Research update 2017: progress! A simple solution to the problem of partial recovery has been found. Some people with Parkinson’s have, in addition to the foot injury, commanded themselves, at a fairly young age, to not feel pain, not show emotion, or to “rise above” physical and emotional responses. This instruction triggers electrical behavior similar to that used during near-death shock. This includes in electrical behavior in the midbrain, in areas affected in Parkinson’s disease.
If the command is never rescinded, long-term electrical patterns can form in those brain areas.
After years of research, struggling with the puzzling brain behaviors of people who became stuck in partial recovery, a simple way to turn off those childhood brain instructions has been discovered. The method involves creating some specific thought habits in the brain. Once the childhood instructions are turned off, recovery goes forward on its own.
Retraining the brain in a very specific manner allows people stuck in partial recovery to finally make a full, lasting recovery.
A new edition of Recovery from Parkinson’s, with all the new findings, is underway. I am also writing a companion book titled Stuck on Pause, that describes the biology of dissociation and near-death shock, and how to turn them off. These are two conditions that are usually present – or at least electrically mimicked – in people with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.
I had hoped to finish these books by the end of 2016. Both of these books are taking longer to wrap up than I had hoped. So I am posting this brief preview of the new information, together with some excerpts from nearly finished chapters.
This preview provides a quick glance at the new findings, enough to explain the new directions the research is taking, as well as providing a review of the previous information, material that’s already on this site.
First, people with idiopathic Parkinson’s have more than enough dopamine, at the time they are first diagnosed. This has been known to Parkinson’s researchers for nearly twenty years. Their brain dopamine is actually at excessively high levels in the risk assessment part of the brain. However, use of dopamine is inhibited in the motor area of the brain.
While most Parkinson’s researchers might be aware that people with Parkinson’s have more than enough dopamine in the brain, most clinical doctors, the one’s working with patients and writing prescriptions, tend to simply promote the disproven 1960s ideas about “insufficient dopamine” and prescribe massive doses of L-dopa, doses that overwhelm the brain’s dopamine-motor inhibitions – inhibitions that are supposed to occur when a person is in near-death shock.
Parkinson’s Recovery Project research
In the 1990s, I had observed that all people with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease have an aberrant flow pattern in the sub-dermal electrical current on the legs. These currents can easily be felt by hand. In the acupuncture college where I teach, most students can learn to objectively detect these electrical patterns within a few hours of practice.
One current, known in Chinese medicine as the Stomach channel, runs backwards in people with Parkinson’s. Also, most people with idiopathic Parkinson’s present with an old, unhealed foot injury. The injury often dates back to childhood. The injury can sometimes – though not always – be the sole cause of the backwards current.
Since 1997, I had seen that some people recovered quickly from Parkinson’s when the foot injury was addressed. It seemed that these people had dissociated from the foot at the time of injury. Gently bringing the patient’s attention to the foot using the firm, supportive holding technique of Yin Tui Na often triggered healing in the foot and, surprisingly, the disappearance of Parkinson’s.
Previous editions of the book Recovery from Parkinson’s explained how the Stomach channel, which flows from the forehead to the toes, passes directly over the locations of nearly all the physical changes that occur in Parkinson’s. The backwards flow of this channel directly leads to those changes. In some cases, those changes heal quickly when the foot injury heals. The healing allows the flow of the Stomach channel to automatically self-correct.
But only five percent of the people whose foot injuries heal experience complete recovery from Parkinson’s disease. The rest slide into a condition I have named partial recovery. In partial recovery, Stomach channel currents might run correctly or might run backwards, depending on whither the person feels safe or anxious, respectively.
In partial recovery, people can move perfectly normally so long as they are feeling safe, but their Parkinson’s symptoms appear, in a more severe manifestation than before…if they become anxious or fearful.
Because the unpredictable, come-and-go appearance of severe symptoms is alarming, these people often end up in a constant state of terror in anticipation of an “attack” of Parkinson’s. Over a few weeks or months, this can lead to an almost constant condition in which symptoms are more severe than before.
In people who are stuck in partial recovery, certain mental behaviors are predominant. These conform to what western medicine calls the “Parkinson’s personality”: wariness, excessive risk assessment, and lack of joy, to name a few.
Even so, some people who became stuck in partial recovery have eventually overcome the mental behaviors, including the excessive risk assessment and dissociation that sustains Parkinson’s, and have “snapped out of it.” They completely, permanently, recovered. In most cases, their recoveries have spontaneously occurred several years after healing from the foot injury, with no obvious trigger for the abrupt change back to health.
