The Steps to Becoming a Brain Health Warrior

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Your brain’s wellness is probably one of the most neglected health concern. In today’s episode the podcast, we’re going to discuss how you can turn this mentality around, what steps you should take and where you can expect to be if you do the right way of taking care of your brain health.

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Donny Osmond: Hi. I'm Donny Osmond, and welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way, hosted by my friends Daniel and Tana Amen. Now, in this podcast you're going to learn that the war for your health is one between your ears. That's right. If you're ready to be sharper and have better memory, mood, energy, and focus, well, then stay with us. Here are Daniel and Tana Amen.
Dr Daniel Amen: Hi. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen.
Dr Daniel Amen: In this episode, I'm actually going to be the one that talks about why I care about what we do, and in the process we're going to give you the single most important lesson we've learned from nearly a hundred-thousand scans that we've done here at Amen Clinics over the last 23 years on patients from 111 countries. So, Tana fell in love with me because I was so cute. I am actually in the middle of seven children. I have an older brother and an older sister, and four younger sisters, surrounded by estrogen my whole life.
Tana Amen: I often say that you came housebroken and fully trained. I am grateful to his sisters.
Dr Daniel Amen: But my father called me a maverick growing up. To him, it was definitely not a good thing. When I turned 18 in 1972, the draft was still going on. There was a draft lottery. My number was 19, which meant bye, you're going to get drafted. So, I joined actually to be a veterinarian's assistant. I thought, oh, well, maybe I could have a choice in the kind of job I had. I was thinking about being a veterinarian.
Tana Amen: They lie, don't they?
Dr Daniel Amen: The recruiter totally lied to me, and I ended up as an infantry medic. But I loved being a medic, and that is really where my love of medicine was born. But very quickly, I learned I didn't like sleeping in the mud or the idea of being shot at.
Tana Amen: So, is that why I still cannot get you to go camping? He still will not camp.
Dr Daniel Amen: It was not that much fun. So, I got myself retrained as an X-ray technician, and what our professors used to always say is, "How do you know unless you look?" I loved being an X-ray technician, and I loved taking pictures. I mean, it was awesome and fun and interesting, and it really solidified my desire to be a doctor. So, when I got out of the military in 1975, I changed my major in college to being a premed, and I was fortunate enough to do really well in school, and then get into medical school. During my second year of medical school, someone very close to me tried to kill herself, which just horrified me. So, I brought her off to the Department of Psychiatry at Oral Roberts University where I went to medical school, and just fell in love with the doctor that she saw. His name was Stan Wallace, and he was kind, compassionate, caring. I realized if he helped her, it wouldn't just help her. It would end up helping her, her husband, her children, and even her grandchildren, as they would be affected by someone who was happier and more stable.
So, I really fell in love with psychiatry because I realized it had the potential to change generations of people. I have not regretted it one minute. I love being a psychiatrist. Now, if we fast forward to 1991, I'm a psychiatrist now nearly 10 years, and I go to my first lecture on brain SPECT imaging. SPECT is a nuclear medicine study. It looks at blood flow and activity, looks at how the brain works. Dr. Jack [Pauley 00:03:55] was the nuclear medicine physician who gave us the lecture, and he said SPECT was a tool to give psychiatrists more information on their patients, to help them, so that we would become more effective in helping our patients. That one lecture combined my two loves, imaging and psychiatry, and really created a revolution in my life.
Over the next 23 years, my colleagues and I would build the world's largest database of brain scans related to behavior. The six Amen Clinics now are the most active imaging centers in the world when it comes to brain imaging for psychiatry. So, behind me are two SPECT scans. The image on the left, these are healthy scans, shows the outside surface. So, it's the same person. We're just looking at their brain in two different ways. SPECT is different than a CAT scan or an MRI. Those are anatomy study. SPECT looks at how the brain functions. So, the image on the left, full, even, symmetrical activity. The color doesn't mean anything. The image on the right shows the most active areas, which are typically in the back part of the brain.
Tana Amen: So, I have a lot of people ask... They don't understand why an MRI or a CT scan is any different than this. I love this analogy because I think it's very clear, if I can quickly just throw this out there. So, if you take a computer, because I have mine, two of them recently crashed, if you take a computer, and you drop it on the floor, and it crashes, and it will not turn on, but you were to get an MRI or a CT scan of it, in essence, it would look like it was in perfect shape. Right? Because it's in one piece. All the parts are still in there. Everything's fine. But if you try to turn it on, it's not going to run right, and that's what a SPECT scan does, is it shows you how it's functioning. So, that's the difference.
