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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

Run while you still can

It’s not just teens who are losing it. Cannabis may be more dangerous to mental health than any other drug. Please don’t believe the Big Lie. Follow the money.—MR

By Christina Caron, New  York Times, June 24, 2020

With THC levels close to 100 percent, today’s cannabis products are making some teenagers highly dependent and dangerously ill.

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June 24th, 2022 | Permalink

Green away the blues

Simply put, feeling better mentally and physically is all about eliminating things that make you feel bad and piling on things that make you feel good. There’s a tipping point toward one side or the other like a teeter totter. One thing you can add to your life for positive effect is houseplants. Even fake plants or photos of plants can help, but real ones help more. More than five sitting within ten feet of you increases the effect significantly and ones with flowers really give the mind a boost! There’s a therapeutic reason my counseling office has nine green friends growing there to greet you.—MR

What science tells us about the mood-boosting effects of indoor plants

June 24th, 2022 | Permalink

Risky business

Cannabis, thank goodness, is finally becoming legal. Because it is legal in many states, science is now able to collect statistics and do the research that proves how dangerous it can be to mental health. While some practitioners look at the psychosis it often causes as schizophrenia, I don’t. I call it “cannabis psychosis.” The distinction is important because schizophrenia is a genetic/family systems disorder that is often incurable. Cannabis psychosis, on the other hand, is totally curable and should not be treated with antipsychotics or it can become incurable. It’s the wild west out there, folks! By that I mean, we are in radically new territory. My recommendation is just say “no” to cannabis in any form unless, shrug, you like the idea of being a lab rat.—MR

California may require labels on pot products to warn of mental health risks

by April Dembosky, NPR Morning Edition, June 17, 2022

Liz Kirkaldie’s grandson was in the top of his class in high school and a talented jazz bassist when he started smoking pot. The more serious he got about music, the more serious he got about pot.

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June 22nd, 2022 | Permalink

Just breathe!

The most effective intervention and the least expensive thing you can do to help your mental health and your overall health is to learn to breathe correctly. That is not an overstatement. The below article has some excellent guidelines, but in one sentence here’s the most important point:  ALWAYS breathe through your nose.—MR

How to breathe

by Martin Petrus, Psyche newsletter, June 22, 2022

Whether your aim is improved health, mental calm or achieving transcendence, breathing techniques can help you get there.

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June 22nd, 2022 | Permalink

The small stuff adds up

Mental health boils down to how we manage anxiety. Anxiety is the feelings we get from experiencing stressors in our environments. It’s impossible to get rid of the constant flow of stressors, but it is possible to learn self-regulation skills. The more a person limits stressors on one side of their mental health teeter totter, e.g. turning off the evening news, and adds even little behaviors, e.g. a daily 20-minute walk, that reduce anxiety on the other, the more quickly she can come back to a balance and ease. Note: pharmaceutical anti-anxiety meds are being proved to cause Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Don’t go there.—MR

When stressed, we ‘catastrophize’ – but we can learn to calm our irrational fears

by Sophie Brickman, The Guardian US, June 20, 2022

Our primitive brains summon up worst-case scenarios to protect us from danger. In today’s world, that can be debilitating.

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June 21st, 2022 | Permalink

Who are you?

Sometimes patients’ depression, anger or substance abuse has deep roots in historical oppression and internal conflict about personal identities. A patient may be a woman, indigenous or have indigenous ancestor’s used as fodder for paternalism and/or imperialism. Until these often unconscious conflicts are looked at closely and, at least, accepted to exist, denial can wreak havoc on emotional health. Sometimes you just gotta look.–MR

Only love can stop war: a Northern Cheyenne chief’s call to the world

by Heive ye ‘keso,/Chief Phillip Whiteman, Jr., The Guardian US, June 17, 2022

Our people’s teachings, connecting us to the land and the universe, have enabled us to survive genocide and can point the way to peace – 146 years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn

