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On Monday, the 15th of September, the morning news contained three separate items that were of international, national, and domestic relevance respectively. Although each item was spoken of separately, they were, in reality, all interrelated and indicative of a recurring problem in human society. The items were as follows:
* International: A report of a third online video of a beheading of a (British) captive by the Islamic terrorist group ISL (or IS, or ISIS). It came with a threat to the British Government to stop their involvement in activities directed against the radicalised group. This follows two previous online videos of US captives - along with threats made to the US Government – and afterwards, subsequent videos of their beheadings.
* National: A report about how some parents were desperately trying to stop their sons - and in some cases daughters - from leaving Australia to join the overseas jihadist movement. Recruiting young people to join the jihad - which includes online material - has become a noted problem. Tens of people from countries like Australia and Britain have already left to join the fighting. The fear is that they will become trained militants, who, after returning home, will introduce terror methods, ideologies, and attacks locally. This has already occurred overseas.
* Domestic: A report about how bullying amongst students in schools has moved into the (online) social media sphere. The situation has become so bad that teachers have had to spend extra time trying to address this new form of bullying.
On the surface, then, all three news items seem to be separate issues - occurring on three different social levels. But the interrelated factor between them all is bullying: that is, a small, but significant, proportion of people possessing a drive to bully others and/or a sense of being bullied themselves.
How does all this come about? It builds in people from unresolved trauma as they grow up - as well as building in cultural groups over generations. It starts with inadequate parenting, where children endure painful experiences in the home at the hands of their parents, guardians, or relatives. This can involve any number of events: neglect, overly strict discipline, lax morals, beltings, or domestic violence between adults (or similar events in institutions, like immigration centres for example). Since such children cannot speak up or fight back against adults, they, instead, act out their pain in schools - in the form of bullying others or allowing themselves to be bullied by others (as a result of possessing unusual characteristic/s, a passive personality, and/or a low sense of self-worth). Over the years, this bullying environment further builds psychoemotional pain in vulnerable people. [What is interesting here is that the new upsurge in online social media bullying has come about despite the introduction of anti-bullying schemes by the government earlier this year - along with trumpeting the fact that they were on top of the bullying problem. What appears to have happened is that the students have merely sidestepped the anti-bullying schemes by going online to wage their campaigns.]
Next we see what experts and politicians have described as "disgruntled" young men and women - some with notable mental health issues - wanting to leave home and join radical groups overseas to fight against a perceived oppressive social regime (usually of the West). The question here is why have these youths become so disgruntled? Because their traumas have been added to by experiences and observations as youths, who have since become participants in adult society. Such experiences can include enduring racism as an ethnic; feeling rejected by society through being unemployed; or having to do menial tasks and/or being ordered about by bosses. Additionally, such negative observations of how adult society operates can be influenced by things like racism and prejudice; sledging and dominating opponents in professional sports; reports of killings in the news; government spying revelations against their own citizens; and corruption in social leaders (in the current Australian inquiry, a dozen or so state and federal politicians have had to step down from their positions, over backroom wheelings-and-dealings with wealthy businesspeople).
So, to a small percentage of people having grown up under a regime of trauma, hurt, and bullying, all of these experiences and observations can add up to a lack of trust in the social system. They can develop a sense that the world is an oppressive place where they feel subjugated, and without prospects for improvement of their lot in life in the future.
And now we come to the last step, where we see the end result of a build up of a lifetime of psychoemotional pain: similarly-afflicted people coming together to form an aggressive, violent, radicalised group that want to establish their own "homeland", where they can seek freedom, a sense of self-worth, social acceptance, greater future prospects, and autonomy. But by this stage, their perception of such freedoms and opportunities has become grossly warped, and they try to obtain such attributes via a violent tirade.
Amazingly, just a few days later, on the 18th of September, the morning news updated these same three items – again, in separately-presented fashion:
* International: The US President admitted that US troops would need to fight in combat in order to defeat ISL. This comes after the Australian Prime Minister made the same admission regarding Australian troops.
* National: The police conducted dawn raids in Sydney and Brisbane to arrest people allegedly planning terrorist attacks in Australia.
* Domestic: To combat the upsurge in online school bullying, the government will introduce fines against social media websites that do not remove material reported as objectionable.
Conducting police raids against alleged terrorists is good protection for society – but it is waiting to the very last minute to take any action. This is a gamble that can easily fail and lead to troubled people “falling through the cracks” to launch violence on unsuspecting citizens. It would be more effective to work at the other end of the scale – at the problem's source: in childhood and during upbringing, to prevent people from developing a disgruntled and violent disposition in the first place. And do you think social media fines will stop bullying? Not a chance! Students will just find another way to conduct it.
Radicalised movements - like the jihad - can be seen as extreme act-outs of bullying - complete with threats, intimidation, intolerance of others' views, and acts of aggression. These are attributes we first see appear (in a less intense form) in schools, and then later on as fringe activities in social fields like sport, business, and politics. The militants are acting out their rage of being bullied and suppressed during upbringing - in homes lacking in parenting skills, then in schools unable to deal with bullying, and finally in a society where the downtrodden and disadvantaged are in one sense still working to support the well-off. It is all interlinked and this recurring social problem can only be resolved with an interlinked mental health science. Is this all too hard to believe? Just take a look at one example.
