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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

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There is an epidemic killing Americans that makes all others pale in comparison. Pain killers, legal and illegal, are killing more than pain. Just because a pill looks like one thing, doesn’t mean it is. Personally, I stick with ibuprofen.—MR

‘It’s devastating’: how fentanyl is unfolding as one of America’s greatest tragedies

By Melody Schrieber, The Guardian US, November 22, 2021

More than 100,000 people died from overdoses in a single year – driven primarily by one drug. It was August 2020, and Luca Manuel, 13, was starting eighth grade the following day in Redding, California. He was excited to see his friends; his mother had bought him a stash of masks and school supplies for his first in-person school day in six months.

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November 23rd, 2021 | Permalink

Systems thinking

The below article illustrates a fact of biological life that many practitioners and patients overlook. A human bodymind is a complex system. To discover why a patient is depressed, for example, exploring various triggers in the body, brain and psyche may reveal a single source or find multiple inputs resulting in disorder that can be reversed through changes in lifestyle, behavior or beliefs. Be Hansel and Gretl and follow the crumbs of observation to self knowledge resulting in a happier life. Finding a practitioner who can guide you on your path, one who doesn’t shut you into believing there only one wicked witch causing your ill health, is key to getting out of the dark forest of your predicament.—MR

Some Good News for Curious Afib Patients Looking to Find Their Own Triggers

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) patients testing their perceived triggers in n-of-1 experiments were unable to improve their quality of life, but did have fewer episodes in the I-STOP-AFib trial.

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November 15th, 2021 | Permalink

She’s fooling you

Bud, dab, oil, flower, the mean green witch, whatever you want to call this drug, cannabis is proving to have more bad effects for most people than good ones for a very few. Yes, it can help in falling asleep, but only folks addicted to the abnormally high endorphin levels it induces. When in cannabis withdrawal, a person can’t sleep, so of course, the addictive agent helps. Yes, it decreases pain, particularly the part of pain it enhances. Potheads are addicted to the abnormally high endogenous opioid levels in their brains, so normal endorphin levels no longer work. Yes, someone may feel less anxious, but only because it wrapped them in mummy cloth inhibiting connection with others and soothed the agitation of withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis psychosis is the fastest growing mental health disorder in America. Thank goodness, it’s becoming legal, so we can study its various ill effects instead of blindly accepting hippy folk mythology perpetuated by business interests.—MR

Michigan EDs See Jump in Cannabis-Related Neuropsychiatric Toxicity

by Ryan Basen, MedPage Today

Neuropsychiatric toxicity (NPS) was common among patients presenting with cannabis toxicity to Michigan emergency departments (EDs), and they were more likely to also have used other substances, a researcher reported.

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November 1st, 2021 | Permalink

Start with the body to heal the mind

The article below points to the reason at Bodymind Counseling patients and I talk about physical reasons they may be having psycho-emotional problems. Your emotional issues are not just in your mind, they’re in your “bodymind.” What you eat, what substances you may use, your hormonal cycles, what diseases and medications you may have, how much water you drink, how much exercise you get, the quality of your breathing and your sleep, your stress levels, what media you use, all these things and more effect how well you are able to emotionally regulate reactions to past events, everyday insults and relationships at home and at work. People who drink a glass or two of alcohol or an energy drink daily are simply going to have more difficult times managing their internal life. As a patient progresses to a healthier, more stable, physical system, we are able work with those pesky mental issues much more effectively.—MR

Could Menstrual Cycle Be Used to Tailor PTSD Treatments?

by Kara Grant, MedPage Today,

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October 29th, 2021 | Permalink

Not fun and games

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of psychological theories. In my experience, CBT works. Psychodynamic works, too. Depending on your needs in the moment, a psychotherapist who has a dozen theories in her tool kit works for you, but it is a two-way street. You have to be willing to share, willing to listen and show up consistently for as long as it takes. No therapist has a magic wand in her top desk drawer. I wish we did…—MR

Psychodynamic therapy helped me overcome trauma when CBT couldn’t

by Lucia Osborne-Crowley, Psyche newsletter, October 27, 2021

The first time I saw my therapist, she was standing in front of a room full of people, talking about William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies (1954). It was part of a series of book events on the theme of psychoanalysis and literature, and my therapist was dissecting the emotional and psychodynamic contours of the book, in particular the ending.

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October 27th, 2021 | Permalink

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 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

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