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Archive for September, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips and the Stockholm Syndrome

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Following Mackenzie Phillip’s revelations of long term incest with her father, “Papa” John Phillips of the sixties’ singing group, the Mamas and the Papas, some people wondered why the actress allowed the incest to continue for ten years– into her twenties.

The assumption is that since she was a young adult, she could have stopped the abuse. The reality is that she may not have been able to do so due to what is known as the Stockholm Syndrome, in which people form what is called a “trauma bond” with their oppressors. Because survival depends upon the good will of the oppressor, the abused become infatuated with and bonded to them. The kidnapped heiress Patricia Hearst was a notable example of this. The trauma bond is common to victims of abuse, be they incested children or battered wives, as well as among prisoners of war, cult members, and victims of torture to name a few.

Traumatized people have traumatized brains which Phillips described on the Oprah show when she alluded to having “flashbacks,” unwanted, repeating inner images, which she attempted to compartmentalize and block out. A traumatized brain does not respond or bounce back so easily. Drug use, also part of her family’s behavior helped to annihilate awareness of the sexual episodes, the resulting emotional pain and the unwanted, intrusive memories– that occurred later.

In the book, Traumatic Experiende and the Brain, author David Ziegler, the director of a treatment program for abused children, writes that “I have often noticed that the degree of loyalty from a child to an abusive parent seems to be in direct proportion to the seriousness of the abuse the child received. In this counterintuitive way, the stronger or more life-threatening the treatment, the stronger the loyalty from the child.”

This is due to the way trauma imprints the brain. It’s a misunderstanding when people with normal development and limited experience of abuse, incest, or drugs assume that someone with a very different experience would be able to think, function, or act as they do. In addition, a child, who like Mackenzie Phillips is initiated into brain distorting drug use at an early age will have different brain development than a person whose brain has not been tainted by drugs early in life. Moreover, in the Phillips family it appears that drug use was a kind of family pastime. Craving the sense of belonging that most people, and certainly all children feel, a child like Mackenzie was inducted early on into a unique family culture, one that was inherently isolating and further increased the dependency on powerful parents since neither their values, lifestyle, nor behavior were shared by other people.

Further, Mackenzie Phillips reported that John Phillips’ philosophy was that he and his family were somehow special and beyond the normal rules of behavior to which others adhered. Until she began her long hard climb to independence and maturity, this was the only frame of reference, young Mackenzie had. Until she began that climb, the distorted, possibly sociopathic mindset she learned from her father was part of her entrapment.

Although I’m concerned that recounting her trauma on Oprah could potentially retraumatize Mackenzie and threaten her fragile discovery, I would hope that the rest of us can accord her the respect she deserves for her courage, and take to heart the implications of the morality tales she offers– that abuse should be acknowledged even when the abuser is powerful, charismatic, and famous.

For more on integrative health, get the free ezine, the Health Outlook at www.HealthJournalist.com

Copyright, 2009, Alison Rose Levy. All rights reserved.

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Categories : Psychology
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Health Care By Sound Byte

Monday, September 14th, 2009
I’ve always wondered about the decline of Rome. Why would the Roman people get distracted by a mean-spirited and meaningless circus? At what stage of a civilization do cheap thrills become the best option?

Unfortunately, nowadays, I don’t have to crack a history book to get that lesson.

If media outlets, pundits, and commentators were seriously concerned about the health of Americans, why after the President’s speech, would media coverage land upon a single word shouted by an idiot–rather than the substantive realities of American health care reform?

Of course, I know. The circus is far more entertaining than what you, I, and our loved ones will suffer due to the health care quagmire. It’s easier to fixate on a sound byte than to address a complex reality. Too bad for us and our health.

Fortunately, Andrew Weil offered a voice of sanity on Larry King show. King joked about the title of Weil’s just published book, Why Our Health Matters asking: Isn’t it obvious why our health matters?

Is it? Do we act as if health is primary?

Given all the ways Weil revealed in which American health care is off the rails, I really have to wonder:

Can we take it for granted that health really matters to Americans– when we:

• Allow a thousands year old healing art to be co-opted and turned into an industry accountable for bottom line profits, not health?

• Permit that industry to make profits higher than any other commodity in our society, while people go bankrupt and their health suffers–even after we watched other unregulated industries topple our economy?

• Stand by as that industry donates millions of dollars to legislators to buy legislation that governs health care–and then fear executive branch leadership that tries to restore programs for the public good?

• Okay direct to consumer drug advertising so that most TV show push drugs?

• Hope that media reporting is honest when it’s paid for by drug advertising?

• Believe that scientific studies published in medical journals are scientific even when those journals are paid for by industry advertising–as is much of the research itself?

• Look on in confusion as health care politics degenerates into a talking point mud wrestle?

• Irrationally believe that doctors like Weil who recommend prevention and health promotion stand opposed to insurance coverage–even though he and other integrative doctors have repeatedly supported universal coverage?

• Are so health disempowered that any suggestion to take better care of our health in the basic ways available to us– evokes a terrible two’s response in so many?

Americas pay lip service to health. But we all too easily get diverted by a media circus–and any old fear-mongering PR campaign can throw us off course. We’ll vote against our own self-interest based on a meaningless slogan or the color of someone’s tie. We’ll jump on board to comment on the latest media frisson, but ignore the fundamental realities of health care and health economics. We believe in a myth (American health care is number one) and ignore the reality–we rank with the Serbians. We overlook basic ways to preserve health and then scream for drugs. We trust high tech services and distrust healthy foods and the gifts of nature. Are we getting the health care we deserve?

