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

Bodymind Counseling

Back in the mid-oughts while interning at a psychiatric clinic, I was assigned a patient who a half dozen other therapists had given up on over an 8-year period. She had been diagnosed as Bipolar 1 with psychotic features. After a few months of working with this young woman I suggested she tell a general practitioner that her new therapist (me) thought there may be something else seriously wrong, something physical. Turned out, she had multiple sclerosis. After six months of successful management and treatment for it, she was able to go back to college and regain custody of her children. She wasn’t bipolar at all.  This successful denouement was one of the reasons I started Bodymind Counseling upon graduation in ’06. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to separate the the mind from the body.—MR

A catatonic woman awakened after 20 years. Her story may change psychiatry

The young woman was catatonic, stuck at the nurses’ station — unmoving, unblinking and unknowing of where or who she was.

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June 5th, 2023 | Permalink

Are you fooling yourself?

It’s how addiction works. Feelings of low mood, irritability and anxiety manifest when blood levels of nicotine drop and these feelings are relieved by smoking another cigarette. Smokers may think smoking another relieves psychological distress; however, distress is caused by withdrawal. Smoking another actually makes it worse as tolerance builds. With cigarettes, withdrawal symptoms start pretty quickly. Almost instantaneously. With cannabis, alcohol or other drugs, blood levels drop more slowly, but the effect is the same–depression and irritability after awhile. If you can’t quit your addiction, please get help. You’ve only got one life to enjoy. Why kill yourself feeling awful on the way down?—MR

Quitting Smoking May Ease Anxiety, Depression

People who quit smoking for at least 15 weeks may see improvements in their mental health, a secondary analysis of the EAGLES trial showed.

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June 4th, 2023 | Permalink

Not all in your body

Chronic stress can seriously injure you. If you have any chronic physical disorder, taking an inventory of stressors and taking a few off your plate may help to alleviate your symptoms. A problem is most folks are not consciously aware of chronic stressors in their lives and will need a counselor’s assistance in figuring those out. Please note: asking a counselor for assistance doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re human. –MR

Chronic stress can inflame the gut — now scientists know why

Psychological stress is known to worsen the gut inflammation caused by certain bowel diseases. Now scientists have found out why. New research outlines a sweeping narrative that begins with chemical cues produced in the brain and ends with immune cells in the gut — a sequence that spells trouble for people with these conditions.

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May 30th, 2023 | Permalink

A simple fix

There are many things people can do to protect their brain’s ability to remember as they age. Exercising daily or avoiding sugar and alcohol come to my mind. But one simple aid is to take a multivitamin once a day.—MR

Memory Boosted With Daily Multivitamins

by Judy George, MedPage Today,

Multivitamin supplementation slowed cognitive decline in older adults, the COSMOS-Web study showed.

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May 25th, 2023 | Permalink

Surprised? Not.

And the bad news about cannabis use keeps rolling in. We all knew cannabis affects the brain. Makes sense it would effect a growing fetus’s too. They end up growing into babies with smaller heads! CBD exposure in womb is also linked to childhood obesity. Heard of the munchies? Well, you can pass it on. Just because a drug is legal, doesn’t mean it’s harmless. If you wish to have a kid, quit smoking pot a year before you get pregnant. Or here’s a novel idea! Quit using any form of cannabis if you wish to live a healthier happier life.—MR

Marijuana harms development in first trimester of pregnancy

By , CNN, May 16, 2023

If you are pregnant and use any form of cannabis product, consider stopping. That’s the takeaway from a new study that found a significant health impact of marijuana use on fetal development as early as the beginning of pregnancy.

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May 17th, 2023 | Permalink

Say what?!?

I remember my dad shaking his head in disbelief saying, “You’d think all my siblings grew up in different families!” He was referring to the fact that each of my aunts and uncles told a wildly different story of growing up on the western edge of Nebraska in a family of seven now a hundred years ago. Indeed, it boggled my mind to hear my aunt tell tales of her kind and loving father and my father ones of horrible abuse at the hands of the same man, er, monster. Obviously, neither were lying and both were relaying what they experienced, though unconsciously being selective. Accepting the fact that others see many things in this world differently than ourselves is one of the greatest lessons of life. I remember learning “the dress” was black and blue as it became obvious in other photos. However, in the first photo posted, the dress was clearly white and gold. There was simply no denying what my eyes could clearly see…—MR

Why color is in the eye of the beholder

by James Fox, The Guardian US, May 8, 2023

In February 2015, a Scottish woman uploaded a photograph of a dress to the internet. Within 48 hours the blurry snapshot had gone viral, provoking spirited debate around the world. The disagreement centered on the dress’s color: some people were convinced it was blue and black while others were adamant it was white and gold.

