24 Hour Special

I haven’t yet officially launched any of my products on this blog, so here’s the first.

When I have these launch specials it won’t be a measly 10% or even 20% discount. You can expect a minimum of 60% off for any of these offers.

Over time all my products are likely to have a special time-limited offer to announce them, including when I bring out future ones. To make sure you are notified in time sign up for the blog announcements by entering your name and email address under the photo on the main page.

For this 24-hour special I’ve decided to begin with one of my quirkier products because it is relevant to everyone.

And as this is the first special I’ve decided to make this a no-brainer, so I’ve dropped the price to only $5.

Ignore the price on the page when you visit. When you click on the order link you will see the $5 come up.

This special ends promptly at noon tomorrow (Eastern Standard Time which is -8 GMT.) Here is the URL to place your order:

http://www.DilemmaSelfHelp.com

Then once you visit, if you’re trying to decide whether to buy it or not…

Well that’s a dilemma, and it’s only $5 for a short while:

http://www.DilemmaSelfHelp.com

-Dr Martin Russell

Fall Back

I’ve just woken up an hour later.

Running an international website is such fun. In Australia we have just had our Daylight Saving Time change. Those of you in the European Union are doing/have done the same. And those of you in the US will wait another week.

So if you are confused about how remember how the time shifts, here is an officialized version…

“In spring, clocks spring forward from 12:59 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; in fall, clocks fall back from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.”

Or in other words, “Spring forwards and fall back.”

I saw a truly outstanding TV trivia contestant stumped when asked which way the times went, but a simple play on words can give you the answer instantly. No matter where you are in the world.

Then it’s only tricky for people like me who need to remember that my Southern Hemisphere spring is the Northern Hemisphere’s fall, so I go two hours out of sync with most of my readers with each change. But hey, I’m also living about a day in the future for most of my readers too.

As you will discover this week, things like this can be important on this blog.

Thank goodness the internet itself doesn’t care what time it is.

-Dr Martin Russell

EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 2

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an “emotional version of acupuncture, except without the needles”, as developer Gary Craig puts it.

[If you need more introduction to EFT go to Part 1 here.]

There is very little evidence in the scientific literature, but EFT has a lot of raving fans and practitioners.

So coming from my own background as a medical practitioner what did I make of EFT?

Well back in 2001 when I moved from medical practice to counseling, I used it in my practice, but then I stopped.

My fundamental disagreement with EFT is with its theoretical underpinnings.

I suspect that the outcomes from EFT have NOTHING to do with Chi, or energy flow, or acupuncture meridian points. It might be good marketing to be caught up with Eastern philosophies, but it also puts people off.

I think EFT has a much more Western explanation for it’s effects.

My assessment of EFT is based on the well-recognized psychological mechanism of conditioning.

Many of the psychological problems that EFT was first claimed to work for are classic examples of problems that have an automatic emotional reaction ie a conditioned response.

Phobias, traumatic memories, addictions. All these involve strong emotional responses.

With a spider phobia it is a fear reaction to the sight of spiders or the thought of spiders. Even with depression or anxiety, there is certainly an emotional reaction, and often there are specific triggers for those emotions in memories from the past or expectations they have for the future.

The idea with therapy is to change the unwanted emotional reaction. To turn fear into comfort, depression into hope or choicefulness, and anxiety into calmness or a sense of control.

In fact if you take it further, emotional reactions can be thought of as part of many, many different problems, both psychological and physical.

So in comes EFT.

Let me describe the experience of using EFT from a personal perspective.

If you’ve done EFT or if you watched the video from Part 1, I think you will agree that EFT is an abnormal thing to do, and it takes a bit of concentration.

It’s a bit like a cross between trying to simultaneously pat your head and rub your tummy, and learning the Macarena, but you’re meant to be serious as you do it.

The emotional experience of using the technique involves a mix of feelings, including awkwardness, curiosity, confusion, embarrassment, as well as the emotions of learning something, ie intensely observing, listening, forgetting, stumbling, achieving and so on.

You are meant to do all this WHILE thinking about a particular problem you have.

This means you are trying to experience two sets of emotions at once.

As in the phobia example, if you mix the phobic fear with the emotional experiences of doing EFT you end up not only with a diluted fear, you also add in elements of emotions that are very valuable for finding new and better ways to react.

I think this mix up of emotions explains all the features of EFT.

If you turn what I have just said into medical terminology of conditioned responses and stimuli you end up with an explanation for EFT that is complete, and doesn’t require any beliefs that aren’t already part of medical and scientific knowledge.

So how did all of this apply to me and my medical counseling practice?

I was happy to learn EFT because of how neat it is – lasting change in minutes. That’s cool!