For years, I pored over the thoughts and behaviors of partially recovered people who, suddenly, unexpectedly, after years, found themselves, in a few moments, fully and lastingly recovered.
They each experienced full recovery in the same moment that they realized, suddenly, “I’m safe, after all!” or “It’s not like anyone’s going to die, after all!”
I had to wonder if these particular thoughts were related to their almost instantaneous, permanent recoveries. Previous editions of Recovery from Parkinson’s offered information about this, and encouraged people to work on feeling safe.
However, this feeling was extraordinarily elusive. In most people in partial recovery, the brain not only rejected this “safe” thinking, but thoughts of wariness often increased in response to attempts at positive thinking. As many people have said, “It’s as if there’s a voice in my brain saying ‘NO’ to me!, after which, it’s even harder to think positive thoughts.”
I have figured out how people can turn off the self-created instructions that most people with Parkinson’s initiated in childhood. Their instructions to feel no pain or show no emotion inadvertently activated the neurological mode of near-death shock, which causes inhibition of dopamine-based motor function as well as mental behaviors such as heightened vigilance, risk assessment, and an inability to feel safe from immanent danger until such time as the brain declares that one has become safe again.
Since the 2013 edition of Recovery From Parkinson’s was released, my research focus has been on the Parkinson’s personality, the Parkinson’s brain behaviors, and the mental events that occurred, in nearly every case, in the moments before people suddenly snapped out of partial recovery and became fully recovered.
In addition to recent discoveries in how various brain areas are activated in response to thoughts, I also stumbled across ancient Chinese medical theory related to near-death shock.
I will start with near-death shock. This is the type of severe shock in which a person’s heart rate slows, breathing slows, the person may appear as if dead, and the person might perceive himself as being outside of his body.
In Chinese medicine, this condition is regarded as one of the four neurological modes: 1) playful curiosity, 2) fight or flight, 3) sleep, and 4) near-death shock.
As an aside, western medicine has only discovered the first two of these modes. The Chinese communist government, on the other hand, has abandoned this theory and all historical Chinese bio-electrical theory because these theories have been mocked by western medical professionals. Students of Chinese medicine, for the last half century, have not been taught anything about the four neurological modes or the electrical schematics of each mode.
The ancient understanding of Chinese medicine held that each mode has a distinct pattern of sub-dermal electrical circuitry, organ behavior, brain behavior, and neurotransmitter behaviors. Of these patterns, the electrical is the most significant: the electrical changes activate all the other behavioral changes.
I learned that the mode of near-death shock is characterized by not just backwards flowing electrical energy in the legs, but by a standing wave being created in the current that flows over the spine. In healthy people, this current flows over the spine, into the neck, and through the center of the head, stimulating the thalamus, striatum, and frontal lobe of the brain.
In a person in near-death shock, a condition that I have named “pause,” the sub-dermal spinal current does not flow up into the neck.
In the last few years, after learning about this mode, I finally started checking the spinal currents of my patients with Parkinson’s. I observed that, in those people with Parkinson’s who get stuck in partial recovery following treatment of the foot injury, this current does not flow up into the neck – it behaves just like the currents of a person in pause mode: a person in near-death shock.
For that matter, all the behavior patterns that occur in a person in pause mode, including the elevated risk assessment, inhibition of dopamine-based motor function, emergency-based activation of adrenaline-based motor function, and inability to feel certain emotions, are also present in most people with Parkinson’s, and are present in all those who get stuck in partial recovery. In pause mode, dopamine-based motor function is supposed to be inhibited, just as it is in people with Parkinson’s. The electrical currents over the spine are inhibited at the base of the neck and the Stomach channel runs backwards, when a person is in pause…just as they do in people with Parkinson’s.
This finding eventually led to a complete revision of my thinking on what causes Parkinson’s disease in most people.
Nearly all people with Parkinson’s do present with an unhealed foot or ankle injury.
Although five percent of people with PD do recover in response to mentally re-connecting with and healing of the childhood foot injury, most people, over ninety percent, do not. Instead, when most people recover from the foot injury, they slide into partial recovery. Again, partial recovery is a condition in which the body and mind behave as if a person is in pause mode, which is to say, manifests symptoms of Parkinson’s, only during those times that the person is feeling anxious or wary.
The people who do not fully recover in response to treating the injured foot all present with electrical schematics and thought patterns that are an exact match for the electrical schematics and thought patterns of pause.
