Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Physiological Basis of my Psychotherapy Method

Someone asked for some clarification on the following statement I had made in my previous blog: "In this therapy, I have included the body psychotherapy technique of dispassionately observing the bodily sensation."

Here is the clarification:

Krishna's discourse in the Gita starts in Chapter 2, verse 11. Then in here's what e says in 2.14 and 2.15:

[Sensations of] heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are born, O son of Kunti, only of the contact of the senses with their objects. They have a beginning and an end. They are impermanent in their nature. Bear them patiently, O descendent of Bharata (Gita 2-14).
That man whom these cannot disturb – the calm man who is the same in pain and pleasure – alone is able, O great amongst men, to attain amrit (Gita 2-15).

What Krishna says about bearing the body sensations of heat and cold etc. patiently -- i.e. without reacting to the sensations -- is known as Vipassana meditation. I had noted simply as "dispassionately observing the bodily sensation" in my letter, for the sake of brevity.

Now "Learning is the acquisition and storage of information as a consequence of experience" (Human Physiology by Vander et al). And we experience everything by means of our sense receptors, as sensations. All this information gets stored in our our memory.

Physiology talks of two types of memory, the declarative or explicit memory and the non-declarative or implicit memory. The declarative memory stores the information we gather from our five external sense receptors/organs. It's the memory we can put into words, and which the mind has access to, for its cognitive tasks. Cognitive therapies can at best make use only of the declarative memory. The 'Inventory Analysis' method of my psychotherapy is a cognitive approach.

Implicit memory stores the information that our internal sense receptors gather, 'autonomically' or without our conscious awareness. This is the information sensed about the changes in the internal environment of the body -- homeostatic fluctuations -- and about the sensorimotor sensations associated with our motor activity or our bodily actions, including our emotional responses. This memory is called body memory by body psychotherapists. This memory is what causes our habits and habitual emotional responses. (The memory of learning to ride a bicycle falls in this category.) Our mind has no access to this implicit memory. That is why, I think, the behavioral aspect is added to cognitive therapies. By doing the opposite thing to the habit again and again this implicit memory can be changed.

Body psychotherapy deals with healing by using touch or by making the client aware of his/her bodily sensations. And Krishna's advice that I quoted at the beginning of this mail is the best body psychotherapy that I have found. 

My Paper for the UGS Conference on Mental Health

Here is the gist of my paper titled Understanding and Controlling Dysfunctional Behavior that has been accepted for presentation and subsequent publication in the UGC sponsored National Conference on ‘Mental Health: Role of Education, October 1-2, 2011:

Our behavior is usually controlled by our emotional nature and our attitudes. In order to correct dysfunctional behavior it becomes necessary for us to be in control of our emotional nature and to change some of our attitudes. I have been fortunate to develop a brief psychodynamic method – from the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous – which not only helps addicts to recover, but is also an effective way to overcome anger and resentments, and for changing negative attitudes.
Oxford Dictionary defines ‘attitude’ as ‘a settled way of thinking or feeling.’ Our thinking and feeling depends on the ideas and beliefs that are already stored in our memory. When we learn the wrong things, the ideas in memory become inappropriate and our attitudes become negative. In order to change our attitudes it then becomes necessary for us to change the inappropriate ideas that have been stored in our memory.
Whenever our instinctive drives, or the needs, for safety, relationship and love, and for self-esteem or ambition – the ‘Social Needs’ of the Maslow Model – get hurt or threatened, we get upset, angry or afraid, and we may also hurt others because of it. In this psychodynamic approach, we inventory our past episodes of anger to see which of the drives had been affected. Then, by analyzing the inventory it becomes possible for us to understand which of our ideas and beliefs had been creating problems for us, which we can then correct. This is how this method helps us in changing our negative attitudes and in overcoming anger and resentments. It will also help us in forgiving others when necessary, as ‘forgive’ means to ‘stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence or mistake.’
Freud, in his Three Essays on Sexuality (1905), had said "The source of a drive is a process of excitation occuring in an organ and the immediate aim of the drive lies in the removal of this organic stimulation." And, in The Ego and the Id (1923), he states unequivocally that the ego “is first and foremost a bodily ego ... ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the surface of the body."
In this therapy, I have included the body psychotherapy technique of dispassionately observing the bodily sensation.  In the Bhagavad Gita (2.14 and 2.15 ), this technique is the first thing that Lord Krishna asks Arjuna to follow, as it helps a person to remain calm and balanced in times of both pain and pleasure. This technique, which the Buddhists call Vipassana, is so simple when learnt from the book or CD Sadhana by Anthony de Mello S.J. that it can be easily taught to children in all the schools. At present it is only being taught to the students of all the BMC schools. I hope all people, especially children, get a chance to benefit from this wonderful technique of India.
The paper also covers the topic of nutrients, which is often neglected. 75% of our body is made up from the 20 amino acids. Amino acid deficiencies can lead to depression, anxiety, addictions and other health problems. Educating people about the individual amino acid deficiency symptoms, their nutritional supplements and their diagnostic blood tests can go a long way in safeguarding mental health and in  the prevision of addiction, suicide and behavioral problems.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why we need Yoga and Inner Body Awareness

