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“I Feel Your Pain…Not”

“I Feel Your Pain…Not”

“I-Feel-Your-Pain2

“I Feel Your Pain..Not”


 

Last year, I was battling my fourth week of coughing without end.  I became determined to treat my symptoms through a standard protocol. I took zinc tablets for one week for my presumed viral infection. After no relief, I started antibiotics for a 10-day schedule.  The upper respiratory infection left me with laryngitis with a continuous cough.  Frustrated with my prolonged coughing, I started using a steam vaporizer to loosen my congestion and even used a muscle thumper to areas of my chest to help clear my lungs.  However, for some reason, my deep cough continued without significant resolution.  I decided to pay the local medical clinic a visit to have my primary physician provide other strategies for treatment.

 

 

He agreed with my diagnostic impression of post-infection bronchitis and he prescribed an expectorant, cortisone along with two kinds of antitussives (cough suppressant medicines), Benzonatate and Dextromethorphan.  I had used Dextromethorphan in past years without any problems.  The other antitussive, Benzonatate was a medicine that I had never tried before.  I started the treatment right away, hoping for a speedy recovery.

After nearly a week of treatment, I began to have a resolution of my coughing symptoms.  I also became increasingly aware that my normal level of energy and emotional posture had shifted.  On one level, I was a quiet observer of the change I was experiencing.  But on a different level, I was feeling numb and apathetic, and oddly, depressed.  Clearly, I was experiencing what Mental Health professionals call “anhedonia” (no pleasure in activities ) and psychomotor retardation (sluggish) with a decreased appetite and increased need for sleep. What I found noteworthy was that I seemed to have lost interest even in my personal feelings about everything that was important to me; even my appreciation of others, especially with those closest to me.  I recognized that even during that time if I had the energy to gaze at what I was actually experiencing, it would have shocked me that I could not have cared less for anything or anyone. Since this was an experience I had never felt before, and knowing this was a clear departure from my character, I reasoned that this dysphoria had to be medication related.  I decided to stop the Benzonatate and I reduced my routine dose of Dextromethorphan.

 

After I recovered and was finally on the other side of my illness, I was compelled to revisit this dysphoria in order to unravel the mystery behind my mood experience.  For me to have such a profound emotional shift from a routine prescription treatment, I began to question how often I may have missed treating a depressed patient effectively for a refractory depression without considering possible iatrogenic (treatment induced) influence of their medicines?  Since I tolerated Dextromethorphan, I knew the culprit had to be the Benzonatate.

 

So what is unique to Benzonatate that it could actually diminish my sense of connection with others? What would interfere with my level of empathy and even the influence the deepest sense to even care about anything?   

 

What I found was that Benzonatate..

 

“ is an ester local anesthetic derived from tetracaine. After absorption and circulation to the respiratory tract, it distributes into the mucosa, anesthetizing vagal afferent fibers that contribute to both cough and hiccups.”

Benzonatate behaves like a painkiller of sorts for vagal afferent fibers. These nerve fibers actually monitor the upper respiratory tract and have motor fibers that stimulate the diaphragm.  On further reading, I found an article that surprised me and seemed to explain what I had experienced. Apparently, the blunting of empathy such as what I had experienced, had been a side effect recently attributed to some common pain killers. In this article, blunting was also associated with very common pain medicine, Tylenol.

“..acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on individuals’ evaluative and emotional processing, irrespective of negative or positive valence..”
“..It is thus conceivable that acetaminophen may also reduce willingness to help others in physical or emotional distress

This description adequately portrays what I felt.  I did not seem to value anything or anyone and I did not even care that I felt this way.  The only incongruence I experienced about this emotional state is that I knew that under ‘normal’ situations, I would be bothered about not caring for anything or anyone. It was as if I had no Will to change my state.

Understanding that pain-reducing mechanisms can because apathy and diminished empathy, it brought me to a different level of questioning.  When we speak of the blunting effect on empathy, what is it that we are describing? The first step was to define what is meant by the term, “empathy”.

What is EMPATHY

According to Webster “Empathy” is:

 “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :  the capacity for this ” (“empathy”).

 

Empathy plays an important part in our lives as social beings.  It is that part of our internal monitor, which appeals to fairness and justice in the world.  It helps us to “walk in someone else’s shoes” and stirs us to ponder the question, “What if that person were me?”.  Empathy is important for modifying our behavior, aligned to the survival and safety of each other.  When empathy is returned, we can depend on this emotion to assure our wellbeing as well.  This is not just about our physical safety from harm, but it includes the preservation and the welfare of others in our social circle for security, which we all require in our relationships.  As one author shared, “Empathy regulates prosocial and antisocial behavior”.

Components of Empathy

In order to empathize with others, there has to exist something within us to register “what if that person was me?”  This would require both the Will [W] to take a template of another person (like us) [T]  and recreate a similar scenario [S] of ourselves in such a situation. Then we would need to employ some sort of a “personalized assessment” [A] where our resulting emotions [E(r)] are compared to our baseline emotional function [E(b)]. If the disturbance of comfort exceeds our baseline comfort, we are motivated [M] toward action to restore the balance.

