IS YOUR ANXIETY
IS YOUR ANXIETY
(This is an article I wrote for Inner Realm magazine's Dec, 2018 edition)
This question refers to the long held medical-model belief that anxiety, depression and other mental or emotional conditions are the result of “flawed” genes. This belief suggests that in order to live any kind of “normal” life people are doomed to have to take medication for the rest of their lives to “manage” the condition. These beliefs are so culturally embedded that we do not question them. And from these beliefs the obvious assumption arises that there is no hope to overcome and/or release these conditions once and for all. Well, I’m here to tell you that now there is hope… you can release these conditions! The old assumption that your condition is your Destiny is just not true anymore as you will understand more as you read this article.
To make this clearer we have to go back to the old Nature vs. Nurture argument which is an age old debate that involves the question of whether human behavior is determined by our genes or our environments throughout our lives. The medical model has long ago put forth the idea that it is our genes and our genetic inheritance that determines our destiny in terms of physical, mental and emotional outcomes. The Psychology model has always believed that even though genes may play a part, it is mainly a person’s mental and emotional environment throughout their lives that is actually the deciding factor for human behavior.
Up to this point in time the Medical Model’s view of this issue has dominated mainly because there was no proof to the contrary. Well, that has changed. There is new scientific evidence (a great deal actually supplied by the Medical Model) that is causing the Nature vs. Nurture paradigm to shift towards a new paradigm that is emphasizing that it is indeed our environments that are the major determining factors influencing our behaviors, and thus, our lives.
Two major studies over the last twenty years, both beginning in the ‘90’s, are shifting the paradigm of Nature over Nurture to a new paradigm of Nurture over Nature. One of these major studies was carried out by the Medical Model and was called The Genome Project. This study started in 1990 and was completed in 2003. The reason why this study is so important is because, (as told by Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist that was on the cutting-edge of these studies back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s) not one of the original hypotheses of the Genome Project was proven to be true.
As a matter of fact, a major finding of the Genome Project was that it is not the gene that controls life, but the interactions in the environment of the gene that turn the characteristics of the gene on and off. This discovery was incidental to the emergence of the field of Epigenetics, which refers to the surface of the gene and not the gene itself as the main determinant of which way the genetic material is directed. Dr. Lipton states “Epigenetics reveals that we are not victims of our genes…”. So the essence of what has been discovered is that it is not our genes that are the main determinant of our mental, emotional, and physical destinies. It is the environment of our genes.
Another study, started around the same time, is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACEs). It has been going on since 1995 and will continue throughout the lifetimes of all of the participants, collecting important data on each subject until their deaths. It focuses on how toxic stress and negative conditioning on a mental/emotional while growing up negatively affects every aspect of our behavior later in our lives, including conditions such as anxiety, depression, etc. This stress from our earlier lives also negatively affects our self-esteem, spousal and social relationships, our financial situation, and can cause chronic illness and disease, even early death. And, if you might think
that such a study in relation to toxic stress would be representative of the lower classes, the participants of this study are 17,000 Kaiser-Permanente employees who all have average or above intelligence and have jobs earning average or above incomes putting them in the middle to upper class.
This study also concludes that it is our environment that is the main determinant of human behavior. So, as we grow up, we are not only negatively affected by our physical environments (in the food we eat, the air we breathe, etc.) but it is our mental and emotional environments that influence our lives the most. The conditioning we undergo as children, whether negative or positive, greatly influence how we think, feel and behave throughout our lives. If we had positive experiences, we end up with positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. If we had negative experiences we ended up with negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors which then influence every aspect of our lives if gone unchecked.
Notice I said “if gone unchecked”. We now know that our adverse childhood experiences cause our negative thoughts/beliefs, feelings and behaviors. These negative thoughts and feelings then create our anxiety, worry, fear, depression, anger, guilt, shame, and even some of our physical pain, etc. And since this negativity came from our environment growing up and not our genes, we can now reverse this process by using new, effective, cutting-edge therapeutic methods to release the traumatic memories that caused these conditions and let them go once and for all.
Yet another paradigm is shifting .With the new research on the functioning of the brain, much more effective treatment methods are now available. Instead of just medication or Cognitive Behavioral talk Therapy (or a combination of the two), these newer, more effective therapies can actually interact with the deeper parts of the brain and release the traumatic memories, thoughts and feelings that are “stuck”, something that traditional talk therapy cannot do. Some of these more effective treatments (i.e., E.M.D.R., Brainspotting, E.F.T. (Emotional Freedom Technique), etc., are listed on my website.
So, anxiety, or depression, or other mental/emotional conditions are not your destiny. They were “given to you” by your adverse childhood experiences and they can be “taken away” by the new, more effective therapeutic methods that are now available to us.