The (not-so) Perfect Terrorist
The life of convicted terrorist, David Coleman Headley (known as “India's Osama bin Laden”), involved numerous traumas. They included emigration (from the US to Pakistan), parental divorce, and his school's bombing by India (all at a young age); racial labeling (when growing up); and jail time (as an adult). Eventually, he became the coordinator of a terrorist attack against a hotel, that saw 166 people killed. And where was the hotel? In India (Headley admitted that for him this was a revenge attack for his school's bombing, and Pakistan's humiliating defeat in that war). And who did he dob-in as his alleged accomplice? A Pakistani man he met in military high school (subsequently convicted of aiding terrorism). His terror attack was an act-out of unresolved trauma that had occurred 37 years previous – whereas most people would have moved on from that event. Not all terrorists will have school connections like his – but the point is that the urge to support radicalised groups starts young, with unresolved trauma that continues to build during upbringing.
[The above mechanism also explains why fighting between neighbouring societies – like Israel and Palestine for example – tends to rumble on for years in a stop-start fashion. It is because each generation contains people traumatised by the violence - some of whom grow up to move on, while others become consumed with revenge attacks.]
The Future of Terrorism
We can see where all of this disgruntlement and radicalisation is likely to lead. Throughout history there have been many examples of radicalised groups waging war against social regimes. But globalisation has brought with it such radicalised activity into the global arena. It reached a peak with the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in the US. Since that event, its terrorist perpetrator - al Qaeda - has been subdued by greater powers. But after them ISL has since emerged - well-funded, and even more intense and radicalised than al Qaeda (who even distanced themselves from ISL's shockingly violent activities). There is no doubt that Western Powers will also subdue ISL – with the loss of numerous soldiers' lives – though experts note that they are unlikely to extinguish the radicalised flame. So, in future years, it is likely that new and even more violent groups will emerge. And inevitably they will obtain weapons of mass destruction - such as "dirty bombs". At that time, the world will enter into a new phase of radicalised terrorism. There will no longer be individual captives put up for ransom and to aid threats; there will, instead, be whole cities put up for ransom - in the face of nuclear annihilation. The question will then be, which cities, and how many of them, will have to be obliterated before the world's governments wake up and realise that they do not have all the answers, that what they've been doing for parenting, mental health, and social structures has been ineffective in some key areas, and that they need to change the way that they operate. But the public does not have to wait for more killings to occur before government policy is forced to change. The public can help bring about that change themselves. Below is one way that this can be done.
The Killing of Children by Children
The world – and the US in particular - has recently seen a new development in this area of bullying and violence: the killing of children (i.e., sub-adults) by other children. This has involved both individual murders and school spree killings. As a result, victims' families have sought to sue the parents of the murderous children. (In the case of school massacres, they have also sought to sue the schools for inadequate handling of bullying.) In their view, if those children had received better parenting they would not have become murderers, and their own cherished children would still be alive today. Litigation is not the answer to the problem - but at least people are now beginning to look more discerningly at the real source of violent personality development.
[Interestingly, there has been good research into the motivations of spree killers. With regard to US school killings, “87% of school shooters claimed or left behind evidence of them being victims of bullying”. And for US spree killings as a whole (school, military, workplace, etc.), the majority of the perpetrators (52%) were white people. This latter fact indicates that the problem of disgruntled spree killers lies within the home-grown culture itself. For example, there are too many pressures in modern society: to achieve grades in school, to work in a fast-paced workforce, and to keep up with a high cost of living - to name a few.]
Yet, child murder victims' families could go even further. They could also consider suing the murderers' respective governments. This is because governments persist in operating an ineffective mental health system, that follows brief “snapshots” of evidence, deals in coping mechanisms, and prescribes medicinal drugs. This system is helpful to some, but ultimately serves only to keep traumas subdued and unresolved. It also has a social side that is equally ineffective in changing human behaviour on a larger scale - as is seen in the failure to improve parenting practices or stop bullying in schools. The following examples typify the disarray in the mental health system:
New Scientist magazine recently published an author interview about a book that champions the success of Cognitive Behaviour and other therapies, as well as evidence-based science. The authors claim that just 10-16 hours of treatment was enough for the patients' recovery to last for the rest of their lives. This was said to be a “revolution”.
But the story has been different over at Nature magazine. It has published several articles complaining that current treatments – including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – were not effective enough. One article states: “...evidence-based psychological treatments need improvement. Although the majority of patients benefit, only about half experience a clinically meaningful reduction in symptoms or full remission, at least for the most common conditions...Moreover, despite progress, we do not yet fully understand how psychological therapies work — or when they don't.”
If conventional therapists don't know how or when their therapies work (or not), then what are they practicing? And what is their scientific guide for treatment?
