morgan randall

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

The art of therapeutic conversation

Conversation, confession and storytelling are the means through which psychotherapy heals the mind. By bringing into the room the story of ones exquisitely human life and the characters who people it to be witnessed and reframed by a therapeutic friend, ones story, in ones own voice, will be seen as a narrative of bravery, endurance, love and challenges overcome. Fundamentally, we are storytelling creatures. In revisiting and seeing ones life through the eyes of a skillful healer, with her unconditional positive regard, a seemingly mystical transformation can occur within the country of the human heart. The below is a example of simple conversation at its most beautiful.—MR

Springsteen and Obama on friendship and fathers: ‘You have to turn your ghosts into ancestors’

By Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama, The US Guardian, October 23, 2021

President Barack Obama: Good conversations don’t follow a script. Like a good song, they’re full of surprises, improvisations, detours. They may be grounded in a specific time and place, reflecting your state of mind and the current state of the world. But the best conversations also have a timeless quality, taking you back into the realm of memory, propelling you forward toward your hopes and dreams. Sharing stories reminds you that you’re not alone – and maybe helps you understand yourself a little bit better.

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October 23rd, 2021 | Permalink

A dose of amazement therapy

Taking even one moment to glimpse or revel in one’s place in the universe can lift us from our doldrums. Whether it’s a slow walk in nature, a look through a giant telescope, paging through a photo book on hummingbirds or watching the Discovery Channel, getting out of oneself can be immensely therapeutic.—MR

A vast, thrilling world of nature unfolds outside of human time

by Nicholas P. Money, Psyche newsletter, October 20, 2021

In the seconds that it takes to leave home in the morning, my garden in Ohio is exploding with invisible movements: a fusillade of spores bursts into the air from microscopic fungi that have sprouted on rabbit pellets since sunrise; leafhoppers jump from the car roof using gear wheels that engage faster than the pistons in the car; and tiny relatives of jellyfish called pond hydras fire barbs into their prey using pressurized harpoons. Does any of this matter to us? On one hand, we do not need to know that this Lilliputian circus is in full swing to drive to the office; on the other, life on this pale blue dot would cease without the workings of biology fast and biology small.

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October 20th, 2021 | Permalink

You are how you eat

Finally! The premier newsletter of allopathic docs is saying that it’s not how much they eat that makes people fat, it’s what they eat and it isn’t fat that’s the problem. It’s carbs. They make a person fat. Over 70% of adult Americans are overweight and therefore more susceptible to becoming gravely ill with CV19. Reduce carbs, reduce the likelihood of early death. Example: potatoes, jam and toast out. Eggs and bacon in.—MR

Let’s Focus More on What We Eat, Not How Much: The carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity offers a new way to conceptualize energy balance

The First Law of Thermodynamics, formulated in the 1800s, says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. For the human body, this principle of physics means that if you consume more calories than you burn (or excrete), the excess is stored in the body (mainly as fat).

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October 19th, 2021 | Permalink

Practice makes better

When I first opened my psychotherapy practice in 2005 during my masters program, I was simply better at doing psychotherapy than others in my class who opened theirs at the same time. This was due to the many long years I had practiced the art of sohbet, as 12th century Persian poet Rumi called it. Sohbet translates as the art of mystical conversation—the type of in-depth face-to-face relating that heals the soul. Further, during the week between sessions, I practiced new behaviors I was learning from my various counselors on the ground of my personal life. While everything may not be perfect today, life is a great deal better, more happy and healthy than it was 30 years ago. Even the act of living takes work and conscious practice to be successful. It also takes a teacher…-–MR

Does practice make perfect?

by Steven Poole, The Guardian US, October 4, 2021

At the end of every edition of his children’s TV show Record Breakers, Roy Castle used to sing: “If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the rest, dedication’s what you need.” But is it all you need? Tennis star Emma Raducanu seemingly came from nowhere at 18 to triumph at this year’s US Open, prompting much speculation as to what in her early life could have seeded such prodigious success. Or perhaps it could all be summed up in the old joke: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice!”

