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Dr Daniel and Tana Amen chat with Author and New York Times bestselling author Jay Shetty. They discuss personal struggles and how redefining “responsibility” can change the way you see helping others.
Daniel G Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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I’m so happy to see you both. Thank you so much for tuning in. How are you?
Thanks for having us.
We are awesome and happy to hang out with you.
Yeah. I love having you here and I’m so glad that my audience is going to get to tap into both of your geniuses and your mind today and all your great insight and advice. So this is day three of our online mental health festival and I want to hear from both of you about your incredible insights and I want to start with you, Dr. Amen. Based on something we talked about in my podcast and I remember you redefining our challenge is not being mental health but brain health. And when you shared this with me, this was truly unique, something I’d never heard before and I’d love for you to share that with everyone who’s listening and watching today.
Well, thank you so much. I have a new book, The End Of Mental Illness where I argue… I’ve been a psychiatrist almost 40 years and I’ve always hated the term mental illness because it shames people. When you call someone mental, that’s not a good thing. It’s stigmatizing and then about 30 years ago I started looking at the brain and I realized most psychiatric problems are not mental health issues at all. Rather, they are brain health issues. And this one idea just changes everything. Get your brain right and your mind will follow. And very few psychiatrists, psychologists ever talk about brain health. You need to eat right, you need to exercise, you need to take your supplements because if the hardware of your soul, your brain is not right, it won’t run the software program.
That’s incredible, truly. Every time I hear you say that I’m, “Oh gosh, I need to start focusing on my brain more so.” It’s a great reminder for all of us and I would encourage everyone to go and get a copy of The End Of Mental Illness to get that beginning journey of where to start at any of Dr. Amen’s work. But, Tana, you obviously just recently or about to release this incredible book called The Relentless Courage Of A Scared Child and I haven’t had an opportunity to sit with the book yet and I’m excited. I know we’re going to figure out how to get you on the podcast and have a conversation in deeper. I’d love to do that.
But [inaudible [00:03:25] I love the title and I love the cover. I have it here and every time I look at the cover, it’s captivating. It’s captivating because it just brings me into that feeling of being a scared child and I think all of us are carrying around a scared child inside of us. So tell me what that title means to you and how that connects with mental health.
So I grew up in a very chaotic environment as did so many of us, very chaotic, lots of trauma, lots of addiction, lots of mental illness or what we call mental challenges, and as a result, out of my own survival, I learned to build walls, isolate, pull away from people, disconnect. And you know, if you don’t want to reconnect with people or if you want to stay disconnected, here’s just a little tip, FYI, don’t marry a psychiatrist because he wants to fix everybody.
So Daniel’s always nudged me to reconnect and be curious instead of furious. It’s like why did they behave that way? Maybe it’s not all just about willpower. Did they have a head injury? We look at mental health through four circles – biological, how is your body functioning; psychological, your mind, spiritual, what is your meaning and purpose; and social, who are you connected to because people are contagious. And when I started thinking about my family through that lens, it was uncomfortable because I really wanted to stay disconnected and distant from all that chaos. But then all of a sudden I felt this level of responsibility and I love the word responsibility because it means the ability to respond. It doesn’t mean taking blame, it means the ability to respond.
So writing my story was one of the most powerful things I could do. It really was uncomfortable, but gave me the opportunity to see some of the chaos and some of the trauma through an adult lens and just heal and see that many of these people were doing the best they could with what they have because it was pretty crazy. Growing…
It’s not only beautifully written, it’s fun, it’s funny. It’s disturbing to just talk about. One of my favorite stories in the book is how she disconnected from her dad who was a pastor who embezzled from the church and cheated on. I mean, it was just not good and she had pushed him away. But when we first dated, he had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and I’m like, “Well, I have to see him.”
And I’m like, “No, this is like Jerry Springer material. We’re not bringing him into my life.”
And I found through imaging that he didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease. He had something called pseudo dementia which is severe depression that masquerades as Alzheimer’s disease. And over the next six months he went from being a recluse to someone who was giving all-day seminars at the church. And even though he died five years later, it had nothing to do with his mind. He died with a very clear mind in Tana’s arms.
With me praying for him and I realized in that moments, one of the big lessons in my book, one of the big overarching themes is sometimes you’re called to do something that you don’t want to do. And you don’t realize that the help might be for someone else, but the healing is for you. So don’t rob yourself of those opportunities to heal by helping someone else even when it’s uncomfortable.
That’s a really interesting perspective and I love that redefinition of the word responsibility. I’ve never, ever heard that, never thought of it like that. The ability to respond, not taking blame, not feeling guilty, not saying, “Now I have to sort this out,” but just saying, “Well, let me find the ability to respond.” I think that’s incredible.
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Daniel G. Amen, MD:
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