Dr Daniel Amen: Or another analogy, if you took a car engine, and you got an MRI of the car engine, it would look like all the parts, but it wouldn't tell you anything about how it works. So, an MRI will tell you if you have a brain. It won't necessarily tell you how it's functioning.
Tana Amen: It'll tell you if you have a tumor, but it's not-
Dr Daniel Amen: SPECT really tells you three things, good activity, too little, or too much. So, if we compare a healthy scan on the left to one of the first scans I did, this was on Geraldine who came to the hospital with resistant depression, she had two huge right hemisphere strokes, or if we look at someone who has Alzheimer's disease, the back half of their brain is deteriorating. What we now know, Alzheimer's actually starts in the brain decades before you have any symptoms, or if we look at someone who had traumatic brain injury, you can really easily see the difference in the scans. Often in traumatic brain injury, the MRIs and CT scans are normal because the anatomy is fine. It's the physiology or the function that's not.
Tana Amen: Well, and what's so interesting is you can actually see where it's at, which tells you a lot about behavior. I just find that fascinating.
Dr Daniel Amen: When I first started doing the imaging work we do, I was the director of a dual diagnosis unit. It's a psychiatric hospital unit that deals with drug addicts. When I saw healthy scans versus drug addict scans, I went, "Okay. The real reason not to use drugs is they damage your brain." In fact, at the time I had three children, and I brought the drug-affected scans home to my three kids, and effectively induced anxiety disorders in all three of them. Now that we have Chloe, she-
Tana Amen: And now four.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... totally gets that drugs are not a good idea for your brain. Sometimes we see brains that work too hard oftentimes, and if it works too hard in the front, as in the image behind me, that often goes along with people who can't stop thinking, who might have obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. Seizure activity usually shows up as a focal hotspot in one area of the brain, and that's why we use anti-seizure medicines to calm things down. In 1992, so now I'm doing the scans for a year. I'm so excited. When I graduated from medical school, I had two goals. I wanted to be a really good psychiatrist. I loved what I was learning and what I did, and I wanted to be a writer, and my goal was actually to write articles and books to translate the research of other scientists for the general population. So, we say I'm not that bright, so if I can understand things and explain them, then other people can too.
So, that was really my gift, to take complex concepts, really sort of take them apart to understand them, and then translate that for the general public. I had already written my first national book before I'd ever ordered a scan. So, as I start doing these scans, I start writing about them, because I'm getting pretty excited about this. In 1992, I go to the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting, to an all-day conference given by physicians at Creighton University on brain SPECT imaging in child psychiatry. Then there was another all-day conference on brain SPECT imaging and psychiatry and all, and I'm so excited because by then I'd already ordered hundreds of scans. I found them helpful, and I loved that my profession is moving forward. But at that meeting, there are researchers that told me and other people we shouldn't be doing this. You shouldn't use imaging in clinical practice. It was just for research. Now, think about what my dad said about me.
Tana Amen: That makes no sense.
Dr Daniel Amen: Think about what my dad said about me. When I heard them, I no longer look up to them. I begin to think there's something the matter with them, because I've already found them helpful. They're helpful in so many ways.
Tana Amen: Right, and we use these scans in the hospital. It's not like they don't work.
Dr Daniel Amen: The scans decreased stigma. They increase compliance. They give me more information to help my patients, and the Ivory Tower people go, "No, it's for us. It's not for you," at which point I become furious because it's just a bad position to take, to not use technology to help your patients.
Tana Amen: When it's available, and you know it works.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, I'm like, "You're kidding, right?" Psychiatrists make diagnoses by talking to people without any biological information. They actually make diagnoses like they did in 1840 when Lincoln was depressed. So, for a long time I loved Lincoln because he failed, and he failed, and he failed, and he failed. Then he became a wild success. So, he was very persistent, but Lincoln suffered with depression, and a lot of people don't know he had a bad head injury when he was 10 years old. He was actually kicked in the head by a horse and unconscious all night long. But throughout his life, he had several serious bouts with depression. In fact, in the winter of 1840, he was suicidal, and his friends took away his knives, and then he went to see his doctor, Anson Henry, and how did Dr. Henry diagnose Lincoln with depression? He talked to him. He looked at him. He looked for symptom clusters. That's how he diagnosed him. It's exactly the same way people were making psychiatric diagnoses in 1992. For that matter, for most people in 2015.
