Category Archives: Life & Death

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

Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree

Human beings are incredibly creative.

When I first heard about the idea of this book "Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree", it was from the author’s father, Steve Andreas. Steve was doing a training in Australia on “Self-Esteem”. On the first day, he also mentioned 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.

Five years later, this book finally arrives, written by his son Mark Andreas. 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…

Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree: 61 Stories of Creative & Compassionate Ways out of Conflict

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.]

Serious Illness And Trauma – Support For The Carers

In my original 7 years of training to be a medical doctor there were gaps.

Some of those gaps I have filled. I spent time with Aboriginal people in rural Australia. I assessed elderly and frail people for admission to Aged Care facilities (aka Nursing Homes.) I also spent time working in a hospital Palliative Care unit caring mostly for people dying of cancer, but also Multiple Sclerosis and other illnesses. Then I took up as a family doctor which covers all areas of medicine, including visiting patients (aka people) in their own homes. Ooh wow.

In all this I still never got the sense of what it was actually like to be a relative, friend or carer of someone who is seriously ill or hospitalized.

Medicine never taught me this.

I still don’t have much experience in this area. (Un?)fortunately most of those around me have remained healthy and well.

This is a gap in the training of most doctors and nurses.

This is one area where the medical system isn’t going to help you very much.

It’s hard to help yourself when there are very few people to turn to for expertise.

However I saw a story on TV about a guy who does know a bit more about this, Dale Elliott (www.DaleElliott.com), who is now a sit-down/stand-up comedian, professional speaker, and the first paraplegic skydiver in Australasia.

Dale’s story is that at age 26 he broke his spine and lost the use of his legs coming off a motorbike. But it was only after his short 2-month stay in hospital that he discovered how many issues there had been for his colleagues, friends, and family while he was concentrating on getting well.

He took this experience and turned it into a self help tool for carers of people with serious illnesses and trauma.

It is called ‘I’m Thinking Of You’.

Since its launch in 2007 the site has attracted TV attention as well as private and corporate recognition. It has cost over $300,000 to setup, and over a thousand “Care Zones” have been created. Much more is to come.

If you know a carer who supporting someone ill in hospital or rehabilitation then have them check out this site to support them and take a big hassle off their already full plate…

www.ImThinkingOfYou.com.au (don’t worry about the .au – this site is used worldwide – 30% from the US alone.)

-Dr Martin Russell

Introducing Gavin de Becker

One of the biggest aspects of self-help is most certainly safety and it’s opposite, danger.

A huge chunk of psychiatry is taken up with the manifestations of this issue – anxiety, phobias, worry, self-confidence issues, paranoias, anger, violence.

A patient of mine gave me the trememdous gift of introducing me to a man who specializes in helping people living in anxiety and fear.

For those of you like me who hadn’t heard of Gavin de Becker before, he is an American specialist in security issues, especially for governments, corporations, and celebrities, and yet his core message is very much for individuals in our everyday life.

When he was 10 Gavin de Becker watched his mother shoot his stepfather while his 2-year-old sister slept in her bedroom. When he was 16, his mother, a heroin addict, killed herself. Violence and things to fear has been an integral part of his life, and his work.

I was first given his book Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (And Parents Sane)” which was more meaningful for the fact that I have 3 young children of my own…

A generation ago, in Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, Benjamin Spock told parents that they already possessed most of the important knowledge about their children’s health. Similarly, when it comes to predicting violence and protecting children, I submit that you already know most of what you need to know.

You have the wisdom of the species, and the expert voice that matters most is yours. Yet, society has trained us to believe that we don’t know the answers, that professionals know what’s best and that good parents listen to them. As a result, we have come to believe that we will find certainty outside ourselves. We won’t, of course, but we can find the illusion of certainty, particularly if that’s what we’re willing to settle for.

-Dr Martin Russell

“I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna – A Review

This is the first full book review I have ever done on this blog. I am delighted that it is a review for this book, because “I Can Make You Thin” makes an historic contribution to weight loss and being naturally thin, and also to the entire field of self-help.

“I Can Make You Thin” - Paul McKennaFor almost 2 years now I have been handing this “I Can Make You Thin” 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.