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October 10th, 2021 | Permalink

Think bodymind

While the study below is highly technical and ostensibly about THE virus, my takeaway is that certain supplements help reduce senescence (decay of cells) and can help protect the bodymind from inflammation. In this case, quercitin, which I have consumed daily for thirty years and is available at most grocery stores. At Bodymind Counseling, we start our therapy together by uncovering the things a patient is doing that may be having physically negative effects on the brain such as drinking or smoking and discuss how those effects are experienced in the mind. Nutritional supplementation is encouraged to support growth of healthy cells to replace damaged ones. It’s just plain hard to have a happy mind in an unhealthy or chemically-depleted body.—MR

Virus-induced senescence is driver and therapeutic target in COVID-19

by Soyoung Lee, Yong Yu and Clemens Schmitt, Nature, September 9, 2021

Derailed cytokine and immune cell networks account for organ damage and clinical severity of COVID 191-4. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2, like other viruses, evokes cellular senescence as a primary stress response in infected cells.

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October 1st, 2021 | Permalink

Are we having fun yet?

Here’s an excellent exercise in self regulation! Our minds’ are not a pack of wild monkeys leaping from tree to tree uncontrollable. Teaching your mind to sit, stay and be calm is a lot like training a puppy. With practice and kindness, the result is an animal who is s lot more happy, relationally appropriate and safe in this difficult world. Are you still peeing in the living room?—MR

Being alone with your thoughts is a skill you can practice

by Rémy Furrer, Psyche newsletter, September 29, 2021

Imagine you’re sitting in a bus, waiting in line or simply sitting on your sofa at home, and you find yourself with a few minutes of idle time on your hands – how might you occupy yourself? As most do nowadays, you’re likely to start scrolling through your phone; but what if, instead, you chose to retreat into your own mind and entertain yourself with pleasurable thoughts? How hard could it be?

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September 29th, 2021 | Permalink

Step back, Jack

Well, maybe your name is not Jack, but addressing yourself by name as if you were talking to another person is an effective way to gain some distance from an upsetting situation. Ask yourself, “Why are you so upset, [insert your name here]?” Asking another person (who happens to be yourself) this question allows an adult, more logical part of your brain to get in the driver’s seat, so you calm down and think yourself out of a difficult spot.—MR

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view

By Professor Ariana Orvellis, Psyche newsletter, September 15, 2021

In the 2nd century CE, in the sunset of his life, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius began recording meditations on how he had lived. The questions he asked himself are the same ones many of us find ourselves asking today: how does a person live a meaningful life? How does one find resilience in the face of suffering? What does it mean to be happy?

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September 17th, 2021 | Permalink

Get hoping!

Stuff happens. Things outside our control happen everyday of our lives. How we respond to difficulties that arise determines how happy and successful our lives will be NOT THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN. Psychotherapy at Bodymind Counseling helps patients see what learned or chemically-induced reactive behavioral patterns they employ in the face of inevitable challenges and learn to change these patterns to create a healthier, happier life. Hope to see you soon!—MR

Hope is the antidote to helplessness. Here’s how to cultivate it

by Emily Esfahani Smith, Psyche, September 15, 2021

Several decades ago, two psychologists stumbled upon a phenomenon that revolutionized their field and changed the way we think about adversity. They called it “learned helplessness”—when faced with a difficult situation that feels uncontrollable, people tend to act helpless and depressed.

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September 15th, 2021 | Permalink

Start with yourself

Diagnosis of schizophrenia is not only wrongly used on nursing home patients, but other members of society who are “difficult” to control such as the developmentally disabled, the homeless, the autistic, unruly teens, soldiers with PTSD, substance abusers in withdrawal from an array of drugs, prisoners and those with personality disorders. Psycho-pharmaceuticals as an entire class of drugs are too often prescribed simply as a straight jacket for an unregulated mind. They can’t cure anything. Granted, due to lack of resources and the political will to help the unproductive in our society instead of shelving them there may be few other options at this time. A prescription is a cheaper way to go than months or years of effective psychotherapy. It’s a big societal problem. To help fix it, be kind. Consider counseling before drugging your own mind into submission.-–MR

By Katie Thomas, Robert Gebeloff and Jessica Silver Greenberg, New York Times, September 11, 2021

At least 21 percent of nursing home residents are on antipsychotic drugs, a Times investigation found.

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September 12th, 2021 | Permalink

Whoa there, big fella!