I then was happy to use EFT even despite the lack of scientific proof, because EFT fitted with what I already knew was proven, and I didn’t need to believe in meridians or energy flows to need to wait for the scientific testing.

However after all this you may be curious about why I stopped using EFT in my practice?

For the very simple reason that there are heaps of valuable things I don’t use because they don’t fit very well with the rest of what I offer.

I still have recommended EFT on the occasions where it has fitted the expectations of the person I was talking to, and it may fit for whatever ails you.

If you are interested, Gary Craig’s official EFT site has plenty of case studies/testimonials, and also a free download of the basic techniques, to keep you from getting caught in any corrupted version of what is out there on YouTube or elsewhere.

I just suggest you ignore the theories.

What’s your opinion?

“EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 3” is here.

-Dr Martin Russell

EFT Is Bunkum? – Part 1

Back when I first started my counseling practice in 2001 I offered Emotional Freedom Techniques as a change method.

If you haven’t heard of Emotional Freedom Techniques (or EFT) then take a look at this classic video from EFT developer Gary Craig back in the 1990s:


EFT is a very neat idea.The first neat thing is that it uses Chinese acupuncture points to create psychological changes. Acupuncture is classically used for physical ailments, but EFT adds in a few psychological twists and applies the resulting technique to ailments of the mind. Cool huh!The second neat thing is that it doesn’t use needles. You just tap firmly on the acupuncture points with your fingertips, so there are no sharp objects, and the only tools you need are very conveniently available at the end of your hands.The third neat thing, and this was the real genius of the developer of EFT Gary Craig, is that an entire sequence can be done in a couple of minutes, and learned after repeating it just a few times.The fourth neat thing is that it is a universal change tool. The same sequence of tapping steps pretty much applies for any and every problem you have. There seem to be no limits to what it can be tweaked to do. You have a problem, then go through the tapping until it’s better.Here’s the official video of the claims of EFT.

Sceptics of EFT claim that even if EFT does help it works simply by being a distraction from a person’s problem. They point out that it’s pretty distracting to be tapping with your fingers all over your face, chest and hand, while talking out loud and thinking of what you need to do next.

As a counselor I already know distraction is a waste of time as a tool for therapy.

If distraction was of any lasting benefit then phobias and addictions would just cure themselves automatically as we went about our daily lives. Watch a great movie, read a nice book, stare at a sunset. So if EFT gets results, it’s not by distraction.

It would be great if EFT’s miraculous claims had been verified scientifically but they haven’t.

It’s not surprising really.

EFT is very hyped-up cure-all. It would be hard to get many academics who respected their future careers, interested in doing research into such a radical method.

More importantly, EFT is not at all that easy to test scientifically.

It’s even harder to prove than acupuncture itself, which has had a very tough time over the years.

If EFT were a medication you could give a group of people an EFT pill, and another group a dummy pill with no EFT in it and check the difference. With acupuncture they have a variation where they use ‘sham’ needles that don’t really pierce the skin. However with EFT you can’t have ‘sham’ fingertips as a comparison.

So the scientific evidence is very thin on the ground, and you’ll be waiting for many more years if you work only on the basis of what is scientifically proven.

So is the lack of scientific evidence the reason to question EFT?

Only partly.

I’ll introduce my personal thoughts in Part 2.

-Dr Martin Russell

For Website & Ezine Owners

Do you have a website, or publish an ezine or newsletter?

I have a few resources currently set up that might be of interest to you.

Firstly, if you would like to receive free, quality articles for your newsletter then send an email to Martin (that’s me) at DrMartinRussell.com with some details. I’m happy to send my latest articles to you to help you provide valuable and interesting content for your readers.

Secondly, I have an article directory where you might be interested in having your own articles published.

http://www.DrMartinRussell.com/a/

Thirdly, I have also set up a resource links directory which you can access here.

http://www.DrMartinRussell.com/l/

These last two directories have been installed over the weekend so that I haven’t had my favorite resources and articles added yet. At this stage it will only be of interest if you have your own website or newsletter.

If you have some particularly good articles and resources I look forward to mentioning them on my blog to make sure they get the attention they deserve.

-Dr Martin Russell

Occam’s Razor For Self Help

Medicine is an art. It’s meant to be a science, but in fact it isn’t. It is slightly more of a science than many other healing arts, but still most of the decisions made by doctors have very little to do with science based on solid, relevant evidence.

Psychiatric medicine is one of the worst offenders.

As much as psychiatry has tried to build itself a scientific basis it is still woefully flawed at many levels.

So as I began to dig to the bottom of the mess and realized how little basis psychiatry has for it’s scientific claims, I began to need other tools to help me decide how best to help people.