                                    [W] * [M] = [E(b)] – [E(r)], where  A (S* ( [T] ) ) = [E(r)]

If we present this process as an equation, we can see that if a baseline Emotional state E(b) is not significantly altered by the imagined self in the represented scenario E(r), there will be no motivation (M) to alter the situation. An example of this could occur , when one who is actively suffering a loss, observes another experiencing a loss. However, if the number of losses of the other person (E(r)) is exceeded by personal loss (E(b)), one might be motivated to give comfort.

What condition, based on this equation, would increase the likelihood of empathy?  First,  there would have to be a willingness (W)  to look beyond ourselves. Then there would have to be a high degree of similarity of the observed person (T) to ourselves (e.g. age, gender, traits, etc) and the assessment (A) of imagined distress (E(r)) would have to be significantly different from our baseline emotional comfort (E(b)).

 

The Biology of Empathy

“Simulation theories of empathy hypothesize that empathizing with others’ pain shares some common psychological computations with the processing of one’s own pain.  Support for this perspective has largely relied on functional neuroimaging evidence of an overlap between activations during the experience of physical pain and empathy for other people’s pain”

 

A substantial body of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research suggests that observing others experiencing pain (e.g. observing a person receiving a hot probe placed on the hand), activates brain regions that are also activated during one’s own experience of pain—the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the anterior insula (AI) cortex.

 

 

It is not the purpose of my present writing to discuss the neurological detail of empathy.  However, it suffices at this point to say we have the brain structure which is designed to fill a particular role for Empathy. Our design supports the importance of “being wired” for this function in our lives and it also stresses the importance of our relating to each other as social creatures.

I believe this shared pain phenomenon, has something to offer us when we discuss empathy.  When we observe others suffering from specific injuries, our brains mirror a similar pattern of pain activity related to the one we observe being injured. In fact, if you consider the brain pattern activity, it is much like we experience the very same injury, just by observing the one in pain.

Pain is a subjective experience of discomfort but from a physiological perspective, there are some common characteristics behind the “pain” experience.

 

“…pain can result from increased activity in excitatory pathways involving, for example, substance P, glutamate, etc. decreased activity in inhibitory pathways involving, for example, noradrenaline or serotonin (5-HT) or both mechanisms..”(3)

 

Given that we seem to experience a similar injury pattern from observation, questions were raised on how this ‘perceived pain ‘ would be impacted after an observer is administered a painkiller. Even though it is unclear exactly how acetaminophen works, it does have analgesic and fever-reducing properties. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is believed to regulate serotonin pathways.

Paracetamol has a central analgesic effect that is mediated through activation of descending serotonergic pathways.

Paracetamol (aka Tylenol)

 

Empathy and Painkillers

 

To examine the impact of painkillers on empathy, a study was conducted where randomized subjects were given a direct form of irritation by quick air puffs. A group of subjects was tested where they were to estimate the level of pain other subjects experienced when observed in the “painful situation”.  Subjects again assessed the pain experience after an oral administration of 1000mg of acetaminophen in a double-blind study.

You can review this study here.

Surprisingly, what was discovered is that acetaminophen (aka paracetamol or Tylenol) had a profound effect not only on direct painful stimuli but also in the pain attributed to others experiencing pain.  In other words, empathy was directly diminished by taking 1000mg of Tylenol.

As hypothesized, acetaminophen reduced empathy in response to others’ pain.  Acetaminophen also reduced the unpleasantness of noise blasts delivered to the participant, which mediated acetaminophen’s effects on empathy. Together, these findings suggest that the physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for pain and provide a new perspective on the neurochemical bases of empathy (2)

This ought to raise some concern for those involved in Mental Health care.

“Based on the drug-induced reductions in empathy seen here, acetaminophen, and potentially other analgesics, might interfere with social processes that are critical for the promotion of social bonds and social order.” (2).

 

“Because empathy regulates prosocial and antisocial behavior, these drug-induced reductions in empathy raise concerns about the broader social side effects of acetaminophen (as well as other potential pain regulating medicines), which is taken by almost a quarter of all adults in the United States each week”. (2)

“As hypothesized, acetaminophen reduced empathy in response to others’ pain. ..these findings suggest that the physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for pain and provide a new perspective on the neurochemical bases of empathy”.

What this study implies is that most people taking Tylenol for chronic pain are likely experiencing an ongoing emotional shift just like the one I had experienced.  Tylenol (acetaminophen) is frequently administered to manage chronic pain since it does not have the same concerns that most other pain medications, which may contribute to gastric ulcers and increased bleeding risks.  Yet it seems very important to expose the impact that our medicines have on our emotional tone.  Let us face it, without the awareness that a very common pain medicine can dampen our empathy and fuel our depression we would not appreciate a different level of our emotional experience.  One can understand that taking pain medicine while being treated for a depressive disorder, it would be easy to conclude, “it is just how I feel’ or “something must be wrong with me for not caring for others in my life”.  Counseling is always important in addressing the maladaptive way we approach relationships.  It is very important to be ‘equipped emotionally’ to make necessary changes in our thinking for our progress.  If we do not consider the broad impact of our medicine strategies, many people may be left hopeless in path toward healing.  Emotional trials contribute to problems in our relationships despite all our mental health efforts to help others improve in their relationships.  The missing piece of someone’s emotional puzzle may just be as simple as a change of pain medicine.

I wonder how many people we meet in our lives who struggle with “I should care about him/her but I just don’t”?  