Docs notoriously ask a patient to titrate off drugs too quickly. Not sure why that’s so, perhaps insurance companies don’t wish to pay for titration, but I see it often in my practice. A patient will go off an antidepressant too suddenly causing a spring back effect, i.e. even more severe depression than when she began. Her doc then says, “See? You need the antidepressant,” when in fact she may have not if she had titrated more slowly. Psycho-pharmaceutical drugs such as benzodiazepines require VERY slow titration to maintain mental balance to not cause awful withdrawal symptoms such as severe anxiety and even emotional swings mimicking bipolar disorder. If your doc suggests you stop taking a drug, any drug, without cutting down in very small increments over time, you may wish to ask for a more gentle titration schedule. It’s your bodymind after all…—MR

“Forced to Lie”: Med Titration Standards Put Critical Care Nurses on Shaky Ground — Survey finds nurses feeling “moral distress” at “profoundly unrealistic” standards

By Shannon Firth, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today,

Most critical care nurses (CCN) reported that they departed from “profoundly unrealistic” medication management titration standards — and then later asked for the orders to be revised for compliance, a cross-sectional survey found.

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September 3rd, 2021 | Permalink

It’s not real

Other practitioners have asked me why I refuse to do online sessions. My response is always (with a shrug), “It’s not real.” Psychotherapy is not two people speaking into microphones on their computers that carries less than one third of sound or image information as the real deal. Your healer cannot see your posture, color of your skin or how you are dressed which says a lot about your mental state. Reading facial expressions is difficult. They cannot smell fear, anxiety, or anger in your sweat. Cannot smell cigarette or cannabis smoke or alcohol on your breath. The list of missing information goes on and on and includes subtle information transfers science doesn’t know much about yet. We do know that counseling works because your brain picks up how to remain calm and self regulate emotionally from your counselor’s affect. How does it do that on Zoom? Time will tell. But I promise to keep the window open, sit over six feet away and physically be there for you.—MR

‘I believe it’s a mental health issue’: the rise of Zoom dysmorphia

By Priya Elan, The Guardian US, September 1, 2021

Time spent on the “funhouse mirror” of video-conferencing calls has resulted in a distortion of our self image.

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September 2nd, 2021 | Permalink

Enjoy life

One of the complaints I hear from patients who have come to counseling to learn how to live a healthy life is, “but without alcohol, I can’t have fun.” I assure you, once you detox from alcohol and your damaged brain recovers its ability to think for itself, you will no longer feel that way. All life areas–family, relationship, work, leisure–will blossom and provide enjoyment. I learned this fact from personal experience and the experiences of others.—MR

Late-summer sip: A new world of booze-free options

By Katie Workman, The Guardian US, September 1, 2021

Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits. Non-alcoholic options range from drinks that aim to replicate existing spirits to ones that promise something completely new.

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September 1st, 2021 | Permalink

So what?

Wish I had a penny for every time a patient told me a dramatic story centered around the plot of the emotional need for friends or family members to have the same opinion or point of view. Gosh, I’d be rich! There are almost 8 billion people in the world. Should every one of them agree about everything? If that seems silly, then why do we want people we know to have the same opinion as ourselves? Differences in flowers make for a beautiful garden of contrasting colors, shapes, sizes and textures. Even though it may feel like it sometimes, opinions are not a matter of life and death. Learn to say “that is your point of view, but I feel differently. Doesn’t mean we don’t love each other,” and let it go at that.—MR

Fran Lebowitz: ‘If people disagree with me, so what?’

By Hadley Freeman, The Guardian US, August, 28 2021

With a hit Netflix series and The Fran Lebowitz Reader now published in the UK, the American wit talks about failing to write, her dislike of Andy Warhol and her best friend Toni Morrison.

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August 29th, 2021 | Permalink

Danger, Will Robinson!

As a class of pharmaceuticals, all benzodiazepines are dangerous. Legal or illegal. Not only can users overdose on less than they realize, but benzos are HIGHLY addictive. Back in the ’70s, Congress was poised to make them illegal to manufacture, but—surprise!—Big Pharma now makes billions of them and from them. (Note: the spike in overdoses from illegal ones has grown because until now there was no black market for benzos, since legal ones were so easy to get.) The horror I have seen is the unwittingly addicted devolve into bipolar disorder and/or psychosis over the years. Natural human anxiety had become high anxiety, then an emotional roller coaster requiring bipolar meds. Taken up into alcohol receptors in the brain, recent research showed longtime users—as little as one pill every four months was considered using in this study—succumb to Alzheimers at a 35% greater rate than those who managed anxiety naturally. Before asking a doc to prescribe, do yourself a favor, learn to manage the stresses of life naturally.—MR

CDC: Benzo-Involved Overdoses on the Rise

by John Gever, MedPage Today,

Last year saw a worrisome spike in drug overdoses involving benzodiazepines, and an even bigger one in those where unapproved and illegally manufactured agents such as etizolam and flubromazolam played a role, officials said.

