Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse

Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder  in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse, by author Laurna Tallman

Listening for the Light author Laurna Tallman channels her considerable insights gained from understanding the tasks of the left and right hemispheres of the brain into practical advice for regaining optimal physical and mental health.

In normal brain function, both cerebral hemispheres process information, such as language. Both sides work together to maintain physical coordination and take in complex information. The left hemisphere has more control in the processing of tasks such as language and logic, while the right hemisphere has more control in processing tasks related to creativity and intuition. In cases of schizophrenia (and other mental illnesses to varying degrees), language and logic are severely interrupted (deficient) while creativity and intuition are wildly chaotic (hampered by the left hemisphere deficits). This book delves into the question of what causes the left hemisphere to lose its dominance, or, to put it another way, what causes people with mental disorders to become disorganized in the skills most needed to manage daily life (language and logic)?

The brain and the entire body are powered by sound energy entering both ears. The “normal” function of the stapedius muscle of the right ear is to quickly and directly energize the “logical” left brain with sound energy. The stapedius muscle of the left ear launches sound energy entering the left ear on a circuitous route before feeding the information the larynx. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a brilliant French ear, nose and throat specialist, knowing that right-ear sound is a more direct route to the larynx, determined that it is the right ear that controls the voice, concluding that the voice can only reproduce what the ear can hear. Tomatis was not talking about “tone” (the quality of a sound) he was talking about “pitch” (the frequency of the sound being produced, e.g., “C” instead of “D-flat”). And he was talking, first, about singers. (His father was an opera singer.) He thought in terms of “overall pitch” of the speaking voice in various languages. He paid no attention to what caused nuanced tone in the speaking voice. (e.g. “flat” affect, a negative symptom of  schizophrenia.) He had no idea what caused garbled speech, although he knew the right ear needed to be dominant to stop stuttering and to help dyslexics. And herein lies Tallman’s neurological paradigm: His ideas of ear dominance did not extend to cerebral dominance. Tallman is the one who saw that connection: that altering the right ear was having a global effect on brain function by making the left-brain dominate in integrative processes. Tomatis just thought each half of the brain ran at a different speed. Integration wasn’t on his radar. 

Tallman asserts that most mental illness begins in the ear, and, specifically with a weakened stapedius muscle in the right middle ear. When the right ear stapedius muscle is either naturally weak or weakened by drugs, exposure to loud noises, etc., corrective stimulation needs to be applied. More energy needs to flow through the right ear to enable the left brain to assume its dominance in language and logic. Focused Listening strengthens the right ear to increase that sound energy flow. She makes an excellent case for why this is so.  When I came across Tallman’s book, having had some experience with the Tomatis Method, suddenly I had an comprehensive, coherent, and plausible explanation for the origin of my son’s symptoms and a clear idea, thanks to this book, on how to improve on the Tomatis Method‘s shortcomings. Continue reading “Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse”

Latest review of The Scenic Route

A Review of Rossa Forbes’s The Scenic Route: A Way through Madness
by Laurna Tallman

Rossa Forbes writes about her son’s schizophrenia with the clarity of an investigative reporter. She describes Chris’s symptoms as she observed and learned about them, including a very interesting perspective on his childhood for anyone alert to symptoms of early ear dysfunction. She faces with ruthless honesty the psychiatric and pharmaceutical establishments in her country of origin, Canada, and in Switzerland where the family was living. If she had been treated with equal candour and willingness to learn, she would have had a better grasp of Chris’s weak self-control, fragile grip on reality, fatigue, altered learning abilities, and other personality changes, as well as with the effects of medication on his former capabilities. Instead, like so many parents and caregivers, she had to learn about those characteristics of schizophrenia and of psychoactive drugs through trial and error. Like any parent whose child has been committed to an institutional setting for his or her protection, and the protection of others, she gradually learned that the medical/psychiatric profession strategies and medications do not heal, only control. At the same time, she noticed that vague hopes and promises of improvement came with those strategies and that they were proving false.