 I wonder how many clergy or pastors, dealing with chronic physical pain are questioning their lack of empathy for others in their congregation?  I wonder how many spiritual people actually wrestle with feel abandoned by God because they do not have the love for others as modeled by their Savior.

 

For some frustrated people, this post may bring some hope just knowing their pain medication may be preventing them from effectively restoring a wayward relationship.

Conclusion

There is so much we do not know about our treatment strategies for the many health problems we experience. Most strategies are evidenced-based, in that results of our best-known treatments guide future treatments of particular pathologies.  The scope of clinical treatment is most often based on physical goals and it rarely considers the impact efforts on other aspects of life, i.e. influence on emotions.  Medicine is not perfect, but good clinicians strive to improve their efforts by observing the impact of treatment on all planes of a patient’s life.  My post did not provide clear answers, nor did it reveal the exact mechanisms behind the dysphoria I experienced from my prescription medicine.  However,  it does likely explain what I experienced and it offers an insight to consider in treating patients with similar symptoms of depression. ,

 

If my readers personally experience depressive symptoms that seem untouched by prescribed medicines and applied therapeutic counseling efforts, please consider the impact of any pain medicines, which may be contributing to your prolonged dysphoria.  Always seek the alliance with mental health professionals if you are depressed and feeling hopeless.  I wish you joy and peace in your journey.  Thank you for taking this walk with me.

 

Greg


Bibliography

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2). Dominik Mischkowski, Jennifer Crocker, Baldwin M. Way; From painkiller to empathy killer: acetaminophen (paracetamol) reduces empathy for pain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2016; 11 (9): 1345-1353. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw057

 

n.d.: n. pag. Print. 23 April 2017

 

3) What do we (not) know about how paracetamol (acetaminophen) works?

K Toussaint, XC Yang, MA Zielinski… – Journal of clinical …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bridge That Could Not

The Bridge That Could Not

 

 

The Bridge that could not..

 

  

It has been said, “if you want friends, do not build walls, build bridges”.  However, if you have ever felt depressed or under stress, you may have noticed that you did not really feel very sociable.  In fact, you may have avoided being around people.  Often when we face depression, impaired thinking and difficulty with planning accompany it.  When this is our pervasive state, any task undertaken can seem long and very energy demanding.  Even the steps we know we ought to take are challenging because we have difficulty moving forward.  We become myopic, (or nearsighted), lacking the capacity to see what the future has in store.

I have been reading an article recently that explains how this experience is actually a part of a neurobiological process; one that is common not only for times of stress and depression but it also appears to have a common involvement in most dementias.

You see, the bridgework of social engagement is much like the bridgework that can be found between neurons of our brains.  This bridgework aligns neurons across the signaling gap between downstream neurons. The terminal end of one firing neuron (presynapse) communicates with the dendrite (postsynapse) of the next downstream neuron through a gap known as a “synapse”.  This very important space regulates information as a communication relay for neurons.

 

 

Webster provides more about the origin

 

“Latin Synapsis, from Greek, juncture, from synaptein to fasten together”,

 

Presynaptic, synaptic and postsynaptic regions

 

 Depiction of Nectin Adhesion

 The correct alignment of neurons is an important feature for effective communication downstream.  Researchers discovered a structural protein known as Nectin-3 that maintains this important alignment in order to secure connections in their proper place.  This structural protein appears influenced by stress.  Through an experimental design, when mice were placed in a stressful environment, their brains showed a  significant reduction in Nectin-3. This reduction of Nectin-3 also correlated with the avoidance behavior observed in these mice.  In order to verify this relationship of Nectin-3 and avoidance, other experiments designed to restore fibronectin-3 resulted in increased cognitive function and improved socialization in mice.

 

When the scientist explored the mechanism behind the nectin-3 reduction, an enzyme known as MMP-9 was identified.  It was observed that during times of stress, high glutamate levels prompt the release of this enzyme, which degrades the nectin-3 protein.   

 

Normally, this enzyme has an important role in modifying memory. It likely has a part in fine tuning what we retain much like how a professional would tune a piano to precise tone.  However, in situations where we experience stress, there is a wider sweep of disconnections in a regional runaway mechanism, hindering our ease in social interactions as well as our capacity to think clearly.

 

MMP (like Military Police)

 Consider the MMP as if it were a rogue group of Military Police (MP), which lose their role as peacekeepers, causing mass chaos in a crisis.

As for the role of MMP-9 in our daily life, I can imagine how this may be a way our brains manage to protect us.  Life has many stressful moments.  Some moments are much worse than others are.  I can imagine that under a very intense and stressful situation, we may feel overwhelmed, requiring that we find a way to “step back” and reset our perspective in order to address our stress another way.  Such a mechanism as “sending out the Military Police (MMP) on our distressed brain, may allow us a certain “numbness”, a form of objectivity as it were until we can get back on our feet and face the problem a new way.

I am including a reference to this article below.

Thanks for joining me at this moment objectively!

 

Greg

 

 

 

I invite you to read this article below.

 

Stress Management Makes Us Antisocial Due To Severed Synapses: New Finding Opens Window For Disorder Treatment

New research (htp://lgc.epfl.ch/)from the Brain Mind Institute at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL),

 

 

The Bridge That Could Not was originally published on

 

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What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath

 

What “LIES” Beneath…


 

The most fundamental principle in Psychiatry for self-development is discovering the content of our “self-talk”.  It is what we tell ourselves about who we are that determines how we behave in situations and with others in our sphere of life.