This is the End Discussion from my Paper titled The Indian Heritage and the Art of Forgiving presented at the International Conference on Positivism: Path to Success, Satisfaction & Bliss, organized by Amity Institute of Behavioural & Allied Sciences, 6th – 8th August, 2011 (The full paper can be found in Macmillan book New Facets of Positivism (ISBN 023-032-342-1):

In the Indian tradition, the goal of one’s life is to attain yoga. Patanjali defines yoga as the ‘cessation of fluctuation in consciousness.’ Yoga is the state of consciousness where nothing arises nor passes away – a state without a beginning or a deathless state. Deathless means amrit in Sanskrit, which is the state the Bhagavad Gita asks us to attain, and also the aim of Buddhist meditation, although it is also called nibbana by the Buddhists and brahmanirvana in the Gita (2.72). The word used by the Jains is anarambhi, which means ‘without a beginning.’ From this it is evident that all the ancient Indian traditions are asking us to make the efforts to experience the same state of consciousness where nothing arises nor passes away.
The way to attain this state of consciousness in the two most ancient religions of the world, Hinduism and Buddhism, as we have seen above, is also the same Indian Meditative Technique. This technique, given in Anthony de Mello’s book Sadhana, has been highly praised by the Christians – on the cover of the CD Sadhana, Anthony de Mello has been acclaimed as “A Guru For The Twentyfirst Century.” This technique is also regularly taught at a Vipassana Meditation Center in the Islamic State of Iran. As this meditative technique has been accepted by all the major religions of the world, it can go a long way in uniting the people of the different religious faiths.
This meditative technique helps us to experience and know the things going on within our body. Within the body every second, millions of cells are dying, which is just pain and suffering. When we can experience and know how much we are suffering within, we can also understand how others are also suffering. This realization makes us more altruistic and helps us to have more understanding for others.
Each of the trillions of cells in our body is constantly craving and attracting nutrients and avoiding and expelling toxins. Thus it is our very nature to instinctively crave for the things we need and avoid things that harm us. When we observe the sensory experiences of the activity within the body, and continually refrain from reacting to them with craving and aversion in our meditation, over time, we gain the ability to control our instinctive and impulsive nature. Thus the Indian meditative technique can help us to curb our impulsive behavior.
The sensations we experience within the body tell us what we need in order to survive and we use our external sense organs to find and get what we need. When we are unable to observe our inner body sensations we are unable to figure out what we actually need. And we go out and get much more than what we really need; our wants far exceed our needs. And when we all live in this manner, it creates a scarcity of our needs in our environment, which leads to not only the overexploitation and degradation of our environment, but also to all sorts of social problems, including ill-will, conflicts and wars. The Indian meditative technique of observing our body sensations can go a long way in getting rid of all these problems.
The Indian meditative technique has been tried and tested and found to be highly effective. After a successful trial on a batch of SSC students few years back, the Vipassana Research Institute now teaches the breath awareness exercise of this meditation technique, annapana, to all children in the schools of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The Breath Sensation Exercise from the Sadhana book, or CD, can be used to help children improve their attentive capability.
The scientific Indian meditative Technique is so very effective in improving our lives and in changing human nature that it is even used to help hard core criminals. Regular 10 Day Vipassana courses are now held at various correctional institutions, including the Tihar Jail at Delhi and the maximum security Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama, USA.[i]
After being dejected by the bloody Kalinga war, the great Emperor Asoka took up the practice of dhamma, which is what this Indian meditative technique – Sanatana Dharma, the great Indian Heritage – is called by the followers of Gautama Buddha. His edicts say that he had ‘entered the sangha,’ which according the Buddhist Tipittika scriptures means that he had ‘experienced nibbana.’ And thereafter he eschewed war and dedicated his life to the dhammavijay – victory by means of dharma. In all his edicts he shows us how dhamma has benefited the people, and finally in his last edicts he tells us why he had engraved the edicts in hard rock: “I have done this, so that among my sons and grandsons, and as long as the sun and moon shall endure, men may follow dhamma.”  [Seventh Pillar Edict]
 “Over Great areas of the world it still survives; it is possible that in contact with western science, and inspired by the spirit of history, the original teaching of Gautama, revived and purified, may yet play a large part in the direction of human destiny.” – H. G. Wells, The Outline of History