After three years of co-operating with this misleading medicalized paradigm, Forbes decided to explore other possibilities. She conceded the need for some medication, but she withdrew her son and the family from group therapy Continue reading “Latest review of The Scenic Route”

“Jennifer” Part II: It takes a village

In my last post I wrote about Jennifer landing back in the hospital after two years of progressively deteriorating behavior. I won’t be able to visit her until later this month after my vacation. Probably just as well, as by then, she may be be better able to receive visitors.

I’d like to set her up with Laurna Tallman’s focused listening by giving her a good set of headphones, an MP3 player onto which high frequency violin music has been downloaded, some mandala colouring books for adults, and a set of simple instructions.

Assuming Jennifer agrees to my offer, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to manage and safeguard the equipment over time and replace it when needed. Who will support her listening efforts through personal contact? (I’m in the process of moving far away and won’t be around after June to help her.) Here’s where I’m hoping to involve the members of a club that I belong to where Jennifer used to be a member. I’ll be asking the Board in May if the Club will take her on as one of their many charitable projects, to replace the equipment when needed, to make sure she’s got a reliable source of high frequency music, and to encourage her to keep listening.

How to cure schizophrenia

Pay special attention to today’s important post. Laurna Tallman has given me permission to reprint her original blog post (see below) in its entirety.

I discovered Laurna Tallman’s astonishing research during this past summer when I was lining up further Tomatis therapy for Chris and beginning therapy for me. I read her blog post and was impressed, but didn’t return to it until Chris and I had finished forty hours of standard Tomatis therapy spread over two sessions, one in September and the second one in November. The Tomatis director was very encouraging about Chris’s growing listening comprehension. On my part, I felt after only a few hours of the therapy that my vision has somehow expanded to take in things in my environment that I hadn’t seen before. For example, how come I hadn’t noticed how wide these streets are? Along with this came a burst in me of newfound enthusiasm for living. But, I was none-the-wiser about why this therapy might be well suited for schizophrenia, let alone “cure” schizophrenia. Doctor Alfred Tomatis didn’t have much to say about schizophrenia in his published work. You have to really dig deep to find out about alternative healing for schizophrenia buthey, that’s why I write my blog.

I re-read Laurna’s post a few weeks ago, did a bit of internet snooping around on her other postings, and my first reaction was: How can she be so absolutely convinced that just about all mental illness begins in the ear? (She tends to use italics a lot for emphasis.) My second reaction was: If someone is that convinced then I’d better listen. I’m so glad I did. Her research has put forth a coherent explanation of many of Chris’s puzzling symptoms, allowing me a eureka moment. I suddenly had a plausible, elegantly tied-together explanation for what was going on with him. Finally, I had found someone who’s certain about the causes of a condition that has everyone else throwing up their hands and saying “we don’t really know”.

I’m a believer in Laurna Tallman’s work and increasingly confident that Chris will shed all traces of the symptoms of schizophrenia that have plagued him for years. Using her academic background and herself and her family as the subject of her research, through her “focused listening” technique she has gone beyond the work of Tomatis and Bérard to help people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia become more left-brain dominant (i.e., rational, logical, energized, integrated, and organized). It’s all about strengthening a tiny muscle of the middle ear.

Laura Tallman’s post from the schizophrenia tab of MentalHealththroughMusic.ca

Check out more information at the CBT tab of MentalHealththroughMusic.ca

Schizophrenia

The idea that medical science really did not know any more than I did about what caused schizophrenia was a long, long dawn.

Daniel had been in a provincial psychiatric hospital and then had been moved back to the admitting general hospital. At last, the elderly psychiatrist I had been trying for weeks to contact for information about Daniel’s mental condition telephoned me. “I am Dr. R. You can pick Daniel up today,” she said.

“What is Daniel’s diagnosis?” I asked.

“Acute schizophrenia,” she answered.

“And what is his prognosis?” I ventured.

“Once a schizophrenic, always a schizophrenic,” she replied and hung up the phone.