Tana Amen: Right, and I want to interject something here, because psychiatry doesn't have a great reputation in general. It doesn't. I know that's not a surprise to you. In fact, I almost canceled my first date with you when I found out you were a psychiatrist. But there's a reason for that. It's not just because. Many of us, including me, have had really bad experiences with psychiatrists for that reason, because of the guessing, because you get hurt, and I personally got hurt by it.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, guessing is not innocuous. In 1980, when I decided to be a psychiatrist, I told my dad, and you'll probably get the sense through our show that as much as I love my father, he was [crosstalk 00:12:03]
Tana Amen: I love his father, okay?
Dr Daniel Amen: My father had two favorite words. Bullshit was the first one, and no was the second.
Tana Amen: Okay. I love his dad. I don't know what that means, but...
Dr Daniel Amen: They have similarities. When I told him in 1980 I wanted it to be a psychiatrist, he got really angry at me, and he said, "What? You want to be a nut doctor? Why don't you want to be a real doctor?" It hurt my feelings, and at the time I really didn't understand, but now I sort of get it. It's because we don't act like real doctors. What other medical specialty makes diagnoses based on symptoms without any biological interventions?
Tana Amen: I guarantee you, somebody right now has a family member, or they themselves have been made worse by someone doing that. I guarantee it.
Dr Daniel Amen: No question. So, my comment back to people who criticized me was, "Well, don't you know that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists who rarely look at the organ they treat?" It's like, well, cardiologists look, neurologists look, your orthopedic doctor looks, gastroenterologist looks. Every other medical specialty looks. Psychiatrists guess. Because of that, they hurt people. Before I started imaging, I had hurt people. They'd come with the classic symptoms of depression, and I'd put them on Prozac or medication like Prozac. Some people would get better. Other people would get worse. They'd become homicidal or suicidal. I had somebody, they meet all the criteria for ADD or ADHD, on Ritalin. Some people, it would be like a miracle. They'd go from Ds and Fs to As and Bs, and other people would now become anxious. They'd start picking at their skin. They couldn't sleep. They'd become paranoid. It's like, well, how the heck would I know?
So, I really felt like I was throwing darts in the dark at people. There is a reason most psychiatric medications have black box warnings. Give them to the wrong people, and you'll hurt them. So, you can see I'm passionate, and I'm persistent, because I had personal experience that it would help with the people I cared for, which are my patients. I wasn't about to let some researcher tell me what I could or couldn't do at the time. Still, I'm a double board-certified psychiatrist, so that means I went to medical school for four years, I did five years of a psychiatric residency and a fellowship, I took the tests, and all the trainings. So, I'm board-certified in general psychiatry and also in child and adolescent psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. So, I have all the credentials. So, the fact that someone at a university or at the National Institute of... "No, no, you shouldn't do that," it just didn't cut it with me because what it left me with is guessing. That's wrong when I could have more information.
Tana Amen: I thought it was so interesting. So, when I did not cancel my date with you, when I actually met you... So, I'm a neurosurgical ICU nurse, and so when I met you, and you started telling me what you did, my first thought was, "Okay. Well, that's really different. Why don't all psychiatrists do that?" It made no sense to me. So, I couldn't sort of wrap my brain around why more people didn't do that. This was very different. But it made perfect sense to me. In fact, I couldn't figure out why everyone wasn't doing it. So, from a standpoint of somebody who works in the hospital, deals with scans all day, we do do SPECT scans, so it didn't make sense to me that more people weren't using them.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and one way you get someone to fall in love with you... I mean, people go, "How'd you get the pretty girl?" Is you do something nice for someone they love. Tana told me about her dad who had been diagnosed with dementia, who was a recluse.
Tana Amen: I had to move him in with me. He wasn't answering his phone. He wasn't coming out of his house. He wasn't taking a shower, and he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, I'm like, "Well, we have to look. How do we know what he really has unless we look?" He was also diagnosed with depression, and when I scanned him, he didn't have Alzheimer's disease, and in fact, he was on-
Tana Amen: I mean, what a shock to us.
Dr Daniel Amen: He was on a toxic cocktail of medication, and so I changed his medicine, added some supplements, worked with him, and this, quote, demented recluse five or six months later is now giving all-day seminars at the church.
Tana Amen: Yeah, seven-hour seminars, and holding Bible study at my house.