Another article declares that the situation is even worse for suicidal tendencies: ”Despite its enormous societal impact, little progress has been made in the scientific understanding or treatment of suicidal behaviour...the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders...does not code suicidal behaviour — the most prominent emergency in psychiatry in primary care. Suicidality is perceived as a medical complication rather than as a disorder in its own right.”
The question that comes to mind here is, how are government-supported help lines treating suicidal people if its medical arm - and, by default, its own health department – doesn't even recognise suicide as a mental health issue (on paper at least)? When one sees a steady stream of the rich-and-famous dying from their inner demons, even after having been to mental health treatments (including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlotte Dawson, Peaches Geldof, and Robin Williams) one doesn't need long-term clinical studies to know that those treatments are ineffective for serious depressive conditions. And when one sees a similar stream of famous people dying after self-medicating themselves (including Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston) it confirms the confusion in society over what constitutes a medical problem and what constitutes a psychological one.
Overall, then, how can a group of mental health therapies – supported by government, universities, and charitable organisations – be considered to be greater than sliced bread one minute, then a work-in-progress the next? I'll tell you how: this type of swinging sentiment is characteristic of a body of work that is stuck at a preliminary stage of development. In contrast, the laws of pain has gone way past the preliminaries. It uses a definitive set of laws – instead of transient evidence - that explain how human evolution developed, how human suffering works, and can heal accumulated psychoemotional trauma. It is a more effective system, that also has a social side that could introduce schemes to gradually improve parenting and resolve bullying behaviour.
Governments' failure to update mental health science, and neglect to heal accumulated trauma, means that they are allowing troubled and violent people to prosper. So victims of violence could still be alive today but for the inaction of such governments. That makes governments partly liable for the deaths of such victims. Legal action is one way to make governments realise that they are not performing to the public's expectations. Victims' families do not have to suffer in vain; they have the potential to help change government policy and stop this never-ending cycle of bullying and violence, and to make the world a safer, and far better, place.
"A Perfect Terrorist", (video), PBS Frontline and ProPublica, producer Tom Jennings, 2011.
"School shooting", Wikipedia, (online), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., last modified on 8 September 2014 at 20:39,
Liz Else, "Know this: the latest psychotherapy transforms lives", interview with book authors Richard Layard and David Clark, New Scientist, (online), Reed Business Information Ltd., Magazine issue 2977, 15 July 2014,
Emily A. Holmes, Michelle G. Craske, & Ann M. Graybiel, "Psychological treatments: A call for mental-health science", Nature, (online), Nature Publishing Group, 16 July 2014,
André Aleman & Damiaan Denys, "Mental health: A road map for suicide research and prevention", Nature, (online), Nature Publishing Group, 21 May 2014,
Editorial, "Suicide watch", Nature, (online), Nature Publishing Group, 12 February 2014,
Lisa Belkin Yahoo7, "Is it a crime to raise a killer?", Yahoo7 News, (online), Yahoo7, September 15, 2014, 6:58 am
In the news early April was the sudden death of Peaches Geldof - the daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates. The media, family, and acquaintances said that her death was a mystery. The autopsy report said that the cause was inconclusive. Yet, laws of pain science can already identify why she died.
Peaches' mother died when she was 11 years old. She died alone of an overdose while caring for her daughter Tiger Lily. This would have been a massive psychoemotional trauma for Peaches - requiring weeks or months to resolve. Yet she found herself going to school the very next day - and feeling numb. At 16 - and on the brink of maturity - she again felt the loss of her mother. And after marriage and two children, she found herself relatively alone again with her partying friends having left her behind. Just before she died she was about to start writing a parenting column, and posted a photo online of herself (as a child) with Paula, captioned: "Me and my mum". The next day she died alone while caring for her youngest child. So history repeated itself. Whether she died of an overdose, a physical health problem, or losing the will to live is of little consequence. Because it is clear that the major contributors to her death were repeated bouts of loneliness, and an unresolved longing for her mother for companionship and guidance. In the end it was all just too painful for her to bear.
So one must ask where were society's mental health services to treat problems like Peaches'? Where was religion that claims to be able to miraculously heal suffering? It was off somewhere looking for "evil demons". Where was science that claims to be on top of mental health problems? It was off somewhere looking for "genetic faults". And where was the government's early intervention scheme? It was nowhere to be seen. Such unexpected deaths help to highlight the fact that when it comes to hidden mental health problems, society's mental health services always seem to be off doing things that are completely unrelated to its very cause: psychoemotional trauma.