It occurred to me that no doctor in her right mind would break that kind of news to a parent that way. But I already had reasons for distrusting the kind of “help” Daniel was getting from his psychiatrists.

I made the hour’s drive to the hospital, picked up our oddly subdued son, and asked him as we started home if he would be able to wait in the car for a few minutes while I stopped at the library. In terror as to what sort of things might go wrong if I left him unattended, I ran into the building, found the small section on health, and gathered psychiatric texts, stories by or about schizophrenics, and books about dyslexia into my carryall. My formal education on the state of the art of psychiatric knowledge about schizophrenia had begun.

The texts I read implied that differing forms of mental illness were like different kinds of skin diseases: different, but all happening in the same place — the brain. The more I learned about neurologists’ and psychiatrists’ probing of the brain for the cause of schizophrenia, the more I fell into the trap of thinking the brain became sick in a dozen different ways to produce various mental illnesses. Occasionally, I would encounter a doctor who mentioned similarities between one mental illness or another. In fact, manic depression and schizophrenia have many similar symptoms. Autism used to be called “infantile schizophrenia.” Asperger’s is like schizophrenia in some ways, too. But no one had a theory of how or why these conditions were related.

During several of Daniel’s episodes of schizophrenia I had noticed his ability to focus on conversation wavered and returned. I measured that fluctuation. The intervals were 2 minutes of clarity followed by 2 minutes of confusion to make a 4-minute cycle. The cycle persisted all day, every day. I measured that cycle twice again, years apart, during separate schizophrenic episodes and the results were identical. I knew that some physiological process was driving the changes in his brain. But what?  Between his severe episodes we struggled to help him to defeat his addictions. Sometimes he seemed to improve a little, then, he became acutely schizophrenic time and time again. One victory was titrating his medication to the lowest possible dosage for tolerable behaviour: 0.0625 mg. of risperidone, a minuscule amount. Continue reading “How to cure schizophrenia”

The scientifically demonstrated effects of qi on the human body

Here’s a YouTube clip showing demonstrable, measurable evidence of the effects of qi  on the human body. Austin Goh teaches human energy healing and is a master of Wing Chun kung fu.
Pier Rubesa is an independent researcher looking into the practical uses of sound waves in living systems as the basis for diagnostic schemes therapeutic systems and their interaction (bioharmonic research).

Chris and I were clients of Pier’s. You can see the room where, over the course of a year, Chris was treated by Pier using the same technology. The difference is that in this video, human touch, not sound waves, is the medium being manipulated to bring about changes in the body. If you look closer at the video you will see speakers situated at various points in the room. In a sound therapy session, Pier introduces pure sounds that vibrate to the individual colors of the chakras. The machine picks up the body’s reactions to the sound or the touch through sensors that are placed under the mattress.

Here’s a link to some of the posts where I discussed the sound therapy. (Note: Chris was quicker than most to achieve an out-of-body experience.) If you wish to read more, just put “sound therapy” in the search bar.
http://holisticschizophrenia.blogspot.ch/2009/11/holistic-explanation-of-out-of-body.html
http://holisticschizophrenia.blogspot.ch/2009/12/desert-matrix.html
http://holisticschizophrenia.blogspot.ch/2009/11/myths-are-public-dreams-dreams-are.html

TED talk on sound therapy

Editor’s note: TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas worth spreading,” which it makes available through talks posted on its website.

Julian Treasure, the author of “Sound Business,” is chairman of UK-based audio branding specialist The Sound Agency and an international speaker on sound’s effects on people, on business and on society.

His full presentation is found here.

“Less mainstream, though intellectually no more difficult to accept, is sound therapy: the use of tones or sounds to improve health through entrainment (affecting one oscillator with a stronger one). This is long-established: shamanic and community chant and the use of various resonators like bells and gongs, date back thousands of years and are still in use in many cultures around the world.”

