Reverse Engineer Your Brain: Dr. Panksepp’s Research and more

At the year’s-end transition we can think about our origins, sick how we live our lives today and where we are going. Mass shootings show urgent need for people to understand the factors driving emotions. The recent Shrink Rap Radio interview with neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, PhD, in my terms demolishes stereotypes and clears ground for a more honest description of the scientific background of mental health. Dr. Panksepp sounds unassuming and carefully scientific in describing his work with the neurophysiology of animal emotion responses. [ADDENDUM: April 2014–I’ve expanded treatment options on the page linked at the bottom of this presentation, and info about Dr. Porges’ PolyVagal Theory. Our nation needs this kind of added awareness of how the brain works.]\n\nDr. Panksepp is a psychology hero. His family suffered horrors of the Soviet Union, and escaped the turmoil spreading from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Communist mind-control to finally end up in the United States of America. An American citizen since childhood he’s given his professional labors to finding the basics of human emotions.\n\nIn my terms, Dr. Panksepp has faced the mind-control of the \”old guard\” of mental health experts here in the United States and carefully did his work under the guise of \”animal affect.\” The term \”Affect\” is a kind of \”Psych-Speak\” that hides the simple fact that it deals with emotions. His 2012 book, The Archaeology of Mind: The Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions, is his concise statement of the science that helps us study emotions and make sense of them. Especially in these challenging times we need to understand this brilliant research, because once you understand what he is pointing to, the steps that we can take become much clearer.\n\nDavid Van Nuys, Ph.D., is creator of Shrink Rap Radio which features luminaries in the field of mental health and social health. I’ve listened to his wide-ranging talk with Dr. Panksepp [link is below] several times now because it’s rich with many insights about science, mental health and how we might mesh his study of animal brains and emotions with our current efforts to understand and support good mental health and to deal with bad mental health.\n\nHere are my thoughts from a psychotherapist perspective of understanding how the world works — Dr. Panksepp is aware of the immense power of the pharmacy companies who have (in my terms) corrupted the science that educates students in medical school. You’ll see his wise way of balancing scientific truth with economic pragmatism. I see that his careful and insightful career showed him the way to hold them to their professed belief in \”the scientific method.\” I listened carefully to his uplifting and cheerful words — he’s making the medical world be consistent about its position about evolution. Further down on this page I give more clues about how you can remake your brain. [Also see my closing remarks for my additions.*]\n\nIf we have indeed evolved from animals and have parts of our brains that were developed sequentially (when I was in medical school at the University of Michigan, they taught us that \”Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny\”) then there would be a portion of our brain that acts like reptiles, a portion that acts like early mammals, (and I add a portion that acts like aquatic mammals — dolphins and whales), and a final portion that only humans have. This is Evolutionary Biology’s way of looking at humans.\n\nAlthough his voice sounds pleasant and kind, Dr. Panksepp has some serious insights about human happiness and how we can learn from animal brains. I found myself smiling widely when he began to talk about how he and his team have scientifically demonstrated the fact that \”lab rats\” can be tickled. They actually \”laugh\” (listen to the interview for details and his careful use of scientific terminology for tickling).\n\nFor me, this means that it seems certain that animal brains can be functioning in \”modes,\” emotional circuitry, such as Anger and Pleasure, and I’m convinced that this puts out signals using the other concept that is important, \”Mirror Neurons.\” When a person is around animals and those animals are experiencing states of pleasure and curiosity or playfulness, then we can benefit in a reciprocal way. I think that this is one way that pets can be scientifically proven to be beneficial to health. Again, listen to him describing his research; I’m able to conjecture but that may not be his take on things.\n\nClick here or on the picture below to reach Shrink Rap Radio’s  page and see the active links to Dr. Panksepp’s work and his new book, and listen to or download his talk as MP3. There is now a free transcript of this moving discussion (the scenes he painted of the violence of war in Europe were reminders to me of the price of freedom). These podcasts are free, so donations are always appreciated. (Or you might do what I’ve done and purchase some of his online courses, which gives him money and delivers outstanding material on mental health via the Zur Institute and the Jung Platform.)\n\n\n\nThe Polyvagal Theory: Another luminary whose work also is changing the field of mental health is Stephen Porges, Ph.D: My introduction on my site. Both Dr. Porges and Dr. Panksepp are pointing to the benefits of studying the development of the human brain as if it were evolved from more primitive brains and that some parts of our brains behave in a similar way to those primitive creatures. Dr. Porges’ recent book, The Polyvagal Theory, describes the scientific data that backs up an evolutionary model. [See my closing remarks for my additions.*]\n\n\n\nThat promotional video is a superbly done media presentation of the deep importance of Dr. Porges’ work to understanding human fear and anger. His work too can help guide our responses to mass shootings. The full length of that video, and many other presentations by other specialists is available from NICABM: My introduction to the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.\n\nDr. Van Nuys interviews Dr. Porges (in a ShrinkRapRadio podcast): link to page.\n\n\n\nClick on this line or the image below to visit the interview with Dr. Drew.