Working from this basis, and re-studying the mental events that immediately preceded full recovery in those people who had been stuck in partial recovery for years, has led to a new understanding of what is going on in most people with Parkinson’s – and how to turn it off.
A bit more about the foot injury
In five percent of people with idiopathic Parkinson’s, the foot injury is causative: a long-time unhealed foot injury can eventually create an electrical schematic that mimics that of pause. The foot needs to be mentally re-associated using gentle techniques such as Yin Tui Na. In about one percent, a back or spinal injury is causative: the electrical schematics of pause have been correctly, biologically triggered. The injury needs to be re-associated so that it can heal. Again, Yin Tui Na is very effective. In most people with Parkinson’s, over ninety percent, self-induced pause is the underlying cause of their Parkinson’s.
So why do most people with Parkinson’s present with an unhealed foot injury?
It is almost to be expected that a person who has made himself “numb” or “cerebral” by invoking pause will have an unhealed foot injury by the time he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Most of us bang a toe or turn an ankle at some point in our lives. If we have numbed ourselves to most pain, these foot injuries will never fully heal.
In some cases, it might have been the foot injury itself that caused the person to command himself to be numb. But in other cases, the foot injury was just one more thing that the person could ignore because he was already using the self-numbing, emergency-type neurology of pause.
When I first noticed the unhealed-foot commonality in my patients with Parkinson’s, I assumed that the foot problem was causative – especially because several of my first Parkinson’s patients recovered quickly and completely after the foot injury was addressed.
Now, I realize that it was luck that my first few Parkinson’s patients were merely dissociated from a foot injury and did not have self-induced pause.
The reason for this bit of luck, I suspect, is that a high number of my patients, in the early days, were professional musicians who had always been able to find enough joy in music that they never wanted to make themselves numb to physical and emotional pain, despite needing to dissociate from their foot injuries.
As my research into Parkinson’s expanded, very few of my subsequent patients were professional musicians. After treating hundreds of people with Parkinson’s, I saw that only about five percent had only foot injuries and no other contributing factors.
The new material: childhood initiation of pause mode
Of my hundreds of patients with Parkinson’s, many recalled giving themselves a stern command in their childhood years, often while staring into a mirror, to “feel no pain” or “show no emotion.”
The body is able to obey this command.
After all, the body does have one neurological mode in which pain is minimized and massive levels of endorphins are released: pause. As the old saying goes, “mortal injuries cause no pain.”
Based on what I have seen and learned from my patients, including those who have recovered after being stuck in partial recovery for years, it seems as if they had induced in themselves a condition where they used the neurology of pause any time they felt pain or felt unsafe. In this way, they learned to minimize their ability to feel pain, show emotion, “rise above” the sensations in the body, or other situations that seemed to called for physical and emotional numbness.
Over the years, pause became the default setting. By the time Parkinson’s appeared, pause was the dominant neurological mode.
The brain behaviors that occur during pause include heightened risk assessment, lack of ability to playfully imagine and visualize, perceiving oneself as if outside of one’s body, and many others that are also a perfect match for the brain behaviors that occur in most people with Parkinson’s disease.
The revised, 2017 (unfinished) edition of Recovery from Parkinson’s goes into this in great detail, with citations from peer-reviewed research articles. This update is the merest of introductions.
Most importantly, thinking of Parkinson’s as a condition in which a person has induced pause in himself and never gotten around to turning it off provided a method for turning off Parkinson’s, even in people who were stuck in partial recovery. When I began distinguishing between people who had merely dissociated from a foot injury and those who were locked into pause, and treating each type of Parkinson’s appropriately, patients began recovering without becoming stuck in partial recovery.
A bit about the brain
The sustained use of self-induced pause causes eventual changes in the brain, especially changes in the striatum and thalamus, both of which have altered behaviors while in pause mode. These changes are related to the long-term inhibition of the electrical current that ordinarily runs up the spine and into the midbrain.
Here’s the catch: biologically, the mental stance for turning off self-induced pause requires a person to decide that he is finally safe. But the knowledge that one is safe is a function of the striatum, and to a lesser degree, the thalamus.
Because a person who has been using self-induced pause for decades has minimized access, and may have even created electrical changes in his own striatum and thalamus, he will probably have a hard time realizing via the striatum that he is safe enough to come back to life. Therefore, he will not be able to lastingly turn off pause – turn off his self-induced self-protection behavior.