Dr Daniel Amen: But if you don't look, you don't know. One of the big early lessons I learned is that illnesses like ADHD, anxiety, depression, addictions are not single or simple disorders in the brain, that they all had multiple types. So, if we look at two people with depression, what you'll see is one has really low activity in their brain, the other has really high activity. Do you think they'll respond to the same treatment? Of course not. How would I ever know unless I actually look? So, now I'm pretty passionate about this. Another early lesson is that mild traumatic brain injuries are a major cause of psychiatric illness, and nobody knows it. Why? Because they have bad behavior.
So, think of the football players, depression, suicide, domestic violence, and they ended up seeing a psychiatrist who, as a profession, as a whole, never look at the organ they treat. I'm thinking, oh, well, we should scan these people. So, here's an example. This is a 15-year-old boy who had failed three residential treatment programs. He kept getting kicked out, so his behavior is so bad at home they have to hospitalize him or put him in a special program, and his behavior is so bad there they can't contain him. So, they ended up coming to our clinic, and the whole left side of his brain is damaged. I'm like, "Well, when did he have a brain injury?" The mother just got so sad. She said, "I knew something was wrong with him. When he was three years old, he fell down a flight of stairs-"
Tana Amen: Oh, gosh.
Dr Daniel Amen: "... and he was unconscious for a half an hour, and the doctor at the hospital diagnosed him with mild traumatic brain injury." But if you look at his brain, there is absolutely nothing mild about what had happened to him. So, yes, his behavior was troubled, and people judged him as a bad boy, but in fact, he had a damaged brain, and that just wasn't fair.
Tana Amen: You know, it's interesting. I'm the first person to think and say that people should be held accountable for their actions. I mean, I'm not kidding about protecting innocent people, but what I love about our work is that we have the opportunity to really help people and prevent so much of this with the early signs. I love that... I mean, it frustrates me, and it excites me, because when I think about some of the people, the Batman shooter, there were early signs. If you had the opportunity, and you were able to look-
Dr Daniel Amen: But as a profession, we don't look. If you think of all the mass shooters-
Tana Amen: It's just so frustrating.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... almost all of them were seeing psychiatrists or had seen psychiatrists, and almost all of them had been on medication, in the dark. We'll talk about that in just a little bit. So, as I got really interested in the idea of traumatic brain injury and psychiatric illness, the literature is actually very clear. The scientific literature is very clear. Undiagnosed brain injuries are a major cause of homelessness. 58% of the homeless men in Toronto had a significant brain injury-
Tana Amen: See, that to me is huge.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... before they were homeless.
Tana Amen: 58%.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's a major cause of drug and alcohol abuse. Brand new study says if children have a brain injury, they are three-and-a-half times more likely to have problems with addictions. It's a major cause of depression. It's a major cause of panic attacks, ADHD, and suicide. The sad thing is they're living with a condition that no one knows about, that is treatable. That is a crime.
Tana Amen: When you think of all the other people that may not have had to suffer as a result-
Dr Daniel Amen: Right. So, as I went along in my career, I got so much criticism. I got reported to the California Medical Board. I was investigated for a year. Thank God at the end of the year they said, "We didn't find anything you did wrong. We just hope you'll publish your research so that other people can learn from your experience."
Tana Amen: And so, you started publishing.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, we've now published 72 studies. But as the criticism grew louder, so did the lessons. Judges-
Tana Amen: But you have to understand too, you're not a very conflict-seeking person. He's sort of conflict-avoidant, for the most part.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah. If people really knew me, I come out with really strong statements because I believe this, but I don't like to fight.
Tana Amen: No, he does not. That would be me. You don't like to fight.
Dr Daniel Amen: That would be you, yes.
Tana Amen: So, that was hard for him. I used to sit there and go, "I don't understand why this bothers you," because someone's criticizing him and just creaming him in an article, but in the same day, we're walking, and some mother comes running up, crying, throws her arms around him, and she's like, "You saved my son's life." Now, to me, it's a no-brainer. It's a big-brainer. It's not a no-brainer. It's a big-brainer which one's more important. I wouldn't care so much about the guy that's criticizing me that has no idea. He's clueless about what I'm doing. It's the people that you're helping that are important. But he doesn't like that kind of conflict, for the most part.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah. I wondered why God would put me in that situation, but it was just so clear. The message was so clear. So, the lessons went up. Judges and defense attorneys sought our help to understand criminal behavior. So, we have scanned more than 500 convicted felons, 90 murderers. Our work taught us that people who do bad things often have troubled brains. Okay, that's not a surprise. What did surprise me, they often had brains that could be rehabilitated. So, here's a radical idea. What if we evaluated and treated people who had troubled brains rather than simply warehousing them in toxic, stressful environments?
