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The Power of the Mind with Dr. Thomas Verny

George Grombacher August 18, 2022

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The Power of the Mind with Dr. Thomas Verny

LifeBlood: We talked about the power of the mind, how our minds are everywhere in our body, not just our brains, and what this means for our health, with Dr. Thomas Verny, psychiatrist with a lifelong interest in the memory of the mind and author of the Embodied Mind. 

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Dr. Thomas Verny

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
What do I put this is Georgie and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong a powerful Dr. Thomas Bernie Thomas, are you ready to do this? I am ready. And thank you for having me now excited to have you on. Thomas is a psychiatrist with a lifelong interest in memory and the mind who established the science of pre and Perinatal psychology, he became fascinated by cellular memory and intelligence motivated, motivated him to write the book, the embodied mind, understanding the mysteries of cellular memory, consciousness, and our bodies. Thomas, excited to have you on again, tell us a little about your personal life some more about your work? And what motivated you to write the book?

Unknown Speaker 0:55
Well, thank you. That’s a big question. We probably need a couple of hours for that. But I’m trying to be as brief as I can.

Unknown Speaker 1:05
In in the early 1970s, well known around the late 1970s, I started practicing psychiatry, in Toronto. And in the midst of discussing a dream with one of my patients,

Unknown Speaker 1:26
he suddenly started crying like a little baby.

Unknown Speaker 1:31
And he continued along that way for about 10 minutes. And then he came out of it. I asked him what had just happened. And he said, he had just found himself in a crib. And he was crying for his mother. And then he said, being a somewhat skeptical young lawyer, he said, you know, there is something wrong with this picture. Because I’ve actually seen photographs of myself in a crib. But

Unknown Speaker 2:05
all those photographs were taken in a blue crib. And I had just been in a white crib, I’m sure it was a white crib. So I said to him, you know, go home, talk to your mother, she was still alive, and see if you can throw some light on this. So he did. And next week, he returned. And he said, you know, this is amazing. But it seems that the first two months of my life, my parents did not have enough money to buy me a crib. And I lived in a borrowed crib, which was white. And then all the pictures subsequent to that we’ve taken in a blue crib, which was my new crib, which is what my parents bought. So I thought about that for a few moments. But, you know, I was very well educated. I went to the University of Toronto, I went to Harvard, we were taught that children before the age of two, I cannot remember anything. So this is impossible, made up story. But then, over the next few months, every once in a while, I would come across somewhat similar experiences. And for example, Boris brought who is who was at that time, a very famous conductor in Canada. When he was asked on the radio, he was being interviewed, just you and I are doing right now. He was being asked, How do you think your conducting career career started?

Unknown Speaker 3:38
And to everybody’s astonishment, he said, I think it started in my mother’s womb. What do you mean? What do you mean? Like this was 1975 1976? Nobody talked about that. And he said, Well, it seems that every once in a while, when I was just beginning my conducting career, I would come across scores that seemed incredibly familiar. And before I even turned the page, I kind of knew what the following notes would be. And so I spoke to my mother, he said, and she was a cellist. And she asked me, what were the particular pieces that seemed so familiar to me. And it turns out that those were the very pieces that she practiced while she was pregnant with Yeah. So when all of that sort of started coming together, I thought to myself, you know, perhaps what we were being taught in school is incorrect.

Unknown Speaker 4:42
Perhaps it’s time, you know, to really look into that. So that led me to make a long story a little bit shorter. That led me to write my first book, The Secret Life of the unborn child, and that was published in 1981. And that was a true

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Mandela success. And as of now, it has been published in 27 countries.

Unknown Speaker 5:07
And it’s still being read and I still get letters about it. It’s it’s really quite amazing. So one of the problems with the secret life of the unborn child, as I wrote it at that time was that

Unknown Speaker 5:23
there was good scientific evidence for establishing the fact that we’re in the second trimester. In other words, six months after conception,

Unknown Speaker 5:35
that unborn child had sufficient, sufficient neurological substrate enough of a boost of functioning brain to lay down memories.

Unknown Speaker 5:46
And there was there was research to support that. On the other hand, there was no research to support any memories going prior to that, in other words, nothing at three months or four months or two months, and some people talked about their conception, some people seemed to remember their conception. So I was always, I was always worried about that, like, I did not have an explanation for it. And I liked to be scientific, and I like to use science to support my core beliefs. So that worried me. Over the years. As I spoke about the secret life of the unborn child, I started the pre and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America. I was the editor of the Journal of pre and Perinatal psychology, where I’m still active.