\n\n\n\nA video clip with Dr. Van Nuys: I searched for a video and found this brief new upload of  an introduction to his talk with a third observer of the function of the human brain: psychiatrist and psychotherapist Mark Epstein, M.D. He is interviewed on podcast #252 — Shrink Rap Radio [there are now over 300], about his careful study of concepts of Mind in western life and in eastern approaches. Below is a video clip of Dr. Van Nuys’ talk with Dr. Epstein. You are invited to explore the Shrink Rap Radio archive for a wide variety of insights about mental and social health. [See my closing remarks for my additions.*]\n\n\n\nAll three of those presenters are carefully laying the ground for building more solid programs for helping people have better brains.\n\nClinically, applicable to everyday life: As I write this [originally 2012] the national media is reporting on the sadness of another mass shooting. The reactions of individuals and commentators, and the presentations by medical and mental health experts show how important it is to understand brain function regarding violence and promoting socially safe relationships.\n\n\n\nRegarding \”reverse engineering\” the brain, one of my clinical heroes is Daniel Amen, M.D.\n\nI’m one of the growing network of professionals who educate people on the brain assessments, education and nutritional support available through the Amen Clinics services. [Introduction to my Amen E-Center.]\n\nTo the right is the image of an encouragement page that I created around an episode of the Seinfeld series. Click on the picture or  here[PDF] to view that. Below is a short clip from Episode #44, where Kramer gets a blow to his head and his brain starts functioning aberrantly (\”hemispatial neglect\”).\n\n\n\nThat episode and the handout serve to highlight the need for people to take care to protect their brains. Dr. Amen and many others are working to figure out steps that can help people have better brains after trauma. Below is a starter video that will continue on with several presentations of Dr. Amen about the science of brains being traumatized. Again, click here to go to my Certified Amen Education Center (they gave me a discount code that you can use and save 15% on purchases — ECENTER42).\n\n\n\nDr. Amen conducts thorough clinical work and has done research on brain function. He talks about how psychiatrists have not made it mandatory that their members actually study the organ that they treat — the brain. I have added below his \”Reverse Engineering\” (my name for it) approach of using the brain : Change Your Brain to Change Your Body. The concepts of using the mind to change the body or the mind to change the brain are based on the proven existence of \”neuroplasticity\” of brain circuits. Shorthand: \”Neurons that fire together wire together.\” Below he applies this to body image and weight management but he has many examples of much wider benefits.\n\n\n\n\”Reverse Enginering Your Brain\”: By now you’ve begun to construct what I call a Health Menu of options. There are many approaches that you can use that may lead to huge improvements in body and brain. You already know the concept. I can’t make those changes for you through this blog posting. The things you do need to be your choice, and whenever possible it would be great to have someone to help you as you go through possible stages of change. Here are a few items that a person might include to engineer their new brain, and body: Bodywork, movement therapies and more (I call it Kinesthetic Medicine) |  FlexAware neurological integration coaching | Amen Solution @ Home | Watsu warm water therapy | \”Mindfulness\” observation done without Hindu or Buddhist philosophy  [See my closing remarks for my additions.*]\n\n*My Closing Remarks: From a psychotherapy perspective I’m quite enthusiastic about what can be done for mental health these days — both for improving daily life of society’s members, and for bringing about change in people who need \”better brains\” (Dr. Amen’s term).\n\nCurrent studies in Functional Medicine as taught by psychiatrist Charles Gant, M.D. [my description] give me hope that there will be more options for care of people who have chronic illness including mental and emotional situations.\n\nBack in the 1980s I felt privileged to spend time with Alex Schauss, author of Diet, Crime and Delinquency. [Link to Amazon’s Kindle edition.] That early text gives clues to the large number of observers who know that behavior can be changed if the foods eaten are modified. This logo is from a partnership I started with an online laboratory testing resource, MyMedLab. Their services are introduced on my info site on the Functional Medicine page. The concept of learning about the mental and emotional improvements from various Complementary and Alternative Medicine was behind the domain name that I purchased: Natural Medicine and Mental Health.com.\n\nThe End of the World: Here is a thought at the end of the year after recent mass shootings and media coverage of concerns about Armageddon, the Mayan Calendar ending and the calculations of scientist Isaac Newton [from the enigmatic writings of the prophetic \”Nostradamus\”] that \”the end\” will happen in the year 2060:\n\nMy female psychotherapist friends might add that the mental health field and the political field are playing out the results of the Male Half of society. They haven’t told me this exactly but I wonder if it might be time now for a greater appreciation of what the Female Half of the human race can do. I’m certainly impressed with what the brain scientists are revealing about the benefits of each of the types of brains.\n\nConnections I’d recommend for you: Whether we do in-office work, or distance coaching I’ll do my best to help you connect with resources that respect your own stance on religion or philosophy of life. This was behind the page on my information site: Science and Spirituality.\n\n\”I don’t Want You to Lose Your Faith\”: That’s my commitment to support you in whatever is your choice regarding religion or no religion. Whether you see yourself as created by God, or by the intricate action of millions of years of evolution, the natural laws are still the same.\n\nThoughts before contacting me: Living Inside the Box: Your Body as Temple | The Community that is You: Parasites and Epigenetics | Play as Medicine | Somatics and Your Mind: New Science for Old Insights | Bending the River: Aligning Your Future Health.\n\nContact me or the office, you are Welcome:  Welcome and Invitation to share.

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