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Your Plastic Brain

03 Apr

Hello again!

As many of you know, some of the most exciting physiological discoveries lately are in the field of brain science, concerning the plasticity, adaptive nature and self-correcting features of the human brain.  Who knew?  Less than a decade ago, we were looking at the brain as a fixed bunch of cells that started dying pretty early, never to be replaced again (talk about a grim, downhill trajectory!).    

Well, so imagine our surprise when experts started showing us how malleable and inventive our neurophysiology is, and how self-corrective and ever-morphing our brains and wiring actually are.  Hell, the field of epigenetics is showing us how we sometimes modify our genes to the next generation. The studies in genetic changes to trauma survivors are jaw-droppers, and the implications cut both ways - for damage and for healing.

And lest this sound too pie-in-the-sky abstract to be useful information, let me tell you about NICABM’s new teleseminar series on the brain, where some of the best innovators in the field talk about what this means for a health or mental health practice, and what someone with a neurological condition like stroke or Parkinsons can look for, by way of new help.

As usual, Ruth Buczynski has pulled together our leading edge experts for her series on The New Brain Science., featuring Norman Doidge, Dan Siegel, Rick Hanson, John Ratey, John Arden and Bruce Lipton, talking about juicy issues like

  • What We've Learned About the Brain in the Last Five Years

  • Neuroplastic Approaches to Learning Disorders

  • Why There's Hope for Those Who Have Had a Stroke

  • How to Train the Brain to Stop Anxiety and Mental Obsessions

  • Your Brain on Exercise

  • Why Relationships Are So Critical to the Developing Brain

  • Rewire the Brain

  • Epigenetics: The New Frontier of Brain Science

The calls are free if you listen at the time they’re broadcast. If that’s not convenient or if you want to have all the materials in hand to revisit, you can sign up for a gold subscription and pay for the recordings and transcripts, plus some bonus goodies, including Larry McCleary’s info on the brain-belly connection for achieving optimal weight.  Check out the whole deal here.

And just for the record, good people, I have no financial interest in sending you to this program - I just think it’s very worth your time.

It looks like we’ll be working more intensely with Fort Sill, getting guided imagery to our service people and their families through the Fires Resiliency Center there.  Stay tuned: more on this soon.
Dave Rauls, the tireless, dedicated powerhouse behind this whole push and his amazing wife, Michelle, will be coming to our studio in a couple weeks to record a “warrior-centric’ introduction for our guided imagery, written with the help of feedback from several Army focus groups, to engage military personnel in a way that is highly sympatico with warrior culture. We are all very, very pumped to have this help. The equally awesome physician’s assistant and Marine wife, Laurie Giertz, helped us on her own time by recording her intro for families.
We need this help. Some of you will be surprised to learn that, according to a massive survey by the eminent psychiatrist/epidemiologist, Charles Hoge MD, the main barrier to receiving treatment in our military is distrust of mental health professionals.  It’s the negative perceptions, not the stigma, which create the main holdup to receiving help.
And of the 50% that will finally be persuaded to go for help, 60% will drop out (many halfway through the first session) in frustration or disgust at the perceived cluelessness of the therapist.  Clearly mental health practitioners need to be educated about warrior culture and engagement, or else we need to train our NCO’s how to dispense mental health resources.  Actually, we need to do both, because there aren’t enough therapists (clueless or otherwise) anyway.
(The DoD is working very hard and fairly successfully at reducing stigma, and Ft. Sill is a great example of the changes going on. This base has had its share of troubles in the past, but is now doing a stellar job of disseminating solid mental health and resilience info to everyone.  A recent base newsletter that Dave sent me had articles about communication skills, 8 habits for a healthy marriage, suggestions for “spring cleaning” your mind (tossing resentment, jealousy, impatience, etc), suicide prevention tips, resiliency training open nights for families, an Rx Take Back program (hand over your legal drugs), and a warm invitation to drop in at the Well-Being Center.  No wonder Ft Sill is improving its numbers on substance abuse and suicide. Take note, DoD!)

I found this blog yesterday - Deployment Diary of a Real Army Wife - Jenna blogs daily about her experience of her husband’s fourth deployment, and it will be enlightening for interested civilians, not to mention good support for other military spouses.

Okay, take care and be well!

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award