“Our whole brain is organized for pleasure. We are hardwired for bliss.” – From CD 1
In the 3-CD audio series Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind, pharmacologist Candace Pert, Ph.D. —author of Molecules of Emotion who was featured in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!?—provides compelling evidence showing that the mindbody field resides in the entire physical body, not just the brain. For example, our entire gastrointestinal tract is lined with neurons, receptors, and peptides that are found in the brain. This is why what you eat can affect your mood. Endorphins and other mood-altering peptides are found in places other than the brain—such as organ tissue and bone marrow—and this particular “molecules of emotion” can be released during relationship bonding, orgasm, and as a “runner’s high”.
In Disc 1, Dr. Pert gives a live lecture relating fascinating scientific evidence about the mind/body connection. In fact, Dr. Pert says that the mind is not separate from the body because it doesn’t reside solely in the brain, as was once theorized. “Bodymind” is a field of energy that can be entered—and affected—at any point, much like the informational web of the internet.
Dr. Pert also explains intriguing new research about heart science and the dynamic range of emotions. For example, the old idea that a tightly regulated homeostatic human robot is the ideal for health and normalcy is not being borne out by research. In fact, the more “regular” the heart rate, the closer to death a person is! Like chaos theory, the more irregular the heart rate the healthier person—which shows that humans are meant to be dynamic creatures exploring a wide range of states and emotions.
CD 1 also covers ideas such as:
• There is no state of mind NOT mimicked by the immune system.
• Chakra regions are actually “mini-brains” that contain tons of peptides—converging ancient wisdom with classical neuroscience.
• Individuals are often controlled by a specific chakra center (e.g. led by the “gut” or by the “gonads”).
• The anxiety peptide and why this relatively new evolutionary state shows how “smart” you are.
• It’s a mistake to categorize some emotions as “positive” and others as negative. For example, anger can jump start the immune system and has been connected to the spontaneous healing of cancer/tumors. Rather, “emotional integrity” enhances health—the allowance of emotional expressivity.
• We all have non-pathological “multiple personalities” characterized by distinct attitudes, reactions, and even biology. Also, we create a new brain every day!
The end of CD 1 features a brief Q and A session with the audience. Participants asked intelligent and pointed questions about healing (such as how music heals and the efficacy of homeopathy), but, unfortunately, Dr. Pert only offers vague, general answers like “I can imagine that.” Also disappointing is the audio editing, which excises crucial explanations and segues—making for quite a few audio “double takes” on the part of the listener.
Discs 2 and 3 of Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind features a one-on-one interview between Sounds True founder Tami Simon and Dr. Pert. Some of the excellent questions that Ms. Simon asks of Dr. Pert include:
• What does it mean that the body is the subconscious mind?
• How do you define “mind”?
• What are the research findings supporting the idea that free will/choice resides in the frontal cortex?
• What part of the body is “in charge”?
• What do we know 100% about emotion?
• How is the gut entirely run by the molecules of emotion?
• How does something fit your category of an emotional, informational substance?
• What is the true cause of disease?
• What are the beliefs that enhance health?
Ms. Simon does her very best to cull relevant, practical information from Dr. Pert. I have to wonder if she was as frustrated trying to get a straight answer as I was hearing Dr. Pert offer vague generalities that never really answered many of the questions. For example, Ms. Simon asks something that I wanted the answer to from reading Dr. Pert’s book Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d and Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind: “The body produces substances that are similar to substances that people take to affect their emotional life. What does this knowledge tell us about how to work with our bodies?”
Dr. Pert’s reply? “Well that’s a great question. The implication is that we have the ability to be any state of mind we want to. We can internally deliver anything we want exactly where we want it.” Well no duh! But HOW do we achieve particular states? What foods, spiritual practices, or bodywork modalities link to specific states of being?
Ms. Simon appears to try to re-frame the unanswered question by asking, “Looking at what we now know for sure in terms of emotions, what are the implications for the everyday person who wants to be healthy?” This, in my opinion, is what readers/listeners want to know from Dr. Pert! But Dr. Pert answers, “Not to stifle emotions or let them all hang out in wild catharsis. Bottled up emotions build up pressure and we need to get in touch with our feelings.” Well, another “no duh!” Anyone who’s taken Psych 101 or counseling courses in college knows this, as well as anyone who has read some current Self Help and New Age books!
What I don’t understand is why Dr. Pert fails to answer these obvious questions in her latest book or in Your Body is Subconscious Mind. While listening to this audio series, I took some notes and one of the things I wrote was:
“Where is the practical information that we can use? That is, ___ emotional state is triggered by ___ peptides which are set in motion by ____ food, ____ experience/practice, ____ OTC drug, etc.”
Yes, we’re provided some answers (e.g. “meditation is good for you”, “emotional congruency is paramount”, and “we contain multiple selves”), but these ideas are found in other books and spiritual paradigms! I’m baffled as to why Dr. Pert doesn’t fill in the blanks. Either she’s a great researcher but a poor teacher, or she hasn’t yet made the leap between the research findings and the practical methods for creating desired emotional states (such as which foods relate to which emotions). Surely this has been done somewhere, because I heard Dr. Mehmet Oz (“YOU On a Diet”) on Oprah speak about cravings and emotional states—for example, craving salty foods is linked to feeling stressed. To her credit, Dr. Pert does share some potentially life-saving tidbits in this audio series. For example, she confirms something I’ve believed for quite some time: that are bodies are very fluid and that to get some kind of diagnostic test (e.g. blood work, CT scan, MRI, EKG, etc.) merely frames a few seconds in time. What if the “high blood pressure” wasn’t high after the test? What if the test confirms one state, but you’re body has moved on to another—one that is illness free? Diagnoses can become cemented in the psyche—perhaps codifying a particular disease in the body—especially when using the diagnosis as an “excuse”. (Maybe this is what Caroline Myss refers to as “woundology”?)
However, Dr. Pert makes some drastic medical claims (although she's not a medical doctor), such as "Chemo has not been proven to cure--or be a great treatment for--breast cancer."
If Dr. Pert’s appearance in What the Bleep Do We Know!? piques your desire to know more about peptides and “molecules of emotion”, then you’ll likely enjoy this 2 ½ hour CD series. However, if you’re familiar with basic biochemistry and current psychological and mindbody research, you may not find a whole lot new here. Surprisingly, one of the best features of Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind is the 18-page booklet that accompanies the CDs. It doesn’t appear that Dr. Pert wrote this lucid description (complete with a helpful drawing of receptors on the surface of the cell and how they bind with ligands), yet, it’s the best explanation thus far of Dr. Pert’s work aimed at laypeople!
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.