Progress report from Chris

In the cranial-sacral therapy I have been doing for a few weeks, comfort is key, the therapy is intimate, you are placing your body into the therapist’s hands so it’s best to make the most of your time and listen to your feelings. At our last session the therapist stressed the importance of “mind-body dialogue,” keeping our thoughts firmly grounded in our real-world self. Strong feelings and judgments have their effect on the physical body and during the sessions I am encouraged to notice how certain thoughts are received, if they manifest themselves as tension.

Sound therapy continues to be a source of wonder and amazement. I’d never pay as much attention to a teacher at school or my GP, probably because my ST has all these cool gadgets, a lakefront view and a portrait from the adult version of “The Little Mermaid.” At each session after he plays his kaleidoscopic mix tape we share our impressions of what happened. I say this allows me to see clearly into my past, and he says each sound has with it a certain feeling associated with it. The channel of time is opened up.

Dr. Stern, my psychiatrist has all but said “reduce Serdolect at your own rate.” She genuinely supports my coming off this particular medication and is leaving it up to me. I’m down to about six milligrams from eight, and I could be as low as four by now if I paid more attention to the schedule for reduction prescribed online. Despite the lazy days of summer I’m more than willing to go for a jog in the morning or swim in the evening, partly as an effort to keep my weight down which has shot up again even over the past month.

I wish I’d paid more attention to my brother’s advice to find a job or a course to pass the summer because I don’t have anything to look forward to from one week to the next. Like many other hopefuls to the job market I’m throwing in my lot with a local technical school for computer training in the fall. It will be tough; I’ll have to work with younger people in a non-native language for me, learning something I’m not absolutely crazy about, but it will hopefully lead to better things. Thankfully there’s someone working with me who better grasps the language and the school’s policies. One of my goals is to find someone who wants to learn English to do things together and share language skills.

Chris Forbes

The Building of the Ego

Chris reports on his sound therapy progress

The past few weeks with sound therapy have been constructive, as we increasingly moved into the world of imagination. As the shaman says, “Sound is linked to memory,” and he’s really helped me by letting me release tension, from the present as well as the past. I remember hearing Ray of Light by Madonna at the end of my last session, which really describes his therapy in a nutshell.

What we did this time was the same six-color palette played in sequence, and the shaman gave me a “keyword” associated with each color. They were:

red: opposites
orange: movement
yellow: action
green: distance
blue: sound
violet: form

I didn’t know quite what to expect. A very interesting thing happened, which accelerated the time it took to achieve “zen” with the color therapy. Beginning with red (opposites), all the tension left me and I entered into a different space, a space that was not defined by my body but rather was defined by my “rational” mind, the part of me which had preferences and opinions. My mind was liberated, and while I did not enter into free fantasy or “lucid dreaming,” I was questioning things I took for granted, and how I defined most things against my body. At green and blue I was released completely from the present and concentrated on my memories, and I became aware of the life flowing in my limbs and the changes, I could see how my legs had become stronger but less flexible since I started treating the body like a machine.

Completing the session, for the second part the shaman gave two keywords or combinations, red (“opposites”) and each other color, eg. “opposites and distance.” Looking at each combination, you were forced to ask what is an opposite, and this freed me from judgment. I was always looking at how fast something moved, or how loud a sound was. With movement, I defined an upward motion versus a downward motion, but when it came to green (opposites and distance), things looked completely different. How far away is one person when talking to another person? What if you measure from one cell of the body to another, or one atom to another? Then the distance from one person to the next could be greater than “the length of a football field”. How you define your perspective is as important as the objective world you perceive. The issue of personal space: there is a limit somewhere between your body and someone else’s, where you can share your feelings without becoming a slave to every little outside stimulus.

When it came to “opposites and form,” red and violet, I pictured myself in a building, and the contrast between my body and the naked structure of an apartment building, and I saw myself fall through the building from the top to below the ground. The shaman told me that often in psychology a building represents the human ego, so I found a connection between the ego (the building) and the body, and the way to transcend the ego (the confines of the building) was to shift my focus away from my body. There the session ended. I didn’t especially enjoy being stuck in a building and was happy to keep my new awareness of the connections between my body and the physical world around me.

