Here is a thought experiment to fire up your grey matter.
Consider this question ‘What if your mind is not your brain?’
If that were true, what would the ramifications of this knowledge be for you and the world around you? The term ‘mind’ in this paper will be as proposed by Siegel (2017)[i] “… mind extends beyond the boundaries of the skin, beyond a single skull and even a single body, to some kind of distributed process in which mind also arises from our social connections of energy and information flow shared among us…” This definition highlights that the mind is not simply locked inside the head with the brain and will be utilised throughout this paper.
At the time of writing mental health problems have beset two thirds of UK adults, ranging from anxiety to depression, with people between 18 -34 being the most likely age group to suffer with these conditions[ii] This paper seeks to show how current neuroscience and pharmaceutical research, though applaudible, may be missing a vital piece of the human jigsaw. The paper will show how the brain reacts to the external world and, in doing so, will then point to specific mental and physical health issues that may be a direct result of this reaction.
This process of the ‘mind’ goes a long way to building bridges between many disciplines, or, as Wilson[iii] puts it “a balanced perspective cannot be acquired by studying disciplines in pieces but through pursuit of the consilience among them” It is with consilience in mind that the author presents this work, in the hope that it can be received by you, the reader, encourage further research into the science of the mind. How to have a healthier life without the need for pharmaceutical support, and to offer hope to the masses who are struggling daily.
The author aims to take you away from the microscope and neuroscience, to examine the what, how and why of human behaviour, showing clearly the stimulus response that the brain functions from, which leads to the myriad of mental/physical health conditions we see today. Opening a doorway to infinite possibilities, which have been alluded to for centuries, yet never travelled through. “What if the mind is not the brain?” This work, although still in its infancy from an academic stance, aligns with the humanistic approaches to better health, wellbeing and appears to be able to eradicate many long-term issues in a very short time period. Explaining how behaviour can be predictable and unpredictable, as well as the nature of dis-ease. The eminent Psychiatrist and father of modern day hypnotherapy Milton Erickson would suggest that dis-ease would be the condition of an individual who is “out of rapport with themselves”[iv], others or the environment that they are in.
The Screen and Emotional Memory Image
Plato (427-347 B.C.)[v] posited the notion of there being a ‘screen’, when he talked of prisoners in a cave reacting to ‘shadows’ on the wall, which they believed to be real and they would in turn act out that reality never knowing that it was an illusion.
By 1890 Bernheim, H,[vi] a French physician and neurologist highlights ‘the screen’ in his book ‘Suggestive Therapeutics’, a book about hypnosis and the power of the mind. Whilst studying ideo-motor responses he declared that they were created as an individual’s response to an ‘Emotional Memory Image’ (EMI). Bernheim could not prove the existence of the EMI as it was happening below the client’s conscious awareness, he could however show the ideo-motor responses and it was here that he focused attention, leaving the exploration of EMI to a future generation.
Around the same time, Jean-Martin Charcot[vii] considered the father of modern neurology and the first professor of nervous system diseases, had put forward the claim that hypnosis and hysteria were associated. It is important to remember that at this point in history the field of psychiatry was still in its infancy so all “aberrant psychological phenomena were understood to be physical and therefore ‘nervous’ diseases.”[viii] Perhaps these beliefs persist within the current medical profession, hence the huge growth in pharmacological treatments of conditions which may very well be driven by the mind.
” In the last analysis, we see only what we are ready to see, what we have been taught to see. We eliminate and ignore everything that is not part of our prejudices.”[ix]
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Shapiro’s Adaptive Information Processing[x] model posits that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experience to bring these to an adaptive resolution’ … ‘Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years’ [xi].
EMDR appears to be working with the EMI proposed by Bernheim however, not as directly as the author, who, being born conductively deaf, works with the focal point that an individual accesses when they mention their trauma, problem or issue, thus working directly with the EMI put forward by Bernheim, which the author proposes, seated at the focal point. The protocols set out by the author are different to that of EMDR as they are both systematic and systemic.