 

 

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), introduced by Dr. Aaron Beck, has been established as a very useful therapeutic strategy for those who are suering from a wide range of emotional problems.  The eective application of this therapy has been a powerful tool not only for troubled individuals but also for anyone who desires some sort of compass to navigate through the rocky terrain of everyday life.

 

 

The principles behind Cognitive Therapy(CBT) is based on uncovering the lies behind our maladaptive coping strategies that we have learned early in our lives and how this “map” is used to navigate our lives in the way we deal with situations and relationships.  We all face obstacles in our life journeys.  This is a necessary part of our growth.  When we were young we learned that certain behaviors would bring about changes in order to have our needs met.  However, as we matured throughout our adolescent and toward our adult years, the “old way”, (aka, our maps) required changes in order for needs to be addressed.  This learning model has much to offer especially since there are no perfect parents, no perfect relationships and there is no such thing as stress-free situations in life.  Yet, without obstacles, life would not offer us opportunities to develop the required skills for our personal growth and mastery.

 

Here some examples of Lies we tell ourselves.

 

I am not as smart as other people.

People at work think I am lazy

I am a failure as a parent

I will never be happy

 

 We are creatures of habit and tend to repeat particular patterns that appeared to best meet our needs.  This is true for our practiced patterns of behavior and the way we learn to interpret our situations.  Over time, our unique interpretations find a quiet place in a mental seat that precedes life scenarios.  This is what Cognitive therapists call. “Automatic thoughts”. 

 

  

What if you learned that the family was having coffee and one the kids told a funny story that made them laugh?

 

Personalizing the reason for the family laughing without knowing the facts is based on what I brought into the situation.  The false interpretation that I automatically believed resulted in me lashing out angrily and left me with a conclusion that only robbed my freedom.

 

 

Our automatic thoughts are a set of many conclusions tagged to other similar experiences we have had in our life.  Yet, these are more than just distinct memories.  Our automatic thoughts are about “me” in the situation.  They precede every situation we face and define who we are in those situations. We carry these interpretations about ourselves with us, unaware of their influence.  As we experience repeating themes in our life that seem to be consistent, we begin to embrace our interpretations as “truth”.  These “truths” continue to define us and provide scripts that we believe in our experiences throughout our life.  All too often, we solidify our personal interpretations from our past about ourselves as “truths”, when they are in fact, “lies”.

 

The real Struggle is about Fear

 

We are living creatures, designed to assure our survival.  Every part of our body, from our cells to whole body systems always promote our quality of life and well-being.  To stay alive, our body must be postured on the offensive and defensive.  When we plan to take on an adventure, we will need assurance of our safety and we will avoid any dangers that may threaten our survival. That is where the emotion of fear plays a vital role.  Courage, for example, is a virtue that can only occur in the presence of fear.  Without fear, no courage is possible.  The role of our fears is to keep our behavior in check.  But when the fear is unrealistic or false, our fears can actually enslave us. Unfortunately, fears do not always have a healthy role, especially when the fears are not based on accurate interpretations.  Inappropriate fears can hinder instead of promoting growth.  Fears help us gauge our risks more carefully because the priority of survival is vital for us to thrive.  The sense of danger is not just physical.  Often it can be relationship based and will direct us to avoid the likelihood of social threats as well.

 

In order to know if our fears are based on realistic or unrealistic interpretations, we need to evaluate the statements our automatic thoughts are telling us.  If our acts of avoidance are not “truth-based”, they will not lead to our growth, but to our enslavement. 

 

 The most valuable aspect of CBT is that it can instruct us on healthy coping strategies without the requirement of having lifelong counseling.  Unlike Psychoanalysis, where the therapy structure depends on unraveling unconscious motivations or defenses over many appointment sessions, in Cognitive therapy, the pace of therapy depends on learning the skills that will keep the mental dialogue in check.  When we learn how the lies we tell ourselves are compromising our growth, we can be equipped to replace our interpretations with the truth.  By applying a litmus test to our self-talk, we will able to break free from the anxiety and fear that threaten the freedom we have to live life fully as intended.

 

 

Below, you will notice six basic rules that we help reveal the lies we often tell ourselves.  Learning how to identify the lies we tell ourselves and learning how to correct our self-talk is central to the making life changes.  With practice, you will be well on your way to your journey of freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

How to apply Cognitive Therapy to your life

 

 

Let us use the coffee shop scene above as an example

 

 

Scene: Coffee Shop

 

I spilled some coffee on the table     

                     

(A family started laughing in the corner)                   [People are always laughing at me]

 

I became angry and yelled at the family                   [They are so rude-how dare they?]

 

I left the coffee Shop and I refuse to back                [I hate stores that serve such people]

 

 

 

 

 

Let us correct the interpretation with another possible explanation

 

 

 

SITUATION                                             AUTOMATIC THOUGHT                                          FEELING

 

 

A family started laughing                     They may be laughing at a family joke                                                unchanged

in the corner

 

 

 

This is just a rough guide to begin your journey in Cognitive Therapy techniques.  I have used these principles frequently in my life and they have been the most useful guide for dealing with many challenges I encounter.

 

I hope you will find this post useful for you as well.  Now, let us go reclaim freedom! 

