All posts by Martin Russell

Common Sense Questions in Health – One ‘Doctor’s’ Answers…

Our health is important to us, but common sense questions still arise. So here is one “Doctor” who will make some sense of it for you. Laugh – and learn!

NOTE: the answers are best read with an Asian accent. It improves the wisdom, or something like that…

Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it… Don’t waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speed up heart not make live longer; that like say you can extend life of car by driving faster. Want live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does cow eat? Hay and corn. What are these? Vegetables. So, steak nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give 100% recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine. That means they take water out of fruity bit; get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: If you have body and you have fat, ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, ratio is two to one, etc.

[Side note: Are you getting the common sense of these questions yet? Keep some of these answers in mind for when health, diet and exercise come up in polite conversation.]

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Cannot think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No Pain…Good!

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING!!! …. Foods fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only do sit-ups if want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: You crazy? HELLO… Cocoa beans! Vegetable!!! Cocoa beans best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! ‘Round’ is shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had on those common sense questions about diet and exercise.

“Life Hacks”: An Introduction

The term “life hacks” is about solutions for even the most mundane and ordinary problems in everyday life.

Human beings can be amazingly creative at solving problems and finding a better way to do something, and just because so many of us do it one way, doesn’t mean that someone somewhere can’t do better.

And now with the internet, they can share their solutions – no matter how small they may seem.

In fact, I often wish people turned to such “hacking” techniques for their psychological life as well, rather than to psychiatry. Personally I think they would get alot further, and I hope to provide many such “mental life hack” techniques on this blog.

Anyway, here are just some standard “life hacks” (as defined by Wikipedia) to whet your appetite for more…

[When I came across this list I automatically took down reminder notes on 4 of them, discovered I was already using about 8 of them, and then organized to put this list up on my blog so I could find the rest when I need them later. For example, just tonight I told my Mum about the one for finding tiny items that get lost in the carpet. Neat stuff!]

Continue reading “Life Hacks”: An Introduction

Worker’s Compensation: How To Manage The System

The idea of a Compensation system is excellent.

The intention is to support worker’s, or accident victims, or victim’s of crime, or some other group of people who have had bad things happen to them through no fault of their own, and help them get better.

However the reality ends up far different.

As a medical doctor, the various compensation systems are often a nightmare to deal with.

Even though they pay better than standard fees, doctors routinely avoid dealing with such cases if they can. Indeed in my practice I eventually refused to continue seeing such patients.

The legal and administrative hassles are incredible, and even worse, the health care outcomes are not good.

It seemed to me, as an insider that it wasn’t working for the greatest benefit of the injured person.

It turns out that it wasn’t just my opinion either.

So in 2009 just shortly after one of my original patient’s whom I had seen in the local WorkCover system died*, I put together a series of training.

These trainings are designed to be exactly what I would offer a patient who was coming to see me.

It’s what I would say to them, what I would advise them, and the information I would give them, so that they can make the most of what I have come to believe is a fundamentally flawed system.

There is no fixing this system – and sometimes you can’t even opt out of it!

The best I can offer is to change and empower YOU to make the most of it, however you can.

With that warning, let me welcome you into my ‘office’ for a self-help series of sessions on how to manage a Compensation system…

www.DrMartinRussell.com/wco/

 

*In Memoriam: Harry Magias – 1953-2009

I Can Make You Thin – My Review

Dr. Martin Russell blog i can make you thin review

[I wrote this as a review on Amazon back in January 2009. It is as relevant today as it was then. Enjoy!]

For almost 3 years now I have been handing this book and ‘mind-reprogramming’ CD to every patient who comes to me to lose weight, or who is caught up in the mentality of diets, scales, cravings, or overeating.

I am *delighted* that “I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 6 Million People” is finally available on Amazon.com rather than having to hunt it from the UK site. The long wait is over!

At the risk of making this book seem too simple, here are Paul McKenna’s 4 golden rules…
1. When you are hungry, eat.
2. Eat what you want (not what you think you “should”.)
3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
4. When you are full stop.

I’ve seen other “I Can Make You Thin” reviews that dismiss the 4 rules as just obvious common sense. I’m not sure what common sense they can really mean since the rules make a mockery of the majority of get thin/lose weight approaches around. Rule 2 in particular certainly disagrees with the ‘common sense’ that I was taught as a medical doctor.

Even if the rules are common sense, McKenna needs to be given great credit for showing people HOW to live these habits. Hopefully you are buying this for the results, not just to have a fun read and a relaxing, new-wavy listen.

Yes, the cover pages are a bit hypey, but the inside is less so. The book is refreshingly thin, jargon-free, and entertaining.

McKenna’s style also involves techniques such as tapping (TFT/EFT), hypnosis and NLP . Hypnosis is what first made Paul famous, and I’ve seen NLP Practitioners review this and say they knew all of these tricks before. In NLP terms Paul is saying that the Golden Rules are the “model” for being “naturally thin”. Just knowing all the geewiz psych techniques won’t help if you have the wrong model as I suspect most NLPers do.