[i] and

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Understanding and Controlling Dysfunctional Behavior

The following is my letter posted in the Yahoo Group "Indian Psychologists":

The only Science of the body, the physics and chemistry of the body, is
biophysics, also called physiology. And the only science of the psyche/mind is
psychophysics, also known as sensory psychology.
Unfortunately both these sciences are not being used by healthcare providers

Physicians are basing their art on the subject of pharmacology, a subject on the
working of drugs manufactured by pharmaceuticals, whose survival depends on
people remaining sick. If doctors were to experts in physiology they would
primarily be maintaining our health with proper nutrients, while eliminating
toxins. But as a paper in the 1998 American Journal of Clinical Nutritionists
said 'Less than 6% of graduating physicians have any formal training in
nutrition.' The supply of specific amino-acids that produce each of the
important neurotransmitter -- dopamine from L-tyrosine, serotonin from
L-tryptophan, GABA from L-glutamine or glutamate, etc, -- in the brain is vital
for avoiding mood, substance use and behavioral disorders. And because the
medical industry has kept this a secret from the common man, they start
suffering from mental health problems, which the psychologists are asked to deal

Psychology got its scientific standing around 1880 after Wundt started
conducting experiments in psychophysics and brought out the Journal of
Psychology. Around the year 2000 Freud started his psychoanalysis therapy
helping many psychiatric patients. Although his theories may not have been based
on clinical observations, he used them so as to help his clients. But he knew
about the importance of sensory psychology, which is evident from his writings:

'"The source of a drive is a process of excitation occuring in an organ and the
immediate aim of the drive lies in the removal of this organic stimulation"
[Three Essays on Sexuality (1905):83]...
...He states unequivocally that the ego "is first and foremost a bodily ego...
ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the
surface of the body." [The Ego and the Id (1923):364] The ego, in other words,
is a psychological version of the skin -- a protective organ that gives shape
and definition to the whole.' [Body Psychotherapy by Tree Staunton (2002):9]

A hundred years back the procedure for observing body sensations was not known.
So Freud did bring in the concept of 'mind' and 'unconscious.' This did make the
domain of psychotherapy into a philosophy or an art. But Freud had hoped that
one day, when neuroscience advanced, psychology would become a true science.

But later day psychologists have allowed psychology to remain a philosophy, in
spite of great strides in neuroscience and sensory awareness techniques. This,
I'm afraid, is the state of western psychology today.