 

Greg

 

 

 

 

What Lies Beneath was originally published on Braindoctr’s Blog

 

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The Spirit of Prayer

prayeroverlap

 

The Curiosity

It was before starting Medical School. I was working in the area of Cognitive Remediation for a facility in Texas. I trained on administering various Neurocognitive Assessment tools and the use of cognitive remediation equipment. I used a number of available tasks and devices to help clients address various cognition deficits and/ or sequelae from head injuries. That was when I learned about the A620, a novel instrument for EEG biofeedback for analysis and therapy.

A620_RESULT

 

A620 EEG BIOFEEDBACK

In order to move on to my discussion, let us just say that this device made it possible for clients to improve in their mental aptitude and skills by reflecting on their own brain activity, prompted by audio cues generated by the device which was connected to a pc computer. I would hook up the client to the computer program by two leads, a ground wire on the ear and probe wire on a particular area at the top of the head by a conductive gel. This allows the device to monitor a general EEG signal spectrum. The operator then sets up the device to filter for a particular frequency,. The device then provides an audio sound or feeds the computer a “moment-by-moment” reward score for an “attention” game or “reward” graphic. Now clients could play a simple computer game without using their hands. Just by “thinking” correctly, the client could earn points and therefore “learn to optimize focus”. It was rather brilliant. I had clients that were failing in subjects at their school that was able to begin making the high grade as clients improved their attention skills.

 

BOYHKED_RESULT

BWAVECHART_RESULT

 

 

 

After setting up the machine, and mounting the probes to the client’s head, one can bring up a spectrum display as seen above. It is through the initial set-up that one can choose a target frequency (e.g. Beta, concentration) for reward points. When the device is set to filter beta, the brainwaves for concentration, as the client concentrates, the computer beeps and gives reward points; the higher the score, the greater the percentage of time spent concentrating.

What waveforms show up when we pray?

One Friday evening after seeing my last client, I was about to close up the office. Then I began to think about how brain activity changes under different conditions. I began to think about prayer and how it was much different from other routine daily activities. My, curiosity had me in a corner. The more I wondered, the more curious I became. I decided to take this unique opportunity and find out for myself. After hooking myself up to the device and after calibrating the machine for a broad-spectrum view, I determined that I would have 3 goal activity conditions.

Testing Conditions

1) 20 minutes of reading

2) 20 minutes of Math problems

3) 20 minutes of Praying

This was not the correct way to run an experimental design and the validity would be lacking since I was the only control. Nevertheless, if I had just a chance to just “peek in the box” of what happens when we pray, how could I just pass this chance up? Well, after a disruption-free hour, and completing each phase I ran the analysis. The reading phase revealed what I expected. There was some artifact but the strongest activity was around the beta level, mixed with Alpha (typical for ADHD). The Math phase seemed almost the same, but with much more alpha across the spectrum (always a hard subject for me to focus on). But as for the Prayer phase, what I discovered was far more than I expected.  I had thought that prayer was mostly about concentrating, and therefore the beta wave was going to be the highest activity mixed with alpha waves. But No. What I found was two distinct patterns occurring at the same time, with minimal artifact. They were cleaner than the waveforms observed in the other conditions. But equally astonishing was the fact that these separate waves (Theta and Beta), were triple the amplitude of the other conditions! I felt a chill up my spine. What could this mean? I cleaned up the setting and left for home. I had some research to do.

Meditating like a re-chewing

So, beta waves are generated under concentration conditions. Theta waves occur in meditative states or when experiencing one a hypnotic trance. Was I inducing some form of trance when I prayed? I went to the scriptures and found a verse. “On thy law do I meditate (psalms)”. I explored the Hebrew meaning of this word “meditate”. It was a word to related to cattle, ; the groans or low “moo” sounds the cow makes, like chanting to oneself;, and also related to the activity of a cow bringing up consumed foods, re-chewing its cud. That was fascinating! Bringing up something again, recalling, and remembering while concentrating.

 prayer

Prayer is Unique

 

If thy brother has a matter against you…

When I returned to the office, I shared with one therapist about my experiment. He shared something with me that I was unaware. He told me that patients who were in a state of theta often broke into tears and relate the pains and traumas they have experienced years prior. He shared that theta allows for repressed memories to surface into our conscious mind. It was so well founded, that some therapist was trying to get their patients in a state of theta in order to shorten the duration of therapy since it helps break through defenses.

Then it came to my mind something I had read in the bible.

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift..”(Matt 5:23,24)

Instrumentally, prayer is not only recalling the “experience of God”, but it likely permits bitterness, hurts and pains to surface into our conscious mind. If such burdens are then addressed, it would surely bring more peace. It is almost as if prayer invites a sort of a mobile psychotherapist waiting to give counsel.  There is a verse for that as well.

