External Influences on Our Subconscious Mind    

External Influences on Our Subconscious Mind

Well, it is again one of those times we talk about mind control other than hypnotic language. This time around, we revisit the burning and fiercely debated issue of the subconscious mind. The effect of mind control has been intensely examined and here, new research indicates that our subconscious mind makes our decision for us.

In same way we have extensively looked at the mind control mechanism, as proclaimed by Dr. William Horton, in his online blogs and articles at Live Free Program ; as well as in his book, The Alcohol and Addiction Solution, And the new,  Secret Psuchology of Persuasion we have set out to understand how our subconscious mind takes charge and makes our decisions for us.

We first of all, we look at a study published in Neuroscience by Soon et al. (2008) which showed that our brain is “subconsciously aware of our decisions”  even before we even get the chance to make our very own decisions. The study examined the possibility of a potential external control on our decision making process and in turn, analyzed various ways we could know what actually holds true. It aimed to make us understand that in most situations, we’ve already arrived at a decision or answer, even before we know it; and that the most exciting aspect of this, is how unimaginable this would be, if actually, they were true. Think of this as a process where external influences act as a throttle on the pedal of your subconscious mind giving it signals on which direction to take. I guess you should understand better now.

The most exciting thing about these experiments is that there is emerging trend which lends more voice to the earlier thought notion that external triggers can affect the subconscious mind.  Scientifically, complementary studies have been conducted and findings by researchers have shown our gut intuition works in similar way. Voss and Paller (2009) found evidence that suggests the brain “accesses intuition (our gut feeling about something) by tapping into memories/information embedded within our brains at a more subconscious level, rather than at a conscious level”.

This emerging research also points to the notion that the environment is a critical factor that plays a crucial role in shaping our thoughts, decisions, and actions. As will be shown in the subsequent case studies, it has never been realized how incredibly these revelations are and how profound this can begin to shape our new thinking – the environment being a key factor.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at the details of these studies that support our hypothesis. In the by Soon et al., a total of 36 participants were recruited and asked to make a decision about whether they would use their left hand or their right hand to press a lever. Using fMRI scans, the researchers analyzed the brain’s activity in the frontopolar cortex, and knew the participants’ decisions even before they had taken them.  That is, before the participants had taken the decision to use their left or their right hand, the scientists already knew the decision they were about to take.

They reported that this information “was available up to seven seconds before the participant had made a conscious decision”.  The researchers used the information from the scans, to predict with success, all the 36 participant’s decisions before they had consciously made them! Incredible!

In another study conducted at Yale, students were asked to participate and compete in an investment game while sitting alone in a room with either a backpack or a briefcase. At the end of the experiment, the results showed that students in the room with a briefcase were “significantly more greedy and aggressive than those sharing it with a backpack”.

An article published in New York Times stated that this emerging research reveals that the human brain and mind is “active”, though subconscious,” purposeful and independent”. It reiterated that “goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses”; and that “the mere presence of the briefcase, noticed but not consciously registered, generated business-related associations and expectations”. The authors further stated that this caused the brain to “to run the most appropriate goal program: compete”.

The authors went ahead to note several case studies, one of which, a laboratory assistant had deceptively asked participants to hold a cup of coffee on their way to the laboratory. Without being aware that it was a trap, half of the participants held iced coffee and the other half held coffee that was” piping hot”.

Subsequently, they were asked to read a story and make comments about a fictional character’s personality in the story they had read. The participants that had held the cold beverage for the lab assistant were more likely to assess and rate the fictional character’s personality as “cold, less social and selfish”; while the opposite was the case for participants who had held the hot cup of coffee. That was it! It was all they needed to pass subjective judgment and opinion on a strange fictional character they had read about.

Yet another experiment conducted in 2005, participants were recruited and “exposed to the smell of a citrus cleaning fluid while filling out a questionnaire”. Subsequently, and while still under experimentation, they were duly rewarded for their time by being given crumbly biscuits. They thereafter ate and cleaned up the crumbs from the table. The participants who had earlier been exposed to the citrus smell cleaned “three times as many crumbs from the table as those who had not”.

