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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

This IS an emergency!

Over 150,000 Americans died from alcohol (car accidents, overdose and liver failure), drug overdoses (from mostly legal opioids) and suicide (by mostly legal guns) in 2017. The alcohol, pharmaceutical and domestic arms industry are making themselves billions through sacrificing the lives of individuals in our society. Since we do not have the political will to sufficiently legislate or fund assistance for our ailing community members, taking personal responsibility to keep these threats safely stored, little used, or out of the home altogether remains a personal moral choice.—MR

By Adeel Hassan, New York Times, March 7, 2019

The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since the collection of federal mortality data started in 1999, according to an analysis by two public health nonprofits, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. To reach their conclusion, the two groups parsed the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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March 8th, 2019 | Permalink

Giving back, not up

Life is excruciatingly short. but if you want it to last a little longer and be a little happier, volunteering during your retirement years has been shown to add years of healthy contentment to your life. Each developmental stage has a set of things we biologically, evolutionarily, should be doing or our bodymind doesn’t stay as healthy. Just as we should learn to walk at age one and talk at age two, and differentiate from our parents at age fifteen, we should be taking care of grandchildren at age 50 plus and/or acting as the wise elder in the tribe.—MR

By Jane Brody, New York Times, March 4, 2019

Encouraged by a grandfatherly professor at Cornell, in my sophomore year I gave a speech asking my fellow students “when you come to the end of your days, will you be able to write your own epitaph?”

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March 8th, 2019 | Permalink

Repeat after me. VERY SLOWLY

Hallelujah! Research is now backing up what I have been saying for decades. When withdrawing from an antidepressant, or frankly any psych med, you’ve been on for over six months, take at least a year to quit. Docs routinely advise patients to titrate way too fast. Then, use their withdrawal symptoms as an excuse to put them back on. But patients who VERY gradually reduced their daily dose of antidepressants over a year, even after years of use, are unlikely to experience any symptoms. I advise buying a metal fingernail file and start with one swipe of the pill across it. Then take one tiny additional swipe across the file every two weeks very slowly reducing the dosage, so your brain doesn’t go into shock making you think you’re actually mentally ill when what you are is in withdrawal. I’ve seen patients who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when, in fact, they had been taken off a benzo, cannabidiol or antidepressant too quickly! Think carefully before you decide to take these drugs. Do your research. And, please, be very careful getting off.-–MR

By Benedict Carey, New York Times,  March 5, 2019

Thousands, perhaps millions, of people who try to quit antidepressant drugs experience stinging withdrawal symptoms that last for months to years: insomnia, surges of anxiety, even so-called brain zaps, sensations of electric shock in the brain.

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March 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Is that all?

Let’s see, this drug, which was a party drug for years, only has these potential side effects: according to the article below, you can pass out, fall asleep, dissociate from reality, commit suicide, get addicted to it, have problems with attention, judgment and thinking, and not to mention hallucinations, tunnel vision and dissociative effects that “make people feel untethered from their surroundings.” Sounds a lot like whiskey, doesn’t it? Its label will carry a “black box” warning – the most serious safety warning issued by the FDA! It was fast tracked through its offices and only required one study instead of the usual two for approval. Gosh, no thanks. There are more natural, less dangerous ways to positively effect glutamate balance in the brain, but maybe Johnson & Johnson just wants to make money. Ya think?-–MR

In biggest advance for depression in years, FDA approves novel treatment for hardest cases

By Carolyn Johnson and Laurie McGinley, Washington Post, March 5, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration approved a novel antidepressant late Tuesday for people with depression that does not respond to other treatments — the first in decades to work in a completely new way in the brain.

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March 5th, 2019 | Permalink

Can’t do Kondo?

You don’t have to go all Marie Kondo to get relief from anxiety by tidying up. First of all, when you do house or yard work of any type, it is a meditative activity that soothes and distracts you from your anxiety. Secondly, it makes you feel like you are a “together person” to see your living space start to be arranged in a more socially-acceptable way. Third of all, it gives your mind less to process when it looks around in an orderly home—you literally worry less. It becomes a lot easier not to lose your keys if they have a spot they always go. The human brain thrives on order. Why not give it some?—MR

Is KonMari a fad? I can say this: It tamed my anxiety as much as my stuff.

By Keri Wiginton, Washington Post, February 14, 2019

When I unpack in a hotel room, it goes from clean to chaos in under a minute. My husband affectionately refers to me as a tornado. He can also accurately assess my mental state based on how disorganized my office is.