Tana Amen: Okay. Let's clarify-
Dr Daniel Amen: So, let's not lie to ourselves. See, I like that verse in the New Testament, John chapter eight. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free. When you put people in prison, you are not rehabilitating them. You are-
Tana Amen: Okay. There are a lot of people like me out there watching-
Dr Daniel Amen: ... punishing.
Tana Amen: ... but let's be very clear about one thing. We're not-
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, I'm just telling you, the truth is we are getting retribution on them. We are not rehabilitating them, to warehouse someone in a toxic, stressful in environment. Now, I want to keep our society safe. That is really important to me.
Tana Amen: You're talking to Mama Bear here.
Dr Daniel Amen: But shouldn't we also be scanning... Because most of the people that go to jail go home, and-
Tana Amen: Now, that's a good point.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... if you don't work on rehabilitating their brain, recidivism is anywhere from 40% to 70%, and so you're not investing in the health of our society. So, my experience-
Tana Amen: So, to your point-
Dr Daniel Amen: Let me finish. My experience is that we could actually, by investing in rehabilitating the brains in people who do troubled things, is that we could be making people more functional. I live in Orange County. It's a very conservative community, and I think this is the most conservative idea, that some people will think I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, and that's just not how I feel, because if we invest in people and their brain health, what we're doing is we're investing in their ability to stay out of jail, to work, to support their families, and pay taxes. But our society has got the Wall Street mindset of, well, how much money do I have now, as opposed to investing in the future.
Tana Amen: Let me say something to your point, to your credit, because I'm not about-
Dr Daniel Amen: We've had this fight.
Tana Amen: Well, this is to your credit. This is to your point. Now, I am Mama Bear. I'm not going to make any excuses for that. You hurt my kid, I don't want to hear any excuses. It's over. But that said, there is a prison, it was a prison near Idlewild, somewhere in the Inland Empire, and they did something similar to what you're talking about. Now, they didn't scan. They didn't go to this extreme, but just by making changes, by including therapy, they changed their diet radically, they served literally no processed food or junk food at all, changed them to primarily plant-based diet.
What they did is they actually separated the prison into two sides, and they allowed the prisoners to choose. The ones who wanted to go through therapy, do gratitude, and have all these different aspects added to their lives, job training, as well as a healthy lifestyle, exercise, diet, and then they allowed the other side to do the traditional prison system. On the side where they actually changed their lifestyle, recidivism dropped to 2%. They closed it down. Now, why? I have no idea. It's ridiculous. Of course, I'm sure it had something to do with cost, but the point being-
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and the prison industry is a big industry that lobbies... I mean, it's-
Tana Amen: Well, and part of the complaint-
Dr Daniel Amen: ... criminal on how many people that we incarcerate with this mindset of let's be tough on crime without really trying to understand it and rehabilitate.
Tana Amen: But then to your point, these were people who were going home. Okay? So, whether we like it or not, they're being let out. So, recidivism dropped.
Dr Daniel Amen: Nobody thinks about the brain in the criminal justice system. My work says it should be planted right in the middle of it. Dostoyevsky, one of my favorite Russian authors, once said, "A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its criminals." As you know, he wrote Crime and Punishment. So, I say instead of just crime and punishment, we should be thinking of crime, evaluation, and treatment. So, let me get to the single most important lesson we've learned from looking at nearly a hundred-thousand scans. It's the theme of this show.
You can literally change people's brains, and when you do, you change their lives. You are not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better. We've proven it. I get so excited about this. So, Amen Clinics did the first and the largest study on active and retired NFL players. We started in 2007. The NFL was actively saying, "We don't know. We're studying the issue." Roger Goodell was in front of Congress in 2009 saying, "We don't know. We're studying," and Maxine Waters, the congresswoman from Los Angeles, said, "Commissioner, having you say you're studying traumatic brain injury in football is a conflict of interest."
Tana Amen: But my favorite part is the little mice wearing helmets. It was crazy.
Dr Daniel Amen: They were actually doing studies where they were putting little helmets on mice and whacking them in the head and going, "We can't tell."
Tana Amen: How crazy is that?