This case is similar to that of NZ-Australian actress Charlotte Dawson. She was adopted at birth so she never experienced the love and acceptance from her natural parents. She openly admitted to suffering from bouts of depression (and was prone to shaking when feeling troubled). Her plight went public when she became the target of an online bullying campaign. This disturbed her so much that she attempted suicide. She was taken to hospital for treatment, and afterwards returned to normal life. But just before she died she lost a work contract, and was about to lose her rented apartment. Just like Geldof, all the mounting problems became too much to bear, and in February she committed suicide by hanging. This was an unusual case because it involved a famous person suffering from mental health problems, while deteriorating before the eyes of politicians - and they could do nothing to help her. The NZ Prime Minister, John Key, said that he was "shocked" by her death. But why? She had already attempted suicide. If she didn't get the right healing assistance - which the PM should have been able to offer her from his Health Department - she was likely to try it again. But he was unable to recommend any treatment for her. If she had been suffering from a disease, the NZ or Australian PM, or their Health Minister - would surely have called her up and said, "Charlotte, just come to the clinic and undergo our latest course of treatment and you'll be healthy once more - you won't be in danger of dying". But for mental health problems - there was NOTHING. And after her demise, there was no inquiry into the shortcomings of the mental health system. Instead, politicians just supported an anti-online bullying campaign on her behalf - again, nothing to do with finding a way to heal mental trauma itself!
Now let's apply the same scenario to ordinary people. If famous people can deteriorate and die of mental health problems right before the eyes of politicians, and they can only stand there and watch without being able to offer them a healing service - then what chance have ordinary people got - when in a similar state - of ever being healed of their problems? Not much chance at all. Politicians will just stand there and watch you, your relative, or your child die. Is it any wonder that modern societies like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK have high rates of suicide? In the US it's even worse - not only is there risk from one's own mental health problems, but also risk of death from a mentally disturbed spree killer who has "fallen through the cracks" of the mental health system. Over there, there was the death in March of fashion designer L'Wren Scott - the girlfriend of Mick Jagger. She was another adoptee who missed out on the love only natural parents can provide. Just before she died her fashion axhibit at the London Fashion Week was cancelled. And she was about to have to close her business due to a $6m debt. Again, too many problems combined with childhood trauma put her into too much psychoemotional pain and she hanged herself. What is most telling in this case is that she had no confidence in the world's most powerful government - with the largest mental health sector - of being able to do anything for her.
The public need to rise up, speak with one voice, and demand a change to this sham of a mental health system. The people in it are good, but the knowledge being utilised is out-of-date and woefully inadequate. Hundreds of millions of dollars a year are spent on mental health research and treatments - and yet not a single treatment could be offered to Dawson, Geldof, or Scott. One must ask what are governments spending this money on? Any politician - especially a health minister - who witnesses public deaths like these and is "shocked" or "mystified" by them should be asked to resign. Because they obviously do not understand the ramifications of psychoemotional trauma, and, so, are not doing their job properly. Any reigning political party that witnesses such deaths and does nothing to change the mental health system afterwards should be voted out of office. Because they are all clearly just waisting the public's time, money, and lives.
A year or two ago I wrote an article about how birth trauma affects religion, science, and politics. In it I pointed out the headband as a prominent symbol of birth trauma - and the fact that it is still prevalent today in all of those fields. For example, a headband is still part of the national dress worn by the social leaders of Saudi Arabia. Further still, that birth trauma usually leads to dominance and oppression - and that this country is renowned for social repression - particularly of women - who do not have the same marriage rights, driving privileges, dress privileges, or other freedoms available to males. This has now been further confirmed by the news that the daughters of the Saudi King Abdullah have complained to the United Nations of being confined for 13 years (after their parents' divorce) to a Royal Compound in Jeddah. Their only freedom is to go shopping. Any other activities - such as education or employment - are not allowed to be engaged in. They complain of wasting away behind the palace walls.
Compare this to Western leaders of the US and Australia. The daughters of both Barack Obama and Tony Abbott have greater freedoms than their Saudi counterparts. They have freedoms of dress, travel, education, employment, and marriage. And they have even stood beside their fathers during some media events. This is because Western culture has already passed through human rights revolutions. Those have included separation of Church and State, voting rights for women, anti racial discrimination laws, as well as public education and healthcare.
However, some more subtle types of oppression still occur - even in Western culture. They relate to oppression of children's rights to freedom during upbringing within the family household - under parental or guardian control. Every year there are news stories of children being exploited by sex abuse rings, being beaten, dying due to excessive discipline, dying due to withholding of food or forced food consumption, or dying as a result of exorcisms. These oppressions and abuses still occur because governments around the world still do not recognise the family dynamics of unresolved psychoemotional trauma.
In all societies, there is little to no promotion of good parenting practices - nor of the need to take time out to resolve past psychoemotional traumas. Instead, education is promoted to overcome aspects of suffering in children; while work is promoted to overcome aspects of suffering in adults. The result of all this is that children really have noone to complain to if they are experiencing problems in life. Governments and charities do provide social services and call lines - but they are not an embedded part of culture - they are just patch-up facilities. The Saudi King's daughters are a case in point. They felt that they had noone that they could complain to. They couldn't complain to the government because the government was complicit in this type of treatment - and their father was the head of the government to boot (and a father to 38 children in total). Their only means of complaint was overseas to the United Nations - on a "human rights" basis instead of a parenting basis. Whether the United Nations can change this one case of skewed parenting practice in a notoriously oppressive culture still remains to be seen. It is already unsure of whether the allegations are "substantial enough" to warrant any action. So without world authorities being able to recognise the true source of human suffering - and its governing laws - the odds are that this is likely to be a forlorn plea, and that the daughters will continue to waste away behind closed doors.