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May 14th, 2023 | Permalink

No easy way out

ADHD is difficult to deal with in a loved one or oneself to say the least. I know, my late husband suffered from its effects and his Adderall prescription helped manage his symptoms simply and effectively. He was a happier person under it effects. However, when he had his first heart attack, it was the first thing the doc said NOT to do because of its deleterious effects on his electrical system. He needed an emergency PaceMaker because of its dysregulated functioning. There are healthier ways to manage ADHD, but they require a lot more work. A strict diet and sleep schedule, biofeedback, exercise and meditation can work wonders by actually changing the brain due to its neuroplastic properties, but they take time, effort and willpower daily. Parents and patients have to ask the critical question about which treatment they will choose. My husband and I will never know how much an ADHD med contributed to his death, but it is a no-brainer that it did.—MR

FDA Updates Warnings on All Stimulants for ADHD…

…In a drug safety communication on Thursday, the agency [FDA] said the boxed warning for the entire class of central nervous system stimulants would get standardized language to more clearly state the dangers — including the risk for misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death — given that most of the current warnings are out of date. This class of drugs includes amphetamines such as Adderall and methylphenidate such as Ritalin and Concerta.

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May 13th, 2023 | Permalink

Be afraid, very afraid…

Legal Pot Is More Potent Than Ever — And Still Largely Unregulated

by David Hilzenrath, KFF Health News, May 9, 2023

Marijuana and other products containing THC, the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient, have grown more potent and more dangerous as legalization has made them more widely available. Although decades ago the THC content of weed was commonly less than 1.5%, some products on the market today are more than 90% THC.

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May 9th, 2023 | Permalink

A very real addiction

Social media has the same potential to cause physical addiction as any other opioid. It triggers the reward chemical in your brain (an endogenous opioid) at higher levels than you would get from face-to-face interaction. Nature created a way to chemically incentivize socializing, but it didn’t predict the evolution of an internet getting you addicted to your own brain chemicals. Instead of contentedly being social to protect the species, we’re hooked to instant gratification like sheep to a bottomless feeding trough. Worse, the media, and politicians in particular, need to make you as angry as possible to keep users coming back for more. Both are willing to stretch the truth, or outright lie, to do so. If you want to enjoy a happier, healthier life, keep your device off 23 hours a day and do something else. Anything else.—MR

Antisocial: how putting away my phone helped me recover from a heart attack

By Rafael Behr, The Guardian US, April 29, 2023

In the first weeks of my convalescence I developed a capacity for time travel. I had to spend a lot of time in bed and, floating on the edge of wakefulness, half-conscious, I discovered I could explore scenes from my past in exquisite detail. I wondered if it was a side effect of my various medications and whether it would be permanent. It was almost hallucinogenic and not unpleasant. I couldn’t replay whole scenes from my youth, but I was able to transport myself back to old places – only interiors. I could feel the contours of the Artex on the walls of my childhood home in the late ’70s. I could smell the damp on the charcoal-colored carpet in the living room of the flat I rented with friends when I left university.

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April 30th, 2023 | Permalink

Reading, writing and mental health

I agree wholeheartedly with the below author and could say exactly the same thing. From SciFi to Self Help, Historical Fiction to Quantum Physics, Cooking to Travel, Religion to Poetry, reading helps our minds to expand, learn and grow toward greater health. Just trying to focus on one sentence at a time or reading one page a night can change our point of view to one of greater hope and contentment. Writing in a journal, even a paragraph or haiku each night before bedtime, can help get our minds move into a more comfortable place. Check out the Bodymind Counseling reading list or head down to your closest used bookstore to get out of a narrow or distraught mind and back into a wider, more pleasurable world.—MR

Reading books is not just a pleasure: it helps our minds to heal

Through my own struggles and in teaching bibliotherapy to students, I know that books can help to heal minds and hearts.

