BEWARE OF THE TRIBAL GENE–the ultimate source of human misery

I have no idea where the tribal gene lies within the human genome.  I cannot say if it is one gene or some combination of genes.  I only know for sure that it exists. 

It is responsible for our kind’s most horrific acts:  genocides, holocausts, beheadings, training child homicide bombers, wars.

The ability of human beings to de-humanize another human being in the name of religion, country, ideology and to brutally destroy them–man, woman and child–reflects this dark side to human nature.

Notice how easily we are trapped by its lure.  We seem to innately see ourselves in small tribal units for which we willingly sacrifice our own lives for its existence.  This is manifested by the hero who does just that.  Does this contradict our nature desire for survival?  Actually no.  There is a sense within us all–some more developed than others–that self-sacrifice for the sake of our “kin” is justified.

Its so interesting to observe the tendency to become exclusive rather than inclusive.  Within Christianity, for example, there are numerous sects and denominations.  Each has felt justified in separating itself off from the greater whole. The contemporary Shia, Sunni internal struggle is tragic. ISYS decimation of other Muslims can only be understood as a manifestation of this apparently self-destructive instinct.  

If we seek the biological sources for this gene, we should look no further than our closest genetic relative–the chimpanzee.  I saw a chilling documentary on chimp behavior.  It showed an overhead video of chimps in the wild jungles, marching single file in order to surprise and destroy another tribe .  When they reached the other tribe, they literally ripped them apart.  No one was spared, including the elderly, females  and babies.

People question how the Nazi’s carried out their horrific policies, yet tucked their own babies in bed at night and rested without remorse.  They simply dehumanized their “enemy”.  Any atrocity could be justified in such a manner.

It is us–we are tribal beasts.  World events do not seem to offer much hope.  But perhaps by  becoming more aware of this dark side to our nature we can fight the tendency to be carried along by it. We have nothing to lose.  It cannot get much worse than it is right now.

THE METAPHYSICS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR always is associated with neuropeptide release and acitivity. In an article in the NYTimes science section, Natalie Angier describes the effects of oxytocin on "kindness", "empathy", "trust". It seems to mediate romantic attachment, as well as parental connectedness to children. There seem to be two variants of this gene which may explain a bit of variation among us. The A variant may explain the difficulties with which autistic individuals have "reading' the emotions of others. "Poor parenting" may be explained away by the same variant.
I'm not sure what to do with this information. But it is fascinating to understand the neurobiology of behavior. Does it excuse certain behavior? Does it lead us to design those traits which we deem desirable? More to come on the science behind the mind/body connection.

HAVENING–A Preview of A New Healing Modality

I had the opportunity to witness a fascinating form of healing known as Havening.  I was invited to accompany Steven Ruden to Rhode Island where, in the presence of about twenty-five onlookers and participants, he performed a  healing of previous emotional and physical traumas in a strange appearing "performance" lasting about six minutes.

The methods may appear somewhat familiar to those who know the work of Roger Callahan's TFT [thought field therapy] and Gary Craig's EFT [emotional freedom therapy].  It involves a series of tapping on the face and forehead along what might appear to be acupressure meridian lines. The rest of the technique should await official publication  by Steven Ruden's twin brother Ronald

As a student of various forms of healing I can only state that the results were compelling.

What makes the Havening approach unique is that its mechanism has been elucidated down to the molecular level.  The breakthrough that Ruden has achieved is to link traumatic events and the subsequent suffering that ensues with brain neurotransmitters.

According to this theory [an apparently established by neuroscientific research] periods of extreme stress result in the release in the brain of dopamine and norepinephrine.  These prepare the organism for "fight or flight".  In the animal kingdom, mammals who survive an attack or escape one  are  subsequently relieved of their extreme anxiety by the release of serotonin which re-establishes normal equilibrium and allows for normal functioning.

In human beings, traumatic physical/emotional events also release dopamine and norepinephrine.  In some individuals for a variety of reasons serotonin is not released in sufficient quantities to allow the individual to move on with their lives, trauma-free.

In short, Havening resurrects the traumatic event with all of its emotional power, then, through the steps which ensue, produces a surge of serotonin.  This effectively breaks the previously entrenched power of the traumatic event.  Participants report an immediate reduction, if not elimination in their physical symptoms and emotional memory of the event.  The healing, we are reassured, is permanent.

