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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Do I Control My Anxious Thoughts?

Dear A. B.

It's me again and wondering if you could take a moment to answer just one question for me. I have had a family crisis and fallen into the dark pit. My question to you is on thought control..How does one control his thoughts while sleeping? Or is it that I go to bed with those thoughts? As I awoke today with my mind racing and feeling those old dark cloud thoughts that I hate so much. It's been coming on me, but today seemed to reach a zenith. Thanks. B_______

Dear B_______

It is not easy to control your thinking. It is a simple process but hard to get over the lack of motivation to want to do it. You have to insist on thinking YOUR thought instead of what disturbing or anxious thought your brain has popped up for you. Remember, your brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You make a thought dominant by thinking it over repetitively. That's why you CAN make your exercise thought dominant over the anxious thought. You can think your thought over and over. When the brain's anxious thought intrudes, intrude back with your own thought.

We all have the same problem of thinking thoughts we hate to think. You have to substitute a non-emotional thought. Anything works. Lately at night when I've gone to bed, I've been using simple counting 1-2-3-4 over and over. If I've been too agitated, and too much stress chemicals have been let loose, I read a book for a while to break the continuity and get my mind going in another direction. Or, on rare occasions, if nothing works, I'll watch an old movie for an hour or so and then go back to bed.

If I wake up at night, I also use the 1-2-3-4 counting to get back to sleep. During the day, it is easier to distract yourself with work and concentrating on objective things rather than dwell on your unwelcome thoughts. I simply don't allow negative or anxious thoughts during the day. At night it's harder if you are trying to get to sleep but usually I manage. Only once or twice a month I might have a problem that I have to solve with reading or rarely, every couple of months, I might have to watch a movie. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Not sure. if I really understand here. Getting to sleep is not a problem for me. It's on awakening in the morning. It's usually a very bad feeling I awake to, and don't know why.

Did you mean if you think GOOD thoughts when you retire that will help the mood when one awakes?

Thanks for your replies. I know you are busy woman. Also loved the group picture of 20 as I counted them(on your website) . I count seventeen in our group. Of course, we lost my Granddaughter, and that was the tragedy of our life, but we do move on, yet never forget her.

Thanks for all your help through all these years. It's really been a life saver to me, and I DO recommend your books. Best regards, B_____

Dear B_______

I often awake with a bad feeling in the morning as well. Probably because we can't direct our thinking while we're asleep. The way I handle it is to absolutely ignore the bad feeling and use an exercise--counting, or “green frog” for a few seconds. Then I get up and get about my day.

I do not focus on my feelings at that time but, instead, focus on whatever activity I'm engaged in. If bad thoughts sneak in, I do a quick exercise like counting for a few seconds and continue with my activity. Or I might say to myself. "This crappy feeling will soon pass."

But I continue to ignore the crappy feeling and do not sink into it. I continue to move in the opposite direction--thinking about what I'm going to do next, or doing some nursery rhyme, or singing exercise, or counting if necessary to thoughtjam the downer thoughts that keep sneaking in. The crappy feeling can never survive more than an hour. I generally just notice that it's gone. Hope this helps.
A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happiness is based on Fear, Love Just Is

Dear A. B.

Thanks for elaborating. In a way I'm more confused, but that's o.k. I like reading your teachings and trying to absorb them! Eventually, a light bulb usually comes on!

I get it that love is not a feeling. Could it be that love is also a constellation of choices/actions made in another's best interest? When we love a person, the planet, or a house we take care of it, nurture it, tend to it with concern.

When you tell us to pursue a course of action because of a love of something, rather than be moved by a fear of something, are you saying that the "love" we have for gardening, writing, studying, is really rooted in another sort of fear...primal fear, rather than repressed fear?

Also, did the Buddha perhaps experience *joy & contentment* vs. *happiness?* Is happiness an ephemeral state while joy can be integrated more fully into our being, given the absence of repressed fear? G__________

Dear G___________

First of all, according to ancient wisdom, we cannot know truth as an object. We can BE the truth but we cannot know it as something separate from ourselves. Another thing is that "the word is not the thing." We approximate what we are referring to by using words to communicate what we are talking about FUNCTIONALLY, rather than describing any particular truth ARCHITECTURALLY.

Love is a word that we use to functionally describe many things, so, yes, it is confusing. We have to communicate our meaning almost like the Chinese do with their symbols, the meaning is found not in the separate symbol itself but is deduced from the other symbols with which it appears. So when we try to explain what love is, the word cannot really stand by itself without the context in which we are referring to it.

For instance you asked

When you tell us to pursue a course of action because of a love of something, rather than be moved by a fear of something, are you saying that the "love" we have for gardening, writing, studying, is really rooted in another sort of fear...primal fear, rather than repressed fear?

In a way this is true. Fear is the prime motivator of the human being. It is what gets us moving. Just as one-celled creatures have cilia to move them from one place to another, the human being has primal fear, our survival instinct, to move us into action. But again, in the context of the two opposites, fear and love, both functional terms which have general accepted meaning to human existence, we are better to make our decisions out of love of something rather than out of fear of something. Primal fear is always with us as long as we are identified with a human body. However we can eliminate much of our repressed fear which causes us to live our lives based too much on past reactions which we wrongly re-apply to present circumstances.

Happiness is a poor substitute for love, which is why most marriages now fail. Love is our very being, often clouded and covered over by the shadow of our repressed fear. Happiness, as opposed to joy or love or bliss, isn't really ever integrated into our being, even given the lessening of repressed fear. With the lessening of repressed fear, we are able to more appropriately respond to present reality and have the opportunity to achieve a state of grace, a kind of cosmic re-connection or re-recognition, often known as love or joy or bliss.

What people generally refer to as happiness is short-lived because it is the fulfillment of a perceived lack. When the lack is fulfilled, happiness with what one has achieved soon fades, and other perceived lacks occur which, must in turn be fulfilled. Actually, now that I think of it, this is what we have turned marriage into--a cycle of perceived lacks.

Happiness is kind of a vicious circle which ancient wisdom tells us we can avoid by avoiding "desire" and substituting for desire the focus on our action rather than the anticipated result of that action. In other words, focus on dancing rather than winning the dance prize. For me, I focus all my attention on writing my book, attempting to avoid any preconceived anticipation of how commercially successful it is going to be.

I suddenly remembered a statement by a friend who said "I expect to get absolutely nothing out of my marriage." He has a most loving relationship with his wife and family.

In that regard, I remember a quote which I don't think I have posted yet on my blog. Typewritten on a small slip of paper, the quote sits in my center desk drawer all the time. I see it whenever I open the drawer. It's also posted on my bulletin board. It is by Richard Cecil, "Duties are ours, events are God's. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this consideration only can he securely lay down his head and close his eyes."

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where do Negative Thoughts Come From?

Ginger asked me this question in her post:: Would you go so far as to say that ALL "negative" "downer" emotions stem from fear, & all "positive" emotions stem from the loving parts of ourselves?

My answer is that that all emotions, negative or positive are the direct result of thoughts which are either negative or positive.

Generally speaking our thinking falls into two categories, habitual and passive, or creative and on-purpose thinking. Creative and on-purpose thoughts can either be negative or positive (because the brain works by learned association--a negative thought may trigger a positive thought and vice-versa because they have been somehow linked by association, either purposefully or accidentally) but, in general, on purpose thinking tends to be positive. Habitual or passive thinking is almost always negative. For more on how your get from one thought to another read Brainswitch out of Depression.

The other question Ginger asked is: You have said that we "are" love, so it would seem that our truly "logical, realistic" thoughts are actually our positive ones? Our joy and contentment is really authentic, while our "logical" thoughts that are sullen & grim are simply lies we tell ourselves? Am I following you correctly with all this?

This is not so easy to understand because our present-day culture is not set up for contemplating the core principles of all humanity like honesty, justice, wisdom, integrity, self-sacrifice, humility, or courage (only in some small pockets of higher education like Hillsdale College that is not funded by the government)

Generally in the last 50 years, especially in the Ivy League colleges, our education has been concerned with socio-psychological movements like feminism, or ethnicity, success, self-esteem, social justice or self-actualization. We have lost a lot of the ancient wisdom because only a few colleges teach from primary sources, the written works of the great thinkers. Most colleges teach from secondary texts which conform to contemporary thinking (like "the end justifies the means") and usually written by the professors who teach the courses.

The thing to remember is that love is not an emotion. Love is our essential being, our essential sense of okayness. It is what remains when all our fear is brought to the surface and let go of.

All emotion is fear-based because it is produced in the subcortex, our original instinctual brain which is a defense mechanism. We give fearful emotions different labels according to the situation in which they occur. The fearful emotion that we feel while being mugged on the street is called fright although it is the same emotion that we feel getting ready to do a high dive or take our first solo flying lesson. But generally we call these kinds of emotion that occur during benign activities, excitement.

The feeling of excitement that we get when we finally achieve what we want, like winning the lottery, or finding a lost child, or getting our husband to suddenly stop drinking and become Prince Charming, is called happiness.

Happiness only comes from the temporary success of filling some perceived deep lack. If we have no needs or lack to fill (like rock stars or movie stars or sons and daughters of billionaires who have everything they want) we generally take drugs to relieve the emptiness and feel excitement (feel good), or start pursuing some bizarre activity to get some excitement going.

Perhaps this is what happened to Buddha. He was a prince who had everything and thus, having no need to fill, he felt only emptiness. So he wandered into the forest and just sat, for years contemplating the cosmos, and small wild things around him. Just sitting. Doing nothing. I forget how many years, twelve maybe. Then he came back to his palace an enlightened man. Not happy but loving.