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June 17th, 2022 | Permalink

It’s not black and white

One standard of assessing emotional health is to look at the propensity of an individual for black and white thinking. A person who cannot see that reality comes in multiple shades of grey, not black and white, is going to have a hard time. Stuck in their own heads, too many folks chase their tails and wonder why they are angry and unhappy. One way to escape the pain of black and white thinking is to consume lots of black and white. That’s right, start reading! TV, especially news shows, encourages black and white thinking to trigger negative emotional reactivity so you will keep watching. They are intentionally making you unhappy for monetary gain. By turning the TV off, you can learn other ways of looking at the world, about people, places and things near and far. The sky’s the limit to what you can learn to change your life for the better. Right now book sales are surging. Folks all over the world are learning to be happier and healthier turning off their TVs and getting out of their heads by getting into books!—MR

Independent booksellers grew in number, diversity in 2021

Laura Romani, a Chicago-area resident with a background in education and library science, had been thinking of a new career.

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June 16th, 2022 | Permalink

Danger Will Rogers!

Benzodiazepines are a class of anti-anxiety meds that millions of folks are prescribed by docs. What most forget to tell you is that they increase the likelihood of your succumbing to Alzheimer’s by as much as 84 percent! There are dozens of ways to reduce anxiety that are nowhere near as dangerous as these legal pharmaceuticals such as going for a half hour walk everyday or reducing sugar consumption. If you are experiencing anxiety, you may wish to try talking to a counselor about safe alternatives before putting your beautiful brain at risk.—MR

Two types of drugs you may want to avoid for the sake of your brain

by Harvard Medical School/Harvard Health Publishing, March 2, 2021

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June 4th, 2022 | Permalink

Drink your way to unhappy

Nothing could be more true than the scientific fact that certain things we eat or drink cause depression and others alleviate it. Alcohol, particularly, causes depression. Any amount. If you wish to live your life in a relative state of depression, drink alcohol. If you don’t, don’t. It really can be as simple as that. The problem is quitting a lifelong habit of drinking will likely prove difficult. If you’d like some assistance, I’d be happy to oblige.—MR

How to use food to help your mood

by Kimberley Wilson, Psyche newsletter, June 1, 2022

Depression and low mood are not separate from the rest of your bodily health: the right diet can help reduce your risk.

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June 1st, 2022 | Permalink

Up, up and away!

Hope this doesn’t sound too odd to you, but I find the study of quantum physics comforting. In this world, there are thousands of really bright, highly-educated scientists studying the nature of the universe attempting to answer the question of why do (every)things behave as they do? If string theory is correct, it explains how the universe is constructed. From the way beyond macro to the way beyond micro. It engages my brain bootstrapping me up from lower order personal problems and frees my mind to more objectively solve these problems from a point of view of, well, non emotional reactivity. It gives me insight into the mind of god, whatever that might be… Try it sometime. Prepare to be astounded by physical reality!-–MR

In a Numerical Coincidence, Some See Evidence for String Theory

In a quest to map out a quantum theory of gravity, researchers have used logical rules to calculate how much Einstein’s theory must change. The result matches string theory perfectly.

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May 28th, 2022 | Permalink

Um, what?

You do not have to worry about dementia primarily for the reason that if you do succumb, you probably won’t realize you have. If you wish to get out in front of this common condition, reduce your risk factors such as obesity or diabetes. The biggest risk factor for dementia is high blood pressure, the same biggest risk factor for dying of Covid. People who get 45 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise daily most likely do not have to worry about any of it.—MR

Subjective Cognitive Decline in Adults Tied to Modifiable Risks

by Judy George, MedPage Today,

Adults with subjective cognitive decline — an early indicator of possible Alzheimer’s disease or dementia — were likely to have a large number of modifiable risk factors for dementia, CDC survey data showed.

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May 23rd, 2022 | Permalink

Reading into it

One of the primary complaints I get from patients or, in fact, see as a problem for patients and they don’t even realize it’s the problem, is that they don’t understand the minds of others. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone and harder to change the relationship you do have if you are poor at figuring out how the other feels. This may come as a shock, but people are not on earth to make you happy. Just like you, they are on earth to make themselves happy. Every Single One. The sooner you figure out what makes a person tick, the sooner you’ll be able to do an emotional tango with any one of them and make yourself much happier.—MR

Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds

by Liz Bury, The Guardian US, October 8, 2013

Have you ever felt that reading a good book makes you better able to connect with your fellow human beings? If so, the results of a new scientific study back you up, but only if your reading material is literary fiction – pulp fiction or non-fiction will not do.

