Reply To: Psychotherapy with LH patients

  • Don Salmon

    June 7, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Maureen:

    (Fellow therapist here) I’m SO glad you asked this. I mainly joined this channel for experiential/practical exploration, and a large percentage of comments and questions are related to neuroscience, theories about psychology and philosophy.

    Hard to know where to start – there’s just a ton of good stuff out there.

    1. Video on effortless mindfulness: on our home page, http://www.RememberToBe.Life, if you scroll down to the 2nd video, you’ll see what is, in essence, a method for shifting from LH to RH (I have written a lot in these groups on the McGilchrist channel, that making the dividing line between “LH” and “RH” is not something I think is very helpful – and in fact, I don’t see Iain doing it as much as his students and followers seem to do – be happy to take about that if you like

    2. The work of Les Fehmi. Dr. Fehmi (a physiological psychologist) spent over 50 years training people to shift from narrow, linear, logical, controlling, detached attention to wide, non linear, intuitive, spontaneous, immersed attention. He was able to help people reduce or eliminate medication for the most severe kinds of chronic pain (intense migraines, back pain, pain of all kinds), depression, anxiety, trauma, and more. He trained Olympic athletes, helped people in their relationships, and much more. His book “Open Focus” is probably the best introduction, but you really need to practice to get a sense.

    With one patient, he taught her simply to notice space. That was it. In 3 weeks, decades of severe migraines and stomach cramps along with severe anxiety were completely gone. She said in 3 months of practicing this, every single area of her life showed significant improvement.

    3. Culadasa aka Dr. John Yates. Culadasa’s work, I find, is much more powerful than that of Fehmi. I’ve known of Fehmi’s work for years, but just came across Culadasa’s “The Illumined Mind” in 2016. Culadasa distinguishes “selective attention” (roughly related to LH, thought not as rigidly as Iain sometimes makes it out to be) and “peripheral awareness” (which Culadasa considers to involve both hemispheres, not just the right). I should mention that as Dr. Yates, he was a neuroscience professor, so he knows this stuff from the inside.

    he had meditation students with 20, 30 or more years of experience, who came to him, stuck in their practice. Just teaching them how to watch the breath with this awareness of different modes of attention enabled to them to reach an almost entirely silent mind within months.

    I had the same experience reading Culadasa. Over the decades, I’ve had spontaneous moments – sometimes hours – of almost total mental silence. But I never understood how it was possible to simply shift attention and watch thoughts vaporize. he teaches how to do it!

    I’m assuming you know all the conventional means, music, art, improvisational acting, breathing, imagery, etc etc etc. They’re all immensely helpful, but if your LH patients are highly resistant, having VERY scientific, well researched practices that don’t have any “woo” feeling or “New Age” quality to them can be immensely helpful.

    I find that not just with LH folks, but just about everyone in this tech age, being able to talk about the effects of these practices on the prefrontal cortex, on the brain stem, etc is immensely helpful – especially because it’s equally effective with atheists and religious fundamentalists – it’s a no-brainer!”

    Speaking of which (I got the no-brainer joke from this guy) I find Dan Siegel’s writing almost impenetrable, full of jargon and unnecessary complexity, and he’s not great at teaching practical methods, but some people love his stuff. I will say, I used to recommend – and sometimes buy extra copies to hand out – one of his books; “The Whole Brain Child” – and the techniques and practices in the book are applicable to teens and adults as well as toddlers, for whom the book was intended. It was co-authored with a child psychologist, which may be why it is so good!

    So that’s a start. I love this topic and I look forward to hearing more from you about it. I’m especially intrigued by your observation of how those seeking therapy nowadays have become MORE LH. My experience is generally the opposite, but perhaps it has something to do with where you practice? I’ve been living in the Southeastern US the last 20 years (originally from NY City).