In a way you could say Buddha became enlightened by letting go of all of his repressed fear of having no lack to fill. Then only love remained.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Give Too Much Credence to Negative Thinking

Hi Ms. Curtiss,

My name is M______. I'm suffering from depression and anxiety. I had a decent day yesterday, fairly optimistic, and productive. But today feels like the polar opposite. I'm back to feeling very pessimistic about the future.

I know that one of the problems is that I take my thoughts too seriously, but I also feel like my thoughts make logical sense. I know we talked about thoughts that are "helpful" or "unhelpful," but the thought pattern is so strong, that it's hard for me to break out of it. For instance, I've had problems with stamina and ability to handle stress in the past, and now it's happened again. How can I be optimistic that if I continue to keep going (ie with my teacher credential program) that it will succeed, considering there is so much evidence to the contrary that I won’t be successful because of my past failures.That seems logical to me.

Dear M_____

It is not easy to ignore all the nagging thoughts about all the logical reasons why you are going to fail, and refuse to think them. It's not easy to do a few mind exercises and then get busy with your daily chores and refuse to think about your depression. But it can be done. It might take some practice. If you haven't done this before, naturally it will take some effort on your part to concentrate on a chosen exercise or thought of your own and refuse the habitual choice of your mind.

But it's the only way to prosper. Thinking negative and fearful thoughts of your possible failure has no realistic, practical value. Thinking mind exercises and then thinking about what you are doing and refusing to think about what you are feeling will move you forward with your day.

Thinking depressive and fearful thoughts, no matter how realistic they may seem, simply has no practical value. If one is a practical person they do practical things to move them forward with their day. They do not do unproductive things which do not move them forward with their day. Anybody can be depressed. It is the easiest thing in the world. The only thing is, it doesn't move you forward with your day. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Ms. Curtiss,

Thank you for your reply. Do any spiritual teachings guide you in dealing with fearful thoughts and anxiety?

Dear M_____

I have found books by Joel Goldsmith (The Infinite Way) Nisargadotta Maharaj (I Am That) and anything by Rudolf Steiner, anything by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and even Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time, or works by Edgar Cayce and Mary Baker Eddy to be helpful in balancing competing realities. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, June 26, 2010

To be a More Loving Person Get Rid of More Depressed Fear

I have been booksigning all this week. I have found a great way to put to good use my discontent with the way the signings are going sometimes. Often, I have so many people at once I can’t sign books fast enough. And then, all of a sudden, there is an empty space in front of me. Which I don’t like.

Although I have done a lot of work on myself in getting rid of repressed fear, (See Chapter 10 of Depression is a Choice),I’m always interested in checking out any repressed fear that hasn't bubbled up yet. I know one of the ways to get in touch with repressed fear is to turn the focus from anything you don’t like, are discontented with, etc., back to yourself and focus on whatever feelings might be going on.

You guessed it. When I turned my focus from any discontent at the spaces in between booksignings, I did discover some rather painful “stuff.” Repressed fear can be easily masked of course by refocusing back to something in the environment, especially if you can blame somebody or some thing and focus on that. But when you don’t try to avoid your repressed fear, something magical can happen.

So I made my discontent a meditation. I really focused on any pain I could discover. I even decided to do a little visualization and imagined the painful feelings were like black smoke that I then let rise out away from me and diminish.

It's so interesting how much more accepting you are of your fellow man when you are not so full of repressed fear.

I suppose you could even use your discontent or disappointment in yourself that you are not more accepting of your fellow man,or a more loving person to get in touch with more repressed fear. Haven't tried that yet as a meditation. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Devil is in the Details of Being a More Loving Person

I posted the poem yesterday and realized I had memorized the second verse many years ago. While I was booksigning today the verse kept repeating itself in my mind and was more helpful than I realized at first. I had been saying to myself that I wanted to become a more loving person and not so judgmental, and yet how do you do that, action by action. I was looking for something other than making distinctions between people as they passed by, as attractive or interesting or skinny or fat or short or tall or comfortably dressed or inappropriately dressed, and here was the answer. My table was my house by the side of the road and I "would not sit in the scorner's bench or hurl the cynic's ban but be a friend to man." I kept thinking about that, just a friend, here I am, I can see myself as a friend to the people walking by. It was quite amazing. It is really a very loving place to be, waiting by the side of the road, a friend to man.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Would Not Sit in the Scorner's Bench

I thought I would put the few verses of one of my favorite poems on my blog this morning. I thought of it last night and wondered how many know of it in this day and age. It used to be that all newspapers in this country would publish at least one poem every day for inspiration and an uplift to the spirit. But somewhere poetry changed--with the New Yorker I think. I hate their idea of poetry. With them, it became dark and brooding and self focused, and arrogant, more like a laundry list of disconnected elite phrases, until it no longer had much relevance to the human journey.

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house
by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of an infinite plan;-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened
meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More on Bipolar

Hi. I came across your website. Your ideas are really interesting and I'll definitely check out your books. I've been on the bipolar merry-go-round for too long. All my manias have been caused by standard treatments for depression so I think I've been misdiagnosed. If I can avoid getting depressed again, I think I can walk away from that whole mess. A few pointers for myself coming from my own experience:

Don't feed the beast, meaning don't help the depression by letting things go, staying indoors, getting isolated, being self-indulgent.

Stay away from alcohol. You're predisposed to a mood disorder and you need to keep your wits about you at all times.

Most professional help can be safely ignored. Psychiatrists have a vested interest in promoting the biomedical myth. Bipolar disorder has been described as a "chronic, lifelong disease." Not one of those three words is accurate. F____________

Dear F___________

Thanks for your letter. Yes, it's truly sad that people don't realize that they don't have to think depression. Bipolar is almost like some kind of mass hysteria. People absolutely dedicate their whole lives to it.

The problem is that it is so devastatingly painful that people simply can't believe they are doing it to themselves. I understand that seduction because I get hit with it all the time. But I have built another neural pattern in my brain that pops up the same time depression does that tells me to "do an exercise right now." And I do. And the depression goes away.

It's like migraine headaches. People don't believe that they are causing them and they can stop them without drugs. I understand that also as I was rushed to the hospital twice, my husband thinking I was having a heart attack. The diagnosis--migraine. I had migraine headaches for 20 years. So bad I would be throwing up from the pain. I used to say that migraine headaches were the most pain you could give yourself without passing out. I don't have them any more. They come on, I get the signal behind the eye, I immediately STOP whatever I am doing and totally RELAX. RELAX. RELAX. If there is no tension, migraines can't happen.

A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Becoming a More Loving Person

Dear A. B.

Thank you so much for your previous advice. I'd already reached the same conclusion myself regarding my ex boyfriend--to use his offered help if I need it, and use my painful feelings of unrequited love as a meditation. I need his help for a job he had started on my property and so told myself to let him do it and just be prepared for the emotional pain it will probably bring.

Yet, at least I've had a prior experience that I can draw on. I remember returning something to his house last month and whatever exchange we had brought up all kinds of emotional pain for me. We were together for 18 yrs. but now he acts like none of it meant anything to him. I get so hurt by that. During that time we'd always go away for an adventure up the coast together for a week or so, then I'd stay at his house the rest of the summer,looking after his animals, his garden, while he went on fishing trips with the "boys" and hunting trips in the fall. During that visit I was referring to, he said that in his memory, it was always difficult arranging those house sits with me, as I was never sure if I could do them until close to his deadline.

I accept that criticism as valid as we had been on and off for years so I was always thinking I should end this pattern of my doing all his house sitting.So even all the years that I did the summer house sitting didn't even count in his eyes. I remember walking home from his house, thru the forest, and breaking into tears, lying on the ground sobbing. Then I remembered something my spiritual teacher had said, and realized I was more than this suffering I was going thru.I told myself I could handle the pain, got up and finished walking home.So I'll be prepared this time.

I've been reading your first book every night, since I've started getting back into using the brain switching to pull me out of the deep depression I had found myself in recently that was causing me to think I should start taking anti-depressants.

I'm interested in learning about my fears, for my big thing is always the fear of getting "hurt". You said in Chapt.12 that "hurt is fear directed inward".

Yesterday, I had to do the brain switching almost once an hour almost at work,as I'm involved in a difficult situation there with another teacher who has bullied me and in the past threatened to take over my job, when I stood up to her. She has seniority in our school, as she has been there longer than I have, so she would have been able to do that. It got so bad, I went to our teaching union for advice. (I realize that life is bringing me such people in order to point out the work I need to do on myself).

When I got home last night I was exhausted and more depressing thoughts, so more brain switching. I actually got tired of saying my nursery rhymes, which hasn't happened before. So I started to play the piano instead (I teach music at the school) and that worked just as well as the nursery rhymes. Then when I was doing my meditation before bed, I started delving into what my repressed fears might be.

I was shocked at what came out. My mother had told me once that I was always a sickly baby, always getting colds, and even had one the day she brought me home from the hospital. Interesting that she also said that my older brother, her first child, had been breastfed, but that she thought she must have been starving him for he kept her up many a night, walking the floor. So she said she decided with me, to always give me a supplement, after she breastfed. (I think that's what's caused my colds, as an adult I even got bronchitis til I eliminated milk from my diet).

She said the doctor told her the cure for those colds was to take my tonsils out, but that they didn't like to do that until the child was 2 yrs. old. So she said on my 2nd birthday,she got me right into the hospital for that operation. She said she was by my crib, when I came out of the anaesthetic and I kept crying and groping at my throat. She tried to comfort me, but then the nurse told her visiting hours were over and that she had to leave.

She told the nurse that she was worried I might pull out my stitches ( don't know if they even used stitches for tonsillectomy's) as I was so upset and she wanted to stay to comfort me. Yet the nurse insisted she had to leave. She told me that she could hear my screams all the way down the hall to the exit and that she was really upset with that nurse who had said she could tie my hands down and put the bars up on my crib. So she phoned the doctor when she got home to complain. The doctor said he'd go and check on me and phone her back.She said that he phoned to say I had fallen asleep so all was well.