Currently in the world there are two mental health paradigms: one is predominant, while the other is emerging. They can be summed-up as follows:
1. Genetics-based Paradigm: This paradigm is not a specialised science, but is an extension of existing medical science. It believes that all health and behavioural problems are caused by genetic faults and/or epigenetic changes. Its main psychological treatment involves cognitive-behaviour therapy, which believes that changing your thoughts can change your behaviours. When this fails, psychology, psychiatry, and general medicine revert to providing prescription drugs to lessen symptoms and seemingly control the adverse mental problems and behaviours.
2. Pain-based Paradigm: This paradigm has gradually developed into a specialised science that is separate from medical science. Its latest format is represented by the laws of pain. It believes that the current crop of health and behavioural problems are caused by a history of unresolved psychoemotional pain. Such pain miswires the brain, twists the psyche, and contorts behaviours. Pain-resolving psychotherapy is employed to resolve the history of pain. This rewires the brain back to normal, straightens the psyche, and dissolves abnormal behaviours.
Since the emergence of mental health as a medical arm from several hundred years ago, the genetics-based paradigm has come to rule society. The paradigm is supported by government and taught to the following generations at universities. And what has been the result? While there has been a general improvement in recognition of mental health problems, and helpful treatments provided - overall, such problems have only increased in occurrence. The following list exemplifies this.
After the last World War, a "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll" subculture developed, and drug use has only increased to become a common dependency, and a major criminal activity. There have been upsurges in extremist religious movements, terrorism, suicide bombings, and general suicides. The serial killer of yesteryear - who secretly killed numerous people over a length of time - seems tame by today's standards of violence. He/she has been surpassed by the spree killer, who kills numerous people in one event - and often then commits suicide him/herself. And brand new behaviours have emerged: such as "king hit" killings - single knock-out punches that cause falling victims to crack their skulls on pavements; and "road rage" - where drivers become so frustrated and enraged that they jump out of their cars and attack other drivers (or even cyclists).
In fact, if it wasn't for gun control laws in most (Western) countries, spree killings would be endemic in modern society. The violent rage is still present in some people, but the gun control laws are effectively keeping it suppressed (while being unable to resolve it via the mental health system). The US is a complete contrast to this though. Its gun lobby is culturally dominant, so there are weak gun control laws - which has seen spree killings become endemic there. This society is regarded as the world's leader: it has the most advanced technology; the biggest companies, the wealthiest individuals, the best universities, the most prestigious science publications, and probably the largest number of mental health professionals. Yet, one could say that it prefers that a small proportion of its own citizens are shot dead each month, rather than change either its gun control laws or its mental health paradigm. It always claims that such perpetrators have "fallen through the cracks" in the system. But in reality, they just refuse to accept that the fault is in the system itself, which has cracks so wide that they are unable to identify potential perpetrators before they do damage. This is a measure of the influence that both the gun lobby and medical science exerts over government and mainstream society. It is also a measure of how warpt a society can become when it follows out-of-date cultural mores for too long.
Clearly, both the gun lobby and the genetics-based mental health paradigm have failed their own people. But there is a way out of this trouble. If the US does not want to change its gun laws to stop spree killings, it can instead change its mental health paradigm to stop them. The government could instigate a sweeping review of the mental health sector. It could lay everything out on the table: the old theories and practices, the newer ones, and the more radical ones, and interview a range of patients to get their views. Then a decision could be made on the appropriate way forward under a new mental health paradigm - that has been updated to suit modern times and the current range of mental health problems. The newly updated paradigm (ideally, a more pain-based one) could then catch more mental health sufferers earlier in life, and provide more effective treatments to resolve their problems before they do social damage. By undertaking such an initiative, the US society could restore some of its lost pride, and continue to be an example for other nations to follow.
Neuroscientists have claimed that they have debunked the left brain and right brain personality types. After scanning 1000 brains, they concluded that people use their whole brains for mental activities, that differences in left and right brain activities tend to even themselves out, and that there is no evidence that shows that one side of the brain is more wholely-engaged (or dominant) than the other. Case closed - or is it? It is interesting to read the accompanying comments to the relevant article/s. The gist of some comments is that the left/right brain split has been useful in helping people to heal traumas, and also in adjusting to brain operations. They also suggest that the researchers did not try too hard to examine the phenomenon. The last point is apt, because the researchers really just put some people in a scanner, imaged their brains at rest (not even engaged in activities), and then published the results as a "debunking". (In fact, the neuroscientists seem to have taken the left/right brain split of pop psychology/sciences - like brain training - a little too literally. They even alude to a model where only one half-brain is active at any one time - as if a scanned image might show one-half brain "lit up", while the other as "dark".)