More importantly, you don’t need any of these techniques to apply the 4 golden rules and lose weight.

Most people can go over the book & CD, discover the Aha moments, and get started on transforming their relationship with food and their weight straight away.

There might be a group of people that could eat according to the 4 rules and not be thin, but I agree with what Paul says. For myself, I’m yet to meet such a person.

I have counseled people who thought it didn’t work for them, but it turned out they hadn’t gotten the rules into their behavior, so here are some extra pointers…

– Just listening to the CD over and over doesn’t seem to be enough. The book plays a big part too. Expect to re-read the book at least once. You can succeed without the CD, so if it doesn’t suit you, no sweat.

– Don’t add more rules. Extra rules almost always conflict with the four golden rules. Must eat breakfast? No. Just eat when you are hungry. Have to eat only fresh food? Check you really want to eat it, and whether you might want to eat anything else a bit more. Etc, etc.

– Having trouble visualizing? Just act ‘as if’ you are visualizing, or on the CD just leave it to Paul.

– Don’t make exercise the focus. Improved fitness will improve your chances of living longer, but unfortunately the best research evidence is that exercise doesn’t help much in losing weight. Keep to the four rules, which are all about food and getting back in control.

– If you have a question or a difficulty, the answer is somewhere in the book. The book alone truly is comprehensive (unlike watching YouTube videos or reading this review.) Indeed the updates have covered the two or three remaining gaps I had found before, including the extra information for self-sabotage issues.

In summary, McKenna is not the only person to propose this way of eating, but his is the most accessible version I know about. His is also the most likely to reach out from the page and permanently change your thinking and your behavior, and thereby your weight.

You can buy his measly book just to prove Paul wrong 🙂

Oh and then come back here and add your own review. Let people know what your results have been, whatever they are. No one book/CD can fit everyone but “I Can Make You Thin” deserves way more reviews from people just like you who have been wondering if this might just be what you need.

[Footnote: As I re-read this now in 2012 there is very little I would say more. If you are local to me in Adelaide then I am available for personal 1-on-1 work or just to get you a copy of this book so contact me here, otherwise you can get the book from a library, local store or from Amazon.com.]

Out-of-the-Box Conflict Management – 61 Real Life Stories

Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree

Human beings are incredibly creative.

If you go to a training or read a book to learn about ‘conflict management’ you will be given specific theories, tools and strategies to work with.

Ways to think about how to ‘resolve’, ‘handle’, ‘manage’, ‘avoid’, ‘address’, ‘deal with’ conflict – whatever those terms really mean.

You may even be training to become a fully-fledged conflict resolution mediator!

But there is SO much more possibility for what to do than can be found in any single practical framework or series of conflict managment techniques or tips

When I first heard about the idea of this book it was from the author’s father, Steve Andreas. Steve was doing a training in Australia on “Self-Esteem”, and hidden away in a side comment on the first day he spoke about the fact that he was collecting stories about people who had been in traumatic situations.

In particular he was searching for real experiences from people who had “handled conflict” in a way that had turned the situation completely around and made it life-affirming and inspiring.

He knew that there are many, many different and often surprising ways to do what people call ‘conflict resolution’, and he was trying to find as many examples as he could.

It’s now about 5 years later and this book, written by his son Mark Andreas, finally arrives, and I am delighted to share one of these stories with you from Mark himself.

Have a listen to this ‘conflict management’ technique, as used in an experience of a mugging by six men in the back streets of Glasgow…

You can check out more about these stories of hope in conflict managment on Amazon here:

Click here to get this very eye-opening collection!

From the Global Financial Crisis Down To You

This movie is so good I watched it twice.

It just has a funny title – I Am <FishHead( – yes, really.

It’s partly good because it has Philip Zimbardo in it. I remember before the age of the internet, watching Phillip on his PBS Discovering Psychology series, and was delighted to discover useful psychology training available for free!

But more than that this movie is good because it hits on the core issues of the financial crisis we live in, and yet still comes down to daily realities and practical steps we can take.

All starting with the core concept of the “corporate psychopath”.

Coming from the Chinese proverb that says “a fish rots from the head”, let me invite you to watch – I am <FishHead(

“WHAT’S WRONG WITH OUR WORLD? THIS IS A FILM FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KNOW.”

Effectiveness of Antipsychotics – Schizophrenia Vs Psychiatric Medicines

During my medical training I did three months of community psychiatry.

It was valuable time.

Among the most shocking experiences in that time was the visit I made to a share house for people with severe mental illness, often schizophrenia.

These were the type of people whom you could tell were mentally ill. They just looked the part.

Many had clear-cut cigarette stains on their fingers – even the younger ones.

They were listless with vacant stares. Some mumbled as they walked or sat.

But worst of all was their slow, staggering walking, and the regular twitches and twists of their faces and tongues.