One of those tools is called Occam’s Razor (or Ockham’s Razor.)

Occam’s Razor says that if you have two equally valid explanations for what is going on, choose the simpler one.

It’s not a scientific principle, but it is a good rule of thumb.

In my line of work what this means is that I fix the causes that are definitely present, before I go after any others.

At one stage a woman came to me with a diagnosis of long-standing depression.

She had been on multiple anti-depressants, had sought the usual range of medical and non-medical help, and although she was still seeing a psychiatrist her local doctor had gotten desperate with her lack of improvement and had sent her along to see me.

She came to her assessment visit, and among many other questions I asked her when this all began.

She told me she had been fine all her life until the birth of the first of her three children about 18 years ago. Just 2 months after her son was born she had been diagnosed with post-partum depression, better known as the ‘baby blues’, and had been on and off medication ever since. She had had the same depression again with each of her two other children, and in fact with the last of the three she had had a short stay in hospital.

However even as they had grown up she still hadn’t got rid of the depression.

Fortunately this woman came to be a few years after I had had my first child and so I asked her a very specific question.

I asked her how well she slept after the birth of her first child.

She instantly said that she hadn’t slept at all. From the first night she had been kept awake by the baby crying, and to this day she was a very light and disrupted sleeper. Before having children she had always slept very soundly.

So here was the situation…

This woman was diagnosed with depression.

She had been told by psychiatrists and doctors that the cause was biological, set off by the hormonal changes she had had following the birth of her children.

What I was hearing however was that she had a history of chronic sleep deprivation, starting from two months before she was diagnosed. The effects of chronic sleep deprivation are much like depression ie lacking energy, moodiness, loss of interest in usual activities, unmotivated, poor concentration.

So I had two possible diagnoses: biological depression or chronic insomnia.

The diagnosis of hormonal or biological depression has no proof. It is just a list of complaints with a theory attached to it. There’s no blood test, or brain scan, or psychological checklist that can prove it.

However there was no question that this woman had chronic insomnia. It was just a question of whether this was the cause of her depressive complaints.

Applying Occam’s Razor made my next choice easy.

I recommended that to the woman that we treat her insomnia because until we improved her sleep any other treatment was just based on guesswork.

She was already taking sleeping pills, but they weren’t working for her, and she was worried about staying on them and getting addicted. So I taught her how to use the sleeping pills in a better way to get herself a full night’s rest, AND avoid any risk of being stuck on them. She was delighted.

In the end we never did need to address the “Depression” she had been diagnosed with. Treating the sleep alone was all she wanted to get her life back on track.

She certainly wasn’t the only person I have seen in this situation. In my counselling practice sleep issues are the second most common cause of depression that I treat.

If you have trouble sleeping, and have considered using pills or are currently on them, then you might find many other benefits to getting a better night’s rest.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Anxiety or Depression you may have been told that sleeping problems are one of the symptoms. That may be true, but insomnia can also CAUSE or at least worsen these problems, so consider the simple step of treating sleep issues directly.

However, don’t take sleeping pills the way they are usually recommended. Anyone who sells pills is working against their own best interests to tell you how to get off them quickly. So you won’t find the information I teach on the instructions in any pill packet.

Sleeping pills can be a real benefit, but you have to know how to use them effectively and safely, and you can discover how to do that here:

www.SelfHelpSleepingMeds.com

-Dr Martin W. Russell

Tied Up In A Mess

Some people come to me with a very specific problem to solve.

Maybe you have something very specific and clear-cut in your life that you would like solved.

Often people who come to me know exactly what is wrong, and they know what needs to happen for it to be fixed. Sometimes they even tell me what not to do if I really want to help them.

If only they could try harder or have more willpower then the change would happen.

Then we start chatting.

About 10 minutes before the end of the session I usually find them reeling from all the other things that have come up in the discussion.

I mean, have you ever had a piece of string and found a knot in it?

Recently my 6-year-old daughter has been doing some craft work with long pieces of wool and every time she puts down the wool and picks it up, there seems to be another knot.

She does her best to pull the wool straight, and when this doesn’t work she brings it to me. She shows me this tiny knot, sometimes with a few extra loops coming out of it, and she tells me she has it straighter than it was, but it just doesn’t seem to do that last bit.

On these occasions I would look at it, and I would slowly start to unpick the tiny knot, sometimes with my fingers, but often needing a knife point to loosen the tightly pulled strands.

My daughter would stand by watching, interested at the start, and then more and more bored, wanting me to hurry up, as I tediously loosened up each strand bit by bit.