And yet again, an extensive two year study conducted in 2007 at the University of Minnesota showed that ceiling heights affected individual performance. It found that higher ceilings “stimulated more creative thought patterns”, while lower ceilings encouraged attention and focus. And in another study conducted at Dartmouth College, it was found that showing the name of a lover “increased cognitive performance results on subsequent tasks”.

What these experiments (ceiling heights, lover’s name) suggest is that external stimuli can affect cognitive performance. Whether it’s a briefcase, a cup of coffee, or the height of the ceiling, these external stimuli can have a great effect on our subconscious and decision making process.

NLP Technique

Quick Self Image Boost
By Jenner Linden
1. Get in a comfortable position.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath and let it go with a sigh. Breathe in all the way to your toes, beyond your chest, beyond your knees and letting go of any anticipation or agenda any anxiety or nervousness if it’s there.
2.  Imagine you are looking at yourself in a mirror. What do you see that you don’t like? What does it feel like to have those thoughts about your self?
3. Now set that image aside.
4. Now look in the mirror and see yourself in your most beautiful state.  (snap fingers) How you want to see yourself.  Your skin is glowing and you are radiant   Heads turn when they see you coming.  You can’t help but smile every time you see yourself in the mirror.   You are beautiful.
5. Open your eyes and close your eyes.
6. Now bring up that negative image of your self again and in a moment I am going to have you smash the mirror and all of your negative thoughts about your self will fall to the ground and disappear.  They will no longer be present.
7. Bring that negative image of yourself in the mirror, make a fist and smash the mirror.
8. Watch the negative images fall to the ground and disappearing all around you and as you look up you notice the mirror is whole again (snap fingers) with the beautiful radiant image of you is there.
9. It feels so good to look in the mirror and see your beautiful self, smiling back at you.  Nothing can stop you.  You are bold, beautiful and brave!
10. Got back to #2 and do this sequence 2 more times.
11. Take a deep breath and open your eyes.

Meaning and Responsibility

As the years roll by one can get excited, or one can get burned out, how you respond depends on the meaning you place on things. As my dear friend Tony Robbins states:

“What if every problem and pain you had was life happening for you – not to you? What if that obnoxious co-worker is really there to teach you something? What if the school traffic is actually an opportunity to talk to your kids? What if your problems were gifts? How would that change things for you? We all ascribe meaning to the events in our lives, even the little things. We create definitions, and the definitions you choose can instantly transform the way you look at your entire life. If you master meaning, you master life.
So – here’s the question: Is the meaning you are giving to your life limiting you or empowering you? Right now, you can choose new, more empowering meanings for your life and create a new world for yourself and those you care about.”

A few years ago I pulled back from so much travel, and I greatly limited my one on one coaching. I did not stop, I refocused and was very selective about who I coached. I am considering pulling back even more and stopping all training and coaching, except for a select few.

I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams with what I do, and the opportunities I have had. I am changing as I am placing new meaning on what I do, who I do it for, and why I do it. My work with men with Traumatic Brain Injury has helped to focus my responsibilities. Part of which is to tell the truth.

The NLP and Hypnosis world is awash with new guru’s, via the internet, and they all claim 25 year careers and to show you how to become a millionaire using their system or training. As I say “fascinating”, most of these “experts” have no true experience, but they create a great website, and I bow to their marketing expertise.

I really love when they claim to teach you to make $10,000 a day or they make $10,000 a session, but they slup to a conference to teach. They all claim to want to give back, but they are willing to sell you their system for $. Basic human nature would say if I can make $10,000 a days or session, why would I work this hard for less? People pony up the $ and are disappointed in the results. If you truly want to give back, do it for free, Help the veterans, or people with TBI, or mentor someone for free….oh wait that is me…

As my dear wife would say, “You get what you pay for.” Buyer beware.

