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Monday, February 22, 2010

I Was Just Diagnosed with BiPolar


I’ve been reading your book Depression is a Choice. I am sure that you hear from many people so I will try and keep this email short. I was just diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder with mixed episodes in June and was deciding on whether or not to take medication. In the same week that I decided to start taking medication a friend of mine gave me your book to read. I really appreciated it because it is the only material out there that says people do not need the medication.

I was hoping that you could tell me if there are any other resources out there that discuss training your mind, rather than using medication. Also, I think it would be interesting and very encouraging and educational for others if there were some CD or DVD versions based on the ideas in your book. I really think it would be beneficial to a lot of people.

Thank you for your time and your book

T. S.
Ph.D. Candidate
Psychology Department
University of California

Dear T. S.
Thank you for your letter. If you are reading Depression is a Choice you may also find that Brainswitch out of Depression is a further help. Depression is a Choice, my first book, is the philosophy of how you get out of depression. Brainswitch out of Depression is the neuroscience of how you get out of depression and contains a lot of helpful mind exercises. As per your suggestion about a CD, I agree with you and have been thinking about doing a video shortly and put it on youtube. I hope to finish it before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, if you have any personal questions about your journey getting out of depression, I will be glad to answer them. I no longer take private patients, but I answer anyone's email and I do not charge for this.

There are a lot of people writing books on the benefits of positive thinking and all of them are helpful. However my work is slightly different because as far as I know I am the first person to connect the neurobiological process of pain perception with a method to getting out of a depressive episode. Here's a except from my second book:

"Now here's the truly remarkable neuroscientific finding that I have never seen mentioned in all the psychiatric literature about depression. It is one of the most important reasons that Brainswitching works for depression.

"We all feel our emotions very deeply and the effect of the environment upon us. But in order to feel any emotion, or the pain of some bodily injury (which are all produced in the subcortex) we must make a cognitive judgment in the neocortex about the thing we are feeling! Signals from the nerve endings in our arm if we cut our skin, or signals from the subcortex that emotion is going on must move upward to the neocortex and be received and acknowledged there before we can feel them!

"This is the reason cases have been recorded of athletes who actually break a bone during the heat of a game and don't experience any pain until after the competition is over. Their neocortical thought concentration on the game blocked the pain signals being sent to the neocortex that should have alerted them to the pain of their injury.

"We must make a judgment about pain before we can feel it? Does this sound like a theory? It isn't. It is a neuroscientific fact also proved by neuroimaging people who have experienced brain damage in the neocortex.

"Some people have no damage in the subcortex but have sustained severe damage in the neocortex in the place that receives the signals from the subcortex. These people, with neocortical damage, will not be able to feel or experience the emotion or pain they produce in the subcortex anymore than those aforementioned victims of subcortical damage who can't produce the subcortical feelings in the first place.

"The other proof of the fact that we must acknowledge our feelings in the neocortex before we can feel them is this: hypnosis can substitute for general anesthetic in major surgery. People do not feel pain when their neocortex is convinced (hypnotized) that pain is not happening, even though their flesh is being cut by the surgeon's knife and impacting the subcortex.

"You don't have to remember all of this information about judging feelings in the neocortex. What it means, practically speaking for depression, is that we can manage our pain and emotion in the subcortex by controlling our thinking in the neocortex.

"This is nothing new. Successful people have always lived their lives by reason rather than emotion. However, this kind of mind-management has not been applied specifically and forcefully to depression as it should be.

"The medical profession has come around in other areas. Doctors are curing ADD and Irritable Bowel Syndrome with hypnosis and guided imagery. (Sandra Blakeslee, "Hypnosis Gains Respect, Helps to see Brain Work," The New York Times, 11/23/05) It is important to mention here that in the organization of the nerve cells that carry sensory information, there are ten times more nerve fibers carrying information from the top down than from the bottom up; from the neocortex to the subcortex rather than the other way around. This indicates the amount of power available to us to get the cognitive part of our brain, once we learn how to access it, to manage the emotional part.

"When we earnestly apply this top-down idea to depression, we can see that it is possible to make the personal decision that self-abusive thinking, such as the anxious worry that leads to depression, is simply no longer an option for us. Whenever we notice this painful thinking occurring to us, we can immediately choose specific thoughts which stimulate the neurons in the neocortex. This will draw neuronal energy from the subcortex and then the painful emotions in the subcortex slowly power down. It also accomplishes "thought-jamming" of problem thoughts so they don't continue.

"Our thinking determines our emotions. As our thinking moves to anxious, our feelings become anxious. As our thinking changes out of anxious and moves to calm, our feelings change from anxious and move to calm. Our mind knows we are in charge of our feelings even if we don't. Because thoughts trump feelings, reason always trumps emotion. The top-down sensory information channels of the brain are set that way. But for a trump card to win you must play it. We have to call upon our reason, upon our neocortex when our subcortex is rampaging.

"By the way, this is the neuroscientific explanation for Freedom of the Will: We are not forced to function from instinct, we may choose to function from reason. How we make this choice, neurologically speaking, is to choose those thoughts that will spark neuronal activity in the part of the brain from which we wish to function: the intellect of the neocortex or the emotions of the subcortex. This is also the neuroscientific explanation for Spinoza's claim that "Will and intellect are one and the same thing."

A. B. Curtiss

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