So why would neuroscientists be interested in debunking such a well-known phenomenon - that was originally recognised by earlier neuroscientists? A further search of the Internet finds the answer: scientists (neuropsychologists) have a new brain division theory to promote - along with four new behavioural "modes" (AKA personality traits). It all makes sense now - a debunking of the old theory makes way for a new one. This theory has been known about for some time in neuroscience (and it has also been recognised with the laws of pain - but with scant details to go on). It involves the brain being divided into two horizontally: top and bottom brains. And how these two brains interact or not determines people's behavioural modes - two halves functioning well produces a "mover", two halves not functioning well produces an "adaptor". While discord between the two halves produces a "perceiver" (top brain more functional) or a "stimulator" (bottom brain more functional). This division and their behavioural modes is valid and indeed welcome - the more knowledge about the brain the better. For the laws of pain it will help people to heal more of their traumas; while medical science will undoubtedly develop new prescription drugs to try to balance the discord between sufferer's brains.
But there is one point that these scientists seem to have overlooked. It is the fact that they will also suffer the same fate as other earnest researchers: their work will be overrun and shopped to the public by the pop psychology/science crowd - in just the same way as the left/right brain split has.
"An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging",
"Right Brain, Left Brain? Scientists Debunk Popular Theory",
"The Left-Brain-Right-Brain Distinction is as Fake as it Always Sounded",
Stephen M. Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller, "A New Map of How We Think: Top Brain/Bottom Brain
Forget dated ideas about the left and right hemispheres. New research provides a more nuanced view of the brain", The Wall Street Journal, (online), Dow Jones & Company, Oct. 20, 2013 8:31 a.m. ET,
The new (Liberal) Australian Government's Health Minister, Peter Conlan, has just announced a $500m spending package on mental health reforms. The reforms are said to make it easier for sufferers to better manage their lives, such as by reducing the steps needed in seeking adequate accommodation. One immediately has to ask, though, what happened to the then record $1.8b that the previous Liberal Government spent on Mental Health in the early 2000s? And, further still, what happened to the later record of $2.2b spent on mental health by the previous Labor Government? Were those funds useful? Did they produce any new forms of mental health healing? Did they reduce the number of mental health sufferers? The only conclusion one can reach in all cases is a resounding "no". Hence the need for another round of funding "reforms".
About a quarter of the Federal Government's mental health funding goes to the "Headstart" facilities and their operations, which has become the forefront of treatment service. It's chief lobbiest is Patrick McGorry (professor of psychiatry), who champions it as being a "21st-century system". And its supporters want to sell the model to several other countries, including the UK, Canada, and the US.
So what is Headstart all about? it is a model of mental health treatment designed to address the high rate of youth suicide and psychotic symptoms. It strongly advocates early intervention - treating 12-25-year-olds for general mental stresses, and 15-24-year-olds for early psychotic symptoms. Additionally, the provided centres are a brightly coloured, funky, drop-in-style that is attractive to youth. And there is no need for a referral or any psychological analysis - just easily-obtainable assistance. And the general feedback from the participants is favourable.
Headstart critics, though, have noted that there are no follow-up studies on patients, so it is not possible to determine how effective the treatment is - or, indeed, if it may be doing harm. But there are other problems with Headstart. It is claimed to be a non-medical model. Yet, underlying the service is the same old medically-based theories and practices. It's claim for efficacy - that being "early intervention" - is the same as the current trend in medical science. This is the theory that if you can get in early you can curtail a health problem before it festers. But early intervention - as some scientists have openly stated - is not a cure. It is really only just the next best thing to a cure. So when practitioners tout "early intervention" as being the pinnacle of treatment, they are really hiding the fact that they do not have a definitive cure for a problem. Another Headstart issue is that of following "evidence-based" science. This practice is essential in most areas of science - but when it comes to psychology, evidence-based research is often shallow, flimsy, and not very useful. And, yet another problem area is the non-unified science behind it all. One of Headstart's chief proponents, Simon Stafrace (an Associate Professor of Psychiatry), states that, "Part of the problem in finding an approach that works is the nature of mental illness itself. Unlike other areas of health, making a diagnosis is not an exact science. One person's 'unwell' is another's 'unconventional'". In other words, Headstart's practitioners are still searching for an effective treatment approach - which they haven't found yet. Meanwhile, the default treatment in the background is "cognitive-behaviour" therapy. This is a medically-backed therapy based on the false belief that changing your thinking patterns can change distorted behaviours. Like the evidence-based researh that it is based upon, it is a shallow and weak therapy that doesn't work very well.
Headstart is a hodge-podge of thinking. Its sole driving force - to be youthful and funky - is a novelty that would indeed probably work well initially. But its claim to be non-medically-based is clearly confused. And even more confusingly, it even borrows elements from pain-resolving psychotherapy - a treatment that is normally considered to be too radical. For example, from Primal Therapy it borrows the concept of getting away from the stuffy medically-based offices, and talk of unmet needs; while from the laws of pain it borrows the concepts of the social application of mental health treatment, and a "21st Century system". But - unlike those two psychotherapies - there is no new science, no new theories, no new treatment practices. It is a case of the old mental health system trying to update itself to be more like the newly-emerging mental health system. Given this, one can see what is going to happen to Headstart over time. As its practitioners gradually come to realise that people are not really being healed of their mental health problems, the youthful enthusiasm will die down. And the program will gradually be reabsorbed into stock-standard psychology and psychiatry - with out-of-date theories and practices, and prescription drugs to keep mental health problems under control.