Next week I will share a secret that only a select few in the world know, and I will present it in a way that few will understand, but those that do will expand beyond what they can imagine.

Today is the day, Now is the time! So what meaning will you place on todays events?


Interested about NLP mind control techniques but don’t know where to get started? Don’t worry. I’ll give you an easy overview about NLP and share with you some of the favored techniques as we go along.

First of all, NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming. From the term itself, you can already deduce that NLP has something to do with communicating with a person’s mind. The concept is accredited to a computer scientist and Gestalt therapist named Richard Bandler and a linguist and therapist named Dr. John Grinder.

In studying some of the world’s top therapists, Bandler and Grinder were able to discover the power of NLP mind control techniques – processes that were extremely useful in areas of self-development and improving inter-personal relations among others.

To learn more about these methods, read on!

NLP Mind Control Technique # 1: Change The Physiology

One of the most important principles of NLP is that the mind and body are intertwined. What you think and feel are reflected in the way you move (or don’t move). Likewise, how your body moves also affects your thoughts.

If you want to change the way you think, then start with your physiology. For example, if you want to exude confidence, then why don’t you stand a little taller and sit a little straighter? Smile confidently at the people around you even though you’re not exactly feeling brave.

These slight changes will worm its way into your subconscious; and soon, you’ll be feeling confident for real.

NLP Mind Control Technique # 2: Word Emphasis

Emphasizing key words in a conversation can be very powerful. If you want to convince a person to attend an event, for example, put emphasis on your command.

Say, “Meet up at the W Hotel,” pause, and then say, “Friday night. 7:30.” Doing this makes the person more inclined to say yes. Notice that you don’t have to actually ask people if they’d like to come. Stating the invitation as a confirmation gives you an automatic advantage.

NLP Mind Control Technique # 3: The Power Of Visualization

When you see yourself already achieving what you want to achieve, you will be able to get your mind to follow that direction without any difficulty. Visualization is so strong that it’s no wonder a lot of people turn to it to achieve their goals and dreams.

People who want to lose weight, for instance, rely on visualization to keep themselves fit and happy. They imagine themselves already down to the their goal weight and keeping that lifestyle up.

NLP mind control techniques, as you have learned, are not only useful for self-development but also for getting people to follow your lead. Use this knowledge wisely and feel free to spread the word.

Great Performance Tips

The new online High Performance NLP course is going well, and in doing course I came across this information that you may find helpful in general, use this:

How do top performers become the greatest?
1. They build a strong and secure image of themselves as a great
2. They generate motivation primarily from their love of what they do and the joy of it.
3. They practice or rehearse to the max in order to perform to the max.
4. They complement their physical training with mental training..
5. They emphasize what they are going to do rather than worrying about their others.
6. They know where they are, where they want to go, and how to get there.
7. They focus squarely on the purpose at hand rather than about the end result..
8. They surround themselves with people who’re better than they are.
9. They do EVERYTHING they need to do to be the best they can be.
10. They constantly seek out new information and develop a broad knowledge base. They know there is no quick fix to excellence.

If you want to get into the ongoing class go here:


How To Be More Attractive

As I have been doing a lot of research lately I also cam across this which is useful in many ways.

What do people find attractive? This is an interesting topic, and when you put the media and Hollywood aside, what THEY tell is is attractive (have you ever seen the most beautiful people list and go WHAT?)

For us mortals who deal with people it is important to know as people like to do business with attractive people. This attraction may have nothing to do with only physical aspects. In fact it is not as important as people think

So what do people find attractive?

1. Smile, this is universal and opens your energy and projects a nice image.

2.Listen & Skip small talk, ask meaningful questions about others. this is a big thing as everyone likes talking about themselves and if you ask questions and listen people place you as more attractive, interesting and intelligent! (Rapport!)

