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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and Narrative Medicine.
(1 comments) SHARE Tuesday, November 23, 2010 Why Learn Neuroscience? (3237 views)
A student asked me why she needed to know neuroscience. Here is my answer. I argue that science is the new story with which we must contend. If we do not know the contemporary stories of science, they will be used against us. The actual stories being told today about the brain are quite uplifting, full of hope. They include neuroplasticity and epigenetics. If we know these stories we can fight against bad neuroscience.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, November 7, 2010 Narrative Interviewing and Behavioral Change (1450 views)
In this article, I talk about the importance of finding the stories behind behaviors that are adverse to health. Health behavior is not rational, but is guided by stories that people have about how life should be lived. Many times they do not realize what these stories are, since they are from their earlier years and are so ingrained as to be outside awareness. I show how changing story allows people to change diet.
SHARE Sunday, September 19, 2010 Explanatory Plurarlism (1736 views)
I ask the question, what if all knowledge existed in the form of stories and all stories were true? If we practiced in this manner, as advocated by Uncle Albert, an aboriginal elder, how would we act? The notion of explanatory pleuralism argues that explanatory stories on any particular level do not have to relate to any other level of explanation; rather they must correspond to the level of which they are explaining.
SHARE Saturday, September 4, 2010 Ethics for Mental Health (2324 views)
The history of the mental health industry involves the management of people who are socially unacceptable, who are defined as excessively different from the rest of us, who live at the extremes of emotions and behaviors. How we treat these people depends upon the stories we carry about how they came to be the way they are. Contemporary stories are impoverished and lead to mistreatment of those who suffer.
(4 comments) SHARE Wednesday, September 1, 2010 Cancer and Coyote Magic in Woodstock (2344 views)
I reflect upon the stories people create to explain their cancer and how some of these stories can be used to make them suffer even further. I wrote about Sarah, a woman with lung cancer who attended a workshop I co-led with my friend, Peter Blum. Sarah suffered enormously from believing that if she did everything "right", she would get well and her cancer would go away. It wasn't. Therefore, she was bad. What do we do?
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 15, 2010 Psychiatrists in Community Mental Health (2204 views)
This article explores the role of the psychiatrist in community mental health. I find myself working in this setting and realizing that almost everyone sees my role as the writing of prescriptions. Medication has become the core of community mental health with twice monthly, 25 minute "therapy" visits. I ask how psychiatrists working in such settings can push back. How can we reclaim psychiatry as the medicine of the soul?
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, August 9, 2010 NICABM and MInd-Body Medicine (2609 views)
I reflect upon the contributions of the National Institute for the Clinical Advancement of Mind-Body Medicine toward furthering the field. At their upcoming conference this December, prominent are newer ideas of neuroplasticity and chronic pain. Through the understanding that pain circuitry in the brain are remodeled by the experience of pain so as to make people feel more pain, we can refute old ideas of pain.
(1 comments) SHARE Sunday, August 1, 2010 Walking with Dementia (1574 views)
Unexpectedly I find myself visiting a friend for the weekend who is helping his mother place his father into a long-term care facility. My friend's father has vascular dementia, the result of a series of strokes, each one of which rendering him progressively less capable. Nevertheless, we have a marvelous walk in which he demonstrates the unassailable curiousity of human beings for describing the motivations of others.
(1 comments) SHARE Monday, July 26, 2010 Why can't the sundance feeling last all year long? (1483 views)
I reflect on my experience of coming out of sundance, which is always a powerful, personally transformative experience for me and those others with whom I dance. Because of its deep embodiedness, sundance is simultaneously mental, physical, spiritual and communal. This and the prayers brought to sundance and the examples provided by the dancers of transcending our physical limits, explains in part the amazing healings seen.
SHARE Thursday, July 8, 2010 One Road, Many Branches (1414 views)
This article builds upon my past two weeks of talking about Indian identity. It is written on the sundance grounds as I prepare for purification and for this season's sundance. I talk about the way that the drug and alcohol treatment movement brought ceremony and ritual into the lives of both Indians and non-Indians. People discovered the power of the Red Road. Ethnic boundaries disappeared in the welcome for all people.
SHARE Friday, July 2, 2010 Community -- Why is it hard? (1094 views)
Belonging to community has huge benefits. It's hard because true community includes annoying and irritating people who don't agree with us. It includes people who sometimes act bizarre or socially inappropriately. It doesn't exclude and it minimizes power imbalances. Having true community takes work, because it's easier to be anonymous and let other people be in charge. But the effort pays off, and it's worth it.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 30, 2010 More on the Politics of Indian Identity (2633 views)
Based upon comment on last weeks, "More Indian than Thou" essay, I continue my musings about the politics of Indian identity. I explore the fundamentalist response which argues that pure bloods are more Indian than mixed bloods and that non-status Indians have no business reading about, participating in, or even being interested in aboriginal culture. I argue that this would, in fact, allow the U.S. government to succeed.
SHARE Tuesday, June 22, 2010 Why do we need Stories? (2217 views)
Making up story is what are brains do best. In fact, the default mode of the brain is to idly invent what if and if only stories to so that we can run simulations of our social world. We are designed to fill in gaps in our perception. We must reject much environmental information in order to maintain a stable world map.
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, June 16, 2010 More Indian Than Thou (4012 views)
More Indian Than Thou is a current artefact of blood quantum discussion. It disenfranchises many, and seems to contain some of the same political aspects as our oppressors. This article addresses the question of Indian identity. Can a person be an Indian without being enrolled in a tribe. Can a person claim Native American heritage without tribal enrollment and endorsement? What are the politics of "Indianness"?
SHARE Monday, June 7, 2010 Community Revisited (4456 views)
Each of us is a neuron in a social brain. We need connectedness to each other to regulate our moods. I propose that the current explosion in the rates of diagnosis of anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder is relted to our lack of connectedness. We no longer have other people to regulate our moods and emotions. Alternatives to isolation are available and desirable but require us to relinguish some freedom.
SHARE Wednesday, June 2, 2010 Reflections on the American Psychiaatric Association's annual meeting (1337 views)
This past week we attended the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. The high point was the amazing food that New Orleans offers. Besides that, we dialogue about the myths that psychiatry has created that now need to be changed. These myths include the idea that a perfect pill exists to make people feel "normal" and that a pill exists that can change unpleasant affect in happiness
SHARE Wednesday, June 2, 2010 Modern Day Shamanism (1624 views)
Summary: The word "shamanism" has become very popular. But what does it mean and why do traditional North American deplore this word. Traditional healers are accountable to their communities. Others in the anonymous society must face regulation and must prove that they are more beneficial than harmful. The word shaman is no doubt here to stay, but there is an advantage to resisting it in that it brings to attention the di
SHARE Sunday, May 23, 2010 Who's in Charge Anyway? (1443 views)
To what degree do we control our lives? Advocates of The Secret claim we have complete power to create whatever we wish. A more realistic world view is that of the Lakota who believe we are thrown into a universe of vast forces and influences over which we have no control. Within that context, we do what we can. I believe we need a philosophy that recognizes our embeddedness in a world that we didn't create and our capacit
SHARE Thursday, May 6, 2010 What is a traditional healer? (6926 views)
I address the question of what is a traditional healer and define a category of hybrid healers -- people who have studied with traditional healers but are also steeped in the modern culture. Those of us who are hydrid healers can "never go home again". We can't go back and claim to be traditional healers because we have been influenced by too many other stories?