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February 17th, 2019 | Permalink

First things first

When it comes to changing your mind—the basic task of psychotherapy—the most effective point of entry to the disturbed system is most often through the body. You just can’t separate mind from body. If you are depressed, anxious, or even psychotic, try helping your body and it will help your mind. A body without enough sleep, sunshine or water or trying to function in a toxic soup of cannabis, nicotine or alcohol, simply cannot be content, so why would your mind? The below article is an example of a body-based intervention.—MR

By Dr. Richard A. Friedman, New York Times, Feb. 10, 2019

Want to fall effortlessly into profound slumber and sleep like a baby? Everyone knows that infants can be lulled to sleep by gentle rocking. Well, now it seems that what works for babies works for adults, too.

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February 11th, 2019 | Permalink

You are growing sleepier and sleepier…

In the screen-lit world of modern life, sleep is expendable. There are television shows to binge-watch, work emails to answer, homework to finish, social media posts to scroll through. We’ll catch up on shut-eye later, so the thinking goes — right after we click down one last digital rabbit hole.

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January 30th, 2019 | Permalink

Dance for joy

Erroneously, we assume that to dance, sing, skip down the street, smile or create art, we first must feel joy. But, while these behaviors may be an expression of joy, forcing ourselves to do them while we are feeling blue fools our brains into feeling great! Our silly brains think, “I’m singing, so I must be happy,” and so we are.—MR

British doctors may soon write prescriptions for dance, art or music lessons

By Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post, January 22, 2019

What if you were ill and instead of — or along with — a prescription for a pharmaceutical drug, your doctor wrote a prescription for a music, dance or painting class?

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January 27th, 2019 | Permalink

Bipolar no more

No matter the segment of reality upon which we gaze, truth unfolds in tints and shades of grey. The world simply is not black and white. This is becoming particularly obvious in gender assignment. Why should an individual who is psychologically and/or physically in the middle of the continuum have to pick one or the other?–MR

By Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2018

The complexity is more than cultural. It’s biological, too. Two sexes have never been enough to describe human variety. Not in biblical times and not now. Before we knew much about biology, we made social rules to administer sexual diversity. The ancient Jewish rabbinical code known as the Tosefta, for example, sometimes treated people who had male and female parts (such as testes and a vagina) as women — they could not inherit property or serve as priests; at other times, as men — forbidding them to shave or be secluded with women. More brutally, the Romans, seeing people of mixed sex as a bad omen, might kill a person whose body and mind did not conform to a binary sexual classification.

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November 24th, 2018 | Permalink

Made for walking

Human critters are walking critters. After all, we walked out of Africa and perhaps a few other places to populate the entire planet. We feel good from the feel-good brain chemicals that are triggered when we walk 20 minutes. I imagine birds feel good when they fly, monkeys feel good when they swing and fish feel great when they swim. Go for a walk—the cheapest feel-good medicine out there!—MR

By Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2018

Ten minutes of mild, almost languorous exercise can immediately alter how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with one another and improve memory function, according to an encouraging new neurological study. The findings suggest that exercise does not need to be prolonged or intense to benefit the brain and that the effects can begin far more quickly than many of us might expect.

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November 13th, 2018 | Permalink

Your addicted brain lies

There are other ways to reduce or eliminate back pain other than life-destroying opioids pushed by an immoral pharmaceutical industry. Please don’t listen to your addicted brain telling you different. Almost 75,000 Americans died last year from these drugs. If your doctor doesn’t know better, get a better doctor. —MR

A different way to relieve years of back pain

By Lisa Rein, Washington Post, September 27, 2018

In my first Feldenkrais class, we lay on our backs with eyes closed and drifted our eyeballs left to right and back again. We shifted our heads from side to side as our eyes followed in their sockets. Then we changed it up, moving our eyes in the opposite direction from our heads.

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October 31st, 2018 | Permalink

Who are you fooling?

Alcohol is almost everywhere we go. Human society likes to drink and encourages you to do it. But if you do, be aware of the scientific fact that, in any amount, you are doing something that will harm your health. Particularly the health of your brain and your relationships.—MR

Safest level of alcohol consumption is none

By Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post, August 23, 2018

To minimize health risks, the optimal amount of alcohol someone should consume is none. That’s the simple, surprising conclusion of a massive study, co-written by 512 researchers from 243 institutions, published Thursday in the prestigious journal the Lancet.

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October 29th, 2018 | Permalink

Be happy

Happiness is not a permanent state. It is in a moment. The more happy moments in your life, the happier life you have. The brain is wired to make you feel happy if you do certain things. Studies show one thing you can do to have a happy moment is to plant a tree! Even better, just looking at one can help.—MR

When cities grow, green space dies. Replanting it has been shown to lift the human spirit.