Indian psychology is actually the Buddhist or Upanishad meditative techniques.
Both are the same, although most people have not yet realized this. Gita is the
quintessence of the Upanishad. In it the first thing that Krishna tells Arjuna
to do is to observe the impermanent nature of his sensations and bear them
patiently, after telling him that sensations of heat and cold, pleasure and pain
arise only from the contact of the senses with their object (Gita 2.14). This is
exactly what is called Vipassana by the Buddhists. And in the next verse, 2.15,
we are told that the person who does not get disturbed by these sensations
becomes balanced in pleasure and pain, and a calm person who alone is fit to
attain 'amrit'. (Amrit means deathless. It is a deathless state of
consciousness, where nothing arises or passes away, a consciousness without
fluctuation, which is the definition of 'yoga' given in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

Thus you can see that Indian psychology is actually psychophysics. The efficacy
of this method can be seen in the transformation that have been recorded in
inmates of Tihar Jail and of The Donaldson maximum security prison of Alabama,
USA, where regular Vipassana courses are being conducted. It is so beneficial to
children that all BMC school students are now taught Vipassana's 'anapana'
technique. So you can see that it is about time for psychology to adopt the
Indian psychology of psychophysics.

My Paper titled "Understanding and Controlling Dysfunctional Behavior" has has
been accepted for presentation and subsequent publication in the UGC Sponsored
National Conference on MENTAL HEALTH: ROLE OF EDUCATION, October 1 -2, 2011,
organized by the Gokhale Education Societ's College of Education and Research,
Parel, in collaboration with Seth G.S. Medical College & KEM Hospital, and
Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, Mumbai Branch.

The paper deals with the above two issues of biophysics and psychophysics, and
also explains a new insight psychotherapy that I have developed, a brief
psychodynamic therapy specifically to overcome anger and resentment conflicts,
and to change negative attitudes.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The 12 Traditions Ruined the AA Program

In 1938 Associates of Rockefeller formed a tax-free charitable trust in New York, called Alcoholic Foundation. It's founding Trustees were Willard Richardson, who was in charge of all Rockefeller Church charities, Frank Amos, who was one of the best friends of Rockefeller and an advertising man, their lawyer John Wood, and two alcoholics, Dr. Bob whose house mortgage had been cleared by Rockefeller by giving him $3000, and Bill R., an alcoholic from New York who soon relapsed. (Pass it On [PIO], page 188) Dr. Bob, being in Akron and also a minority, had little say in the functioning of the trust. So you can see that the Alcoholic Foundation was nothing but one of the organizations of Rockefeller. Check this site to understand Rockefeller's involvement in the pharmaceutical cartels: and

Now the Alcoholic Foundation and Rockefeller did not finance the alcoholics in writing their book, but instead asked them to sell off their book for a song to Harpers. So the poor alcoholics raised $7500 from amongst themselves and formed the Works Publishing Inc. Bill and Hank who actually wrote and published the book kept 33% of the Shares each. Thus they somehow, with great difficulty, managed to publish the Big Book in 1939.

But the book did not sell too well in the first two years. Bill & Lois were desperate as they didn't even have a place to stay. Lois was always a cheerful woman, even in desperate times. The one exception to Lois’s good cheer—in Feb 1940 while walking down the stairs at the Grand Central Station, she suddenly sat down and started weeping. ‘Would they never have a home of their own? Would they never stop moving around?’ (PIO, page 216) And it looks like Rockefeller took advantage of this too. He threw a big dinner party for the alcoholics that month, and raised $2000 for them.

After the dinner the trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation started giving direction to the Fellowship (PIO page 234). After the book started selling well, some of the subscribers to the Works Publishing Inc. began to demand a share of the profits. However the Alcoholic Foundation, with Bill’s help (pg.235 Pass it On, which was written by the foundation) bought off all the shares of the members, conning Hank to surrender his 33% share. The foundation which could not get money from Rockefeller to help the alcoholics to write the book, now could obtain a lone to buy off the alcoholics! Thus the Alcoholic Foundation, which was a Rockefeller charitable trust, became the owners of everything that the AA founding members had achieved with so much hardship. And the 49 alcoholics who in 1938 had contributed towards writing of the book, and Hank who had 33% share in it, lost their royalties and only Bill was given royalties from the Big Book. And Bill who didn’t even have a place to stay in 1940 became the owner of his palatial mansion at Bedford Hill, New York.

