Syndromes – Solutions from Research

Garrison Keillor on Syndromes, A Prairie Home Companion, Sept. 14, 2013:

September in Minnesota: Chill in the air reminds you of mortality. A little bit of that in the air. Memory tinges everything that you see when you get to be my age. . . Start of school, is painful for those of us who weren’t good at school. They expected you to know the answers, not just multiple choice, but to actually say what the Gadsden Purchase, Taft-Hartley Act . . . was. You had to know what these things were or you would be a dummy. That was the word that we used back then. We were very cruel to people who did not have the — nowadays, of course, nowadays, they have come up with ‘syndromes’ that cover (audience laughter and applause) what we used to call ‘dopiness’. And they have initials; now they’re ADHD or PHD, Pernicious Hyperactive Dementia (laughter), and uh, so you just say “I’ve got PHD, and people understand that. You can’t hold it against anybody for having a syndrome, for Heaven’s sake. If you aren’t able to work out the math problems, you can write an essay in the margin of the test saying how you feel about not being able to (laughter) and how this has made you more sensitive to the problems of other people. And they’ll accept that.
What this means for the future of medicine, I have no idea. (Laughter) But there there you are. So what was I talking about? Mortality in the air in fall. . . .
Ouch! After all those years “keeping on keeping on” to perform and outperform in the face of some invisible and unknown inner adversity, I am only now a person grateful and relieved to finally understand the developmental roots of my own autoimmune syndromes. Through this greater awareness, I have found more spaciousness, kindness and compassion for my own challenges and for those of others, And, as well, finally, after 30 years of alternative/complimentary medical practice, I how have much more skillful means for supporting recovery on a deeper level.
Beyond the meanness, if Garrison Keillor is poking “fun” at syndromes, and his Minneapolis audience immediately responds so heartily, we know it’s an idea whose time has come – and not just “in California”. . . May we all, and especially the politicians and legislators in Washington, DC and in the 50 state capitals, become more sensitive to the problems faced by those for whom early adversity dysregulates the nervous system and whose cognitive capacities and emotional stability must be fought for and reclaimed.
I hope that someday Keillor uses his influence to increase awareness of the ACE study and the enormous cost, to individuals, families and to the society as a whole, of the syndromes that result from early childhood adversity. They are many and varied, confusing to those who have them and confounding to those trying to treat them.
With his prescience, Keillor has his pulse on something profoundly important that will — and should — “alter the future of medicine”. We who work toward healing the ongoing effects of developmental trauma are at the cutting edge of that change.

Here are resources aimed at resolution: 

The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Autoimmune Epidemic – Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance and the Cutting Edge Science that Promises Hope. Nakazawa describes the unseen link between early adverse experiences and autoimmune disease and, most importantly, the therapies that gave her ways out of the immune, neurological, behavioral and emotional binds she, like many of us, found herself in.    “As both a science journalist and someone struggling with serious health issues, Donna Jackson Nakazawa offers clarity, heart, and hope for recovery and well-being. Funny, fast-moving, honest, insightful, and always helpful, her story of her journey to wellness brings together mind and body, East and West, solid research and the upper reaches of human potential.”  –Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom


Mindfulness and Cellular Aging: Elissa Epel, PhD, delivered at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts in 2011: and   and   Richard Davidson, PhD The Emergence of Contemplative Neuroscience : the deep intersection of science and practice at a Meng Wu Lecture on October 2nd, 2012. {especially watch the video clip at 1:01 from the documentary Free the Mind (2013)}

Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres: Elissa Epel, PhD., Jennifer Daubenmier, Ph.D., […], and Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD.  (Dr. Epel’s list of telomere-strengthening approaches will be added soon)

Childhood maltreatment and telomere shortening: preliminary support for an effect of early stress on cellular aging.   Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 15;67(6):531-4. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.014. Epub 2009 Oct 14.

Childhood Adversities Are Associated with Shorter Telomere Length at Adult Age both in Individuals with an Anxiety Disorder and Controls