As I noted this is a preview of what appears to be a new and powerful tool for physical and emotional healing.  I await the official publication of the book which should follow in 2010.

I hope to be introducing this method of  healing for selected patients in my practice in the near future.

SPEAKING TO “J.J”–An ADC from the Lips of a Young Child

Do you question the notion of a spiritual dimension to reality?  Does belief in the survival of the soul after death seem completely irrational to you?

Or are you a believer in the possibility of soul survival as evidenced by ADCs [after-death communication].

In my book META-PHYSICIAN ON CALL FOR BETTER HEALTH  I relate several such examples from ordinary, sane individuals who have high credibility quotients.  Essentially they gain nothing by fabricating such an experience.

I will offer another story just received from a nurse I work with.  Again I will state that she has nothing to gain by making this experience up.  I would ask the reader to make a personal judgment as to its meaning, but do not deny that it occurred as written.

It simply involves the Maria [pseudonym] and her 2 1/2 year old granddaughter Sally.

Maria observed Sally speaking directly towards an empty chair.  When questioned, Sally responded that she was speaking to "J.J.".

Maria was shocked.  It seemed that "J.J." was a close friend of the family who had died several years before Sally had been born.  It was impossible for Sally to have even heard about him since no one had mentioned his name.  Even more improbable, Sally could not have known that she was speaking to J.J. in the chair in which he always sat.

There is a precedent for children communicating with the dead.  They seem to do so effortlessly and without fear. 

I have previously referred to a three year old who would stop her playing, stare into the corner of a room and note that the "ghost is speaking to me".  At other times she would yell out "don't sit in that chair, the ghost is sitting there".  Even later, when shown a family album she noted "that's the ghost" and pointed to the picture of her previously deceased grandfather who had lived in that home.

NEUROFEEDBACK–New Opportunity for Healing

In my quest to understand the underlying of human nature and the potential for healing, I have come across the concept of neurofeedback.  It involves a brain mapping component known as quantitative EEG (QEEG) followed by a series of sessions in which brain wave activity is assessed regarding the condition to be treated and the relative amounts of alpha, beta, delta and theta wave frequencies.

I admit that my interest remains open-minded but skeptical at present.  Some preliminary data seem to equate its effectiveness in ADHD with medical therapy.  This, in itself, would provide a tremendous healing tool.  Other work with autism, addiction, emotional disorders, cognitive dysfunction after traumatic injuries and dementia  have been utilized as well.

I will hopefully begin a study of  Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients who clearly suffer from a mind-body syndrome.

There is a bit of reverse logic to neurofeedback and even its cousin biofeedback.  Brain wave activity was assumed to be the consequence of biologic or emotional trauma or dysfunction.  These healing approaches reverses the entire sequence.  It takes the "effect" and alters it.  The result is a "normalization" of brain wave patterns utilizing training tactics. 

The healing that occurs results in better brain functioning.  I will be happy to explore it further and keep my readers informed.

CAN’T MEDITATE ?– It’s OK– Even A “Zoner” Can Do It

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has found meditation difficult.  In fact it is one reason that I find Patrick Ophul's BUDDHA TAKES NO PRISONERS so compelling.

We all have "monkey minds", the analogy of caged chimps jumping from bar to bar, in frustrated, chaotic rebellion.  It is how our minds work and especially in a world of Crackberries, emails, texting, twitter etc. 

In fact it must have been much easier to meditate in the days of Siddhartha Gautama [the Buddha].  So few distractions people spent hours in repetitive activities.  Meditation must have been almost the natural state of mental existence.

Recent articles in the NYTimes science section describe the "zoner" who mentally drifts off and is not even aware that they have done so.  It is nearly universal.

I'm wondering if this activity may even be a reaction to the incessant barrage of outside stimuli ?

But even a "zoner" like myself can keep at meditation.  I firmly believe we need this mental training more than ever. 

It can be our 15minutes [more or less] of Thoreau's Walden pond experience.  We need to set it aside and honor it.

There's the rest of the day for "zoning", not to mention leaping  to check our latest email, text or tweet.