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April 29th, 2023 | Permalink

Getting old ain’t for sissies

Besides the reduction of one’s physical competence, loss of social contact can be devastating for those over 70. Many do not have partners or even children nearby, so particularly after an isolating pandemic, rightfully feel lost and alone. A mental health counselor can help not only by providing compassionate conversation and contact, but by offering suggestions on how to make new friends and manage the normal emotions of grief, loss and loneliness common to the lives of many seniors. You can enjoy the senior phase of the one beautiful life you’ve been given!—MR

How — and why — you should increase your social network as you age

Friends sitting around a table, talking and laughing. A touch on the arm as one of them leans over to make a confiding comment. A round of hugs before walking out the door. For years, Carole Leskin, 78, enjoyed this kind of close camaraderie with five women in Moorestown, N.J.

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April 27th, 2023 | Permalink

Turn it off to turn it on

It’s a fact, talking about sex with your partner can improve your sex life. Makes sense to know what turns each other on and off. But porn is another issue. Sexual activity triggers the reward chemical, an endogenous opioid, to make us feel good because our bodies want us to make babies. Porn hyperstimulates the brain triggering way too much reward. This means a person can get physically addicted so the normal amount of the reward chemical triggered by normal sex no longer does the trick. Real sex becomes uninteresting to the genitals with the ensuing disappointing results under the covers. Just say “no!” to the screen. Real, not virtual, sex is the best medicine.—MR

“When people can talk about sex, they flourish,” the rise of sexual wellness

by Linda Geddes, The Guardian US, April 23, 2023

Tina was 52 when her long-term relationship ended. She had experienced low libido throughout her perimenopause years, and her relationship had become “pretty much sexless by the end”, so reigniting her sex life felt like a daunting prospect. But rather than closing the book on her sexuality, Tina turned to a sexual wellness app called Dipsea, and began listening to erotic stories, as well as learning about different self-pleasure and communication techniques.

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April 26th, 2023 | Permalink


A state of confusion is part of a good counseling session. It can be scary when you ask, “What should I do? Where should I go? How do I handle this?” But if you realize confusion is an important part of learning to live in a happier, healthier way, you can learn to tolerate the feeling and, with a little help, work through it to answer the question yourself. The reward is the sense of confidence you feel when you realize you overcame confusion and grew.—MR

Perplexed? Embrace it! Confusion is a symptom of learning

By Juliette Vazard, Psyche newsletter, April 12, 2023

Confusion is experienced by most of us as a disagreeable feeling and a waste of precious time. But experiencing confusion when encountering a new problem, or a surprising statement, can actually be deeply productive in the context of learning and enhancing brain plasticity. Over the past few years, scientists in educational psychology and neuroscience have started to uncover what Socrates knew all along: that experiencing confusion is often the first step to overcoming our misconceptions and biases, and that it can lead to something more valuable than simply an answer.

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April 12th, 2023 | Permalink

Totally insane

Fake news marketing that says cannabis can treat PTSD or do anything except worsen it are just plain wrong. Please don’t fall for stoned delusions or outright lies–that’s cannabis talking. On the other hand, if you wish to be mentally ill or lose your family and other relationships smoke pot. You’ll get there sooner or later.—MR

Marijuana Is Not the Solution for PTSD — Evidence shows it does not treat PTSD in the long-term and may worsen symptoms

A growing number of states have identified post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an approved condition for medical marijuana. According to Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Registry, there are 70,533 patients as of February 2023 with an active medical marijuana registration in the state, and 10,734 of them indicate PTSD as the reason they are using medical marijuana. This is despite the lack of any high-quality, randomized, controlled studies proving that marijuana helps PTSD in the long-term. Because of this lack of evidence, the American Psychiatric Association adopted a policy in 2019 opposed to using medical cannabis treatment for PTSD.

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April 11th, 2023 | Permalink

Get a mood on!

The movements described in the below article will not only help your body stay limber and comfortable, they will help you to quell the onset of anxiety or depression. At the very first inkling of a dysfunctional feeling, do one of these simple exercises along with some slow deep breaths to reset your attitude fast! Kind of like sticking a stick between the spokes of a cart that’s about to start rolling downhill on its own accord. You are the master of your moods.–MR

Stand on one leg – and 16 other life-changing daily moves that will keep your body happy

by Kelly Starrett and Juliet Starrett, The Guardian US, April 7, 2023


April 8th, 2023 | Permalink

Patients first!

