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In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen share more content from the sixth and final week of The End of Mental Illness Live Class. This episode features the story of Dave and Bonnie, a married couple who always seemed to be fighting. After finally failing marital therapy, they went to Amen Clinics as a last resort. What they discovered in one session saved their marriage and changed everything in their lives.
Daniel 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.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr Daniel Amen:
Hi, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.
And I’m Tana Amen.
We’re so excited you’re with us. For this week’s series, what we’re doing is we’re playing the live class from The End of Mental Illness.
We wanted you to join us on this journey because we had such a good time in our class, and the people who joined us just saw such incredible transformation that we wanted to share the challenge with our tribe. So we wanted to share this with you, and we hope that you will join us in the challenge.
Then about 18 months ago, I was invited to the White House. That was cool. They asked me, “What’s your big idea on the mental illness crisis in America, the opiod epidemic and prison reform?” So those were the three things we were discussing. And my big idea, and it remains this way, is to create a nationwide brain health campaign taught in schools, prisons, churches, in the workplace. This is just so important. It’s why we’re doing this live class. We need brain warriors to help us create this brain health revolution. People who get healthy as a group-
Yeah. See, that’s it.
Doubles their chance of success.
See. I was right.
Yes, dear. Focusing on brain health decreases your risk of anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and addictions. Are these mental illnesses? I would argue absolutely not. They are brain health issues that steal your mind. Get your brain right, and your mind follows. You also become a better son, a better friend, a better mother, and a better grandfather.
One of my favorite stories ever is of Dave and Bonnie who failed marital … How do you fail marital therapy?
When you don’t get the outcome that you’re trying to achieve.
Well, after three years-
When you get fired.
And $20,000 the therapist told them to get divorced. Now, how many of you have been to marital therapy? I, my first marriage, I went to marital therapy. Did you ever go to marital therapy?
Let’s not have this discussion. Let’s just not.
Well, we never went to marital therapy.
No. We’ve never had marital therapy.
Which is not a bad thing.
No, no. No. Yeah, I’m definitely not saying it’s a bad thing. I just don’t want to have the discussion about the first time around. Let’s just say we failed.
So they failed, and the therapist told them to get divorced. So they went for three years, spent $20,000 and at the end the therapist said, “This is not going to work.” And they got upset because they wanted to be married. The therapist got nervous and she said, “Well, I know a clinic in Southern California.” We have eight clinics around the country: Bellevue, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York. She said, “I know a doctor who takes care of really difficult people. You should go see him.” So she flunked them and then shamed them. And they came to see us. As part of our process we look at your brain. I mean, how the heck do I know what’s going on with you unless I look? He, Dave, was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder. Had a bad temper.
I just think that’s funny.
He was diagnosed with personality disorder, ADHD and bipolar disorder. This is common for us. This is the common person who comes-
Yeah, let me clarify. I don’t think it’s funny that he was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder. I think it’s funny that they call it that. IED. What were they thinking?
They call it based on what they see rather than based on-
But an IED. Really?
Yes, no it’s funny. Okay. So we scan them because we don’t know what’s going on. She has a healthy brain. So hopefully by now you’re beginning to look at SPECT scans and they measure blood flow and activity. Hers is healthy. He looks like he’s a drug addict.
That’s what I would think.
Except in his history … Because if you come see us, we take very detailed histories He said he never used drugs.
And I would think he was lying.
And he didn’t drink. But what’s the first thing-
Lie, lie, lie.
They teach us in psychiatry school-
I just know that from my family.
That’s actually in the relentless [inaudible [00:06:15] scared child. So the first thing I did when I saw them is I asked him in front of his wife, “Is that true? You don’t drink and you’ve never used drugs?” And he said, “Dr. Amen, I have many problems. That’s not it.” And then I turned to his wife and I said, “Is that true?” And she said, “Oh yes, Dr. Amen, he doesn’t drink. He’s never done drugs as far as I know. He’s just a jerk.”
That’d be the diagnosis I’d give him.
And like you, I chuckled, but in my head, I went, “Why does his brain look like this?” And what I’ve learned from doing the 160,000 scans is that when there’s a brain like this and they deny drug or alcohol use and their wife says, “No way,” there’s something else damaging his brain. And so I went through the list. Did he have a near drowning episode? Because that can damage your brain. Any form of anoxia or lack of oxygen can damage your brain. Did he have an infection like Lyme Disease or herpes encephalitis or Epstein-Barr or toxoplasmosis, which you get from cats? Did he have an environmental toxin like mold exposure or volatile organic solvents. Some of the painters are some of the worst brains I’ve seen. Does he have severe, low thyroid? I mean, you know how you feel when your thyroid’s low. Or anemia. Low red blood cell counts is very important. None of those are mental illnesses.