Systematic – sitting to the side of the client, ensuring rapport is built between therapist and client, engaging client in conversation about ‘The Screen’(the space proposed by the author where the EMI’s appear) and how it works, then asking client to say a little about their presenting problem, pointing out to the client where their eyes fixate on the EMI on ‘the Screen’ and then having client focus on a different point whilst trying to talk about their issue. This EMI interruption would appear to be enough of a shift, as the client from that point forward is unable to re-access the EMI.
Systemic – the therapist is to adopt an encouraging and curious More Knowledgeable Other MKO (Vygotsky)[xii]. This connection is key to influencing the client’s neurology as we will see later in the article. The therapist client relationship must not be one of ‘Healer’ and ‘Person to be healed’ but more of a social interaction with a skilful tutor. It is these conditions, the author argues, that create the environment for the client to be actively involved in their own learning and the discovery and development of new knowledge, creating cognitive transformation.
Discovering EMI and The Screen
The author was born with otosclerosis (conductive deafness) and functioned in his coaching dialogues by lip reading and the observation of non-verbal communication. Therefore, the author was seeking a less auditory based and a more inclusive listening process; that would recognise, utilise and understand the whole of the client’s communication.
When working with a client who had a wasp phobia, the author noticed the client flinched and pulled her head back at the mention of the word ‘wasp’. The author then asked the client “if she could see a wasp?” The client answered positively and the author moved his hand into the space directly in front of the client, to approximately where the imagined wasp was. Then moving his hand toward the client caused her distress, whilst moving it away she became instantly calm, placing the EMI into his back pocket prevented the client from re-accessing the EMI in its original format and eradicating the life-long phobia in under two minutes.
“A wagging tongue . . . proves to be only one part of a complex human act whose meaning must also be sought in the movement of the eyebrows and hand.”[xiii]
Neurological Support of EMI
The author suggests that the EMI on the Screen has a direct effect on the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, the amygdala and the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary (SAM) system[xiv]. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine and the neuromodulating hormone cortisol will be secreted into the system[xv], being communicated to the brain as a stress response. ‘Stress’ defined as a person’s perception that environmental demands exceed their adaptive capacity[xvi].
The author asserts that this is owing to an EMI episode. Prolonged use of these hormones has been proposed to contribute to individuals suffering from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and other related disorders[xvii]
Hudson believes that it is long term exposure to EMI that is the basis for the myriad of health conditions that are impacting on society today: by preventing the stimulus of the EMI there can be no response by the brain, ergo no elevated cortisol or adrenaline levels.
How can ‘Mental Illness’ and ‘Chronic Dis-ease’ be natural?
HMP looks to a natural explanation for human conditions. In a nutshell nothing happens until your amygdala is awoken and then if it remains engaged for months or even years, the results of long term neurotransmitter norepinephrine and the neuromodulating hormone cortisol are damaging and take their toll on the body[xviii]. Seeking to show how these chemicals are being produced by an individuals’ brain because of a natural biological process caused by repeated EMI stimuli could then be regarded as a ‘dysregulation’ disorder instead of a ‘random’ mental illness[xix].
If an individual is suffering from long term EMI exposure this suggests that they will present with anxiety attacks, Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS adrenal fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS, Chronic Pain, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis ME, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, strongly correlates to cortisol and exposure to stress, affecting 7% of adults in the United States[xx]and a range of other issues, which are being blanketed with the title ‘mental illness’.
There was an urgent need to create a more politically correct language and basis for mental health conditions, moving away from shaming and blaming individuals and their families towards structural brain differences and greater understanding of neurological functions.[xxi] However, many of these conditions do not suddenly appear in the life of an individual, they are far more likely to have developed over a period owing to the afore mentioned EMI exposure. This could be the very reason why there are no biomarkers for these individuals who are suffering. Biomarkers are used in general medicine to validate diagnosis, they are biological indicators of physiological or genetic flaws[xxii].