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May 22nd, 2022 | Permalink

Makes you wonder…

Each of us is born with a unique sense of wonder. It’s one of the things that makes us human. Dolphins may wonder, but most likely we are the only form of consciousness on Earth that actually does. Wonder helps make people more content with their lives. The people in your life aren’t there to make you happy. You are. So why not get wondering? Develop a curious, playful relationship with yourself and forget the resentment that others in your family, your neighborhood or society aren’t behaving in ways you wish. Hmmm, I wonder if dolphins wonder…—MR

How to revive your sense of wonder

by Frank Keil, Psyche newsletter, May 18, 2022

That childhood urge to ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ usually fades. But we can all learn to rediscover the joys of wide-eyed discovery.

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May 18th, 2022 | Permalink

It’s complicated

Domestic abuse is a VERY tricky thing to identify. A relationship may be abusive without any physical violence, because neither partner realizes they are participating in a toxic relationship. One reason is abuse is found on a continuum, i.e. very slightly abusive to horribly abusive. It’s the mild to middle-of-the-road abuse that is hard to spot. Not seeing the problem is particularly common when both partners have come from abusive homes, because they are simply doing what they were trained as children to do in relationship and abuse seems “normal.” If you wonder about your relationship, talk with a relationship counselor. Learning to relate in a healthy loving way may simply be something you didn’t learn how to do in your family of origin. Note: Whether you see yourself as the abuser or the abused, you both may be contributing to a toxic situation.—MR

Depp v. Heard: No One Wins in a Toxic Relationship

Actor Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, the actress Amber Heard, noted that she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in an op-ed piece that she wrote for the Washington Post. While she didn’t explicitly mention Depp’s name, he is arguing it was implied by the time frame of the alleged abuse and thus defamatory, claiming that he has never been physical with her.

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April 30th, 2022 | Permalink

Bluebird on my shoulder

The bottom line of the below article on UK research is that while singing may not help physical symptoms of lung disease, it certainly helps folks feel happier. Singing is one mental health treatment that comes side effect and cost free. Put on your favorite CD and sing along with it. Sing in the shower. Join a choral group or, gosh, join girl scouts around a campfire. Sing and you’ll put on a happier face!—MR

Did a Singing-Based Program Hit the Right Notes for Long COVID Patients?

by Molly Walker, MedPage Today,

An online singing-based program from the English National Opera (ENO) was associated with improvements in quality of life among adults with long COVID, a pragmatic randomized trial in England showed.

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April 29th, 2022 | Permalink

It’s come to this

Suicide is epidemic in the US among all age groups, but among teens it is particularly a problem. Their brains are undergoing massive reorganization and pruning causing a rollercoaster of emotional responses to inevitable daily issues they learn to handle as they grow older. If they grow older. A gun is an a quick, effective way to die. Please secure your guns if you have tweens or teens! It is impossible predict when a child may think death is a preferable option to a problem.—MR

Gun violence becomes leading cause of death among US youth, data shows

Gun violence overtook car accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the US in 2020, according to a report from the University of Michigan. A report reveals a 30% increase in firearm-related deaths between 2019 and 2020, including incidents of suicides and accidental shootings.

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April 23rd, 2022 | Permalink

More often than not

Can’t say you shouldn’t do what your doc suggests, but the below article (sic) reads like pharmaceutical industry propaganda. Dennent makes her point with a quote from the book, Food is Not Medicine, that “taking vitamin C for scurvy works because scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, but while antihypertensive drugs lower blood pressure, we don’t develop high blood pressure because we weren’t taking antihypertensive drugs to begin with.” This twist of logic conveniently overlooks that hypertension is often caused by too much salt and/or alcohol, too little probiotic life in the gut and too little exercise. By eating less salt, cutting out alcohol, increasing the bodymind’s probiotic life through supplementation and unprocessed foods and by exercising daily to increase blood flow and decrease anxiety, high blood pressure will likely be alleviated and pharmaceuticals not needed. Food may not be a drug, but very often a nutritional approach to what ails us works as effective side-effect-free medicine. If you can’t make healthy behavioral changes, get thee to a counselor who can help you to, or simply do as the pharmaceutical industry hopes you will.—MR