It was this last sign that struck me the most, because this was not in fact a sign of mental illness, but rather a sign of being on anti-psychotic medication, often at high-dose, and long-term. A tragic, visible and socially awkward side-effect with the polite medical term, dystonia.

Many were on court-ordered injections of their anti-psychotic medication. They would never get off it.

Even those people that somehow came off this medication, would find that the dystonias would be permanent, marking them out as ‘different’ forever.

Now this was in the 1990s when there were new anti-psychotics coming out that were meant to cause less of these side-effects. Less, but not zero. They all had some sort of problems.

So in trying to come to grips with this iatrogenic (doctor-caused) damage I did ask myself the key question, “Did they need this medication, or could we reduce it or even stop it altogether?”

I can’t say I cut back their medication much at all.

However it set me to thinking and research, and the answers I found back then disturbed me. They were part of my deliberate decision to avoid psychiatry when I looked at becoming a counsellor.

So now in 2012 a friend sent me an article that brings these memories back to me and revives that question:

“Did those people need that anti-psychotic medication?”

Well here is an official answer:

The British Journal of Psychiatry (2012) 201: 83-84 doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.112110

Recent evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggests that the efficacy and effectiveness of antipsychotics to produce clinically meaningful benefits for people with psychotic disorders have been overestimated. A meta-analysis showed that although there may be demonstrable effects of antipsychotics in comparison with placebo, the improvements over placebo are not as great as previously thought:1 the average change in symptoms rated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) attributable to antipsychotics did not meet an empirically derived threshold for minimal clinical improvement,2 and only 17–22% experienced an important benefit (significant improvement or prevention of relapse) which could be attributed to the drugs rather than to placebo effects or natural recovery. A subsequent systematic review concluded that the improvements claimed for antipsychotics, old and new, are of questionable clinical relevance,3 with most trials failing to demonstrate even minimal improvement measured using the PANSS. There is also growing recognition that there is no discernible difference in effectiveness between first- and second-generation antipsychotics, supported by evidence from a recent meta-analysis.4 It is also relevant that there is evidence from double-blind trials in healthy volunteers that antipsychotic medication can result in secondary negative symptoms.5″

Or when put into non-medical jargon:

“Recent evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggests that the efficacy and effectiveness of antipsychotics to produce clinically meaningful benefits for people with psychotic disorders have been overestimated.”

Translation: Ooops. We goofed.

A meta-analysis showed that although there may be demonstrable effects of antipsychotics in comparison with placebo, the improvements over placebo are not as great as previously thought: …

Translation: These are not the ‘cures’ we claimed they were.

… the average change in symptoms rated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) attributable to antipsychotics did not meet an empirically derived threshold for minimal clinical improvement …

Translation: The drugs are largely useless – but the research papers look good!

… and only 17–22% experienced an important benefit (significant improvement or prevention of relapse) which could be attributed to the drugs rather than to placebo effects or natural recovery.

Translation: 80% of people were wasting their time taking these.

A subsequent systematic review concluded that the improvements claimed for antipsychotics, old and new, are of questionable clinical relevance,3 with most trials failing to demonstrate even minimal improvement measured using the PANSS.

Translation: The fact that these drugs are close to useless is so important/surprising/horrifying, we had to find a way to say it again.

There is also growing recognition that there is no discernible difference in effectiveness between first- and second-generation antipsychotics, supported by evidence from a recent meta-analysis.

Translation: Forget the hype. The newer drugs are just as useless as the older ones.

It is also relevant that there is evidence from double-blind trials in healthy volunteers that antipsychotic medication can result in secondary negative symptoms.

Translation: The drugs can even CAUSE the same problems they were meant to treat!

I learned my psychiatry in the 1990s during what was called the “Decade of the Brain”: a big time for research into neurology, neurochemistry and putting psychiatry onto a proper medical footing.

Unfortunately what that decade should have taught us instead was … humility.

How to Reduce Surgical Deaths By 47%

When I left standard general practice back in 2000 I recognized that the family doctor was going to be making way for the Nurses.

The growing reality is that government can’t afford to pay for doctors – nurses are much cheaper.

BUT … I also recognized that nurses – as heretical as it sounds – are probably better for the patient’s health too.

Doctor’s, as well meaning as they generally are, can be dangerous cowboys.

Nurses don’t have the mindset of doctors. They have been trained much more in the way Dr Atul Gawande recommends in this video below.

Hopefully we are seeing the rise of a ‘new medicine’ in the seeds of this talk.

[Note: the surgical part starts at 13:00, but the whole video is well worth watching.]

Lessons From One Brave Woman

It’s been a long while since I added to this blog. Many things have tempted me to do so, but this one couldn’t be refused.

As of this writing the video has had over 2.3 million views.

To quote the blog I found this on:

She comes in at :52 on the video. This is what non violent, non compliance looks like. I hope you all see the courage it takes to speak logic and truth in potentially violent situation.

We are told that our soldiers are brave for pulling a trigger.

It takes much more courage to step in front of that man and say no.

Are you prepared for the worst?

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