When evolution is by-passed there is no way to do a proper psychotherapy when our origins are left behind, we cannot acknowledge or know that we are the result of who we were early on; above all, how our early months and years shaped us and changed our evolution. Should I say that again? Our early lives shape our personalities and help determine who we become.
That is why our therapy is so heavily evolutionary. It allows us to see personal history in the light of brain evolution; something that cannot be ignored. Yet ignored it is by the majority of therapists who never even mention evolution in their books and papers. We are now a cult of the here-and-now. And we present our findings and results within the context of the here and now.
There is a new study on migraine headaches discussed in the NY Times (Dec. 12) where the newest therapy involves monoclonal antibodies, enhancing immune cells to attack the enemy. I will not go into its intricacies except to say again that in their work, there is no search for origins, no focus on probable causes. No use of history to search out answers. It is as true in research as it is in psychotherapy. “Don’t bother me with the facts” just get on with it.
I want to go on with this aspect because over decades of doing primal therapy and observing patients about to drop into deep brain imprints I noticed something critical. It points out the difference between statistical conclusions and observation/clinical ones. As longer term patients arrive at brainstem memories they sometimes start with the onset of a migraine headache, quite severe. It comes on suddenly with the patient having no idea what is happening; it often is the harbinger of something totally unexpected, although some have had migraine attacks previously for which they took new painkillers that were transiently effective.
As they get deeper into the pain, and it is often very hurtful, they begin to have breathing problems and cannot catch their breath. As this went on, the headache pain exacerbates until they drop into the heart of it all: the actual memory of the depletion of oxygen when the mother was given a powerful anesthesia which blocked some of her pain but also shut down oxygen supplies to the baby; the newborn.
What the patient then knows is that there is not enough oxygen and she can figure it out as she goes along in therapy. It is quite common and leads us to believe that this is primary and primal cause for the affliction. This was the template for the years to follow: slight stress, trouble catching one’s breath, and the depletion of oxygen, leading to severe migraine headaches. If there is no focus on very early life and its imprints, there will be no way to know what is behind the symptoms, or why one needs pain killers for life, after that. And now begins million dollar research into causes, looking for them in biochemistry, neurology, etc. And yes, they sometimes find correlates or concomitants that help to explain processes in the blood flow or in brain dysfunction, but rarely causes. We must always beware of the difference between the two—correlated or causes. That changes everything.
And what is often a helpful therapy for them? A correlated: oxygen therapy. Of course, there are many other options, the most prescribed of which are painkilling drugs which are somewhat effective for a time. And it is no surprise that whatever helps constrict the blood vessels, like coffee, helps conserve oxygen and lessens the pain. Let us make sure we are not just treating a correlate. It helps ease the pain, and that is a good thing but not a good substitute for the real thing.
More important, I have discovered, along with methylation and epigenetic scientists that the earliest months of our lives alter the trajectory of our development, it determines who we become; what diseases we will suffer and how long we will live. Also the form we take, physically and mentally. Carroll says macroevolution is microevolution writ large. Our trajectory is made up of small changes over time, which turn into major evolutionary changes.
Among some of my patients we see bone growth after they touch on deep levels of consciousness. I have seen it in my wife whose fingers and feet grew. This is for now anecdotal. I have no corroborating information, no scientific studies. But I have seen it in patients, enough of them to impress me with its veracity. Why is this important? Because we seem in some respects to alter the trajectory of their personal evolution, including how they grow. (Yes, I have seen general growth of patients). We also normalize a number of factors, including heart action, blood pressure and kidney function; to say nothing of epilepsy. We change evolution. What this means is that we change some of the results in their evolution; one thing we do, for example, is change their susceptibility to diseases. We help increase their natural killer cells levels, which when normal, seek out and destroy early cancer developing cells. When impaired they cannot do their job and cannot prevent serious disease from happening. We have rare appearances of cancer among our longer-term patients.
If due to primal damage very early on they are destined for serious disease later on, we may abort that fatal destiny by reducing or eliminating the trajectory of primal pain that would have led to serious disease. We shall test this out in the month and years to come in our research on epigenetics and methylation. Above all, by liberating or cutting short those who previously had a bad developmental trajectory, they can become who they were supposed to be. That is why we see breast growth in some women after we reverse serious repression (most often in flat-chested women); the repression that does not permit normal evolution to take place. When all that pressure is removed from the system the body returns to its genetic destiny; and for some women it means breast growth. For others, heredity has its say and no breast growth appears. It seems that we work with evolution in some ways. By liberating its normal processes.
If we can change, even minutely who we are destined to be, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Changing evolution is not easily done, and in dialectic fashion, to do that we must go back in time to recapture basic genetics, and undo some harmful epigenetics. In short, to recapture our biologic destiny. We may then grow to where nature intended. And be as healthy as nature intended before methylation stepped in to abort normality from setting in. It is both genetics and epigenetics that change. For when we undo epigenetic harm, we free genetics to be their normal selves again. When we reverse repression, the breasts can be normal again and let genetics hold sway. I know this can sound booga booga but I have observed so many times as to dissuade me from any booga booga ideas.
Aside from the admonition not to forget about evolution in the practice of psychotherapy there is one more admonition: don’t forget the dialectic: the interpenetration of opposites: how one structure or process can turn into its opposite. Thus, basic feeling at a certain valence loses its identity and becomes amorphous pain. When that pain is forceful enough it becomes repression, so that feeling becomes no feeling. And when pain is relived, the repression diminishes and becomes a specific feeling again. When feeling is experienced over time it is integrated and becomes a normal part of us. Until it becomes a specific feeling, it cannot be dealt nor integrated. The dialectic has come full circle which means cure. There is no cure with simple happy or positive thoughts. Cure must grow out of the reality that exists in us...pain. Then negative turns into positive and can lead to positive thoughts. History and the dialectic can be our twin saviors. Let us not denigrate them in favor of a safer present.