On Larry King and in his terrific book, Why Our Health Matters, Weil’s is the most responsible voice in this debate. He is asking that people be responsible, that legislators be responsible, and that health industries be responsible to the people they serve– not to executive profit. Yet some view his frank look at how to lower costs as a frilly add-on– rather than a far-sighted, strategic, and systemic way to save our collective butts.

A true solution won’t give you an adrenaline rush like the latest media fracas, but we need to do what Weil recommends as the three ways to assure better health care at lower cost:

1. Build some form of government sponsored plan to create leverage to lower insurance rates and negotiate favorable pricing on standard medical care

2. Lower health costs through the lifestyle/preventive measures

3. Assure that both government and private programs enact health promoting policies across the board

If your health matters to you, I highly recommend that you read Weil’s new book.

We’ll get the health care that has been imposed upon us, until we rise up, take responsibility and demand the health care we deserve.

For the free ezine, the Health Outlook, sign up at: www.HealthJournalist.com

Follow Alison Rose Levy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AlisonRoseLevy

Copyright, 2009, Alison Rose Levy. All rights reserved.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE ON-LINE?
You can, as long as you include this citation: by Alison Rose Levy: www.healthjournalist.com (sign up for the HealthOutlook ezine) Copyright © 2007 -2010 Alison Rose Levy. All rights reserved.
Categories : Health Care Reform
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Radio Show: Andrew Weil

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Andrew Weil, M.D., is our body-focus expert for this inaugural show on Whole Person Healing via Body, Mind and Spirit. Prof. Weil and his Center for Excellence on Integrative Medicine at the U. of Arizona has done more than any group in the world to bring the wisdom of the world’s Read More→

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Dr. Andrew Weil’s new book, “Why Our Health Matters” clearly reveals why health care reform is in gridlock or what to do about it. In this book, Weil offers solid, original, clear-minded, and impeccably caring solutions for our health care conundrum.

“I am sure you or people you know have had disastrous interactions with our so-called health care system, resulting in physical, emotional, or financial harm,” Weil writes. “Most of us feel as if we are up against implacable forces and institutions that are beyond our influence.”

Apparently, even the President feels that way. In his campaign, he promised to get the money lenders out of the temple of health care, but so far–no good. He is being outplayed. The ongoing debacle over insurance reform unveils the unmediated power of health care infrastructures bent on self-perpetuation rather than public health. Corporate bottom lines dictate health care policy thanks to campaign finance laws that permit those with the deepest pockets to buy legislators.

“The capitalistic free market system often works well and fairly for both buyers and sellers,” Weil points out. “However when the products that an industry sells are meant to save lives and relieve suffering, free market forces are easily skewed… If you need a product or a service to help control cancer, the seller can demand an unfair price (operating) in a free market run amok.”

As a result, both profits and power have concentrated in the health care sector as the rest of the economy tanks.

Yet even with many other options in health care, options brilliantly detailed in “Why Our Health Matters”, many people still cling to high cost medicine even when it performs poorly for their specific health care needs.

Why?

Here’s Weil’s diagnosis:

“The wealth concentrated around big pharma and the other corporate pillars of the medical industry has narrowed our country’s concept of what constitutes good medical treatment,” Weil writes.

In that one sentence Weil has pierced to the root of our health care dilemma.

It’s not just that the various arms of industrial medicine can skew policies originally meant to protect the public–and which many mistakenly believe still do. It’s also that over the decades, through media reporting, advertising, and extensive PR re-enforcing their particular brand of health care, industrial medicine has unduly influenced public understanding of health science and care– causing people to believe as gospel what they’ve been taught to believe.

In the recent health care reform debate, it’s become obvious how corporate marketing dollars misdirect public attention into meaningless debates over contrived issues. (Think Obama’s birth certificate, death panels, government option = communism etc.)

But what isn’t so widely acknowledged is how marketing agendas have shaped our understanding of health care. If you believe, for example, that no intervention is valid unless it has been studied in a randomly controlled double blind trial, you have been sold on a research method appropriate for testing toxic synthesized chemical developed by pharmaceutical companies–but perhaps un-necessary for less toxic substances, like foods and plants. This is just one example of the many ways that our attitudes about health have been imperceptibly shaped by corporate agendas.

As Weil notes, the concentration of corporate medical wealth has “made far too many Americans believe the myths that prop up our failing health-care system.”

Of course the biggest myth about American health care is that “because America has the most expensive health care in the world, it must have the best. The Reality: We rank #37 on a par with Serbia.”

These statistics reflect human realities that cause poor health, mortality, and suffering. As Weil points out, three-fourths of all Americans die from preventable diseases, diseases that have been on the rise for the last twenty-five years. Yet billions are spent on research and costly treatments that fail to prolong lives. “Survival with lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death, has improved by less than one month…” Weil writes.

“Why Our Health Matters” is an incisive analysis of what our system does well, what it does poorly, and how to fix it to improve outcomes and lower costs, and to make human need rather than corporate agendas primary.

To paraphrase Bill Moyers (who recently evoked the defining moment of the American Revolution), Americans must cross the Delaware and yank health care out of the hands of the mercenaries. Weil gives us a handbook for the health revolution.

Get the free ezine the Health Outlook at www.HealthJournalist.com

Follow Alison Rose Levy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Alirosewriter

Copyright, 2009, Alison Rose Levy. All rights reserved.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE ON-LINE?
You can, as long as you include this citation: by Alison Rose Levy: www.healthjournalist.com (sign up for the HealthOutlook ezine) Copyright © 2007 -2010 Alison Rose Levy. All rights reserved.
Categories : Health Care Reform
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Radio Show: Deepak Chopra

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Today’s guest is Deepak Chopra, Read More→

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