Before learning about the self-induced pause problem, I had written in my books that people in partial recovery were obviously struggling with the concept that they could not be safe, that they had to always be wary. Wariness, in turn, always turned the Parkinson’s symptoms back on even if the person could move normally while perfectly relaxed.
I saw over and over that, when people in partial recovery felt extremely safe, their Parkinson’s symptoms ceased. But as soon as they thought of any negative possibility, the symptoms returned with a vengeance. Which made them more wary, and more certain than ever that they needed to be wary.
Before finding a method to activate the striatum and thalamus, I offered my patients every self-help theory that has crossed my path.
As an aside, I have been a professor of psychology and counseling. I stay as informed as possible regarding new theories on changing one’s cognitive behaviors.
My patients, for decades, have willingly tried all the new self-calming, mind-modifying, self-help behaviors that crossed my path, but never got benefit that lasted more than a few hours.
Modern methods for helping a person feel safe work by bringing a person away from sympathetic mode and closer to parasympathetic mode.
As it turns out, these modern self-help, feel good, attitude-changing practices do NOT work on a person who is in the mode of near-death – a mode that is nearly the opposite of sympathetic (“fight or flight”) mode.
The neurological mode of pause, of near-death shock, cannot be turned off by making modest mental shifts and affirmations, rubbing sensitive body spots, performing physical exercises, or changing eating habits.
A highly specific set of biological and mental events must occur before a person can shift out of near-death and “come back to life.” The most important shift is confirmation stemming from the striatum that that the person is now “safe enough.”
But being on pause for an extended period makes it very hard to activate the striatum.
In the last few years, building on recent discoveries about the midbrain combined with ancient yogic practices, I came up with a way to reverse-engineer the brain’s pause-based striatal and thalamic inhibitions.
It turns out, the striatum is activated when a person feels he is communicating with God, or with some saint, sage, late grandmother, or totem animal: someone or something that is loving, protective, tender, and capable of giving protecting.
Most people with Parkinson’s have an extremely difficult time doing this. However, by working at developing a silent or out-loud communicative relationship with an invisible someone – whether or not it feels “real” – a person can actually stimulate the striatum to the point that one begins to feel safe.
The thalamus, which happens to be the site of tremor-inducing behavior, is healthy and activated when a person relates to a concept of God or a loved one in a way that is feel-able. Brain scan research shows that a person who believes that God or Universal Love can be tangibly perceived will have increased activity in his thalamus when asked to think of God.
By the way, from here on out, when I use the word “God,” the reader, if he prefers, can substitute for the word “God” the name of a late grandmother, a beloved saint or sage, a totem animal, or even a deceased pet dog or cat. I use the word God to denote something that connects you to love, something or someone who has always had your back, who is and always has been loving you, protecting you, looking out for you. Preferably not a living person, as this places limits on the possibility of perfect, unconditional love that has always has been and always will be there for you.
Healthy people are able to sense a tangible expansion in the chest when experiencing something poignant. Most people with Parkinson’s do not. They cannot feel joy- and love-related sensations in the vicinity of the heart. In pause, the thalamus is inhibited: somatic, sensory experiences associated with God or Love are inhibited. In pause, the striatum is inhibited: the knowledge that one is safe and connected to the universe is inhibited.
Most people with Parkinson’s have an extremely difficult time talking to or experiencing tangible sensations of resonance with love, or with God. However, it’s do-able. And practicing it, a lot (as steadily as possible), serves to change the way a person feels.
After training oneself to constantly communicate with God or an invisible someone to the point where a person begins to feel safe, he can then work with that same someone to develop a sensory awareness of that someone’s presence, a sensory awareness of the presence of love.
A person with Parkinson’s may be deeply loving towards others. The feeling he is usually lacking is the ability to feel, in his own body, that he himself is loved.
Basically, one has to practice stimulating and using the striatum and thalamus even though the spinal electrical currents no longer automatically provide support to these areas.
Eventually, the feeling of safety generated in these areas through constant stimulation use makes the person gradually, increasingly, know that he is safe. Truly safe. Loved, protected, and safe.
When this state of mind occurs, the mental instruction to be somatically numb, which led to the Parkinson’s, either ceases by itself or the person feels ready to issue a cancellation of his previous “be numb” instruction. He does this using his new, “safe” personality. The Parkinson’s ceases. The person feels physically light and mentally strange, as if just awakened from a trance. The weird, counter-intuitive recovery symptoms, as described in Recovery from Parkinson’s, kick in.