He has a brain problem so you can diagnose him bipolar all you want, but those meds aren’t going to work for him. You can diagnose him with ADD. And those meds aren’t going to work for him unless you figure out why you have symptoms of bipolar disorder. Why you have symptoms of ADHD. And that’s sort of the whole point behind The End of Mental Illness. They’re not mental illnesses.
And so I asked him where he worked and he said, “I work in a furniture factory.” And I said, “What do you do?” And he said, “I finish furniture all day long.” He was doing drugs. In fact, he was doing the worst drug of abuse, which is inhaling organic solvents. Did you know that? That’s the worst drug?
Well, think about kids huffing and stuff like that. It’s terrible.
I’m also a child psychiatrist. I had a four-year-old once who used to open the gas tank on the lawnmower and put his mouth over it and then inhale. And he came in my office and I had those dry erasers-
Yeah, they love the smell of those.
And he takes the cap off. This is not going to be good. And I said, “Well, do you wear a mask?” And he said, “Well, they tell me I should, but I don’t.” And I’m thinking to myself, “This is not the sign of intelligent life.” But I don’t say anything because I have good frontal lobe function because I’m like, “That’s not going to help.” It’s very important to inhibit every stupid thing you think. You’re inhibiting now, aren’t you?
I was just thinking sometimes men don’t do that, and we’re very quick to help you.
But did you know, I did this study in between the male and female brain, and guys tend to have sleepy brains. Women tend to have-
Very busy brains. But makes them a great leader because the executive part of their brain really works much harder.
We multitask so much.
So I looked to Bonnie and I said, “When did he become a jerk?” And she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Did you marry him that way? Do you have daddy issues you’re trying to work out?” And she said, “No. When we first got married, he was great. It wasn’t until about five years ago,” and then she put her hand over her mouth and she said, “Oh my God. It wasn’t until about the time he got this job in the furniture factory that his behavior started to change. Do you think he’s being poisoned at work?” I said, “I think he is.” And in that moment he went from being a jerk, he went from being someone she should divorce, that everyone was telling her she should divorce, to someone who was sick and needed help.
Well, and it happened while he was trying to support his family.
So in his attempt to be a good husband to go to work to support his family-
And you wonder how often-
He’s being poisoned.
And you wonder how often that happens with construction workers and they get head injuries.
Firefighters, I mean, my gosh, they’re our heroes, but they get brain damage.
Or police officers who are under chronic stress.
I mean, how many sad cases have we seen?
It’s easy, easy, easy, easy to call them bad. It’s much harder to ask why. Easy to call people bad. Harder-
Yeah, I hated that.
To ask why.
When you told me that.
Do you want to share?
Come on, you should share.
I’m really good at calling people bad. It’s a skill set I’ve honed over many years. Then you start dragging all of my family members back into my life. “We need to know why they’re acting like that.” No, actually I don’t. I just need them to stay away. You’re like, “No, no. I need to scan all of them.”
So that moment changed everything. Think about it with me. Say she would have divorced him, say she would have taken the professional help. Taken the advice of the helper, and he has no brain resources. I mean look at that. He has literally-
No resources in his brain. And so he marries the woman of his dreams. He acts terrible. He feels awful about himself. He can’t control it. And everybody’s just calling him bad because he was diagnosed with mixed personality disorder with narcissistic and antisocial features. Do you know what that means?
You’re a jerk.
I could think of other words but-
It’s just our technical … It’s just how we bill insurance for you’re a jerk.
Code for you’re a jerk.
So if she would have divorced him and he has no brain resources then-
He could have become dangerous.
He easily could have hurt himself.
I mean, how often do you see that?
Or hurt his family and then hurt himself. And how often, just as you said, do you see that?
Well, and we saw that in the hospital all the time.
All the time. I worked in trauma unit. Gunshot wounds, assault. All the time.
So what did we do? I took him out of work, and ultimately they transferred him because they knew they were liable. They transferred him to another position in the company, and we put him on a brain rehabilitation program.
Now, you’ve been with us six weeks, so you’re going to have a sense of what we did. We attacked each of the BRIGHT MINDS risk factors from hyperbaric oxygen to multiple vitamin to high-dose fish oil to brain and memory power boost that works in six different ways. We had him avoid anything that hurts his brain, including inhaling organic solvents, engage in regular brain healthy habits, including losing weight and getting his blood sugar under control, balancing his hormones, working on sleep, helping him not believe every stupid thing he thinks. And you could just see his wife relax.
Yeah, because there’s hope.
And he become engaged.
There’s hope now.
Because there’s hope.
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