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August 27th, 2021 | Permalink

A rose by any other name is still a rose

There are a number of behaviors, such as gambling and gaming, and substances, such as cocaine and cannabis, that cause addiction to our endogenous (inner) opioids with similar symptoms and results as addiction to exogenous (outer) ones like opioids or heroin. What to do? First, realize addiction is possible or even probable. Second, get help.—MR

Constant craving: how digital media turned us all into dopamine addicts

by Jamie Waters, The Guardian US, August 22, 2021

According to addiction expert Dr Anna Lembke, our smartphones are making us dopamine junkies, with each swipe, like and tweet feeding our habit. So how do we beat our digital dependency?

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August 22nd, 2021 | Permalink

Be your own BFF

The below article defines loneliness as a negative emotional reaction to a discrepancy between the relationships we have and those we want. While a helpful article, that is obvious and probably doesn’t need to be said. Not explained in the article is why we feel that way. Each of us exists on a continuum of “differentiation.” When we are born, we don’t yet realize we are not mom. After all, we were a part of mom for nine months. After popping out, we learn to individuate, i.e. learn we are “not mom.” Some individuals are taught by mom to do that better than others. Those that don’t at all are called schizophrenics. They literally do not even have separate ego structures and never learn to function as an individual. Learning to be alone is a developmental process that continues into old age. If you didn’t learn to enjoy solitude, you may end up with mom’s problems and illnesses or dysfunctional relational behaviors and not enjoy the one very beautiful individual life you have.—MR

How to overcome the loneliness of youth

by Pamela Qualter & Lily Verity, Psyche newsletter, August 18, 2021

It’s extremely common to feel lonely when you’re young. Many strategies can help, the key is finding what works for you.

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August 18th, 2021 | Permalink

Maybe. Maybe not.

The takeaway from the below article is that cannabis is still a Schedule 1 illegal drug according to the Feds. Functionally, this means very little research has been done or is scheduled to be done. There are decades of research to be done before we will know the myriad ways it can help or hurt a user. We already know it can help patients with some forms of epilepsy and harms neurological development in teens and twenty-somethings. Ask yourself, did your mother raise you to be a guinea pig?—MR

Pot Smokers Face Distinct Risks After Coronary Procedures

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August 17th, 2021 | Permalink

Is it worth it?

Is drinking alcohol worth the risk? Considering its well-documented negative effect on financial, physical and mental health and on family and community relations, more and more smart people are saying “No.” If you would like help quitting, call a mental health counselor. Beyond primary addiction, often there is a psychological pattern holding the dysfunctional behavior in place making alcohol very difficult to put down with traditional 12-step approaches.—MR

Alcohol linked to more cancers than thought, study finds

by Rachel Hall, The Guardian US, August 4, 2021

Alcohol, when metabolized, breaks down into chemicals that can bind to DNA, potentially causing cancerous mutations.

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August 5th, 2021 | Permalink

I’m here for you

Being with someone online is not “being with” someone. There’s a lot of information and energy missing in online communication. It may be OK for a staff meeting at, but I can’t be sure what patients are thinking or feeling if I’m looking at digital representations of them on a computer screen. Lots of what you get from a counselor, can only be gotten with in-person engagement. Our psyches can be healed with the feeling energy of a caring person. Ethically, I cannot charge for counseling on Zoom. How can I be “here for you” if I’m not here at all?–MR

Virtual contact worse than no contact for over-60s in lockdown, says study

By Amelia Hill, The Guardian US, July 26, 2021

Staying in touch with friends and family via technology made many older people feel more lonely, research finds.

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July 26th, 2021 | Permalink

Epidemic of loneliness

Human beings are social critters. Without friends or close family members in physical proximity, not only does our mental health suffer, but our physical health too. Taking care of your health also means taking care of your social needs. One thing a lonely person can do to fix a friend deficit is go to counseling. Among many other services, a counselor can be a therapeutic friend with whom you share your hopes and dreams, your loves and schemes, your losses and fears. Your heart and mind will feel the caring of a good counselor as they help you find ways to increase your ability to attract friends, maintain relationships and, perhaps, repair ones you’ve lost.—MR

It’s time to rethink what loneliness is

by Miriam Kirmayer, The Guardian US, July 22, 2021

Research suggests that chronic loneliness may be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But do we know what loneliness actually is?

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July 22nd, 2021 | Permalink

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