Satori system, post-traumatic stress and schizophrenia

The Financial Times copyright policy forbids distribution of this article by e-mail. You can google it using keywords Satori system, Financial Times and David Kaufman.

This privately developed technology is being used by the US military in veterans centers and in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is becoming widely available in US spas and the developers are partnering with Mental Health America to distribute 250,000 MP3 complimentary downloads to U.S. servicemen (emphasis, my own)

The Satori system uses alpha, theta and delta frequencies to induce relaxation by lowering brainwaves, lowering serotonin levels and bringing the body into a REM-like state. Lucid dreaming anyone?

The client winds down in a specially designed chaise longue type chair where vibrational energy is pumped in via headphones and four strategically placed transducers (which I suspect are located under the length of the chair and in contact with the body.)

I have written elsewhere (here, here, here and here) about Chris’s encouraging experiences with the sound shaman, using a different sound therapy approach but having in common the use of vibrational energy and sound to heal. According to the FT article, the Satori system helps disable your innate “fight or flight” response.

All of this is wonderful, but why isn’t Mental Health America making these downloads freely available to people with schizophrenia, their natural constituency? Come on, what’s the difference between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and schizophrenia? Dr. Loren Mosher said shell shock (PSTD) resembles schizophrenia but in PSTD it seems obvious where the stressors came from and in schizophrenia it is not so obvious. Okay, PSTD, like autism, is a hot topic, and schizophrenia, as usual, suffers from a dirth of outside the box thinking.

I will follow up with Mental Health America and see if not distributing the free downloads to their natural clients isn’t just an oversight.

Desert matrix

Chris’s report on his fifth sound therapy

Last Friday I went out for my fifth session with the sound therapist. I was feeling sleepy, yet I was eager to begin. We made small talk about travel and music. The therapist introduced me to an idea, which I have found to be one that’s been recurring, via well-intentioned adults namely, who am I, what is my purpose and what am I to do with my life? He explained further that people often miss their calling in life, and spend years working in a job they hate or in regret over missed opportunities. I told him I would like to teach people, or be someone who is respected and looked up to. What I was trying to communicate was that I still look for validation from other people, and that I believe that I could be content in such a role. I was feeling ambivalent about his questions, as I would resent his persistence which at once exposed my insecurities and promised a recovery.

For the first part of the therapy, we listened to colors as usual. I was supposed to imagine each color, and I tried this time to see what each color meant to me. I remember the middle band colors, yellow and green, I imagined like earth colors, sand and grass, really vast and beautiful; blue and violet I saw as people and human activity. The colors appeared like emotions naturally and gently, as sunlight rolling down a hill. The therapist told me he had never (or rarely) seen such well defined color bands from visualisation show up on his meter.

For the second part, he told me of societies which in the past sent their youth into the wilderness to search for guidance, who were welcomed back into the tribe if they emerged but were not expected necessarily to return. Now, was I comfortable to pretend that I know myself, without having to go into the wilderness, or do I want to find out more of life than I know already? The therapist then asked me to imagine I was entering a desert from which I could not return as I came, and posited I may find someone there, bringing a message. I saw a cactus, but it was enormous, filling up my field of view, and I couldn’t get past unless I let it prick me. Then the view opened up and I could see for a mile around. There was nothing remarkable until I began to imagine myself thirsty and soon I was surrounded by cacti once again.

As I lay on the ground, my vision shifted to that of an eagle, or bird/man, and as he flew towards me lying on the ground, we became one animal, and I felt held up high by a strange force; and at last I started to fall towards the earth because my right wing was broken. At this time the sounds finished and I opened my eyes. I noticed that at the end I was ignoring the broken wing and was happy just to not fly properly. This must show how we need something extra to return home from the desert, the awareness that we are not fully healed; the feeling of being lost before finding my wings is the same as the insecurity of flying with a broken wing. Having no wings and crashing with a broken wing are the same thing, and if you can’t fix your wing you can stay on the ground, but if you want to fix it you have to give up roaming the desert.