The Scottish psychiatrist R.D Laing wrote extensively on the subject of ‘mental illness’ he believed that a person’s journey should be validated and accepted as real for them, which given that Emotional Memory Images are very real to an individual, his argument then is still as valid today. Laing was against treating mental health with pharmaceutical intervention when he highlighted the derivation of Schizophrenia Schiz – broken phrenia- phronos meaning heart or mind, so he argued how can one medicate for a broken heart or mind?[xxiii] Carl Rogers too was apposed to all use of diagnosis, yet the teachings of the humanistic, person-centered would appear to be falling in line with the medical psychiatric system[xxiv].
The author had struggled for many years to underpin his own personal pedagogy; as often times, his client work, would appear to be tacit and non-transferable. Although, the author felt, in himself, that it was a transferable skill, and after completing a BA hons in Education he has gone on to prove his initial hypotheses with many Body Mind Work[xxv] practitioners who are now using the Hudson Mind Theory in their own private clinics around the UK and Europe.
The Hudson Mind Theory© (HMT) offers the potential for adoption of a national and international health program that can have measurable results, without the need for pharmaceutical support or intervention. Thanks to research we are living longer but what is the point of this, if you are suffering every second of the day with mental or physical health issues? In the UK 5.8% of the total health research budget goes to mental health even though it represents 23% of service demand[xxvi]. Researching the HMT would be less costly as it requires no pharmacological trials and has a direct impact on the neurology of the client.
Working with HMT© can allow the subjective internal world of a person to be acknowledged and validated, with a swift and measureable change within their neurology. The work of Laing is more relevant today than ever before, “we cannot medicate a broken spirit”. Isn’t it time we stopped trying and did something different?
HMT is the missing piece in the human jigsaw. The work looks for a natural explanation for human conditions and offers this as an accelerated process to wellbeing. The authors aim is to sort and not support conditions or disease. …
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”
More to follow…
[i] Siegel, D,J (2017). MIND A Journey to the Heart of Being Human. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p9.
[ii] Mental Health Foundation. (2017). Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK’s mental health. Available: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/surviving-or-thriving-state-uks-mental-health. Last accessed 20th Jul 2017.
[iii] Wilson, E.O. (1998). Consilience: The unity of knowledge. New York: Vintage/Penguin.
[iv] Erickson, M.H (1977). Hypnotic Realities: The Induction of Clinical Hypnosis and Forms of Indirect Suggestion. New York: Irvington Publishers. p147.
[v] Benjamin Jowett translation (Vintage, 1991), The Republic pp. 253-261
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[vii] Guillain G. J-M Charcot, 1825-1893. His life – his work. New York: Paul B. Hoeber Inc, 1959.
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[x] F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press
[xi] EMDR Institute, Inc. (2017). What is EMDR. Available: http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/. Last accessed 2nd Jul 2017.
[xii] Lev Vygotsky – “Learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organised, specifically human psychological function.”
[xiii] Goffman, E. (1964). The Neglected Situation. American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol.66, No. 6, Part 2: The Ethonography of Communication. p133-136.
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[xvii] Stahl, S.M. (2013). Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[xviii] Schwabe, L., Wolf, O.T., Oitzl, M.S.. (2010). Memory formation under stress: Quantity and quality. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 34 (4), p584-591.
[xix] Shore A. Affect regulation and the origin of the self: the neurobiology of emotional development. London: Taylor & Francis 2016.
[xxi] Siegel, D,J (2017). MIND A Journey to the Heart of Being Human. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. P47.
[xxiii] Laing, R.D (1967). The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise. London: Pelican Books.
[xxiv] Sanders P. Principled and strategic opposition to the medicalization of distress and all its apparatus. In: Joseph S (ed). The handbook of person-centred therapy and mental health: theory, research and practice. Monmouth: PCCS Books; 2017 (pp11-36).
[xxv] Hudson, E.M. (2017). What is Body Mind Work?. Available: https://bodymindworkers.com/body-mind-work/. Last accessed 6 Sep 2017.
[xxvi] MQ: Transforming Mental Health. (2015). UK mental health – how much do we spend on research?. Available: https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/research/research-funding-landscape. Last accessed 6 Sep 2017.
[xxvii] Mark Twain (1889) A Yankee In King Arthur’s Court