When this memory surfaced last night, I sobbed and sobbed. I decided to comfort that little girl inside me and started stroking my brow as I have done with my own kids when they'd be sick. It felt good to comfort myself like that, but I must say I had a real cry.

Yet, I also came out of it with a very peaceful feeling. I had a good sleep and a very calm dream of my ex-boyfriend and his young girlfriend. We were talking together and I wasn't jealous in my dream, just calm and peaceful.

It has really been bothering me that I harbour these bad feelings for that young woman that came and offered my ex-boyfriend sex, right after his heart attack. So this was a breakthrough I felt, to have a pleasant dream about her.

After reading all of the above and the stuff about my EX, you're probably thinking I'm better off without him. I have thought that many times as there as been other indiscretions during our relationship. He has so many woman friends, but always tells me they are just friends.

One was always at his house,when I was there, and I was picking up on something. When she'd leave I'd ask him what was going on with her, telling him I thought she wanted me out, and that she wanted into his bed. He'd always tell me that he had no attraction for her, so I'd drop it. Yet, it kept happening, and the way she'd hug him goodbye was so intense. So I kept asking him about it, and he suggested I see a shrink for having such an active imagination.

Finally the truth came out, but only when I refused to do the house-sitting one summer, suggesting she do it instead, since she seemed to always want to be at his place. He claimed it was only "experiments in intimacy" that they had been indulging in, that it was never "real sex" so I had nothing to worry about. He said, he really hadn't liked it so he stopped it. He said he had never told me the truth before because he thought it would devastate me.

Sweet me, forgave him, and continued in the relationship as I feel good being loyal.

So yes, I realize that this new young woman that came along, might have done me a favor, for now I'm out of the relationship.( oh yeah, after having written a page about him). Our lifestyles were very different, until his heart attack when he had to stop his daily drinking and quit smoking. I also never liked his killing animals or fish as I try and not kill bugs or any living thing. I don't think it's my hormones now that make me miss him, it's the way he held me. I always felt so safe in his arms. When I moved back into my own house, I thought I was lucky to have my independence and have a man up the road for love and companionship and of course his help, living on a small island. Most men in my past didn't allow for my independence and I used to feel smothered.

So that's why I don't like having bad feelings towards this new woman of his I'm involved in spiritual practices to develop love and compassion for all beings, so it has bothered me.

Yet, my spiritual teacher told me not to be so bothered by these feelings, to just keep working with them.

So how can I relate my fears to helping me with my depression? M____________

Dear M_________

When you say you are involved in practices to develop love and compassion for all beings I have to tell you that I am on the same path. First, I realize that love and compassion is already my natural self but that my natural self is covered over by fears, of which I may not be aware. I have done so much work that I consider myself an almost fearless person, and yet I can't help but be aware of how sometimes I look at my fellow man. And I must give some heed to the fact of some quality of difference between my physical self and my spiritual self, not quite knowing exactly where those lines intertwine, and bowing to the ancient wisdom, "we know what we know but we don't know what we don't know"

For instance, when I am booksigning, and not actively engaged with someone, I notice whether the people around me are attractive or not, ill-dressed or well-dressed, interesting or not. I realized one day how judgmental I was. I vowed to become more aware of that. How come I wasn't a more loving person?

I realize the whole duty of our mind is to make distinctions between things so that we can make our path through the world. So now when the mind makes its distinction, I simply remember that the mind is a defense mechanism, so naturally all it's distinctions will be defensive, that is, negative. And I have decided that except to protect myself from some present danger, or in the craft of my writing, I will not dwell upon any negative thought. The reason for that decision is that negative thoughts can escalate and trigger the flight or fight response which dumps stress chemicals in our brain and is the precursor of depression. And I have further decided that I also will not dwell either on my negative distinctions of my fellow man because it separates me out rather than connects me to him.

If you want to remind me that I say that nothing good comes from fear and then I say that fear can save us from danger and that has to be a good thing, all I can say is that since we can't know truth as an object, we have to look at things as they come for "some hint" of the "path to truth."

Sometimes ideas are contradictory that purport to describe the same thing. But if you are on a journey and want to describe your path, part of the path may be stony and rocky, and part of the path may be grassy.

As far as fear and depression are concerned, all negative thoughts are fearful and all fearful thoughts are negative. Sometimes we need to be both fearful and negative to keep ourselves from danger, such as being mugged on a crowded street, but to keep ourselves from depression, we should consider negative thoughts "not an option."

And to become a more loving compassionate person, we need to recognize and release our repressed fear. And to me, other than self-protection, there is no reason to entertain a negative thought. Nothing loving and compassionate comes from a negative thought. The way to become a more loving and compassionate person is to keep releasing ourselves from those fears which covers over our natural love and compassion. We can't be totally successful pasting the supposed results of practices of love and compassion on top of our fear. I hope this helps.

And remember, nothing but truth is truth, truth is the simplest thing in the world. You don't have to figure it out. As a matter of fact, according to ancient wisdom, you can't get to truth through the reasoning process (Joel Goldsmith).You just have to accept it when it finally succeeds in getting your attention.

A. B. Curtiss

Monday, June 21, 2010

What about Depression and Alcohol Abuse?

Dear A.B.

Can you please comment on alcohol consumption and depression. I had a brief look on your site, but could not find any comments from you about alcohol.

I am particularly interested in the possibility that alcohol causes us repetitive anxious thoughts. Not a physical anxiety disorder, just those worrying thoughts of the future that get irrational. I understand these to be a symptom of depression. T_________

Dear T___________

It doesn't matter why you have anxious thoughts. You can always get rid of them.
A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Many thanks for your comment.

I will open by stating that I believe alcohol withdrawal can cause depression.

Here is my story.

I have drank heavily all my life, and enjoyed every minute of it. I grew up in an Irish drinking family etc. Towards my 54th year, I was drinking 50 or 60 units a week! However, I quit for 3 months about 2 years ago, as I was bored with the drinking. I was 54 then. I am a male by the way. After the 3 month sabbatical, I had back to back 10 unit nites. The next day, sober, the mother of all depressions hit me! I didn't know what on earth was going on, it was hell.

I was tortured by negative anxious sad thoughts. LOL, I had to invent a mosquito sized "predator drone" to fly around in my head and "zap" the torturous thoughts. After about 3 days, I thought, "Hey, this works". That was the start of my cbt journey.

For the last 2 years I have kept a journal, worked with cbt, made meditation and buddhist psychology part of my life.

I cruise along quite nicely with a rule of 25 units a week maximum. (a unit is 1 bottle of beer, or 1 4oz glass of wine, or 1.5 oz of liquor). However, if I am "out with the crowd" for 3 days straight, with say, 8,9, and then 8 unit nites back to back, wham!! I get floored with depression.

It is not as bad as that awful day two years ago, thanks to the cbt techniques similar to the things I saw on your web-site. But it takes 3 or 4 days to go away. I do not drink of course in those 3 or 4 days.

I had about 4 of those "overindulgences" last year , but have got sloppy these last six weeks, and been taking a proper beating.

I know I am an alcoholic, but I love that bit of social drinking.

Phew, this going on a bit. I think my brains chemistry has changed as I aged, and the above experience leads me to believe too much drink triggers depression in me. Maybe the depression is always in me ,lurking, but the excessive boozing brings it out. YUK!

Thank you so much for your work, and for talking with me. I would greatly appreciate any further comments of you have time. T____________

Dear T_________

One thing to remember is that whatever drug you put into your brain causes the brain to produce chemicals of its own in order to maintain a homeostasis. This is why alcoholics build up a tolerance for alcohol--you need more and more to get the same "lift." This may be the problem with depression as well--if you are giving the brain an "upper," it will produce some kind of a "downer" to bring about stability. Then when you withdraw the "upper" the "downer" takes a while to dissipate.

My husband was an alcoholic until he retired and lost all his drinking buddies and the excuses for liquid business lunches. He's one of the lucky ones who didn't suffer withdrawal symptoms and now drinks rarely. He admits he's better off. He took up duplicate bridge and racquet-ball and plays both 4 days a week, except when he injures himself and has to recover.

Dear A. B.

The irony of my demon, is that it keeps me on a short leash. If I abuse, I pay, with depression! Been great talking with you. T_________

Dear T_______________

The great probability is that ultimately abuse of alcohol will kill you. Maybe you should get another hobby. You need to trade in your demon for some kind of an angel

Addiction is a personality style, kind of like manic depression. I’m a manic depressive and my husband is an addictive. The answer to manic depression is to shave off the extremes, refuse depression so it self-expires, and avoid self-focus. The answer to addiction is to substitute positive addictions for negative.

A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

A.B. Curtiss

Thanks for your comments on Homeostasis. They make great sense for my situation "What goes up must come down"

Regarding positive addictions, I am addicted to physical exercise and healthy eating. I think my more recent "addictions" of meditation and dharma will be with me permanently also.

One thing that did occur to me this week-end, is the following sobering thought, excuse the pun.

The fact is that my brain chemistry has changed since I hit my mid fifties. The proof is that after a lifetime of lazy hangovers, I am instead thrown into a depressive hell after overindulging. Believe me, a much worse outcome than an old fashioned hangover!

The sobering thought is that another chemical change may very well occur as I continue to age. It is very likely my new 25 unit a week maximum, will be reduced to 15 units a week as the years pass by. It's like my body is protecting itself from me drinking too much, by issuing "pain".

On a level I am not conscious of, my body is saying "knock it off! Or else!"