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But the man of understanding will draw it out (Prov 20:5)”

 

Designed to Pray

Now I still had one more matter, which required attention.  Granted, two perfect wave signatures from theta and beta is incredible, but why would these waveforms occur at three times the amplitude? Aligned with the scientific approach, one has to admit the possibility that I was “practiced at prayer”. Yes, I learned to pray at an early age and grew up in a conservative, Christian home. But if I may speculate, I believe that this was not the full explanation. I believe the reason why prayer spiked in this magnitude of power is that “we are designed to pray”. Just like comparing a paper towel tube to a brass trumpet for producing music. Both items can produce sounds, but only the trumpet is designed for the music I intended to produce with the clean, pleasing song I desired. If we are designed to pray, then we are tuned for it; we were made for it. After all, Jesus himself, the second Adam and model of our humanity considered prayer as a vital part of living. So, it is an activity for us not to neglect. “In this manner therefore pray..(Matt 6:9)”. The article below prompted me to recall and write my thoughts on this matter of prayer. Prayer is a personal activity, and I believe there are particular neurological pathways involved. As we are spiritual beings housed in imperfect physiology, I believe the soft and hard wiring can overlap in some pathological conditions. But as a vehicle or channel of Gods revelation, we have a choice to either align with our God in discovering more about him or stand on the sidelines and avoid the experience of knowing God. However, as the fish cannot describe the watery environment separately from where it resides, one cannot describe the activity of God without some grasp that the first does exist and is involved in the discovery of Him.  Enjoy!

Greg

 

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The Spirit of Prayer was originally published on

The Spirit of Prayer was originally published on

The Spirit of Prayer was originally published on

 

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“Thoughts  from far where I abide…”


 

The words from my title were lifted from a Shakespeare Sonnet, and they orbit the issue I wish to share today.  But in order to set the stage, consider this true story from my history.


image

The Accident

I was about thirteen years of age, checking on what my mom was preparing for dinner when there was a sudden desperate knock at our front door.  I skipped down the stairs and opened it to find a neighbor’s daughter, a little older than me.  She seemed urgent with a message that she wanted to share.  “Are your parents home?”, she asked with a very desperate tension in her face.  “Yes”, my mom answered as she stepped quickly behind me.
The girl continued with a rapid, pressured speech, “one of your boys was hit by a vehicle about four blocks away while he was riding a bike!”  My mother let out a shout to my father, and quickly they were racing for the car to rush to the accident.  “Which boy was it?”, they asked as they jumped into the car.  “It is one of the older twins”.
“It was Craig, my twin brother”, I exclaimed as I flipped a leg over my bike, ready to race to my brother.
“Stop”, yelled my dad from the driver’s side window.  “Stay here, and do not take your bike anywhere!”, he ordered.  I watched the neighbor jump into the back seat and with a slam of the car door, my parents sped away down the county road.  I did not know what to think, but somehow I just knew he would be fine.
Later my parents returned briefly with only a few words, as a next-door neighbor agreed to sit with us, my two younger brothers my sister and me.  But before they headed off to the hospital I blurted out, without any doubts in my mind, “check his right leg, he has a bruise there”
My brother had to stay in the hospital overnight while some tests were carried out. He was conscious, and according to my parents, “he was lucky to be doing so well”.  Then my parents asked me, “How did you know he had a bruise on his right leg? Did you go see him after we told you to stay at home?
“No”, I answered, ” I stayed home like you told me. I don’t know how I knew.  I just knew”.


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For me, it was just a fact.  My twin brother and I have always been close.  Often, we finished each other’s sentences.  People were always confused about telling us apart.  We laughed and talked the same.  It was only over a course of years before we developed personal tastes and carved out a clearer distinction of habits.
I have revisited this event countless times, trying to unravel the mystery of my certain knowledge of my brother’s condition.  There have been a few times since then, when I had a particular sense of his environment, though many miles away.

 On one such occasion, I was spending time with a friend in Texas, walking around a mall when I stopped and turned to her and said, “My brother is at a ball game right now”.  She would just look at me with a puzzled expression, and said, “Okay, so he said he was going to a ball game today?”.  I replied, “No, I just sensed the crowd and the smell of snacks in the air”.  Later, I found this was truly the case.  He had never shared this with me, and he rarely attended games.  But when I had the chance later, I called to ask him, and he had confirmed my suspicion.
There have been many stories along with a similar theme popularized by those claiming to have “Psychic Powers”. I have never felt there was enough validity in the “circumstantial evidence” of such “after the fact stories”.  However, I could not explain this issue; I had no answers, even from my academic and professional education and experience as a Psychiatrist.
The nearest explanation I could come up with is through an article I had read once about particular moths that could pick out a specific mate over 1000 miles away from their location, just by their “smell like sense organs”.  I was not sure about this study, but it was the only nearest explanation I had to a theoretical framework. So maybe, our primary senses are acuter and finely tuned than what we have yet discovered.  It seemed too illogical to believe in the fuzzy pseudoscience of a psychic phenomenon.
This brings me to the point of this article, with which I would like to share.  I read a fairly recent study about an interesting topic known as  “brain-to-brain interfaces” (BBIs).  Here is an excerpt.


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” A TMS device creates a magnetic field over the scalp, which then causes an electrical current in the brain. When a TMS coil is placed over the motor cortex, the motor pathways can be activated, resulting in movement of a limb, hand or foot, or even a finger or toe…”


“..
We now know that BBIs can work between humans too. By combining EEG and TMS, scientists have transmitted the thought of moving a hand from one person to a separate individual, who actually moved their hand. The BBI works best when both participants are conscious cooperators in the experiment. In this case, the subjects were engaged in a computer game).