3. Be Funny. This does not mean tell jokes, laugh and get others to laugh, and do not take yourself serious all the time. (see#1)

4. Dress Nice, The old saying is still true, dress to impress, or dress for the job you want. (but that does not mean I can dress like Darth Vader or Captain America see#3)

5. Listen to Music the two types, classical and if you listen to others, stay current, so only listening to that 70’s rock, people will think, subconsciously, your stuck in the past. It also make you appear younger.

6. Be Nice & Polite, manners are attractive, rude people appear ugly, even if they are beautiful, in fact physically attractive people who are rude and mean lose all attraction.

7.  Have Friends and colleagues. The lone wolf is only attractive to a small percentage. We subconsciously know power is in groups and we are drawn to those who are in them.

8. Talk about you kids, partner, or pets. It subconsciously lets people know you commit to long term involvement WARNING  do not only talk about work, most people find that limiting.

9. Be Passionate about what you love, people love passion, even if they disagree with it.

10. Teach or Lead. People who teach others or lead are perceived to be more attractive as it projects confidence, knowledge and passion.

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Friday, June 19 through Monday, June 22, 2015


Location: Banyan Hypnosis Center
1431 Warner Avenue, Suite E
Tustin, CA 92780

(714) 258-8380 – (800) 965-3390

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Hello, this is Cal Banyan…  Let me introduce my friend and National Guild of Hypnotists colleague, Dr. William Horton, or as I call him, “Will”.  I have known Will for many years and I have always been impressed by his warmth, good humor and professionalism.  I’ve always thought that it would be great if I could get him to come to the Banyan Hypnosis Center for Training & Services, Inc. and conduct his highly respected “Ultimate Basic NLP” course.  I am not an expert in NLP by any means, but have been a long believer that when you add NLP, done right, to hypnosis, or especially 5-PATH® Hypnosis, you will have a winning combination that can only work in the practitioner’s benefit.  This is why I call 5-PATH® an “open system”.  I urge all serious hypnosis professionals to study NLP and Will’s course is the best place to start!

Well, after much schedule juggling and communication, we finally did it.  Will is coming to California!  I don’t know if or when we will ever be able to make this happen again, so I want to urge you to read the information below and then register for this course!


Ultimate NLP Course by Dr. William Horton
“World’s Leading NLP Trainer”

Dates: June 19 – 22, 2015

Real World Authority and Teacher   30 years of experience teaching both large and small audiences filled with individuals who want to be more successful in life, including professionals like counselors, doctors, hypnotherapists, business people as well as regular moms and dads!

Learn Easily, Effortlessly, and Rapidly – NOW!
Dr. William Horton Working with Individuals in this Group

Why is this Ultimate NLP Course so important?  Because you will be amazed with how these “basic” NLP skills can change your life!  And you will learn fast because Dr. Horton uses NLP to teach NLP.

Much greater success can happen for you…  I know that you have hopes and dreams of living a great life, you want to experience a new freedom and a new happiness and you know there must BE A WAY but you have not yet found it. You want to experience the ability to help your family and friends in every way.

You deserve a life of Happiness and Abundance and have sought it for years. You may have tried countless courses and books only to have always been left disappointed and let down. The hype never delivers. You keep going, but you’re about TO GIVE UP HOPE. You now may live lives of quiet desperation and you seek A Way Out. I know that you, like me want these answers, and want them NOW.

You just need the keys!  It is not your fault; you have never been given ALL THE KEYS to get you where you want to go. Maybe you had little pieces here and there, but it has never come together for you. That is why you keep searching; you have seen others succeed, so you know it can happen. Why has all the other courses failed?  It again it is not your fault, no one has given you the blueprint you can follow, or they only gave you an edited version, the limited information that they know.

And Then It Hit Me!

Like Napoleon Hill said it years ago, that the way to true happiness and wealth is helping others, when you help others get what they want they give you what you want.  As Zig Ziglar stated “You can have everything you want in life, if you just help other people get what they want.”


