Publisher: Energy Psychology Press, Santa Rosa, CA
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 8/19/2009
Summary: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biologyof Intention. Mind over matter.
In the spirit of “a pill for every occasion”, we can not be too far from a “pill for the anxiety of not having a pill for every occasion.” Or perhaps we already have such a pill.
On page 177 of Dawson Church’s informative book, THE GENIE IN YOUR GENES, he takes a zing at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approves pills:
“Placebos cure patients in about 35% of cases. A drug has to do significantly better for it to be worth taking. Few drugs are up to the challenge. A recent trial of St. John’s wort, an herb, found that 24% of depressed patients got better taking it. Zoloft [a pharmaceutical antidepressant from Pfizer Inc.] did marginally better, producing improvement in 25% of patients”.
Basically, what you take away from Dawson’s discussion of placebos and “real” pills is that when someone says a particular medicine is not “working” for them, they are not lying. This helps somewhat to explain why there is such a proliferation of pills. It also explains why daily evening news broadcasts are filled with one and even two minute commercials touting the effectiveness of one pill over another. The pharmaceutical industry is engaged in a mind-control war to get as many people as possible to believe in the effectiveness of their pill over another manufacturer’s pill. Belief.
THE GENIE IN YOUR GENES does not devote much space examining the pharmaceutical industry except by way of making its larger point. From the opening pages, Dawson effectively goes about putting the final nail in the coffin of the “Central Dogma”. That dogma says that “genes are the repositories of our characteristics”. Dawson points out that the “Central Dogma”, first stated by the man who unraveled the structure of DNA, Sir Francis Crick, ignores life. Genes are the framework upon and within which which life occurs, but genes are not life. From this foundation, Dawson begins his examination of external and internal forces acting upon genes and how health is affected.
He provides a definition of epigenetics as defined in Science magazine, as “‘the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence'”. Dawson believes that the stress of daily survival is the external force working on genes to suppress or enhance their functions. But there is an internal force also at work. It is this internal force that is the focus of much of THE GENIE IN YOUR GENES.
After taking the reader through the “incremental exploration” of mind over genes, Dawson says that there are over “1,400 chemical reactions and over thirty hormones and neurotransmitters [that] shift in response to stressful stimuli.” Controlling those “shifts” is the battle ground where medicine and alternative medicine meet.
As in Dr. Bruce Lipton’s THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF (reviewed here in November 2006, Dawson makes a strong and compelling case for the body “reading the mind” to determine the body’s physical status. But if illness starts and ends in the mind, what determines the initial state of the body? Lipton’s book has more to say about this than THE GENIE IN YOUR GENES.
Still, the answer is by inference rather than a declaration-a genetic blueprint for life at birth being acted upon by environment. Dawson shows how that interaction occurs.
The most fascinating avenues explored in the book are the relationship between mind and reality. In a discussion on research conducted by Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn, a neuroscientist at Harvard, Dawson quotes him as saying, “People think that sights, sounds and touch from the outside world constitute reality. But the brain constructs what it perceives based on past experience. . . Beliefs can create realty.” As an example, Dawson provides the following:
“Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihis.”
It seems that the brain is hardwired to make sense of the world at the cost of “objective” criteria. Indeed this is one of the major themes running through Dawson’s book. He states, “there’s a lot more bandwidth for signals going from the brain than there is for signals going to it” [author’s emphasis]. In other words, the brain-mind collects enough information to construct reality and devotes even more effort at ensuring that the rest of the body “knows” that reality. The implications for the physical self are rather obvious.
The placebo effect for “medicines” is one area in which brain-mind reality effect physical reality. If a patient believes, truly believes, that a medicine will correct a physiological abnormality, the brain-mind will expend comparatively mega-watts of power to try to bring about the change. In reading both Dawson and Lipton, this last statement is not exactly correct. The brain-mind expends energy to restore a physiological abnormality to a balanced condition–balanced in the sense that the condition returns to a pre-abnormal condition which itself might be abnormal. The distinction is critical.
Herein lies the problem with discussions of mind and body versus pharmaceuticals and the arts of medicine. For example, Dawson states that “common acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is the leading cause of death in the United States, due to acute liver failure.” If this is true, it demonstrates the power of drugs and chemicals. If true, acetaminophen is an environmental stressor. Can the brain-mind counteract the adverse effects of acetaminophen?
THE GENIE IN YOUR GENES is informative, enjoyable reading and highlights advances in science which may take ten or twenty years before the advances impact the mainstream. Of course, there are some who have already arrived at these advances ten or twenty years ago. Not only is the medical community slow to grasp the importance of the mind, the science community in general is rather slow.