Now the original AA program was a simple four-step program: See page 8 of the AA Archives document on:  . When an alcoholic came to them, the founders admitted him in hospital for a few days, where one of the recovered alcoholics like Dr. Bob would counsel him with the help of the inventory analysis and they would kneel or sit quiet for an hour of meditation. And after the alcoholic’s release from hospital he would go and make his amends, and do the inventory he had learned and meditate regularly. This was the simple path that the founders of our program followed, which they have said rarely failed. You can read my story on how I found what the original AA program was from this chapter from my book ‘12 Steps in a Day: The Lost Path’ on this link:

As the Big Book was written for alcoholics in other cities and distant places where the suffering alcoholics would not have a recovered alcoholic to counsel and do their inventory analysis for them, the Big Book suggested for them to write their own inventory and then go and share it with some other person. In this way their original program was changed into the suggested 12 Step program for the distant alcoholics. The original program had been effective because in it the inventory was used as an aid, by the recovered alcoholic who had already been analyzed, to analyze the suffering alcoholic. However the new 12 Step program, by splitting the inventory and its sharing into two separate steps lost the effective psychoanalysis element of the original program, unless it was explained to the alcoholic by another recovered person. (Today members are not even aware that they can use the 4th and 5th step to quickly eliminate anger and other debilitating emotions from their day to day life.)

Till the Big Book was written most of the original 100 alcoholics could not help other alcoholics through the steps as they did not have any written direction on the inventory. But after the inventory directions were written in the Big Book in 1939, they too started taking alcoholics through the Steps in 3 or 4 hours, as Dr Bob used to (see Big Book 3rd Ed. pg. 292). By the end of 1939 the 100 members grew to 400, by 1940 the 400 became 2000, and by 1941 they had grown to 8000.

The pharmaceutical industry’s profits depend on people suffering from illness. And alcohol is known to cause liver, heart and many other sicknesses. So an alcoholic staying sick is a source of income for the pharmaceuticals. So many alcoholics recovering so quickly was definitely a threat to the pharmaceutical kingpin Rockefeller’s profits. So we can see that it was in the interest of Rockefeller and his Alcoholic Foundation to see to it that the powerful original program of AA was made ineffective. This they did by making the 12 Traditions. And they could use Bill to make the 12 Traditions for them because Bill suffered from depression between 1944 and 1955. And he had even stopped working the Steps, for PIO page 298 says ‘Above all, Bill believed that his depressions were perpetuated by his own failure to work the A.A. Steps.’

The 12 Points, which later became the 12 Traditions, were written in 1946, during the first debilitating phase of his depression from 1944 to 1946, when it used to be difficult for him to even get out of bed over long periods of time. (PIO page 293) And Bill wrote the 12 by 12 book in 1951 and 1952 when ‘he was suffering from almost constant depression and was forced to confront the emotional and spiritual demons that remain “stranded” in the alcoholic psyche when the high tide of active alcoholism recedes.’ (PIO pg.352).

Till the traditions came, AA was simply there to help those who were afflicted, or the suffering alcoholics. But this took a back seat in the traditions. In Tradition One says that AA’s welfare comes first. So with this tradition the most important thing, what come first in AA is to take care of AA and not the suffering alcoholic. So whenever there is a conflict between the welfare of AA and the welfare of the suffering alcoholic, it becomes binding on the members to sacrifice the suffering alcoholic’s welfare or the suffering alcoholic. What a shame!

Till the 12 Traditions were made personal recovery depended on taking the Steps but the Tradition One says that it depends on our unity. So the traditions saw to it that members did not consider the steps so important. Also in the 1st Tradition (Long Form) we can see that the Traditions were made on a false premise: that most of us alcoholics would die if AA dies, and so AA's welfare must come first. But the Big Book, page 98, clearly says, "Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man (alcoholic) that he can get well regardless of anyone (including AA members)."