I am like you, but with a fortunate difference!  I dreamed of a great life, and then I had problems that took it away from me. I was down but not out. I was LUCKY enough to learn a set of skills that not just saved my life it gave me a life worth living. When I incorporated these skills into my life, miracles happened. I helped others overcome addictions, fix their businesses, repair broken relationships, lose weight and many other issues.  I became a psychologist and traveled the world teaching others. This is what I do now.

When you get these skills it allows you to design a life based on helping others.

  • My purpose, passion, and mission are to teach these skills to others as they have given me so much.
  • I broke the code and revealed the inner secrets behind the magic!

I want to give you these life-changing keys!  If you dream of a rewarding, fulfilling life of abundance, it is not your fault you have not gotten there yet; you have not been given the keys, the most important basic NLP skills that I want to teach you.

THIS IS NO ORDINARY NLP COURSE…  I have gone through every known NLP technique taught and in this course, we focus on the most effective and applicable ideas and techniques!  Everything else has been ripped away.  I do this because I want you to experience a tremendous difference in your life because of this course.

Just show up ready to work and learn!  It does take effort, work, and commitment. Those get rich schemes that sound “too good to be true”, are, but the good news is when you have THE SECRETS – THESE KEYS, it is a fun joyous journey.

Basic NLP, Learn to Step into Other’s Minds, EASILY – The Key to Mastering Communication & Influence

Why do “They” (those who want to control these secrets) want to make this material so hard to get, weeks of trainings, hours of USELESS info, why not cut to the user friendly, “Street Smart” uses of NLP?

You Learn Fast & Easily – Because I Use NLP to Teach NLP

  • All The Basic Material, Easy & Fast
  • How To Anchor Anyone
  • Magic Information Questions!
  • Beyond Rapport

Student’s Comment

“I Had Taken Courses from THE Founders of NLP, But This Is The Real Deal”

Of all the trainings in NLP that I have been exposed to, Will Horton, and NFNLP is the only training that brings it down to earth, and gives you techniques you can use the next day in your life!

I got to experience NLP for the first time, not theory, not talking about it, but doing it! If you want to learn real deal NLP, take a course from Will Horton today

I knew that NLP had things that I wanted so I took classes with the founders [of NLP], Richard Bandler and John grinder, I even took classes with Anthony Robbins, but they never gave me the tools I needed.

This course and Dr. Will Horton’s unique style gave me the things I had been searching for. It allowed me to help more people and along the way change my life! Don’t delay jump aboard NOW

Constance P.  Michigan


Here is what you need to know to make it to this life-changing course!

Who – Dr. Will Horton – “World’s Leading NLP Trainer”

What – Ultimate “Basic” NLP Certification Course – Easy to learn because it is taught using NLP.

Where – Banyan Hypnosis Center for Training & Services, Inc – Tustin, California (Orange County)

When – June 19 through 22, 2015
Here is what to do next!

If you want to be in this special “West Coast” class appearance and get this “Basic” NLP Certification, then click the button at the top or bottom of this page.

If you have questions about travel or lodging, please give Maureen at the Banyan Hypnosis Center a call.  She is an expert at helping you with these kinds of arrangements.

Register Now!

To Register by Phone Call – 714-258-8380 / 800-965-3390

Office hours are between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM PST

More Info: Email Maureen at Maureen@HypnosisCenter.com.



I recently was reviewing research on memory as it is topic near and dear to a lot of us. We usually do not think about memory, and usually only give it attention when it seems to fail us, or we have conflicting memories with someone over an event. Also as we “mature” we seem to notice that our memory is not as it once was.

I pay attention to this as my hobbies requires an active vibrant memory, acting. Learning the lines (and movements) in a play require all the aspects of memory, short term (working memory) log term, (explicit and implicit) as well as procedural memory. Karate also replies on memory (procedural memory)l. Recent studies of the brain are beginning to give insight into these once mysterious process.

It was once thought short term and long term memory use different parts of the brain but it is now being revealed that in both short term and long term memories may use different parts of the brain in different ways.