One time with a particularly intricate set of knots and loops I ended up with a huge mass of wool loops in this floppy ball, and she looked horrified and walked off, just as I started to take one of the ends and weave it in and out of the open loops, and back into a single straight strand.

As if like magic I would hand back to her a single line of wool that was very like the bit with the small knot that she gave me, and nothing at all like the big mass of wool that I had been grappling with just moments before.

We might go kite-flying this weekend if there is enough wind, and I’m thinking I should start to teach her about untangling her own knots very soon. She has smaller fingers than I do, and patience is a good skill to learn.

What are the knots in your life?

What would happen if you stopped pulling them tighter?

If you’re not sure what to do instead of continuing to keep pulling, then for single knots there is this…

www.DilemmaSelfHelp.com

For multiple knots you may need this…

www.SelfHelpMeeting.com

-Dr Martin Russell

The Importance Of Dying – Part 3

Part 1 introduced the last lecture of 47-year-old Randy Pausch who summarized the lessons he wants to pass on from his life.

Let me give you Randy’s most important lesson from his entire life…

“Find the best in everybody. You might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side.

Just keep waiting, no matter how long it takes.”

Or as he restated it in the ABC interview…

“If you wait long enough other people will show you their good side, and if there’s anything I have learned this is absolutely true, and sometimes it takes a lot longer than you might like, but the onus is on you to keep the hope and keep the waiting.”

This might be very easy to read, acknowledge, and then dismiss.

But ponder for a moment that a man who is distilling his entire life’s experience into a single, solitary idea, comes up with that.

So let me dissect Randy’s comments just a little.

At first sight it could be simply a garden-variety positive affirmation, or as a part of a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude), that just marks Randy as one of those guys who thinks the best of everyone.

But it is not.

Notice two things.

First, Randy is giving this as something he discovered during his life.

Therefore he did NOT always think this, and changing to this made the most valuable difference in his life that he wishes to pass on to others.

In other words he isn’t a ‘positive-only’ guy!

He’s tried out not thinking this way, and it wasn’t as good for him. In fact it was so much better when he changed that he is recommending this to everyone else too. He’s a raving fan for this idea!

In my own counseling, this belief about people that Randy begins assuming, also underpins my work. It is the biggest lesson that I gained from my non-medical training, and it changed forever the approach I was given as a medical student into one that I too think works much more effectively.

Second, and just as important, Randy is giving much more than a positive attitude.

He is outlining a method for HOW to start and KEEP this attitude.

So many beliefs and positive affirmations are set up in ways that just fall apart.

Saying “People Are Good” in the mirror each morning is unlikely to hold water for many of the 6 billion people on this planet, starting with the ones who don’t have access to a mirror, or even enough water to see their reflection in.

Instead of attempting to declare definitively that people have a good side, he is giving you a way to act and respond, EVEN IF IT IS A LIE!

Truth is not the issue. In fact, trying to find what’s true and what’s not just creates distracting arguments, usually inside your own head.

Randy is saying, here is how to act AS IF it was true, and that by behaving this way you will live your life more successfully.

It is only way one to do it, but if you are having difficulty believing what he says is useful, then you won’t believe my version. So start with Randy’s version.

“If you wait long enough other people will show you their good side.”

[You can find the original 1 hour 44 minute lecture, and the short ABC interview here in The Importance Of Dying – Part 1.]

-Dr Martin Russell

Optimistic Pessimism

One of the most real-world, kick-ass guys I’ve come across on the internet is a copywriter named John Carlton.

He claims to teach people about copywriting.

John really teaches people about life.

People go to John to learn how to sell more stuff and make more money. He accepts that – and then slides in the real stuff.

Here is an example from a recent post on the steps for presenting Seminars…

“2. Have a couple of “Plan B” options in your back pocket.

I always know I’m dealing with rookies — in any kind of venture or project — when I hear them say “We got it covered — what could possibly go wrong?”

Pikers.

I’ve always nurtured an attitude of optimistic pessimism. I happily expect things to go horribly wrong… and thus I’m never shocked or unprepared to dive into alternative plans.

So when the electricity goes out… or the hotel double-schedules a wedding in the meeting room we’re using… or an attendee has a schizophrenic episode that requires intervention… or the camera guy shows up drunk or missing… and yes, all of these things have happened… I do not suffer even an instant of paralysis.

Just take a deep breath… knowing you’re gonna have one hell of a funny story to tell later… and start fixing things.

Also… if everything accidentally does go off without a hitch, you are more appreciative… because smooth sailing wasn’t expected.

Nothing tempts the gods of mayhem more than someone who takes it for granted that all will go well.”

There endth the lesson.

-Dr Martin Russell