Be well! T________

Dear T______

I think you analysis is absolutely correct. A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Total Immersion for Claustraphobia

I thought I would include here the account of the day I cured my claustrophobia, to which the previous letter refers, which appeared in my book Depression is a Choice and also in an article.

Here is is:

I once took a vacation during which my regular method of handling claustrophobia on plane trips utterly failed. I have been successful with short trips by always getting an aisle seat and concentrating on a good book. But this was a six-hour flight to Hawaii and I was stuck in the center of five seats in the middle of a fully loaded plane. At first I concentrated on my book, but little doubts kept creeping into my concentration until I started to panic.

Every atom of my body was screaming, I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!!! I forced myself to wait until the seat-belt sign had been turned off, I excused myself by the other two passengers, and I BOLTED into the aisle. SAVED! I walked up and down the aisle for a while and did not have the courage to return to my seat. They served breakfast and though I was hungry, I still couldn't take my seat. I was miserable.

My back started to hurt and so I sat down on the floor in the only available space I could find, which was near the lavatories. But the smell was terrible and people started giving me odd and annoyed looks for which I could hardly blame them. There were dozens of people perfectly fine in their seats. I was the only nut-case sitting down on the dirty floor where people were having to step over me. I began to be ashamed to behave so ignominiously.
When the aisles were cleared from breakfast, I walked up and down for a while longer and then I tried to sit in the pull-down stewardess seat but I was admonished it was against regulations.

My back was starting to hurt again from standing for 3 hours, and I started to think about my situation. I guessed I could stand up for another three hours. But what kind of a fake was I that I was writing a book about how to control your own brain, and I couldn't even control my own claustrophobia?

I began to study my situation, earnestly, in terms of what was the fear about. Not why was I afraid but what, exactly, was I afraid of? I thought that I could control myself long enough to belt myself in for a landing, but I wanted to do better than that if I could. I didn't want to be a phony who wrote books advising people to do what I cannot do myself. Was I going to put my money where my mouth was or what?
I didn't try to search for anything rational. I was pretty sure that my terror was totally irrational. My former success with claustrophobia, I now realized, was limited. I could handle short flights in a three-seat flying situation where I had an aisle seat.

In a crowded auto I learned that I could control my panic if I could sit on the very edge of the seat, where my arms and legs were not confined, and lean into the space between the two front seats. Luckily I am not a large person, so I could usually maneuver a workable position.

But this was the middle seat of five, in a totally full airplane. There was no extra space to utilize, and I was terrified. Over the years I had just naturally avoided situations which would be this uncomfortable. But not this time. I had received my comeuppance. I was thinking about all these things while I was also trying to study my current situation. What exactly was I afraid would happen if I sat back down in the middle of those crowded seats?

I was afraid that I would flail my arms around and scream! Okay, I reasoned to myself, but all of that is just behavior, isn't it? And I'm sure I can control my behavior so that I do not do that. Yes, I decided, I could depend upon my earnest commitment to not flail my arms around or scream.

So what did that leave? The terror. Yes, I could do nothing to prevent the terror. I would feel like I was dying. I would feel like I couldn't breathe. Well, I further reasoned, that is all just feeling, isn't it? I just have to stand the physical pain of that terror. I have to control my behavior and just feel the terror, just sit there quietly, even if I pass out, or die if that is my fate. I decided I could also commit to that.

I sat back down, buckled myself in and prepared to feel the most absolute terror of my life. I opened myself up to whatever pain would come. I was absolutely determined to bear the most unimaginably painful feelings, whatever they were. Then, the most amazing thing happened. No terror came. Not even the smallest tinge of it. I completed the rest of the flight in complete comfort. Now and then I invited the pain and terror if it wanted to come. But it never did.

I think the whole key was to separate the gestalt of panic into its plain, more user-friendly concomitants of behavior and feeling. Looking at the separate parts of my panic gave me a clue as to how to proceed. I saw the panic in terms of tasks to accomplish, rather than fear to succumb to. I could see that, although it might be difficult and painful, it was possible for me to control my behavior and keep myself from screaming or flailing my arms around.

And it was also possible to bear any pain that my feelings were going to inflict upon me. After all, they were MY feelings, weren't they? What could my own feelings do to me, really? In two weeks, I would have to return from Hawaii. I determined to seek out the terror again and see what more work I had to do, or what new tortures my terror would teach me.

On my return trip, I found I had been given an aisle seat and I was tempted to let it go at that. But because I felt obligated to finish this story for my book, however it turned out, I told the clerk I was working on my claustrophobia so would she please give me the worst crowded-up inside seat she could.

Again I settled down quite prepared to feel the terror NO MATTER WHAT! In the beginning I got just a few tendrils of panic and again I opened myself up to whatever horror of terror would be visited upon me. The tendrils of panic just faded out to nothing. I felt perfectly comfortable the whole trip. And I have never suffered from claustrophobia since.

With the earnest desire and courage to do so, we can literally transform our lives. Of course to earnestly determine to change our life, we have to have the courage to risk our own life. At the last it always comes to that. For real core change, for real freedom from our fears, addictions and anxiety we need the courage to stick to our principles even at the risk of our life.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Have Claustrophobia--How do you Treat it?

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

I have been crawling the Internet for information on Claustrophobia and its various causes and cures when I can across your article.

I suffer from Claustrophobia myself but am at a loss on how to treat it, or even who to talk to about it. I identify with the emotions you described in your article and hope to have the strength to face my fears like you did. I was hoping you could help me or guide me in any way.

I live in Kolkata, India and have tried talking to a few doctors who have labeled my fears just that - fears. I am afraid of traveling in elevators, specifically small cramped ones. I can usually make the trip if someone is with me but if I have to go somewhere alone I usually avoid the situation by taking the stairs. I am known to have taken stairs even 10 flights up.

I have acquired this Claustrophbia only in the past 2-3 years. It started with a couple of trips in cramped elevators, and escalated when I got stuck once in a power cut. It is not so much the trip that scares me than the eventuality of what would happen if I were to get stuck in one. This also translates into a fear of small rooms and cramped public washrooms.

I hope you can help me in some way, or at least point me in the right direction

Regards, P___________

Dear P_________

I met a man at one of my book signings in New York who asked me if I could tell him how to get rid of his irrational fear of vomiting that he has had for 6 years. My response to him was to consider that he wasn't really afraid of vomiting. That, instead, he had a lot of repressed fear that he was projecting onto that one thing so that he could focus on the situation of vomiting, and avoid feeling the excruciating pain of all his repressed fear.

The way a human being avoids feeling the pain of their repressed fear is to blame. This way he could focus on blaming the "object" of his fear instead of feeling the pain of his repressed fear.

Claustrophobia, any phobia, is the same. The answer for you is to start getting in touch with your repressed fear. What might help you is Chapter 10 in my book Depression is a Choice on amazon.com. Tell me if you have trouble getting the book. And I think chapter 10 is somewhere on my blog http://MobyJane.blogspot.com/. Reading it will give you a basis for understanding your general problem of how to rid yourself of repressed fear. Also my book Brainswitch out of Depression will give you a good idea of how your brain works and how to get from one thought to another, especially fearful thoughts. I will be glad to answer any questions you have. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Have Some Questions About Hypnosis

Hello A.B. Curtiss

My name is P_________. I am a third year med student at the University of Minnesota, as a person that has always felt empathy for others, and have always been able to recognize deep emotional pain, I have made the careful, thought-out choice to pursue Psychiatry as my field, as my profession and as my life's work. Many of the students that I attend classes with naturally go home during the summer months. This year I chose to stay in Minnesota and work, volunteer, and attend a twice weekly coffee club where a few of my classmate, some upper classed students who are already MD's and are pursuing psychiatry, and at least one practicing psychiatrist share information, theories, ideology, discoveries, and we are also a book club. As it turns out our practicing psychiatrist was a no show because she gave birth on Monday evening.

I am reaching out to you because you are not only a Psychiatrist, but also a Hypnotherapist, and I need some sort of answer here. I will relay to you what one upper class man mentioned on Tuesday. Due to Edwards (the student) family history whereas his entire family are members of the psychiatric community so whenever he speaks everyone listens, and I always take very concise notes. On Tuesday he mentioned a case that his father tended to in the last year. The synopsis is something like this.

He began seeing a 43 year old male patient in October of 2009 the man claimed to be suffering from the following

· Inappropriate anger and the lack of temper control

· Frequent emotional overreactions or intense mood swings, including feeling depressed, irritable, or angry

· Unstable personal relationships.

· Unstable emotions: Rob’s emotional state was/is in fluctuation from euphoria to intense anxiety or rage in a matter of minutes. Typically these are reactions to social interactions.

· Psychosis and the temporary loss of reality; dishonesty.

· Low self esteem/unstable self image: He builds himself up with dishonest bragging.

· Little or complete lack of Impulse control. He was for some time engaging in the self destructive practice of unprotected sex with multiple partners while married. More recently episodes of depressive cycling

The man said that he was seeking help because his marriage was at the breaking point and he truly loved and was in love with his wife, they have two little girls ages 4 and 5,and he needed help. He recognized that there were a multitude of problems with his behaviors and that he "was not the man he once was" He was highly educated and along with everything else had been under or unemployed for the last several years.

Doctor and patient met twice weekly for approximately 18 weeks during which time there were naturally clinical session, but also again naturally a variety of personality assessments and inventories administered, about 14 in all including the BPI, MCM, Myers Briggs... The collective outcome of each of these assessments/inventories led Doc to suggest that perhaps the patient was "suffering from a neuro physical ailment rather than a mental illness". Further personality assessments lead to Doc concluding that


" It is my professional opinion that the things that have transpired over the past several years (impulsive, aggressive, depressive behaviors) are not conforming to the standard, or typed personality parameters of the man known to me as patient D"


A complete physical was done on the patient and CBC revealed a high WBC, and the presence of a higher than normal level of heterophile antibodies which suggested the Epstein Barr Virus.