And Further:


“..
The latest advance in human BBIs represents another leap forward. This is where transmission of conscious thought was achieved between two human beings in August last year.    Using a combination of technologies – including EEG, the Internet and TMS – the team of researchers was able to transmit a thought all the way from India to France.  Words were first coded into binary notation (i.e. 1 = “hola”; 0 = “ciao”). Then the resulting EEG signal from the person thinking the 1 or the 0 was transmitted to a robot-driven TMS device positioned over the visual cortex of the receiver’s brain.  In this case, the TMS pulses resulted in the perception of flashes of light for the receiver, who was then able to decode this information into the original words (hola or ciao)”.

Sounds like a something Hollywood dreamed up, doesn’t it?


 So not only could thoughts be transmitted under experimental conditions, so could actions, even to the point of controlling the behavior of animals.

“..that a human could control the tail movements of a rat via BBIs”

Aricle: Brain-To-Brain Interfaces And The Science Of…

 

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What this article presents is how one subject in a remote location can directly influence the actions of another subject in a different location through changes in thought content. This seems too incredible to believe. Yet, because we all share some structural similarities within our brains, I can see how this can actually be plausible. First, we need to consider what we know of “mirroring neurons”.


mirneuronMirror neuron


“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another”.[1][2][3]

“..Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behaviour of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observe in primate species.[4]

“..Birds have been shown to have imitative resonance behaviors and neurological evidence suggests the presence of some form of mirroring system.[4][5]”

“..In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortexthe supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.[6]”

Article: Mirror neuron – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One way to address this issue is to consider what is common to all of us, which already influences us beyond our “active knowing”. A case example can be understood in the context of yawning.  If we are around others who begin to yawn, before long we began to yawn.  The same is true for laughter.  If we are around others who are laughing, it becomes contagious. Others will start to giggle and laugh, just due to the presence of someone laughing. Such a design is important for us socially, though explanations are lacking.

 



 

 

 

So, if we have a similar foundational and interactive framework, isn’t feasible that thoughts could be conveyed to another person, especially those more similar or familiar to us, under the right conditions, having a very common reference point?  On a more spiritual plane, how much does this finding play a part in our prayer lives? When that loved one is suddenly dealing with a trauma, how often do we find ourselves  “thinking of them” and feel the need to pray for them without knowing why? Since I believe we were designed as social and spiritual beings, does it not make sense that such a mechanism must be in place? Maybe we need to rethink those moments and reach out to them when this happens. Maybe that is the optimal act of good to perform, given this design. After all, we are designed for more than we understand and we do have a great designer.

This study stirs up many questions for me about the implications and utility awaiting us.  It may also serve great potential for promoting skill set learning, as well as providing more effective means for a therapeutic alliance, which is yet to be revealed.  We live in such an incredible era!


 

PEDOPHIL


 

 

 

Pleasant thoughts coming your way, dear reader. (Can you sense it?)

Greg

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

“Thoughts  from far where I abide…” was originally published on

 

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“To Thine Ownself be true..”

exposedtruth

Polonius:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Laertes:

Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

Hamlet Act
1, scene 3, 78–82

 
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius’s shared this counsel with his son Laertes, who was departing on a journey. It is wise counsel to us all.  As I follow the growing research in medical sciences, it becomes more apparent that dishonesty with others,  has a greater impact on our own health.  In neuroscience, it has been documented that even the very organization and process of the changing brain is intimately connected to the truths and falsehood we personally embrace.  
 
Lies stem from fears. It orbits a deeply rooted insecurity created from the dialogue we share with ourselves.  The false statements such as “I am worthless” or ” I am not important” are planted by primary support authorities when we were children, and they reside close to the center  or seat of the pathology.  Over time, we coat this falsehood in added layers , with what we believe to be “our evidence” , from how we are treated, how others react to us or how we expect others to regard us. This leads us to a desperate course of  snatching any available opportunities to “feel a moment of gratification” at the expense of honest and just means.  We find ways to meet our immediate needs like a homeless child, stealing candy from a candy store when we could not afford the costs.  Under intense judgement, we grow up and learn whatever we have to in order to avoid the punishments attached to our wrong actions.  Over the course of years, we will either look inward and unravel the lies that bind us, or we will continue our journey to become skillful in obtaining what is not ours, by whatever means necessary.  We do this while we find that particular means to avoid judgement and criticism of those “righteous people” who dare to ‘ look down on me’.  We steal, and rationalize.  We injure, and redirect blame.  But avoiding truth and living in the denial of our core negative self regard, always catches up with us.  We are funny that way.  Sometimes we think it is better to go on living with our lies, despite the snowball of growing consequences, than to to just own our lies and confront them as needed. Just because we have injuries from our past, does not make our distorted “view of self”  true.  We just make it true.  We live to fulfil it in full without considering its impact.
 
Well, I was not planning to dissect this pathology of our mindset, but there it is.  
 
Recently, I have read articles about uncovering lies. 
 
One way in which we are not even conscious, is how it affects our handwriting.  See the following. 