The 12 Traditions made it binding on the members to follow the suggested 12 step program which was not the effective original path that the founders had followed. Books or literature on following the original program could not be used in AA. The Beginners Meetings that many groups had started in 1941, when large number of alcoholics started coming to AA, to take the alcoholics quickly through the steps had to close down after the 12 Traditions were formally adopted, in 1950/51.

The Big Book say on page 55 that God could only be found deep down within ourselves. ‘In the last analysis it is only there that He can be found.’ And it immediately follows this by saying that ‘If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway.” This meant that alcoholics could join them in AA only if they took the steps to search diligently within to find God. The requirement for membership was taking the steps. When the requirement for membership as well as the requirement for staying sober or recovery were both the same their unity was assured, even without the Traditions.

The 12 Traditions however changed the requirement for membership so that anybody who just said he was an alcoholic could become a member, probably because Bill himself had stopped working the steps. This new requirement encouraged members to stay in AA without working the Steps, and the recovery rate of AA fell.

Practically everything that an AA group does in some way or the other affects the other groups, or AA as a whole. In Tradition Four (Long Form), it says, "And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect AA as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation." Thus Tradition Four made it binding on all groups to take authority from the Alcoholic Foundation, which was a trust formed by a pharmaceutical giant. The result of this has been that the they systematically saw to it that the AA program lost its effectiveness over the years. So much so that the program which had made the fellowship multiply 4 and 5 times a year in the initial years of AA, increasing from 100 to 100,000 in ten years, is now taking over 20-30 years just to double – 1 million members in 1975, and 2 million members only after 1995, and still only about 2 million in 2010. Also when Bill W discovered around 1960 that 66 percent of the alcoholics can recover by merely taking Vitamin B3 with a proper hypoglycemic diet, the Trustees, most of whom were doctors,  invoked the Traditions and refused to allow him to share about his greatest discovery in AA. Do read Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism by Abram Hoffer, who was Bill W physician. Much of the book can also be read on Amazon:

While Bill was down with depression and deluded about the Traditions, AA co-founder Dr. Bob who took 4800 alcoholics through the Steps in 8 years (2922 days) at the St Thomas Hospital in Akron, said that the Traditions were too unwieldy and never approved the traditions till the fellowship had somehow got the Traditions approved. But the AA members were never told about this. The Alcoholic Foundation (General Service Board) which controls what is written in the AA literature has taken great troubles in hiding this fact. I was fortunate to see through it:

In ‘Dr Bob and the Good Oldtimers’, published in 1980, on page 325 it says, ‘It was not until 1950 and Dr. Bob’s last appearance at a large A.A. gathering—the First International Convention, in Cleveland—that he agreed to confirm the Twelve Traditions.’ From this I had gathered that Dr Bob had approved the 12 Traditions. But later on when I checked the book ‘Pass it On,’ published in 1984, I found on pages 338-339 that Bill had presented the 12 Traditions as a natural corollary of the 12 Steps and got the Traditions adopted officially for A,A., without any discussion on them, on Saturday, July 29, 1950, by a standing vote of those present at the Cleveland convention. And Dr. Bob’s last appearance was on the next day July 30, 1950. So you can see that Dr. Bob never approved the traditions but only agreed to confirm them as the Traditions had already been adopted by AA. Clarence Snyder’s book says that the convention was held in Cleveland because Cleveland was the strongest AA fellowship then, and the whole Cleveland contingent had walked out when the Traditions were adopted as Bill at the convention instead of them being adopted after a proper discussion at a service committee meeting or conference.

From the above discussion, I hope it is quite evident that the 12 Traditions have made the groups, committee and members puppets in the hands of the General Service Board of AA (or NAWS) and are doing more harm to the fellowship than helping it. It is about time to get rid of the Traditions. As long as members take the Steps and clean house, all will be well, even if the Traditions were not there. It's about time to educate the AA (NA) members about this and get rid of the AA GSO (NAWS).

In order to make it easy for addicts and alcoholics to take the 12 Steps in just 3 or 4 hours like the founders of the 12 Steps took their Steps, in order to calm their emotions, improve relationships and overcome their addiction and other problems I have written the book 12 Steps in a Day: The Lost Path