A complete physical was done on the patient and CBC revealed a high WBC, and the presence of a higher than normal level of heterophile antibodies which suggested the Epstein Barr Virus.

Medical records were reviewed by the assisting MHNP and a discovery was made that showed at least two other instances where the patients was once in the ER complaining of extreme fatigue, and the party that brought him in said that he had been "acting strangely for days". The other time he was simply fatigued all the time. In both cases the CBC was positive for elevated amount of heterophile antibodies. Reason this fact was overlooked by the treating physician is unknown. No other entries were significant from a psychiatric standpoint. There was not history of mental illness throughout the family.

Patient D was schedule for a Neuro MRI, CT and CSF. CSF naturally revealed the presence of the same antibodies. MRI revealed that the patient was suffering with Encephalitis that had affected his pre frontal cortex, basal ganglia, and deep limbic system. It is not surprising that he was impulsive on a whim. All leading to a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The MRI also revealed some sclerotic lesions that led to an eventual diagnosis of MS. I noted in my own research that young adults who have a high level of Epstein Barr antibodies are at a higher risk of developing MS later in life. I believe things may have been a trigger in this case. Here is the closing statement in Docs final diagnosis. There is of course much more, but Edward, and therefore the rest of the group was not privileged to that information

Quote " I know as well as both of you that the choices he made were horrible ones, foolish, hurtful, dangerous, and perhaps, though very improbable, premeditated. However “if it had not been for the viral infection and subsequent conditions he would have never considered doing such things. I willingly staked a 42-year practice and put my professional reputation on the line when I said and also included in my final diagnosis that "Robert was without a doubt committing the impulsive acts of a mind that was very open and subject to its own cognitive impairment" His mind was physically ill, mentally defective, his logical thought processes disrupted, his judgment listed. He was in fact acting outside of his character" Enquote

Okay A.B (if I may call you A.B.) that is the normal part. Next is where it gets strange for lack of a better word. In my 24 years on this earth I have heard and seen a few unusual things, but this is one of the strangest.

Mrs D was finished with this marriage; she did not love Patient D, was not in love with him, not emotionally tied to him, and was pursuing someone else. She had admitted to patient D that they should “try and get along for their children's sake”, and month earlier she has said that life would be easier, and things “would be more convenient if they could work things out”, but due to his constant cycling... She had finally filed for divorced.

She went to a homeopathic seminar (she is heavily into essential oils) that included some emotional release techniques, (she did not take part in these) and then as far as the story goes she spent a session with a professional hypnotherapist, that was also using the oils and wanted to try and help her with some therapy.

A few days go by and Doc has not heard from patient D. Patient D finally calls and asked to meet Doc at a local mall amusement park, and when he shows up he is with his wife and his children, everyone is all smiles, his wife is on his arm, snuggling close, and he tells her in front of Doc how much he loves her, and she says the same. Doc is excited, but baffled. What happened here A.B.?!!!!

She hated him, he had abused her in every way a person could abuse another Yet Yet what? I do not know, but I need to understand what may have taken place here. I am somewhat familiar with Age Regression, and Five pass... But this was such a complete makeover of mind that it almost seems occult like.

I know that hypnosis can be a very powerful tool and benefit people in so many ways, but this woman was finished with this marriage, she had filed for divorce. When patient D was approached by her with the news that she did love him, and that she truly wanted to try again, he asked "why" and her reply was that she did not know why but she just wanted to. I am a thinking young woman; I understand the concept of love. I know that in the course of my professional years ahead things like this may become the norm, but right now I am so confused that it is all I am thinking about. I have a few questions I hope you can help me with.

1. Is it possible that she received some Post Hypnotic Suggestions, and she did not know why she chose to try again because of induced amnesia during the trance?

2.With her filing for divorce, and moving on with her life, would she not reject the suggestions?

3.Is there a pharmaceutical that perhaps she was administered that made her more susceptible to those suggestions?

4.I thought that Post Hypnotic Suggestions were only acted upon when induced by a key word or something of that nature, how would she act upon the suggestion 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the rest of her life?

5.If post hypnotic suggestions are what has lead to Mrs D's change of heart then how long will those suggestions remain active in her subconscious.

6.I am not certain, or even suggesting it,but do you feel from what I have explain that something unethical may have been done here?

I truly hope you can help me. I do know one thing for certain. I will pursue hypnotherapy, as another avenue of treatment for my future patients. I thank you for your time, and anticipate your logical, and knowledgeable reply.

Kind Regards, P___________

Dear P________-

First, I am not a psychiatrist or medical doctor. I am a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist, diplomate of the board--psychology, a certified hypnotist and a licensed psychotherapist in the State of California. I also think most of the DSM IV is a complete fraud not based on any medical evidence. Having said that I will try to answer you questions.

1. Is it possible that she received some Post Hypnotic Suggestions, and she did not know why she chose to try again because of induced amnesia during the trance?

MY ANSWER: There are still some mysteries about hypnosis because there are still mysteries about the human spirit and the other-than-conscious mind. People talk about the unconscious or subconscious but I think Freud's terms are incorrect and misleading. Generally speaking, people do under hypnosis what they desire to do, act silly, perform unusual feats they deny they can do when not under a trance but could do if they BELIEVED they could do it because their DESIRE was great enough that they HAD to do it. The surrender to relaxation in hypnosis which takes people out of the sympathetic mode and situates them in the para-sympathetic mode (where their brain waves lower to at least alpha) makes it easier to believe something. Also emotional trauma makes it easier to believe something. This is why faith healers push a person backwards as they say "You are healed." The person experiences emotional trauma because they don't know that someone is stationed behind them to catch them so they won't fall.Your body cells respond to your belief.

People generally don't try to figure out why they want something. They generally want something or they don't. It also makes a difference if a person decides to make the major decisions of their life on their core principles or their "feelings." Most people don't think too much about what they are doing and follow the latest cultural trends. This culture does not support marriage as an institution but as a device to achieve personal happiness. The real problem is that most people don't really know what their core principles are and thus are often confused by what they decide to do.

2.With her filing for divorce, and moving on with her life, would she not reject the suggestions?

MY ANSWER: I've already answered this question above. It is now this woman's desire to do what she is doing. She has changed her mind.

3.Is there a pharmaceutical that perhaps she was administered that made her more susceptible to those suggestions?

MY ANSWER: It is possible to achieve deeper relaxation with drugs.

4.I thought that Post Hypnotic Suggestions were only acted upon when induced by a key word or something of that nature, how would she act upon the suggestion 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the rest of her life?

MYANSWER: Post hypnotic suggestions can last a lifetime if they do not go against a person's core beliefs. Most people don't know what their core beliefs are.

5.If post hypnotic suggestions are what has lead to Mrs D's change of heart then how long will those suggestions remain active in her subconscious.

MY ANSWER: There's no such thing as a subconscious mind. This is Freud's misunderstanding of Emil Coue's work in hypnosis. Coue resurrected Mesmer's work in France which was discredited by Benjamin Franklin when he was the ambassador to France.

6.I am not certain, or even suggesting it,but do you feel from what I have explain that something unethical may have been done here?

MY ANSWER: No, I think you are jumping to conclusions. People make snap judgments and decisions all the time that change the course of their lives. Unless they hit a wall of some kind, they keep going forward in the same direction--It's simple physics. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

As for studying hypnosis, most hypnotherapists that try to teach can't hypnotize themselves, they can't stick a needle in their own arm without pain. Finding someone who can is difficult. Remember that hypnosis is new to the medical profession. They denied there was any such thing for years and hypnosis was practiced by stage hypnotists. Which is why they are generally better at it then doctors. A. B. Curtiss

Thank You A.B.

You are a brilliant scientist. You have given me the straight answers that I have been seeking. Of course now there have been some doubts about my choice of professional field of endeavor. P_________

Dear P__________

Just remember to make your decision from the love of something, not the fear of something. Set aside distractions such as winning or losing. Any decision that you make out of love of something is appropriate in some way to your life, whether you win or lose. Any decision that you make out of fear of something is never appropriate to your life. It is not always so easy to tell if you are doing something out of fear or love. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Both My Siblings Committed Suicide

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

Can you refer me to a good cognitive therapist in my area? I live in Northern CA, by San Jose. Although I have built a good life for myself I have had a lot of trauma in my life. I like your books. I bought your depression book and children's book Hallelujah, A Cat Comes Back, the one about Granny Cat's advice to her young grandson how to make it through life when life gets tough.
Thanks, K_______

Dear K________
I’m sorry I can't recommend any therapist to you in your area. However I will be glad to answer any specific question for you as you proceed in your journey to okayness. I do not charge for this. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B. Curtis,

Thank you for your offer of help. Any suggestions I would appreciate. I know that regardless of the trauma that some one has experienced, there are similar ways to deal with difficulties.

To get it off my chest I will explain what happened to me. I keep it secret because I feel ashamed although at the same time I know I shouldn't feel this way.Both of my siblings committed suicide. One became a paranoid schizophrenic. He was intelligent, but he ended up taking LSD. I think that is what started him on his downward spiral. He went missing when he was in his 20's in 1980. We think he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, but we are not sure what happened to him, so the uncertainty is stressful.

My other sibling had alcohol problems and died in 1999 from a self inflicted gun shot wound after being married only a month.. My husband and I believe that he didn't want to get married, but my mom
pressured him into marrying.

My dad was a very successful doctor he was a wonderful guy, but he expected my mom to raise us and she was busy entertaining, and traveling. I feel that my mom is the cause of the many of the problems in the family. Her kids were not that important to her, and my dad was to busy being a doctor.He died very slowly from ALS in 2004. My husband took care of him because my mom didn't want to.