Also recent studies of “Super Angers” (people who maintain vibrant brains and minds) use their brains differently than those with cognitive slippage. This area is especially fascinating to me as I work with actors in the late 70’s who easily learn their lines in a complex play.(they work a lot) I also have worked with young actors who can’t seem to remember their lines at all (No they do not work much)

Why? Well lets use our NLP presupposition of “If one person can do something, and we learn the pieces, we can duplicate the process and the result”. First some memory basics:

The STM (Short Term Memories) uses the hippocampus, but may also use other parts of the brain for specific memories, IE different memories like Taste or physical action requires other brain areas for those.

The LTM (Long Term Memory) uses Explicit or conscious memory, and Implicit or subconscious memory.

Procedural Memory or the physical memory (like driving or dancing) Body/Mind.

Short Term Memory requires FOCUS for it to really engage, many people blame their memories, but they are did not focus on what they were trying to recall, this is the danger of multi-tasking.

Threshold Memory, we also seem to lock in specific things we want to remember with a place, maybe this is why you walk into a room and can’t remember what you came in for, but when you go back to the other room it comes back. Same for why you forget that one thing at the store and remember as your pulling into the driveway.

?So what causes a memory to move from STM to LTM? Why do some people seem to remember with greater clarity and ease? In theater why do some actors, “get off book”(learn their lines), fast and others struggle. Is it in the brain or how one uses the process?

We do know that repetition does help LTM (remember 5×8=) and that does help, but maybe the reason it works is the underlying factor in that seems to supercharge a memory. Emotions.

Can you remember where you were on 9-11? Emotions seem to increase memory and many memory programs use emotions (Mega Memory, Memory Power) TO ACTIVATE the memory process. It does seem to work as we recall emotional memories with greater ease. It does have issues as emotions and memory lead to Tunnel Memory, and Memory Illusions.

Tunnel Memory is when the emotion causes you to only focus on one aspect of the event, ie the gun if you were robbed and not remember other aspects the robber. This is true of negative emotions. Happy emotions also cause Tunnel issues but here is happiness works like a broad tipped highlighter capturing many details, however it also can included events that did not happen but that were totally plausible.

Memory Illusions is based on that the intensity of the emotion is more critical than the kind of memory. This is why you can recall both happy and sad memories if they are emotionally charged. However after an emotional event you will retell the story, to others and yourself, and you will believe your story even if you embellish it. Do you have any friends who tell a story you know is not quite true, but they believe it. (Al Gore inventing the internet, or recently Brain William Iraq stories)

One last factor that must be looked at in a general way for memory is how stress shuts down the neuro-chemicals need to encode and to recall memories. The stress hormone cortisol  interferes with both memory formation and recall. This is why you can’t remember the answers to a test, but they come back after you leave the room, or when you drop a line on stage, in a play or a talk, as your stress rises you draw a further blank. .

OK so how can we use this information? Well lets again look to theater and actors, they use all three levels of memory. Short Term, reading the lines, repetition doing it over and over again, procedural memory tying the lines to the movement (blocking). Many times an actor will forget a line if they are out of place. Actors also talk about relaxing into a role, in other words drop the stress. The emotion is also added, the emotion of the scene being played, and the emotion of people watching .So the old rules apply, but something interesting happens to actors I have not seen in other areas of life.

When a show is over, the lines and the movement which came without much effort for the run of the show, seem to disappear. I am directing a play I did 10 years ago and someone asked how much of it I remembered, very little at all. It was a emotional funny play, but it did not seem to encode into LTM. The same happened when I did the same part about 6 years apart, it came quicker, but it was a challenge. Relearning the lines was like reviewing and old song, it was almost there but foggy, but it became clear much faster than normal for me. I did find myself returning to the old movements on more than one occasion, procedural memory at play.

