in Italy Netherlands Amazon India

~~~

UPDATE: Subsequently I have produced a low cost version of the paperback book above, by removing all of the coloured images, and reducing the length.  You can find out about it here:

Holistic Counselling in Practice:

An introduction to the theory and practice of Emotive-Cognitive Embodied-Narrative Therapy

front cover holistic couns reissued
Cover design by Will Sutton

By Jim Byrne DCoun FISPC

With Renata Taylor-Byrne BSc (Hons) Psychol

This book was the original introduction to Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT), which was created by Dr Jim Byrne in the period 2009-2014, building upon earlier work from 2003.  It is of historic importance, but it has been superseded by Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, above.

Prices from: £5.83p GBP (Kindle) and £15.18p (Paperback)

Paperback and eBook versions

Learn more.***


I also took much of the content of that book titled ‘Holistic Counselling in Practice’, and expanded it and amended it to make it relevant to counsellors and psychotherapists who want to include elements of diet, exercise and sleep hygiene in their counselling practice.  This is it:

Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person:

Or how to integrate nutritional insights, exercise and sleep coaching into talk therapy.

The Lifestyle Counselling Book
Cover design by Charles Saul

By Dr Jim Byrne, with Renata Taylor-Byrne

This book has been found in practice to be very helpful to counsellors and psychotherapists who want to understand the role of lifestyle factors in human disturbance. Because diet, exercise and sleep are increasingly seen to be important determinants of mental health and emotional well-being, it is now necessary to rethink our models of counselling and therapy.

Paperback and eBook versions.

Learn more.***

This book shows counsellors how to incorporate lifestyle coaching and counselling into their system of talk therapy.  It will also help self-help enthusiasts to take better care of their own mental and physical health, and emotional well-being.

Prices: from £4.26 GBP (Kindle) to £12.64 (paperback)

Paperback and eBook versions.

Learn more.***


Where did the summer go?

jim-nata-couples-pg-w300h245This summer has been quite hectic.  In the run-up to 4th July, I was busy finishing off the copy for the paperback edition of Holistic Counselling in Practice – to which Renata contributed two sections (one on diet and nutrition, and one on physical exercise – both of which deal with the link to emotional well-being).

After 4th July, I had three busy weeks with counselling client appointments; I spent some time promoting the paperback book; and I began to work on producing an eBook version of Holistic Counselling.  For this final purpose, I had to buy a software package to facilitate good formatting and image location.

During this period, I was also reading:

Personality Adaptations: A new guide to human understanding in psychotherapy and counselling; by Vann Joines and Ian Stewart. And:

Affect Regulation Theory: A clinical model; by Daniel Hill.

Then it was 28th July, and we set off for a week-long ‘tour’ via London, Brighton and Bournemouth/Poole.  We stayed at the Selsdon Park Hotel and Golf Club in East Croydon, for the wedding of our niece, Ruth Dempsey, to her partner, Linval Antonio.  Then we attended a barbecue in Bromley in Brian and Jane, Ruth’s parents, and the wider families of the bride and groom.

Ruth and Linval ceremony

I did not want to bring the Personality Adaptations and Affect Regulation books with me on this trip, so instead I brought:

The art of lovingThe Art of Loving; by Erich Fromm.  And:

A History of the Mind; by Nicholas Humphrey.

Then on Sunday 31st July, we travelled down to Brighton, to see Joanna-Swannour friends, Brian Marley and Joanna Swann; with whom we spent two very enjoyable days, including one afternoon in Lewes, having lunch and wandering around this very interesting little town. (Joanna is involved in some very interesting art projects.***)

In a second-hand bookshop in Lewes, Brian handed me a copy of John Ashbery’s book of poetry, April Galleons. I opened it at page 49, and read these two lines:

“The quarries are closed now,

The terse, blue stone is no longer mined there”.

Brian-MarleyFor some inexplicable reason, I found those lines very moving; and so Brian bought me the book as a gift.  (I read it on the train on the homeward leg of our train journey, and enjoyed it enormously.  Perhaps I will write a later blog on some of the content!?!)

After Brighton, we moved on to Bournemouth and Poole, staying in a nice flat in Bournemouth, and attending a family get-together in Poole.  It was delightful.

Big group in PooleThe family get-together was particularly enjoyable, as we got to catch up with relatives we don’t often get to see.

Next day we set off back to West Yorkshire, via London and Manchester.

Since we have returned home, I have been learning to use the new software package to produce a good quality eBook of Holistic Counselling in Practice.***

~~~

Town HallPostscript: Next Saturday, Renata and I will be running a public event in the Town Hall, Hebden Bridge, to launch the Holistic Counselling book.  The event will run from 10.30 to 11.30am – 18 minutes of presentation by me, followed by questions and answers.  For further information, please go here: Meet the Author of Holistic Counselling in Practice: A Brief Event.***

~~~

More next week, perhaps on John Ashbery’s poems!

Best wishes,

Jim

Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

Email address

Phone: 01422 843 629

ABC Coaching and Counselling Services, Hebden Bridge

~~~