Dr Daniel Amen: Our study demonstrated on a hundred players damage everywhere in their brain. I mean, it was really global reduction of blood flow to their brain, but, and this was the exciting thing, we put them on a brain rehabilitation program. We're going to talk about it in many of our shows. So, lifestyle interventions, natural supplements, and what we found is 80% of our players showed high levels of improvement when they followed the plan. You got to follow the plan. We're so excited, but we've known that for a long time, and we've known that for decades. You are not stuck with the brain you have. We can make it better, but reversing brain damage is an exciting new frontier, but the implications are much wider than just traumatic brain injury. So, here's one of the girls, a teenage girl who was running away from home. She was cutting herself. She was suicidal. She was failing in school. She had really low blood flow to her brain, and on treatment, her brain was fuller, fatter, much more active.
Tana Amen: Oh, and by the way, she is now a junior in the top three in her class-
Dr Daniel Amen: I mean, it's just-
Tana Amen: ... in a private school.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... awesome, the difference that you can make by changing someone's brain. One of my favorite stories... So, one of the journals wrote a bad article on me. Some of my colleagues criticized me. I hate that. An hour after I read the article, I saw Nancy's follow-up scan. So, this is Nancy's first scan, 10 weeks before. Her husband is one of our football players, and Ray White played for the San Diego Chargers, and he joined my study, so I would see his wife who'd just been diagnosed with frontal temporal lobe dementia, bad dementia, and you could see in her scan the front part of her brain is deteriorating. It's dying. I said, "I agree with the diagnosis, but if she was my wife, and I like my wife-"
Tana Amen: At least, most of the time.
Dr Daniel Amen: "... I would do these things." So, I put her on a very aggressive brain rehabilitation program and said I wanted to see her back in 10 weeks. 10 weeks later, her brain is much better. She is better. So, I just read the article criticizing me, and then I see these two scans. I mean, this is why I do this work, because it changes people's-
Tana Amen: But see, I love what one of your players said. They only go after the guy with the ball. If you weren't making a difference, if you weren't shaking stuff up, nobody would be talking about you at all. So, they go after the guy with the ball.
Dr Daniel Amen: I mean, it's just, you're not stuck with what you have. You can make it better. It takes work, but it's possible. I have to tell you, the story that is my passion story, what has really kept me doing this all these years, is Andrew. So, Andrew was a little boy who at nine years old attacked a little girl on the baseball field for no particular reason. His mother called me crying, and she said, "Dr. Amen, he's just different. He's mean. He doesn't smile anymore. I went into his room today and found two pictures that he had drawn. One of them, he was hanging from a tree. The other picture, he was shooting other children."
Tana Amen: See, these are what we see on the news.
Dr Daniel Amen: Andrew was Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook waiting to happen. Now, 999 psychiatrists out of a thousand would have put him on medication or put him in psychotherapy.
Tana Amen: The hospital.
Dr Daniel Amen: In my experience, I had to scan him. How the heck do I know why a sweet little boy would do something so awful, that I had to rule out or rule in that he had a brain issue? In fact, this was the first case where he was missing his left temporal lobe. He actually had a cyst the size of a golf ball.
Tana Amen: Now, so people understand, the left temporal lobe is the part of the brain that's associated with behavior and temper.
Dr Daniel Amen: It certainly can be, and we'd already correlated... So, this is actually April 1995, and it's the first time I'd seen this, but I'd seen many left temporal lobe problems involved in aggression and violence. So, I was sad, but sort of glad I could explain his behavior, but then trying to get somebody to actually take it seriously and drain the cyst, turned out he had an arachnoid cyst occupying the space of his left temporal lobe, was a challenge. But Jorge Lazareff at UCLA drained the cyst, and when he drained the cyst, Andrew's behavior completely went back to normal. This was Andrew after the surgery, and now Andrew, who is my nephew, who's my godson, 18 years later, he works. He's a great kid. He owns his own home. He pays taxes. When you do this work... I mean, for me it has always been a privilege. I mean, when you have the privilege to change someone's brain, you not only change his or her life, you actually have the opportunity to change generations to come. You are not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better. God bless you.
Donny Osmond: Thanks for listening to today's show, The Brain Warrior's Way. Why don't you head over to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, that's brainwarriorswaypodcast.com, where Daniel and Tana have a gift for you just for subscribing to the show. When you post your review on iTunes, you'll be entered into a drawing where you can win a VIP visit to one of the Amen Clinics. I'm Donny Osmond, and I invite you to step up your brain game by joining us in the next episode.