Every person who has recovered from years of partial recovery was silently or out-loud talking to someone dear, powerful, and outwardly invisible at the moment when the self-induced pause behaviors, the Parkinson’s, turned off and never returned.
For years, until I learned which brain areas are activated by which types of mental behaviors, I could make no sense of these unexpected recoveries. Once I learned about the new brain-scan research on specific thought-activators for the striatum and thalamus, which are both inhibited in Parkinson’s. Suddenly, everything I’d learned in my thousands of hours of patients’ interviews, recovered or not, made sense.
Today, instead of starting treatment with foot therapy, I check to see if patient’s spinal current can travel up into the head, or if it stops at the base of the neck. If the current stops at the base of the neck, as it does in over ninety percent of my patients with Parkinson’s, I start by teaching a person how to retrain and reactivate his striatum.
This process might take weeks, or it might take years. A person needs to learn to talk, almost constantly, to his invisible, outside “support” person. Any time he is not talking to that person, he is probably using his Parkinson’s personality and literally moving away from feeling safe, because of his ongoing use of pause.
I have seen that a person who happens to have had a long-time habit of talking to God due to his religious training, or who, on his own, developed a habit of mentally talking to some loved one who has passed on, will need less time to retrain himself to constantly communicate with someone “outside” himself, as opposed to constantly talking “inwardly” to himself in an endless, self-directed monologue.
A person who has never learned to say prayers or never spent time silently talking to a late grandmother may struggle deeply with this new way of using the brain. Typically, such a one will say “I feel stupid talking to someone who’s not there.” However, this feeling usually decreases within a few weeks.
Brain research, as well as the writings of great saints and sages of every faith, confirm that conversing constantly with something loving and supportive is the most effective way to feel safe enough to live without fear, connected to the universe, and beloved.
Oppositely, constantly conversing analytically and judgmentally with oneself in a downward-spiraling monologue, which is normal for Parkinson’s, uses the parts of the brain associated with ego and risk, and is almost guaranteed to make a person feel less safe.
Again, after learning to be in almost constant communication, a person will begin to feel safe. After that, he can work on learning to feel the communicant, a process that will stimulate the thalamus.
From there, it is a short step to lovingly command the brain to terminate the fear-based, stern and grim instruction issued in childhood to “feel no pain.”
The instructions for all these techniques are included in my unfinished books, Stuck on Pause and the upcoming 2017 revised edition of Recovery from Parkinson’s.
For now, for anyone interested in recovering from Parkinson’s, I have posted some of the new chapters that are somewhat finished. I suggest that you first determine whether or not your spinal currents are running. Instructions on how to do that are included in the New postings 2017, in the chapters from Stuck on Pause.
If your spinal currents are normal, work on the unhealed foot injury, as suggested in the previous editions of Recovery from Parkinson’s.
If your spinal currents are blocked at the base of the neck even some of the time, work instead on learning to activate your striatum using the material that has recently been posted on the web under the heading: “Talking outside yourself,” in the section titled New Postings 2017.
The reason there are no naturally occurring animal models of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is that animals never imagine that they are separate from the universe, living in a nether-land between life and death in order to stay safe from having to feel physical or emotion pain, or in order to be spiritually superior and “rise above” emotions and feelings. Only humans can do this. And only humans can consciously choose how they use their minds.
In closing, a request: please do not write to me with questions about the new material that I have posted, and please do not write to me with offers of proof-reading or making translations. I know that what I am posting is not yet finished, is awkward in parts, and is packed with typographical and syntactical errors. Rest easy. The material will be proofread many times before the final version is printed up in hard copy and also posted online for free.
I have decided I must stop spending hours every day writing updates to people who want to know the “latest” or how to deal with their Parkinson’s symptoms. Instead, if I want to finish these books, I will have to focus on the books, and not on answering emails.
I know that this short update gives only the most superficial treatment of the new research. Be assured that the books are packed with citations and research details. If you are new to this site, do read the current edition of Recovery from Parkinson’s. Most of that material will be preserved in the new book.
To access that book, Click on Publications, and then click on the book title, to download the book for free.
Keep an eye peeled for the new, 2017 edition of Recovery from Parkinson’s and also the new book Stuck on Pause, which explains the biology of pause as well as the special circumstances that develop in cases of self-induced pause.
Please forgive me for taking so long with my research and my writing.
All of the materials on this website are copyrighted.
Dr. Janice Walton-Hadlock, DAOM