By now, Australia should be THE world leader in healing mental health problems - by utilising the laws of pain system. But it is being held back by health experts and politicians who do not fully understand what causes mental health problems or how best to heal them. And the losers in all of this will be the babies of tomorrow - some of whom will unnecessarily have to endure lives full of debilitating psychoemotional pain - for no other reason than our social leaders are too stubborn to accept the inevitability of a new mental health science.
Jill Stark, "Debate surrounds the headspace model of mental health services", The Sydney Morning Herald, (online), Fairfax Media, November 10, 2013,
What do the following scenes have in common: a turkey that is so fat that it has difficulty standing up; a pumpkin that is so fat that it needs a tractor to lift it off the ground; a pet dog that is so fat that it can only waddle instead of walk; and a human that is so fat that it needs a crane to lift them out of bed to have them taken to hospital? The obvious difference is that the first two are food items (normally associated with the Thanksgiving celebration), while the latter two are food consumers (of sorts for the pet). But what they all have in common is that they are exibiting - in one way or another - a form of obesity. And this is where there is a recognition problem in our society: only the latter two are recognised as being related to obesity; while the former two (turkey and pumpkin) are championed as being a product of advanced agribusiness and food science.
In fact, it is that very Thanksgiving celebration that provides a good insight into the social aspect of obesity. Thanksgiving is a historical feast meant to give thanks (to God) for the abundance of food that people enjoy. It is practised in several regions, like the US, Canada, and parts of Europe and Africa. While the ceremony itself only goes back a century or two, the feasts that it is based on go way back to the Stone Age. Back then tribes had huge feasts of meat and alcohol - to appease the gods and/or to celebrate successful harvests. At such feasts, a symbolically important type of animal - such as the pig or bovine - was the subject of slaughter and consumption.
In the modern world it is the US Thanksgiving ceremony that has garnered worldwide attention via television. It involves the President giving thanks for food abundance, and then pardoning a bird (AKA "saving" it from the pot). That saved bird is then taken to a farm to live out the rest of its life in freedom. But critics of the ceremony have questioned the fate of this turkey. And they have found that since the birds are so fervently fattened-up for the annual celebration, they can begin to suffer obesity-related health problems. As a result, the supposed "freedom" of the saved bird is destined to be shortlived, as it succombs to difficulties like standing, walking, breathing, arthritis, and/or circulation/heart problems.
The laws of pain can add a further dimension to the understanding of this ceremony - as well as to the nature of the obesity epidemic. The modern-day Thanksgiving feast is a relic from the past that is out of tune with modern-day society. The US population, for example, is now huge, so 46 million or so of one type of bird has to be slaughtered to cater for the demand. In this respect the feasting has reached ridiculous proportions. Additional to this, there is no further need to give thanks for the food that people have, since nowadays food is abundant and there is little malnutrition and starvation (in the West at least).
When it comes to the part where the President publically "saves" a turkey, it has a deep unconscious component. Because in reality, society is killing 46 million turkeys - so to counter this unfeeling act they need an "humane ceremony" to make them feel more comfortable with themselves for doing this. So they require society's leader to show some "feeling" by saving a bird, and thus allowing it to live a free life. So the ceremony is really a barometer of the level of feeling capacity in the US society. Effectively, by only being concerned about the welfare of one bird - and seeing the rest as slaughterable food - the society is showing that it has a reduced feeling capacity and an elevated level of unconsciousness. (Although, of course, there are some feeling and humane activities at this time - such as food drives for the needy, family gatherings, and holiday time off work. But in this case I am specifically addressing healthcare.)
In the modern (Western) world, obesity and anorexia/bulimea are the current food-related health problems - rather than malnutrition and starvation. And the US has about 35% adult obese, and 17% juvenile obese. (In Australia, with a revised measure, it is now estimated that 49% of people are in the obese category; while over 60% of pets are considered obese.) So in actual fact, the Thanksgiving ceremony would present an ideal opportunity to update the feasting message to improve the health of the US nation. Instead of a Stone Age-related message, the message could be changed to promote healthy eating generally, like consuming a range of foods rather than concentrating on just one artificially fattened-up bird and vegetable. The ceremony could also include apt parenting advice, such as to provide adequate meals for children (many children miss out on breakfast for example), and to make sure no trauma is associated with mealtimes - as both can distort children's views of food and lead to later onset eating disorders.
The out-of-date Thanksgiving ceremony perfectly illustrates a problem with business, food science, medical science, and politics. These social sectors are all working against each other - in terms of aiding psychoemotional healthcare initiatives. Industry and science are always striving to invent new and improved ways of doing things - like improving the yield of food items (in other words, fattening-up our foods); while medical science and government are always wanting to stop health problems from reaching epidemic proportions. Even the President's wife, Michelle Obama, is involved in the campaign to fight obesity. But while they are all working against each other, no matter what health care policies and programs governments come up with to fight obesity and anorexia/bulimea, they are all doomed to failure. The obesity epidemic has a bigger breadth and depth than these sector workers understand.