At the risk of making this book seem overly 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 reviews that dismiss the 4 rules as just obvious common sense. I’m not sure what common sense they really mean since the rules conflict with the majority of weight loss 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 title of “I Can Make You Thin”, the pose McKenna has on the front, and the text on the back are bit over the top, but the inside is less so. The book is refreshingly thin :), jargon-free, and entertaining.

McKenna’s style also incorporates techniques such as tapping (TFT), 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 techniques won’t help if you have the wrong model.

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

Most people can go 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 information truly is comprehensive (unlike watching YouTube videos or reading this review.) Indeed this updated version covered the two or three remaining gaps I had found before, including the extra chapter which covers self-sabotage.

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 🙂

——————————–

So that is my review of “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna.

Here’s what I would like you to do.

—> Do you think this review is helpful?

– Please go to the copy of this I have put up at Amazon, find the bottom of the review where it says “Was this review helpful to you?”, and click YES.

Rate this review on Amazon here.

—> Want to buy this book?

– It’s finally available on Amazon.com here!

– If you’re in Australia I have copies of this book for Aust$30 + $5 postage and handling (includes GST) or, as I mention in the review I supply them for free to people who come to see me.

You can phone my office on 08-8362 5500 for more details, or send $35 direct to PayPal@-you know the drill to take this bit out-DrMartinRussell.com with name, address and the name of the book.

Obesity, weight and food is an incredibly important self-help area. I cannot recommend Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” strongly enough.

As with all self help, it’s now over to you.

-Dr Martin Russell

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Self Help For Your Financial Future

This website is about taking what I do in my counseling practice and bringing it out to a wider audience.

It also gives me a chance to cover topics that I only rarely get to mention for people who come to see me.

One such topic is self help for your financial future.

If you are going to help yourself in your psychological outlook, your physical health, and your ability to contribute to the world, you need to take care of your own financial future.

I’m no expert in the financial area, but many people who have come to me with the diagnosis of “Depression” have one of their biggest depressing worries as finances.

Almost always I find that their finances are in fact depressing. They aren’t making it up, their finances are actually bad. They are in fact going backwards and/or bankrupt, or they have no ability to create safety and stability into the future.

My take is that with the aging of Western populations, and the extensive systems of welfare and healthcare support, and with the spending of successive governments on largely short-term outcomes rather than thinking over many generations, the world’s financial future is very bleak.

You can be seeming to do very well for yourself, but the world can still swamp you.

See my post about the cost of health care turning into the entire government budget by 2026-2032.

http://www.drmartinrussell.com/why-help-yourself/

Be Darwinian, or Richard Dawkinsian, about it.

But if you are serious about self help, don’t bury your head in the sand.

If you want a wake up call then take the time to watch the 2008 Predictions videos, in particular the last one with Mike Maloney, at…

http://www.RichDad.com

This information is for more than just 2008. They are the next 5-15 years predictions.

-Dr Martin Russell.com

Following Up

Last year in September I wrote about a 47-year old professor, Randy Pausch, and his inspirational “Last Lecture” following his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer.

If you want to know why death is such an important part of being human, then view the video on my previous post.

Back then he had wide publicity, from Good Morning America to Oprah, from ABC World News to The Wall Street Journal.

So now for an update.

Just two weeks ago on February 15th Randy passed a special milestone…

“It was August 15th, 2007, when I was told I likely had “three to six months of good health left.”

Today is six months from that day.

….

The doctors weren’t wrong; they always said that if the palliative chemo worked, I’d buy more time, but that it was a long shot. And the doctors have done a brilliant job of tweaking my regimen to help my odds. How much longer this will work is hard to know, but I’m going to keep having fun every day I have left, no matter how many or how few of them I get.”

Randy had planned to give the lecture and then move interstate with his wife and family to spend his remaining time creating memories for them.

It didn’t work out as planned.

Yes he has moved, and yes he has taken his family, and yes he has also created some great memories with them. His website has the pictures to prove it.

But he also hit upon a nerve with his “Last Lecture”. The video was viewed over a million times in the first month, and currently on Google video has 4994 comments, and almost a 5 star rating.