Is it correct to think of food as medicine? Not exactly

The Greek physician Hippocrates, the “father” of Western medicine, allegedly wrote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” more than 2,500 years ago. I say allegedly, because it turns out that quote is nowhere to be found in any recovered documents ascribed to Hippocrates. Unfortunately, this oft-repeated phrase (I’ve invoked it myself) has created a few widespread misconceptions. One is that it’s possible to reject conventional medical treatment in favor of “curing” disease with food alone. Another is that if we develop a chronic illness, it’s because our diet wasn’t healthy enough. Those are big burdens to bear.

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April 22nd, 2022 | Permalink

The marketing of addictive drugs

Below is a “sponsored” article (sic) about benzodiazepines published in the Seattle Times. There are several “facts” with which I take issue in this marketing piece, but the most dangerous is the concept of their use for withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. Any provider who has taken Psychopharms 101 in college knows these highly-addictive drugs are taken up into the alcohol receptors in the brain, and the below promoted use for alcohol withdrawal is equivalent to promoting vodka for that purpose. I have seen patients who necessitate an ER visit for violent withdrawal symptoms from benzos after only one week of use. I won’t rant on about these substances and the harm they have caused to Americans over the years, including inducing bipolar disorder, but please, if you find you have alcohol-use disorder or profound anxiety, talk to a non-prescribing licensed medical health counselor first, not a legal drug pusher.—MR

Benzodiazepines: What to know

The number of things that can impact a person’s mental well-being is wide-ranging and varies with each person. Where some issues may require long-term psychiatric treatment and medication, other issues can be more immediate and have a shorter-term treatment plan. This is where benzodiazepines — often referred to as benzos — can come into play. Two well-known types of benzos are Valium and Xanax.

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April 12th, 2022 | Permalink

A bot is not a doc!

Every mental health diagnosis in the international Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) is a normal human behavior that’s gotten out of control. For example: a normal person can behave in an OCD manner by driving back home to check if she unplugged the iron. If she goes back to check ten times every morning, so is chronically late for work to the point of losing her job, she may have a clinically-diagnosable problem. But is it OCD? Perhaps it’s PTSD from a childhood fire? Perhaps it’s a transition disorder, i.e. she hates her new job and is avoiding work? Perhaps its an attachment issue and/or she is expressing grief about her mother’s death who loved ironing! Heck, perhaps she doesn’t want to leave her dog alone! Could it be a brain tumor? Online tests are not only dangerous to your health, they are harmful to sense of well being. If you think you may have a mental health problem, talk with a human clinician or two who can get to know and understand you before making a critical diagnosis, particularly one involving side-effect laden medication, not a misleading bot.–MR

by Dr. Todd Thatcher MD, January 12, 2021 |

Considering there are at least 10,000 in the world, symptoms of one condition will often overlap the symptoms associated with dozens of other conditions. Although the internet is an excellent tool, it can often be more harmful than good — especially when it comes to your physical and mental health.

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April 7th, 2022 | Permalink

Follow the money

As many substance abuse professionals suspected, alcohol industry studies that showed drinking a glass of wine a day helped prevent heart disease have been proven wrong. The last remaining benefit from drinking has been exposed as erroneous. Drinking any amount has a negative effect on your entire bodymind. From a mental health perspective, alcohol is a depressant, so if you like feeling depressed, by all means, drink up!—MR

Does moderate drinking protect your heart?

Last week, two patients asked Dr. Stanley L. Hazen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, how much daily alcohol consumption would be good for their cardiac health. He gave them both well-accepted medical advice: An average of about one drink a day helps the heart…Then he saw a paper published in JAMA Network Open whose findings upended his thinking about what to tell patients…Its conclusion: There is no level of drinking that does not confer heart disease risk. The risk is small if people have an average of seven drinks a week when compared with none. But it increases quickly as the level of alcohol consumption rises.

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March 30th, 2022 | Permalink

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