The good news is that I am 52 and have never been suicidal. I have been happily married for twenty five years. I work part time. We have two beautiful kids. I would like to be feel better. My biggest problems are insomnia and depression. Fortunately most of my insomnia problems have been solved with melatonin. That has been a life saver. I can sleep at night, but some mornings I wake up feeling tired and hung over, this happened before I took melatonin. I was wondering if I should take an anti depression, but I am worried about becoming suicidal from the drug. I also thinking that since I wake up feeling bad that it may be a chemical imbalance.

I exercise, and also have spiritual beliefs that help me live life more fully. I would like to find a more satisfying career. I know am anxious about working. Right now my mom is taking a lot of my time. She is very wealthy and she has been fairly good to my kids and husband. Mostly she has been very jealous of me and doesn't wish the best for me. At other times she seems to care about me. On my birthdays she is particularly mean to me. She has mild dementia and is now in a board and care home. She had a drinking problem, and exhibits behavior like Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I love my mom, but also hate her. Since I am the only child, my husband and I are taking care of her.

I know this is a lot to get off my chest but I hope you can offer some helpful advice. Please email me or call if you want. Most of the time I am home in the mornings.

I love your cat book, I gave it to my daughter when she went away to college. She is a senior and is doing very well. I also gave a copy to my niece who was leaving for college as well.


Dear K___________

It sounds like you are doing much better than either of your parents did as far as having a successful life. Your father was probably traditional in bringing home the money and expecting your mother to do the rest- and take care of the home front. But it seems she didn't want to do that. Your relationship with your mother will naturally be limited because she probably never really achieved adulthood or at least never achieved a mature wisdom that a mother might be able to share with her child. Thus your brothers were not nurtured and couldn't save themselves.

But you saved yourself. So in a way you were your own mother. This is not unusual in this day and age when society encourages self-aggrandizement and self-individuation and discourages sacrifice and self-denial on the part of parents.

Especially this was bad after the 60s when all the traditions of a woman concentrating on her home and children were trivialized in favor of a woman seeking her own fulfillment without regard to her family. Your mother probably bought that idea and felt she was doing the right thing to seek her own happiness without regard for her husband or children... A poor decision on her part and one that many women made in the 1960's to their sadness in their later years. It was very seductive The mantra then was, your children won’t be happy unless you are happy so your first priority is to make yourself happy, and this will trickle down to the rest of the family. Of course, now we see that trickle down parenting doesn’t work.

Depression is quite possible to take care of with some education on how your brain works. For this you can read my book BRAINSWITCH OUT OF DEPRESSION. My book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE is the philosophy of getting out of depression and the BRAINSWITCH book is the neuroscience of getting out of depression. As you read the books and apply the theory to your life, I will be glad to answer any questions you have by email.

You say you want a better career. What is it that you are doing now? What type of thing might you be interested in trying instead? If you mother has money that you will inherit perhaps your horizons will be quite wide from which you can make a choice.

As I go over your letter again, it seems to me that your family was one of the victims of the Great Culture Dump I wrote about in my book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE. So many woman in the 1960s abandoned their homes, children and communities to seek fulfillment in the world at large instead. It was the biggest brain drain in the history of our country and, as a result, the strength of the American family as well as the school system and many community charity organizations, that used to count on dedication of enthusiastic and talented women, has not recovered.

Here is a snippet from the book that more fully explains what I mean.

"For years women had been able to move through life more slowly and deliberately, more in harmony with the secret heart of the world. Women had understood, almost on a cellular level, that there is something else other than happiness--understanding; that there is something else other than success--grace; that there is something else other than knowledge--knowing; and that these things, being sacred and priceless, cannot be exchanged for commensurate value.

But in order to compete for men’s jobs, women had to stop thinking and feeling like women. They ceased to be the caretakers of the enigmatic and intangible to opt for the pragmatic and material. Woman had to abandon their power base of moral and spiritual authority for a share of the men’s power base of economic and political authority. We forget how much time and effort were once expended by women to nourish the quality of life inside their homes. We don’t have the time or energy for those niceties anymore. For the extra touches. We must hurry things along. We used to light candles in the evening, for our family, in the dining room, for pleasure. Now we light them late at night, for ourselves, on the side of our tubs, for stress reduction.

A sense of mutual respect and cooperation among men and women used to be the mainstay of a stable Western society, wherein each gave up some autonomy in exchange for reciprocal benefit. “He is no true man who ever treats women with anything but the profoundest respect,” said 19th-century French poet Lamartine, “and she is no true woman who cannot inspire and does not take care to enforce this. Any real rivalry of the sexes is the sheerest folly and most unnatural nonsense."

This cooperative attitude died in the 1960's. The dominant mating regime used to be based on romantic courtship, leading to marriage. With marriage demoted from “goal” and “permanent” to “option” and “temporary,” “a new, more loosely structured, less emotionally and sexually cohesive, far more temporary set of arrangements” was born between men and women.

These new mating practices pit women and men against each other because they are both trying to hang on to their autonomy while getting the other person to “meet their needs.” This is the “principles” way to see the present state of men-women relationships. The “feelings” way to see the present state of men-women relationships is described by the title of the pop-psych book Do I have to give up being Me to be Loved by You?”

Today’s Culture Dump relationships are based upon feelings rather than principles and, since feelings are always changing, generally these relationships do not last, and end up in attitudes of hurt or revenge. Men get depressed and turn to violence, women get depressed and turn to deceit and dirty tricks. Too many families are now simply revolving doors to depression because they all tend to break up within a few years. Children are no longer able to leisurely sink down their roots in their own front yard, where they might soak up some real nourishment; they are having to drag their roots down the highway to visit Dad. Today only 26% of families are made up of two parents and their biological children.

Mom isn’t home much either. Culture Dump children began coming home from school to lonely, empty houses. Culture Dump girls sought the arms of their boyfriends as a substitute for their missing fathers. Culture Dump boys being raised by their mothers were not getting sufficient socializing by the curbs of a strong adult male authority over them. They began to be in trouble, “socially, emotionally, academically and–given the high rate of medicinal dosing–physically.A social worker in a wealthy suburb of Boston reports that the women most urgently seeking male mentors for their sons are well-educated single-mothers-by-choice whose darling baby boys have grown into rage-filled teenagers."

It seems that you have a lot going for you, you have made an investment in your husband, family, home and even in your own parents who were not properly making an investment in you. I see no reason why you shouldn't be quite successful in changing your life for the better. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Social Anxiety is a Task to be Accomplished not an Obstacle to be Avoided

Dear A. B.

I want to go to a graduate school but this social anxiety situation is a big obstacle in my life. I need your advice please. Should I stop doing it or just apply for it? F___________

Dear F_____________

Make sure all the decisions of your life are made out of love of something, not out of fear of something. Life does not support decisions made from fear, only decisions made out of love of something. Another book you could read is "The Real George Washington." Here's a man who made all his decisions out of love of something. The British targeted him as the person they most wanted to kill, riding his big white horse in the thick of battle, his elegant uniform shining in the sun. But nobody ever was able to shoot him down. The Bristish called him "the man who couldn't be killed." A. B. Curtiss

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Social Anxiety Issues

Dear A. B.

Thanks a lot for the comment

I was very quiet at that party, many people looked at me because they noticed in me that I suffer something. Focusing, and participating, and talking to people was my issue. F__________

Dear F_______________

Not to worry. Our greatest failure is the very thing that can be harvested to grow our greatest wisdom. In a social situation, don't be all uptight and try to "save face" when you are feeling awkward in a group. Just relax, stop all the effort to impress people, (nobody is ever impressed anyway and they always know exactly how you feel about yourself--you're the only one in the dark). Tell yourself that however you seem to be awkward and embarrassed, that this is the highest level at which you are able to function at this moment, and fully accept that about yourself. Then, later, you can move forward with commitment and improve your social skills and self-understanding.

Actually you have an advantage because of being from another country, you probably have an accent and people will know you didn't grow up in the culture so they'll give you some credit for that, and likely forgive some "differentness."

But mainly, of course, your life is up to you to take charge of and not count on others giving you a pass for things that you could improve upon. But before you begin to improve your social skills, before you can be a person of self-understanding and self-awareness, you must accept yourself completely.

You will find that when you can sit there, in the midst of some truly embarrassing situation, where you have unwittingly made yourself the object of ridicule to those all around you, where your whole body is shaking with nervousness, where you can hardly breathe, and, certainly, you could not come up with a respectable comment that anyone would consider worth listening too, when you realize that you look like an ass, simply surrender your whole self up to what is happening. Say to yourself "okay," this is really happening. This is really the best I am capable of at the moment, I look like a jackass, can I take it? Yes. Okay so I'm going to sit here and feel the whole pain of my idiocy. Maybe it will kill me. Okay. Here I am. Stupid, ignorant, unworthy. Okay. This is me. Can I stand it?"

And then "stand it." If you have really played the fool before someone else, you can even go so far as to admit it to them. "I'm really an idiot, I know." Or, "As you can see I'm kind of a social idiot." Or, "I guess I look like a jerk, I'm not good in a group." And then shrug your shoulders. Sit there and feel the pain of it. That's all. You don't have to elaborate on something that is painfully obvious. Of course this takes incredible courage. It's like skydiving (although I admit I've never done sky diving but I have done the "look like a fool meditation." It's in my book Depression is a Choice.) The pain that you feel when you do this is the repressed fear that you have been carrying all your life. It's time to let it go

You will find that the total surrender to "what is" to "who you are at this exact moment in time" standing before the judgment of the whole world, is much more powerful than any fear, because total surrender is the same thing as total love, and total love is the power of the universe. Bon Voyage on your journey of self-discovery.