One of the several reasons I don’t “take” insurance is discussed in the below article. While I do provide a statement of paid sessions as an “out-of-network” provider, so patients will get reimbursed by their private insurance provider, I will not be on the list of “preferred” providers on someone’s insurance carrier’s website. Most insurance companies reserve the right to dictate treatment in favor of  their “best practices,” i.e. prescribing pharmaceuticals. They can do this by choosing to not pay a mental health counselor if she does not refer a patient to a doc for prescription. Personally, I feel that is unethical arm twisting. I work for you. Not Big Pharma.—MR

A Third of Docs Blame Prior Authorizations for Serious Harm to Patients

One in three physicians blamed prior authorization for a patient’s serious adverse event, including hospitalization, permanent impairment or death, according to a survey published by the American Medical Association (AMA) on Monday.

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March 14th, 2023 | Permalink

No good can come of it

When a patient begins counseling with me, one of the first questions I ask is “how much alcohol do you drink a week?” Even at a few drinks per week, it affects mental health negatively in so many ways, it simply can’t be sidestepped. As a clinician, I am thrilled by the fact that the medical industry is waking up to the fact that alcohol use is antithetical to the goal of having a happy healthy life. —MR

Tough to Swallow: Clinicians Are Neglecting Alcohol Use

by Katie Witkiewitz, PhD, and Hannah Carlon, MS, MedPage Today, 

Most American adults drink alcohol, and 45% binge drink– five or more drinks per occasion for men, 4 or more drinks per occasion for women — at least monthly. There is evidence that any level of alcohol use is associated with an increased relative risk of morbidity and mortality, and the latest estimates indicate one in eight American adult deaths (ages 20 to 64) are attributed to alcohol… Importantly, reductions in alcohol consumption — even without abstaining completely — are associated with clinically meaningful improvements in health and functioning.

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March 7th, 2023 | Permalink

Loneliness hurts

Some say that people who feel lonely are not emotionally mature, that they have not learned to embrace the benefits of solitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. “So just go out and meet people” others say. Turns out, it’s not that easy.—MR

How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain

By Marta Zaraska, Quanta Magzine, February 28, 2023

The Neumayer III polar station sits near the edge of Antarctica’s unforgiving Ekström Ice Shelf. During the winter, when temperatures can plunge below minus 50 degrees Celsius and the winds can climb to more than 100 kilometers per hour, no one can come or go from the station. Its isolation is essential to the meteorological, atmospheric and geophysical science experiments conducted there by the mere handful of scientists who staff the station during the winter months and endure its frigid loneliness.

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March 4th, 2023 | Permalink

Give it a rest

Naps are short periods of sleep outside of a main nightime period. It is important to distinguish planned periods of daytime sleep from an irresistible need to sleep that is not intended. The latter could indicate significantly inadequate nighttime sleep, jetlag, a sleep disorder, or a neurological condition that requires medical attention. That warning given, you’re not being lazy to want to give your bodymind a short rest in the afternoon. It’s a good thing particularly for memory retention!–MR

How to nap

by Ruth Leong & Michael Chee, Psyche newsletter, February 22, 2023

You’re back from lunch and ready to get back to work except… you feel sleepy. Should you force yourself to stay awake, or should you let yourself doze off? Would it help, or would it ruin your night’s sleep? We are sleep scientists and we’re going to walk you through the science of napping and how to nap in a way that is of maximal benefit.

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February 22nd, 2023 | Permalink

Food is life

Notoriously difficult to spot, an eating disorder is a self-destructive mental health issue that is created in childhood, but may appear at any point in the life cycle. Gently but consistently teaching children to eat well and nutritiously is one of the most important things a parent can do for them. Many kids attempt to passive aggressively control parents and manage their emotional reactions to family anxiety with what does or doesn’t go in their mouths developing lifelong dysfunctional eating behaviors that can wreck their health sooner or later. For example, it takes an average of 17 loving tries by a parent for a child to finally eat broccoli! Hint: Reward, not punishment, is key. Please get assistance if your child or yourself are not eating appropriate amounts of primarily nutritious foods.—M

Eating Disorders Are More Common Than You Think

… Many Americans, including health professionals, picture someone who suffers from an eating disorder as a thin, young, white woman who struggles with self-image. This stereotype has been hammered home in movies, television shows, and the media for decades.

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February 19th, 2023 | Permalink

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