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October 8th, 2018 | Permalink

Truth will out

Finally! Been saying this for decades. However, the author doesn’t understand the addiction. It is “secondary.” Cannabis triggers an opioid in ones brain at abnormally high levels, i.e. the reward chemical, to which one becomes addicted. It is hard to recognize cause the high feels like the personal emotion of reward not an outer opioid like heroin plus the THC high. After awhile your own reward chemical isn’t stimulated without using cannabis. Voila! An unmotivated bored depressed narcissist sucking down reefer at the expense of those around him as his own life goes off the rails.—MR

By Neal Pollack, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2018

Cannabis should be legal, just as alcohol should be legal. But marijuana addiction exists, and it almost wrecked my life.

My name is Neal, and I’m a marijuana addict. A year ago I wouldn’t have said that, because it would have meant giving up marijuana. I would rather have given up breathing.

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October 7th, 2018 | Permalink

Don’t sweat it

One of the most effective things you can do to improve your mental health is to exercise, but some of us aren’t going to do calisthenics or go jogging for various reasons. Another effective mental health treatment is meditation. Tai chi or chi gung are fun alternatives to both and can even be learned by watching U-Tube videos.—MR

Using Tai Chi to Build Strength

By Jane E. Brody, New York Times, September 10, 2018

Tai chi moves can be easily learned and executed by people of all ages and states of health, even elderly people in wheelchairs.

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September 13th, 2018 | Permalink

Modern myth

From personal experience over the last 50 years and clinical observation as a mental health counselor, I have witnessed cannabis as the primary cause in many cases of anxiety, depression, job loss, divorce, psychosis and suicidal ideation by users. When cannabis is removed, symptoms have disappeared without other interventions. If you suffer from any of the above, go without it for a year and see if your mental and social disorder improve. If you can’t or won’t, you have to face the fact you are addicted and the anxiety or other symptom you feel is likely a withdrawal symptom that is relieved when you take more of your drug fooling you into thinking it’s helping.-–MR

The Big Number: Most adults think marijuana can be good for health

By Linda Searing, The Washington Post, August 18, 2018

Can marijuana be beneficial to your health? Most American adults — 81 percent — think so, according to new national survey results published online by Annals of Internal Medicine. The survey included responses from 9,003 adults considered a nationally representative sample. The believed benefits cited by the most people were managing pain (noted by 66 percent of participants), treating diseases such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy (48 percent), and easing stress, anxiety and depression (47 percent). That said, 91 percent of respondents said they also believe that marijuana comes with risk, the most common being legal problems (cited by 52 percent), addiction (50 percent) and impaired memory (42 percent).

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August 22nd, 2018 | Permalink

Drugs versus behavioral change

Changes to your behavior, such as going for a 20-minute walk a day, improves sleep without the cost of pills or risk of addiction. Though I will admit, if I don’t go for my walk, I might not sleep. Is that an addiction?—MR

The Evidence Points to a Better Way to Fight Insomnia

By Austin Frakt, New York Times, June 26, 2018

One weekend afternoon a couple of years ago, while turning a page of the book I was reading to my daughters, I fell asleep. That’s when I knew it was time to do something about my insomnia.

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June 27th, 2018 | Permalink

Alcohol damages your bodymind

The research is conclusive. The World Health Organization says one drink a day increases your chances of cancer by seven percent. Two drinks a day, fourteen percent. Personally, I don’t like them odds. Not to mention causing depression, anxiety and relationship problems. Puh-leez don’t believe the marketing by the wealthy alcohol industry that there is some health benefit to drinking. Those rich, um, guys don’t care about you.—MR

Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer?

The science on the link is clear, but the alcohol industry has worked hard to downplay it.

by Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, May/June 2018

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April 16th, 2018 | Permalink

Drugs are addictive

Whether it’s an antidepressant, anxiolytic, pain killer, or cannabis, drugs are addictive. If you take one long enough—in the case of Xanax, a popular anti anxiety med, only a week—your body gets used to it and has to have more. Your natural brain chemicals, the ones that are supposed to help you overcome depression, pain or anxiety, diminish because they aren’t being used. If you don’t want to be a drug addict, even in the case of chronic pain, try mental health counseling first. Then, if that doesn’t help, have the counselor refer you for a prescription and continue to help you with behavioral changes, so you don’t have to be on it for very long.—MR

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April 9th, 2018 | Permalink

The good, the bad and the ugly

First off, please understand there are no such thing as “germs.” What traditional medicine calls “germs” are just normal human bacteria whose population has grown out of control. When they do—in response to poor food choices among other insults—your health suffers. When you take antibiotics to reduce the overgrowth, it indiscriminately kills the good bugs whose job it is to control the bad bug’s population. Around and around you go with your physical and mental health flushing down the toilet.—MR

The Germs That Love Diet Soda

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff, New York Times opinion, April 6, 2018

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April 8th, 2018 | Permalink

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