You will find that the very thing you fear about a crowd has no power once you make your awkwardness into a meditation. Life is so interesting. It is not about beating it. It is about surrendering to it. It's not about winning. It's about accepting "what is." Then reality can happen. And reality is always a surprise. You can't plan reality.

And don't forget that everyone else in that crowd is fighting some hard personal battle. Nobody gets a free ride. They may be in denial, but sooner or later they will either wake up or be a "dead man walking" dulled with anti-depressants or some other form of self-medication, and of course those people will be hard to talk to--they will want to "best you" so they feel good about themselves.

So find another humble soul who just wants to pass the time of day with some pleasant chat. Learn to approach people in the spirit of a fellow traveler on the dusty road of life, make some pleasant remark, find out something about them. Let them impress you. Everybody has their story. It's the way human beings connect with each other--telling each other our stories. And read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Make Friends and Influence People." A lot of wisdom in that book.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Crowd of 700 People Put Me in a Down Mood Again

Dear A.B Curtiss

Would like to thank you again for the changes I have made so far. I just wanted to tell you I felt in a really good mood after the strong commitment I have made. This mood continued for a month.

After I went to a big celebration for graduation and meeting at least 700 people in the hotel for three days, I started to have the old mood. I am working again in restoring that good mood by doing jogging and some brain exercises.

I just need you comment and support on this. Thanks again for all the support you've given and the changes you helped me make. F_______

Dear F_______

It is very easy to get self-focused in a large group. It's human nature to feel frightened when your ordinary surroundings of a few people change suddenly to a crowd situation. This fear is normally automatically dismissed and is usually beneath our level of awareness. This is because it is also human nature to avoid the pain of our fear by blaming. So we start to either blame ourselves by thinking that we are somehow inadequate, or blame others for being cold to us.

Others aren't cold. We are withdrawing from others into self-focus, and therefore we feel alienated. No one is alienating us.

The cure for this is to get interested in what someone else has to say. Reach out and talk to someone else. If the first person fails to be interested, move on until you find somebody that appreciates your attention--even if it's the waiter at the party. Doesn't matter who you extend yourself to.

It's not the content of who you talk to or what you say. It's the process of getting out of self-focus into more objective and outer-directed thinking. Just take the first step, usually the second step will immediately become clear to you.]

Social anxiety is usually caused by repressed fear or simply lack of social practice. If you don't learn social interaction skills as a child because of lack of proper parental coaching and support, then you have to learn these skills as an adult. It takes some initial courage, but once you are determined, you progress very fast. I always suggest two things as a help--take a pubic speaking course with Toastmasters, Int'l, and read Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Jogging is good and brain exercises will soon get you back up to where you belong. ]

A. B. Curtiss

Friday, June 11, 2010

We Can Only Think What We've Previously Put in Our Brain

Good morning,

Thank you for your generous reply. I go for my 1st session with the counselor this morning, and your wisdom will change the trajectory of the sessions for me. I will be more determined than ever to focus on my own growth and less inclined to go on blaming marathons.

Yes, last year my counselor really seemed sympathetic toward me and my tales of woe. Even then, though, I tried to tell him I wanted to learn how to "deal with" verbal abuse, not leave the marriage. I needed to state this goal every week it seemed, as he had other ideas about how I should "deal"...leave! I felt kind of crazy at times as I insisted on staying, especially when the counselor said I was in "denial." Ever since then, I think I've wondered, am I crazy, stupid, entrenched in denial, for choosing to stay?

When you said, "I don't think that an adult (a child is different) is ever happy or unhappy due to someone else." That really spoke volumes to me.

That's such a pivotal message, and one we don't often hear. You point out your disappointment that in the past you seldom thought about how to make your husband's life wonderful, but concerned yourself more with how he met your needs. Indeed, that is the perspective counselors still promote with clients.

I must address my inner life and personal growth and can see that he is not selfish. It is selfish (and fear-based) to keep expecting someone else to make me happy & complete. I need to focus on how to be a better partner, rather than waiting for my husband to iron out his flaws "first." I need to become more aware of when I'm doing the loving thing, and when I'm behaving based on fear in any given situation.

You have got to be one of the most generous people on the planet! Thank you again for sharing your wisdom. You make such a difference in so many lives. G_________

Dear G_________

It is not easy to be an aware person. In the last fifty years, Americans have not been educated to that. We have not been given the philosophical tools for how to care about being a person of honor and understanding, how to develop our own core values and then living up to them. We have no heroes, we have entertainers; we have no leaders, we have politicians. We have been educated to be followers of the next phase of ideas for personal empowerment and achievement, such as feminism or self-esteem. Our schools talk about success, respect, and tolerance of the bizarre, rather than honor and duty and judgment.

The thing that everybody forgets is that our thinking is totally dependent on what we have, beforehand, programmed into our brain as a theory, an idea or piece of information. This is why totalitarian governments want to run the schools--so they can program the brains. This is why school children in China aren't informed that Chairman Mao murdered 20 million people. They might have a different idea about the "Little Red Book."

Here's an example of "slippage thinking" or not having previously programmed some basic understanding or piece of information into your brain. I was outraged that Washington National Airport was renamed Reagan National Airport even though I admire Reagan greatly as one of our great presidents. But he wasn't the greatest--that would be George Washington--a true hero. One friend I complained to remarked that I shouldn't be so upset because the airport wasn't really named after George Washington anyway, it was named after the City of Washington, D. C. Huh? And who did she think the city was named after? A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Should I get a Divorce?

Dear A. B.

I've really just been going around in circles wondering...what is your opinion about divorce? Do you think it's ever the way to go? Are some people just better off single? Due to repressed fear & baggage, are some people incapable of creating & sustaining a decent relationship?

I ask because I wonder if I am fighting so hard for something that is impossible for me to achieve. Maybe I should live alone. I never imagine that there is a better man/marriage waiting for me somewhere. Maybe being a wife is just not something I'm cut out for. I don't even imagine that I'd like to date or have a boyfriend. The thought of moving on to another relationship holds no allure for me at all.

The counselor last summer seemed mystified as to why I stayed in my marriage. " Is it money?" he asked. I said it was my investment of time, effort, energy that I hated just throwing away.

Yes, I know I'll be poor if I leave the marriage. Through the marriage, I am not rich, but am situated firmly in the middle class. I don't have to worry about where my next meal or mortgage payment is coming from. I have health insurance. Losing economic stability would be a price I would pay for divorcing. I'm not thrilled about that, but accept it.

When do you think leaving is the best, healthiest move to make? I know a lot of people jump ship too hastily, but I've been married going on 23 years. We lived together for 2.5 yrs. before that.


Dear G________,

YOU ASK: Due to repressed fear & baggage, are some people incapable of creating & sustaining a decent relationship?

MY ANSWER: Yes. And these people are also incapable of creating and sustaining a decent life alone. They are also incapable of making appropriate decisions. The answer to baggage and repressed fear is not divorce. There is no answer to baggage and repressed fear except to face them with courage and transcend them. And then you will be a happy person, with someone else, or living by yourself. And then, whatever decision you make will be appropriate, in some way, to your life.

I personally don't think that an adult (a child is different) is ever happy or unhappy due to someone else. The reason is because no adult is helpless to take care of themselves in any situation. As I have said to you before, it is my understanding of the human condition that happiness is ours already and therefore we can't get it from anything or from anywhere. The only thing we can do is to learn how to face the fears and the repressed fear that is covering up the happiness of our essential okayness.

But this is very hard to do. It takes great courage and perseverance. Difficult as it is, divorce is a whole lot easier. Many people opt for multiple divorces. If divorce were the answer to happiness, our society with its more than 50% divorce rate would be 50% happier than before divorce was the easy option. Is it? All the research shows that despite all our modern advances, the average person reports less happiness and satisfaction with life than they did before 1960. The depression rate is skyrocketing.

No wonder you are considering divorce. Our culture no longer supports marriage or the family as the basic unit of civilization. This culture supports the individual as the basic unit of civilization. And thus marriage is seen, not as an institution which is the sanest way for people to live, and the surest way to achieve a sustainable civilization, but rather, marriage is seen as an instrument to promote individual happiness.

A symbol of this attitude is your counselor who is mystified as to why you stay married. Most counselors advise people the same way "Dear Abby" does. If your marriage gives you more grief than happiness, then leave it.

Modern day therapists counsel: "If your needs aren't being met by the marriage partner then you must negotiate with your marriage partner so that they will be met. If your marriage partner will not negotiate, then to be happy, you must leave." I find this deplorable advice. What about commitment to the major decisions of your life, duty, sacrifice. What about meeting your own needs?

Modern psychology focuses you on what life owes you, how you can get it for yourself, it does not focus you on what you owe life; what marriage owes you, not what you owe marriage. You should read Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning," if you haven't read it yet. He only learned to be happy while confined in German concentration camp.

Someone who is unhappy will not be capable of making appropriate decisions about divorce, or anything else, because their decisions will be based upon their unhappiness (fear). Nothing appropriate comes from fear. Self understanding is difficult. But if you meet your fears honestly with courage, instead of distracting yourself with blaming (blaming is the way a human being avoids the pain of their own fear), if you uncover and confront your repressed fear, then your decisions will be coming, not from fear of something (like I'm afraid I won't be happy if I stay married) but love of something (like honor, duty, an appreciation for your own life, or your own talent or craft, and what you have made of it). Any decision coming from love of something is always appropriate to your life in some way. Read Chapter 10 again in "Depression is a Choice."

I believe most divorce is the quick-fix cop-out for a harder-won self-understanding. Or, as my seven-year old son told me one day. "Mom, I think I've figured out what divorce is. Divorce is when you're unhappy and you think its the other person's fault." That son has now been married for more than 25 years.