This has given Randy a different addition to his plan for living and dying.

In January a book that fleshes out details from The Last Lecture came out and you can find it here:

www.TheLastLecture.com

What next with this?

I don’t know.

But when I spent 3 months working in palliative care I liked the medical term for when cancer goes away.

Remission.

Or, put another way, Re – Mission. Finding once again a purpose for life.

Who knows how much of what has happened with Randy is from the various treatments he has been trialed with, how much is his own personal health and fitness work, and how much is just sheer luck.

But if Randy does live on for a long time, then re-mission will be a very apt term.

Even more so because of Randy’s passion for Star Trek, and his childhood dream to be like Commander Kirk leading all those missions!

Could it really be that it is cancer will help him to achieve a childhood dream?

-Dr Martin Russell

Life Is A…

Medicine can be so arrogant sometimes.

How can doctors “save people’s lives” when people just die later of something else.

The latest cancer treatment announces it has reduced the mortality by half. Really. Please put the time-frame back in and say something like, “within the first 5 years after treatment.”

Human life is after all, as the saying goes, a sexually-transmitted terminal disease.

Would we be better off removing the idea of “saving” people, or of “curing” disease?

“Cure” is often a bad description. Perhaps “life-long remission” is more accurate.

And in fact “getting ill” is not correct either. In this era of genetic fatalism how about “initial spontaneous relapse” for any new illness.

The bugs and nasties are all around us just waiting for us to succumb. Modern medical theory says that cancers are already in us being cleaned up by our immune system until the day that they escape and take their opportunity to wreak havoc.

Accepting the end will come brings importance to the fact that we are here now.

Are you waiting, or are you making the most of how your life is today?

-Dr Martin Russell

It’s All In Your Head

A man came to me for hypnotherapy because he was vomiting. Not just any vomiting either. He had had to be hospitalized and rehydrated.

His doctor’s couldn’t find a cause, so they did what doctor’s do when they can’t explain something. They suspect it’s in your head, give it an impressive label like psychogenic hyperemesis, and then they send you off to someone like me.

I did no hypnotherapy in the first session with him. Instead I took a detailed history and asked him, and his wife who came with him, as many questions as I could.

In the end I explained to them that although I could give hypnotherapy a go, I could find no clear psychological reason why he would be vomiting. I had no other explain for why he was vomiting, but as far as I could work out it was not in his head.

His wife and he went away disappointed.

Later that year I was at the only counseling conference I have bothered to go to since I started my counseling work, and someone happened to present a series of cases of vomiting of unknown origin. My ears pricked up. The extra factor was that the people in each case needed to take lots of really hot showers or baths, up to 10-15 times a day so they could feel better.

The connection was found to be chronic high-dose marijuana use and severe, hospitalizing vomiting was a newly reported side-effect of cannabis!

Bingo!

I phoned up the man who had come to see me earlier that year and spoke to his wife.

Turned out he was in hospital again for dehydration and even worse than ever. So I arranged to go and visit him in hospital, and just in case he was going to deny any drug use I didn’t mention it on the phone.

When I got to the hospital I spoke to the doctors looking after him and they listed the battery of tests that they had run on him in this admission and previous ones. I was horrified to discover that they had already done a general drug screen, and it was negative for cannabis. My big idea was shattered.

I went in and spoke to the man and his wife, but it was true. He had no interest in hot showers. In fact he said to me he wished he did because then he could have been cured by simply stopping smoking. He was looking in particularly bad shape and was looking for any cure. I sat down and tried a little relaxation hypnosis with him, but it didn’t seem to help either of us.

About 6 months later I got a call from his wife. She was calling to let me know that her husband had died, and to say thankyou to me for my efforts.

A couple of months before his death they had in fact found a diagnosis. I think it was amyloidosis. I just remember the wife saying that the diagnosis had come up twice on episodes of the TV show “House”.

But instead of diagnosis in days like on TV, her husband’s diagnosis took years and by then it was too late stage.

I was very glad to get the feedback about what really happened.

I got feedback. She got a prematurely dead husband.

That’s all that is in my head now.

-Dr Martin Russell