I think it it the brilliance of our subconscious mind as since it knows this is not really useful information, so do not clutter up the hard drive by remembering it in detail. It was a Threshold type memory, you need it on stage and seems to fade quickly. It can be recalled but it takes effort, although you may remember some highlights (strong emotional events) from the play.

I recently started doing my old style of Karate, and the Kata’s are not quite there I have to “walk through” the movements for them to return.

When we add our hypnosis to lower stress and to also add in repeating the thing to be remembered in the imagination, it begins to build the working and Lang Term Memory. We also use NLP & hypnosis to remove negative self talk that build unreasonable pressure.

I use self hypnosis while doing a play and am doing it to recall the old Karate Kata’s.

As with any skill the more you use it the more that skill expands, when was the last time you truly tested your memory?

Update Addictions

I was recently working with a lady who just can’t seem to sober up, she is college educated (advanced professional degree) successful but nothing seems to work. As the world’s leading expert treating expert in treating alcohol and drug addictions with NLP and Hypnosis I came across some information revealed in some current research that sheds new light on this age old problem. Let’s start with how our current thinking about addictions is FINALLY starting to evolve (addiction treatment has not changed much in the last 50 years) and the current model is based on some flawed science, so to speak.

Our current outlook on addiction is based on the ‘War on Drugs” where as a society we look at drugs (and alcohol) as the problem and that by the nature of these drugs, they are so addictive they will hook you quickly and if you try to stop you will experience extreme pain (withdrawal) and relapse and we need to remove the drug and people will not fall prey to this “evil”. This has costs society billions upon billions of dollars and ruined countless lives. It sort of got seared into consciousness with an ad done that showed a rat in a cage with two water bottles on with water the other water with cocaine and the rat will use the coke ignoring food and water, so we were lead to believe, remember these ads are watched with the critical factor of the mind relaxed and it is repeated until it is accepted as “TRUTH”. The study was redone with some other drugs to the same conclusion.

Some researchers however questioned this study, the rat was alone and basically an unhappy rat. On a follow up some researchers took the rats from the cage and put them into an better environment a happy rat park with things to do and other rats. The water bottles were there again one with just water the other water and cocaine and the result was that the rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.   Wow but is this just a “rat” thing?

Well we have some interesting history to draw from, the Vietnam War where many soldiers used heroin, marijuana, and alcohol excessively, and there was great fear of this huge addiction problem coming home with them, but when they returned 95% just stopped using excessively. Very few needed rehab. It was the terrifying cage (war) when returned to a happy cage, the escape needed was no longer there.

But is there something more, for this lets look to the drug alcohol and the history of it in our human evolution.  Alcohol is one of the most  consumed drugs in the world, and it has been a part of our history as seen by the use of wine in Jewish and Christian cultures. This from Robert Martone recently published in Scientific American “new study finds that our forebears acquired the capacity to digest alcohol some 10 million years ago, among a common ancestor to humans, chimpanzees and gorillas, and certainly well before we learned to manufacture it. This suggests that alcohol became part of the human diet much earlier than previously thought, and in a manner that had significant implications for the survival of the human species.

Humans carry with them genetic signatures of their ancestral feeding habits. Genetic variants that make new food sources available can provide tremendous opportunities to those who possess them. The ability to consume milk, for example, is due to the “lactase persistence” variant of a gene which emerged around 7500 years ago among early Europeans. For those lacking the mutation, the lactose in milk is a mild poison, eliciting symptoms akin to those of dysentery. Similarly, the ability to digest alcohol may be a genetic signature of feeding pattern among human ancestors: this alcohol tolerance may have made it possible to eat over-ripe fruit that had fallen to the ground and begun to naturally ferment. Since few animals can tolerate alcohol, this would have provided our ancestors with an abundant food source for which there were few competitors. It may also have contributed to the move towards a terrestrial rather than arboreal existence.