Just a couple of months out from this year's political election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was drawn into a leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd. She had replaced Rudd in similar fashion several years earlier, and Rudd had been pining for his old job ever since. The condition this time though - set by Gillard herself - was that whoever lost the caucus vote should retire from politics to end the Labor bickering. She subsequently lost, went to the backbench, and then did not contest the political election. After a couple of months in the wilderness, she has now described the psychoemotional pain of losing the Prime Ministership as feeling like being hit with a fist. This pain was later exacerbated by watching, alone, the Labor Party lose the September 7 Election to the Liberal National Party (under its leader, Tony Abbott).
Gillard's revelation has been picked up by the media as an example of psychological health issues related to emotional pain feeling like physical pain. Channel 7's Weekend Sunrise, for example, asked their science expert, Dr Karl, to explain this phenomenon - and referred to recent research that showed that people can literally die from a (emotionally) broken heart. Dr Karl said that the experience of emotional and physical pain share the same neurological pathways in the brain, and that this is why an emotional pain can feel like a physical pain. But, crucially, he could not offer any medical science-based solution to resolve such pain - only describe the research "evidence" for it's existence. He also stated that when he himself once suffered from the emotional pain from a broken heart, he lessened its effect through the physical means of going for a run [but not healing the pain directly].
It is encouraging to hear Gillard - a person who has occupied high office - articulating the pain that she felt while enduring a stressful and traumatic event. It will go a long way in helping her to integrate that pain. It also shows that people are becoming more aware of psychological phenomena. And it brings politicians back down to earth, and puts them on an equal footing with everyday human beings, who also struggle with such stresses and pains in life. However, as good as this example is, one aspect still remains perplexing: Gillard and her health ministers never supported a cure for such pain while they were in office. I wrote to her health ministers twice about the laws of pain as an experiential-based science that can heal this type of pain from the past (and, hence, heal numerous health and behavioural problems). I wrote once to Nicola Roxon, and again to Tanya Plibersek after she took over as Health Minister. Neither minister took it any further than to dismiss it with a spiel about the process involved in providing evidence, possessing qualifications, submitting to a committee - in other words, going through the official "scientific channels" (AKA medical science) to gain acceptance. There was no real recognition of human beings suffering from unresolved psychoemotional pain - and needing a cure for it right now. Instead, Gillard's government did what all governments around the world do: just default to medical science as the favoured authority on health matters. Governments have not yet cottoned-on to the fact that most medical research efforts only end with promises of cures 5, 10, or 20 years into the future - and rarely anything for today.
In the meantime, Julia Gillard has accepted an honorary Professorship qualification in History and Politics from Adelaide University. It was given to her on the basis of her "knowledge and experience" in politics - and not for any actual study or research. And here we see an example of a double standard in operation in public life: politicians reject experiential-based science in health care, in favour of research or evidence-based science by qualified scientists - then they turn around and accept "experiential-based" qualifications themselves.
This double standard highlights an alleged increasingly corrupt relationship that exists between government and conventional science - especially medical science. (It is similar to the corrupt relationship that developed between government and religion that it replaced over a century ago.) It is like a cartel - but not a price-fixing cartel that we are used to; rather, a treatment-fixing cartel. It is not a product of deliberately corrupt individuals, but rather the once beneficial arrangement has drifted into an alleged corrupt state due to the march of time and changes in society. Here's how it works. New discoveries related to healing human health and behavioural problems are made with the experiential-based science of pain-resolving psychotherapy. But those discoveries are ignored and even denounced by conventional science, because it likes to promote a genetics-based theory for the cause of health and behavioural problems. However, in the background, scientists take ideas and research leads from those new experiential-based discoveries. They then obtain government or organisational funding for related research projects; their resultant papers are published in prestigious science journals claiming "new discoveries" attributed to genetics-based science; and no credit or mention is given for the original source of the discoveries. Governments then provide funding for treatment programs and drug developments based on that "evidence-based" science. Although this is not strictly copying - as their is original work and novel thinking involved (and all scientists learn from each other) - there is no doubting that the core of this activity is in "rechannelling" experiential-based healing discoveries into conventional medical science (where they do not belong, because they come under a completely different healthcare theory). This is done in order to maintain its favoured position of being sole advisor to government, sole public health treatment provider, and sole recipient of government funding. Examples of this process include the "discovery" that emotional pain of a broken heart can lead to a heart attack; treatments that are claimed to "rewire the brain"; the "discovery" that cancer cells behave like a (bee) colony, and the "radical new view of health" involving the body's cells cooperating like a community. The first claim was discovered decades ago in Primal Therapy, while the latter three were discovered with the laws of pain.
This skewed government-science relationship continues to prevent everyday people from receiving the most up-to-date and effective treatment to resolve psychoemotional pain, and its myriad of eventual physical health problems: such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimer's Disease.
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