I have often wondered why there is so much nonsense out there in the treatment of mental illness. One psychiatrist says most of it is a brain disease and the answer will be found in analyzing the molecules of the brain. This is also the view of the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow. She spends her days in the depths of brain neurons trying to find answers to so many problems. Still others come up with nutty ideas about depression and anxiety that I have cited in numerous articles. Some want to drill in the brain, others shock it, and most others want to medicate it. Few if any know what it is they are shocking or medicating. The reason: they all need to guess what “it” is. And “it” is not a neuron or a molecule or a hormone. “It” is a memory, an imprinted one that sways genes in one direction or another and alters the trajectory of our lives.
In other words, they all have to guess because no one has seen “it;” they all have to look at it from outside, imagining what lies inside. Yet it can be seen and it is palpable. But before we get to “it”, we need to get to the human being who carries the “it.” He is the ultimate arbiter of what is true. We need to focus on her or him and not just molecules. Only then can one observe the wrenching body arcs from the pain,and hear the gasping for breath, the screams and tears. One can observe the relief from the reliving, as the body and face relax, not only from observation but in the indices of vital signs that descend radically, and in an ordered fashion, after a primal reliving.
Why hasn’t anyone thought about it? Because Behaviorists rule the roost. Looking at it all from the outside is "de rigueur", while feelings are anathema – a simple negative influence to be eschewed, set aside and abandoned. Feelings become pests in the overall scheme of science where precise measurement is the apotheosis. Yet it is feelings that govern and drive us; feelings when repressed make us sick. We will never notice this so long as we remain outside the realm of feeling and choose to observe it from afar. How can we know that anoxia at birth may play a part in migraines until we see someone relive the beginning of anoxia and develop a headache? How can we know what is behind depression until we see deep pain at work with repression rushing to save our sanity and create depression as a consequence? How can we know what is behind anxiety until patients travel down the chain of pain, descending through levels of consciousness to the most primordial reactions of panic? How can we ever know what trauma at birth does to us until we see the reliving and discover the lifelong allergies and attendant breathing problems? Or what it does to blood pressure and heart rate as they rise radically during the reliving, then drop to normal levels after the primal experience.
So of course some can say it is a brain disease since we can always find neurological accompaniments to anorexia, for example. None of this exists in a vacuum. Of course there are changes in serotonin levels accompanying the affliction but they are not necessarily causes. We will never know that so long as we are “objective observers.” Once we delve into deep memory and feelings we will find a whole new world, the primal world, if you will. It will open up a plethora of directions that pain has taken us, but it is not in the chemistry of pain where answers will be found, but in the causes of that pain. Of course when there is a lack of serotonin in certain anxiety states it helps to add serotonin to the mix, in the form of Prozac. But that is what I call tinkering or tweaking. It has little to do with ultimate causes. We can tweak dopamine or serotonin in depression, and currently they do this by adding “chemical uppers,” that have the effect of activating the neurotransmitters. Or they tinker with the glutamate level allowing more activation with less repression.
And when they tinker it has to be a daily job because the causes are untouched and create the same old mess over and over again. Witness drug addiction. The addict’s pain is very deep and requires heavy-duty drugs to calm it—over and over again. How do we know? We have treated addicts and see the pain underlying the addiction. We know it is refractory because the level of pain, down deep in the brain is never touched in all those rehab centers. Worse, they do not know it exists. So what do they do? They calm it chemically and are satisfied with that. Why satisfied? Because they have never seen the Pain! Never seen the agony, which allows them to think that it is just a bad habit. Or to believe that a few words of praise can help it. Or to think that a good diet will change it. Or to think that a few lectures or group therapy sessions will change it. And the pain, hidden and recalcitrant, shouts back at the curers: “Try to find me! I am far below where you are looking, encrusted into the deepest chemistry of the brain, conjoined with repression so no one can see how I operate.”
And on the psychological side, how could any of us know that not being held and caressed right after birth can lead to life-long terror of being alone. Or that this memory can play an important part in depression when there is no one around us to soothe and calm. So when we are not busy working and surrounded by people we get depressed. More important, how can we know that love is primordial in the earliest months and years of our existence until we see what its absence does to us? Lack of touch and hugs causes pain, more pain than we realize. Or that an anxious carrying mother is speeding up the metabolism of her baby, perhaps for a lifetime. We cannot know about the imprint that lies engraved into the brain until we observe its reliving. And reliving over and over with the same vital signs each time. No one who has not seen primal pain in its full blown agony can know what it does to us and how it drives our behavior and intractable addictions. The imprint is the archive of our remote past that we carry around all the time but never know it because in its repressed state it is unrecognizable.
So does nothing help? Lots of things help – help to tweak and tinker. But only one thing works to reverse the imprint, resolve the engraved feelings, restore health and relieve suffering – Reliving. Aah!