Lying affects the way we write

..This study shows that the system can identify when participants have written the truth and when they have lied: For example, the pressure exerted on the page when the participants were writing false symptoms was greater than when they were writing about their true medical condition.The regularity of the strokes when writing a lie,reflected in the height and width of the letters, was significantly
different from the regularity of the strokes when writing the truth.Differences in duration, space and pressure were also found in false writing.
The researchers were also able to divide the types of handwriting into more distinct profiles (very small or large handwriting, etc.) and to find other more substantial differences associated with each writing profile.
According to the researchers, when a person writes something false, cognitive load is created in the brain
and this load creates competing demands for resources in the brain, such that operations that we usually perform automatically, like writing, are affected.
They added that the current study found that false
medical information in “laboratory conditions” creates cognitive load that enables the computer system to identify changes in handwriting,
and it can be assumed that in a natural situation, together with the need to lie to the doctor, the cognitive load would be even greater.

Here is an interesting article on clues about lying.

How To Tell If Someone Is Lying: The Tell-Tale Signs

  • TV shows and folk wisdom have suggested commonly held beliefs for spotting lairs, but the truth is they’re not always accurate
  • A liar will tend to give too much information and they often struggle to
    repeat their original performance if asked to recount the events in
    opposite order.
  • liars tend to avoid “I” statements and use third-person pronouns like “he” and “she” instead.
  • people who are speaking honestly will maintain eye contact for about 60 percent of a conversation. When one lies, they work at keeping eye contact
  • so as to appear honest.
  • A lliar will often engage in more eye contact without much blinking.
  • Liars will subconsciously point their feet towards the exit of the room.
  • A smile often surfaces from the liar when they think they’ve successfully deceived you.
  • Often they nod their head while denying or shake their head while agreeing.

This note was created from Liner.
By braindocPage with highlights – http://getliner.com/uGmJ7
Original page – http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/how-tell-if-someone-lying-tell-tale-signs-327998
Let us agree make it a regular habit to review our “self talk” the next time we find our words are not ringing quite true.  
Our integrity and health depend on it.
 
Greg
 
liars

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

“To Thine Ownself be true..” was originally published on

 

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The Window Pain

chronic-pain

The Window Pain


Yes.  That is what I said. 
No, it is not a typo. 
Ok, maybe a bad pun. But you did read it correctly.
During the Christmas holidays, I had spent some time with my extended family. During dinner one evening I was asked about “chronic pain”.  The concern was more about how to relieve chronic pain of peripheral neuropathology, a debilitating disorder with sensation of pins and needles affecting upper and lower limbs.  I shared how Gabapentin has been effective for such symptoms. However,  this medicine made her feel foggy and without much relief. 
The thin frame of this very kind woman, in her late sixties begged the question of likely complications from osteoporosis; a problem which she acknowledged having.  After we ruled out the possibility of anemia in her history, I shared how it is likely her symptoms were related to her bone loss, especially if other labs for metabolic issues of medication side effects were non-contributory. 
Chronic pain is a burden that is unrelenting. It seems to never to cease its invasion of comforts. It tends to be a constant disruption  during valued time with family and friends.  Even the efforts to hide the pain can become stressful alone. The attempts to quiet its torment often feeds upon the the very energy needed to prevent it; burdening the sufferer with more tension,  fatigue, headaches and emotional drain. It can cause depression and anxiety.  
Over the years I have worked with many patients burdened by chronic pain.  Medications seem to help many people initially, but limitations from tolerance, dosage safety and side effects seem to restrict effective long-term coverage.

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Today, I came across an article which seems to explain many unanswered questions surrounding chronic pain.  It seems to suggest how medication to treat pain becomes less effective over time due to incorrect targeting of pain.  Further, we are not taking into account how our bodies have a different kind of brain, separate from the one on our shoulders.  Sure, they have shared pathways in communication.  But there seems to exists a “pre-approved sharing of pain” that is learned locally in areas around the source site which is not targeted by our medicines.  The very fibres of dorsal root networks at the spinal cord level learn from its neighbours what to watch for after there is injury next door.  Pain therefore propagates over a greater surface area from the pain origin.  

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At first blush, this seems to resemble an exaggeration of the one suffering pain.  Yet, as the article discloses, there exists a growing level of sensitization and a lowering of the threshold from the pain origin in neighbouring nerve fibres.
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But what is most peculiar is how this threshold and spread of pain is permitted.  You may tend to think that these changes take place at a very local dermatone region alone.   Yet this article points out that a “long distance call” is placed by the site injured as a collect call to the brain.
Telephone Poles

The call is made through the network of the thalmus (operator) which interacts with a “body home address (sensory cortex)” and transfers priority messages to key players in another map of local neighbours (Cingulate cortex).  
cingbk
Here, phone numbers are pulled before sending them a “Neighbourhood Alert Watch”, through direct calls to their phone poles at the spinal column level.  
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It is only at that phone pole level where a particular home is set on either a warning mode or normal mode. It seems like a lot of work to place long distance calls when crossing a neighbours yard for help would seem more practical.  
 
So, in order to really treat body pain effectively, new strategies will be considered for silencing the address lookup table in cingulate, as well as calming a neighbour who is easily panicked at the dorsal column level. Current strategies only address site specific pain. It does not target the “local pain sharing network “, nor does it calm an easily startled operator in the brain that is eager to rally your neighbours when local pain erupts.  Function specific neuroreceptors and application alternatives are considered.

 
Enjoy the article here. 
Tsagareli, M. (2013) Pain and memory: Do they share similar mechanisms?. World Journal of Neuroscience, 3, 39-48. doi: 10.4236/wjns.2013.31005.

The Window Pain was originally published on Braindoctr's Blog

 

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