The breakdown of alcohol after ingestion is a complex process that involves a number of different enzymes. Most of the alcohol that is ingested is broken down in the gut and liver. This study focused on the enzyme ADH4 because it is abundant in the gut and plays a major role in preventing ingested alcohol from entering the blood stream. ADH4 from human relatives as distant as the tree shrew were tested for their ability to digest alcohol. The form of ADH4 found in humans, gorillas and chimpanzees was found to be 40 fold more efficient at clearing alcohol than the form found in more primitive species. ADH4 also digests chemicals that plants produce in order to deter animals from feeding upon them. However, with the increase in ability to digest alcohol came a reduced ability to digest many of these other chemicals. This suggests that the food containing alcohol was more important.

While ADH4 is among the most important enzymes for the digestion of alcohol, it is not the only one. Another related enzyme, ADH3, also contributes to the breakdown of alcohol. Women typically have lower activity levels of this enzyme, leading them to have higher blood levels of alcohol then men after taking a high dose of alcohol. And ADH4 is not the only enzyme that may have helped humans adapt to the consumption of alcohol: a variant of a liver enzyme (ADH1B) with high activity in the breakdown of alcohol emerged among East Asian populations during the advent of rice cultivation, perhaps as an adaptation to rice fermentation. (Interestingly, other animals have adopted their own strategies: Using a different enzyme, a member of the tree shrew family is able to consume fermented nectar from palm tree flowers — the equivalent of 10 -12 glasses of wine every day without obvious signs of intoxication.)

Because humans rely upon ADH4 as their primary means to digest alcohol, they are also susceptible to hangovers. ADH4 and similar enzymes digest alcohol by converting it into another chemical, acetaldehyde, which causes the skin flushing, headache and other symptoms of overindulgence. The modern consumption of alcohol has been characterized as an “evolutionary hangover,” an adaptation to modest levels of alcohol in food sources which left humans prone to alcohol abuse once we learned how to manufacture it in highly concentrated forms. And, in fact, genetic variants of ADH4 have been linked to alcohol and drug dependence, although there are many other genes that may influence susceptibility to alcohol dependency. Regardless of the role ADH4 plays in alcohol addiction, it’s clear that our complex relationship with alcohol dates back millions of year, and began, in fact, before we were even human.”

So maybe alcoholism as a disease resulted because the human genome has not had enough time to fully adapt to alcohol, and this may be true for other drugs as well, and if you go back to the first study if you’re in an unhappy “cage” and all your genes are functioning correctly when you get into a happy cage the incidence of overuse (abuse) is going to drop to normal levels.

This answers a question I have wondered about for 25 years in treating addiction, inpatient, outpatient, prison, and in my clinic. The people that figure out the fact that they have to take the responsibility, which is the ability to respond, to get happy where you’re at, or change your environment. This also answers why people can do well in a treatment setting (rehab) as they are in a place where they may be happy, or at least removed from the unhappy cage, and why they relapse when they return to the unhappy cage (home, work). This would leave a small minority that would have extra problem returning to “normal” due to genetic variants, they would be the most likely to have extreme difficulty staying clean and sober, even in a happy cage.

The 12 step program has talked about this, indirectly for years, and those that figure this out are the ones who sober up and stay sober and only have issues when the cage gets uncomfortable. It’s in the genes and our brains. The select few who achieve long term sobriety know how to self-regulate and alter their behaviors to stay happy in unhappy places, as they say “Gratitude in your attitude, focus on the positives”

Going back to my recent client, she is in a very unhappy cage, but cannot, or will not change her situation, if she chooses to continue treatment, we will focus on her perception and see if she can blossom where she is at, a book I recommended is Victor Frankle “Mans Search for Meaning”  a man who found purpose and meaning in a place that could only be described as a horrible cage (the Holocaust concentration camps).

This also explains to those that do not understand why some people really like and need to go to 12 step meetings, it could be the only happy escape in an unhappy environment. Plus they get the basic human need of filling a part of something. We all want that, do we not?

 I hope this helps in your outlook and treatment of addictions.

Till next time God’s Speed.  

William D. Horton, Psy. D. CAC
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