I myself have to admit that I bought into my own marriage counselor's advice about meeting my own needs, and was divorced for 9 months. During that time I realized that I had never really made a commitment to my marriage. My view of marriage was always dependent upon what I got out of it. It was based not on the satisfaction of what I was able to put into it, but a reasonable return on my investment.

My view of my husband was always how he adequately measured up to what I expected of him, certainly my view of him was not how I could somehow manage to make his life wonderful. I realized that I never really bothered to find out who this man really was, or what he thought, or what his fears were, or his hopes and dreams. I just assumed he wanted whatever I wanted. I recommitted myself and returned to my husband who, lucky for me, still cared for me enough to take me back. That was 20 years ago. Remember the old adage, "only the brave deserve the fair." I would say "only the brave deserve a good marriage."

People are complaining about the government today, our economy, the corruption in Congress, the impending loss of Freedom. But the old adage puts the blame where it belongs: "Every nation deserves the government they have." A nation whose people are not themselves corrupt, greedy, dishonest, lazy and apathetic, will not slowly become enslaved by a corrupt government. How about "every person deserves they marriage they have?"
A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To End Depression You Pit One Neural Pattern Against the Other

Dear A. B. Curtiss,

I read you book, Depression is a Choice, years ago,and was so relieved to get help at last with my depressions, other than the drugs my doctor prescribed.

Using the techniques in your book, I was able to switch my brain out of depression.

Of course, I'd still get bouts of it when a crisis hit, but as long as I used your techniques I was able to get back on track with my life.

Then I moved to an isolated area and the old monster hit me with a vengeance. This time it affected my work so I was advised to take a medical leave. The doctor wrote a report that I needed a "stress leave" and wrote me a prescription for anti-depressants. I didn't want to take these as in the past, when I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, I couldn't stand the drugs they put me on.

Yet, someone at my work at told me, that to protect myself on a stress leave, I should fill the prescription anyway and just not take it. So I have been doing that for a year now. Filling prescriptions and not taking them.

I have been assigned a rehab counselor to help me return to work. I told her I didn't want to take the anti- depressants but she said I had no choice or the insurance benefits I was receiving would be cut off. I told her I was using the techniques from your book but she had never heard of it. She kept saying that there is so much evidence "out there" to show that anti-depressants really work.

I still didn't take them and just lied to her as well.

I also had to see a psychologist and when I told her I was using techniques from your book, and asked her if she had heard of you, she brushed it off with "that's just one approach to depression, I have many more". Yet her approach hasn't worked for me.

I went back to your website for help and noticed you had written another book.

So I'm writing to you to thank you so much for writing the first book and I will order your latest one. When I read your first one, I thought it would go on the Best Seller's list,as it is the most helpful book I have read on depression. So many people suffer from debilitating depressions and anti-depressants are advertised everywhere now, as a quick fix.

A psychiatrist put my son on Paxel when he was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and he couldn't stand it, and then almost went suicidal when he suddenly stopped taking it.

I find it so hard to believe that you haven't gotten more recognition for your work!
I just wanted to give you my own recognition with a heart felt thank you.
Kind regards, M____________

Dear M__________

My publisher was not only surprised but extremely disappointed that my book did not do well. There are several things that prevented it. It's the old story of "tell the truth and you'll be kicked out of six villages." It's that too many people want the easy lie that it is not their responsibility rather than the hard truth that it is their lack of knowledge and lack of proactive techniques that they are stuck in depression. All their proactive techniques are in the direction of more downer thinking. Also my techniques need to be practiced ALL THE TIME. People think once they use the techniques to get out of depression that depression should never return. This is not true.

Even you, who have used my techniques, find it difficult to stay out of the mind set of depression. I myself can't keep from getting out of the mind set of depression, but I insist that DOWNER THINKING IS NOT AN OPTION for me and I IMMEDIATELY CHOOSE ANOTHER THOUGHT TO REPLACE THE NEGATIVE ONE. Then, of course, the depression does not have a chance to set in so my depression doesn't last more than five or six minutes.

But to accomplish this I must ignore the pain and fear and the seeming reality of depression. It takes courage and practice to do this. The pain and seeming reality of depression is overwhelming. It is very difficult to ignore it and start changing your thinking and remove your concentration from the stress and depression and place your concentration upon some dumb little exercise.

I had to do that again this morning. Now the depression is gone and will probably not return until tomorrow and then I will do the same thing. Some people think this is not really getting rid of depression. I disagree. I built the depressive neural patterns in my brain for 30 years when I was ignorant of how my brain worked. If I hadn't built them then, I would not have to suffer now. But I built them, and they trigger off, and I suffer. BUT NOT FOR LONG. I consider five or six minutes of agony now and then a small price to pay for my wonderful life. I am grateful.

And because I can get out of depression EVERY TIME, I no longer FEAR it. I can study depression in a way that nobody else wants to. I can come up with different ways to look at it so as to better understand the process. For instance, after doing the dumb exercise this morning: 1,2,3,4 who are we for? (an old high school cheer) I realized, after the depression was gone, that the SECRET to ending depression EVERY TIME is to PIT ONE NEURAL PATTERN AGAINST THE OTHER.

You pit the exercise neural pattern against the old habitual depressive neural pattern. By repetitively doing the exercise, you make the exercise neural pattern dominant and the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. Which means the brain ceases to follow the direction of the depressive thinking. If your brain will not think your depression, it can not last.

You might criticize brainswitching because depression comes back, and you have to put up with some few minutes of depression before you get going with a mind exercise, and you have to keep using the techniques to continue to be free of depression. But you are also continuing to build helpful neural patterns in your brain that make the exercises easier and easier to employ. Compare this to taking medicine for the rest of your life because you have a "brain disease" and those medicines cause terrible side effects, they stop working, you build up tolerance for them and have to keep upping the dosage or adding a new drug, and the full extent of side effects nobody knows because the pharmaceutical companies edit the research before it is published and settle lawsuits out of court. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom that you wrote.

I hope you post it on your website for we need reminders that we have to constantly switch our brain patterns when depressing thoughts come.

I've been in crisis mode for a while now as several things happened in my life in close succession that would put me high up on the life stress's list.

In the past, when I first read your book,I would find myself lying under my bed, in fetal position,reciting Green Frog or my nursery rhymes until I was able to switch my brain. I was so impressed with your technique, after suffering depression and suicide attempts for years that I was constantly doing the practice.

Because I was able to switch my neuronal patterns,my bouts of mania kept getting less and less and I found myself no longer doing the impulsive things that had caused the shrinks to label me,"Manic, Depressive".

When the depressions hit, I never minded them so much as I knew I had this arsenal of tools to deal with them.

So, my life seemed to even out, and I guess I got complacent about continuing to use the tools as soon as I noticed a depressive thought arising.

Then, this past year, with all the life crises, I got very low. This time (I'm much older now, in my early 60's) it affected me differently. I couldn't motivate myself to do anything, would fall asleep while sitting in a chair during the day, then wake up, not feel like eating, and would often go to my bed by 6:30 and sleep til 6 am.

My sister who has been on anti-depressants in the past, told me that this time I should start taking them, just to get me over this slump so that I'd get the energy to take care of myself again, eat properly etc. I have been doing meditation for years, but couldn't even do that anymore. I just seemed frozen in my body.

Then sitting in my chair in that frozen state, one day, my eyes focused on the leaves blowing on a tree outside my window. When I realized I was focused on that, I remembered your techniques and so kept focusing on those leaves and finally was able to get out of the chair.

So that's why I wrote you my previous message, wanting to give you more recognition for your work.

Now, with this latest message from you, I am practicing those techniques daily. When I look at the dark hole I'm pulling myself out of, I'm praying I will be able to make it without the drugs. So this is my next question. If one has gotten so low, almost in a catatonic state, and is now 63yrs. old, can I still do it, without anti-depressants?

I never wanted to go that route before as I felt that if once I started, I'd be on them the rest of my life, and didn't want that. Yet, my sister tells me that the one she was on, Zoloft, was not hard to get off of, and that she strongly thinks I should use something, so that I can start taking care of myself again.

As I wrote that sentence I realized I am already starting to take care of myself, (I made myself a healthy lunch today). I know the depressive thoughts will still come but like you said, I cannot afford to indulge in them but must be mindful of them and as soon as they start, do the brain switching exercise.

I went back to your first book last night and found your last chapter so inspiring.

My mediation teacher, whom I consider my spiritual teacher is always talking about depression, as other students will tell him they are depressed and ask him for advice. He usually says the same thing each time, that he's is not worried about us if we are depressed, that we should just continue our meditation practice and not be so concerned about our moods, but to continue our meditations so that we will be able to benefit others. He said that he'd be more concerned if we told him we were really high for a long time.

So I am so thankful to have you both in my life.
Kind regards, M___________

Dear M_________

I can give you no medical advice about what to take for depression. And I know nothing about anti-depressants.

I, personally, would never take anti-depressants for depression, and I spent 30 years being depressed for weeks and months at a time until I developed the process of brainswitching. Then I had the tools to get myself out of depression more quickly than letting the cycle wind down on its own. I am older than you are, and I use the techniques for depression as well as insomnia and, indeed, any kind of anxious thinking or disturbing mind wandering.

I realize that when depression hits, it is overwhelming. It still happens to me. I am zapped just like anybody else. However, I will not enter that beckoning door. It is so easy to slide right on in. It seems there is no other place to go. And at that moment I see no other hope, I see no other reality, no other psychological place to be.

But I have programmed that little neural pattern that pops up and suggests to me that even thought nothing is worth anything, and there is no hope, that it is time to stop thinking. Do not stay here and succumb to this. Period. Think no more. Do an exercise. And I do. And it works every time. 100%. A. B. Curtiss