Unknown Speaker 6:43
But that continued to bother me. And then, seven years ago,

Unknown Speaker 6:50
I came across a paper, which described how a 44 year old French citizen went to his doctor complaining of pain in his left leg,

Unknown Speaker 7:03
some weakness, pain and weakness, I think, and his left leg, and then all kinds of complete he had a complete lab workup. And it was found to everybody’s incredible astonishment, that the man had virtually no break, had thin crust of brain tissue.

Unknown Speaker 7:28
And the rest of his skull was filled with fluid cerebrospinal fluid, which we call hydrocephalus and medicine.

Unknown Speaker 7:38
This man was 44 years old, as they said he was married, he had two children. And he was gainfully employed in the French civil service.

Unknown Speaker 7:49
So I thought to myself, How is this possible? This, this doesn’t make sense.

Unknown Speaker 7:56
And so that set me on a course to investigate the importance of the brain. And I found that there were actually a lot of reports in the literature, which showed that, particularly children who had epilepsy had large parts of their brain removed in order to cure them of the epilepsy, and that there were no cognitive deficits, the children continued to act, normally, they continue to think normally, they have good personalities, everything was fine. So I thought to myself,

Unknown Speaker 8:33
there has got to be some kind of a backup system here, okay, a person could not function so well without a break. And so that set me on a course to write the embodied mind. And essentially, what I have found writing the book and researching it, I, I read about 5000 books and scientific papers to back up my theory, about 500 of those are referenced in the book itself. And it shows that we have such a thing as cellular intelligence, and that the cells in our bodies are really not that different from neurons. Like for a long time, science has sort of totally focused on the head, and neurons in the head. It’s all about the head, it’s all about the brain. And, you know, part of that is really cultural, because for 1000s of years, even before the Greeks, you know, we have lived in a patriarchal society. And the patriarchal society is very hierarchical. And everything starts with the head of the family, the head of the tribe, the head of government, how to get ahead, it’s all about the head. Actually, you

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Naturally, we focus, we want to put all our focus on the head, we put all our focus on the brain. And certainly I’m not saying that the brain is not important, not at all that what I’m asking for what I’m, what I’m writing about is a more even handed approach. The top down, in other words from the head down is important. But also from the bottom up, all the things that are happening below the neck, are equally important. So that’s what the book is about. And it really, and if what I’m saying is true, and I certainly hope that it is,

Unknown Speaker 10:43
then it really, then really medical science, pharma, Pharmaceutical Sciences, they all need to re evaluate what they are doing, and paying much more attention to the bottom up effect.

Unknown Speaker 11:02
As opposed to the top down effects.

Unknown Speaker 11:07
When when you come to the conclusion, is that shocking? Is that terrifying? Is that like,

Unknown Speaker 11:17
when you say, well, we need to re examine our medical and our pharma pharmaceutical, like what

Unknown Speaker 11:25
are just as

Unknown Speaker 11:27
well, it’s not terrifying to me,

Unknown Speaker 11:30
it may be terrifying to separate to the pharmaceutical companies perhaps,

Unknown Speaker 11:36
you know, and also to the universities, because what I am, what I’m fighting for is a need for more cross disciplinary disciplinary centres at universities, for example, at Princeton Neuroscience Institute as one of these, and that was started in 213. And that’s wonderful. And it’s the place where psychologists, neuroscientists, computer scientists, combine their approaches and to studying the mind. And I think that is a wonderful, wonderful place. And that should be imitated and duplicated all over the United States and the world. And, you know, the, the same thing applies to pharmaceutical companies, for example.

Unknown Speaker 12:24
For example, many, as a psychiatrist, I know that many of the antidepressant, for many of the anti anxiety, anxiety drugs don’t work.

Unknown Speaker 12:37
The statistics are that they work in 1/3 of patients very well, in one set of patients, they seem to have no effect. And in one set of patients, they actually make them feel worse, and they have to discontinue taking the drug.

Unknown Speaker 12:51
Nobody until now figured out why that should be. But actually there is an answer to that. The answer to that are is the microbiome.

Unknown Speaker 13:01
In the gut, in other words, all the bacteria and viruses that we carry in our gut, most people don’t realize that we carry about five pounds of bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract. And some of these bacteria are very, very important because they really contribute to many fine things. For example, they help us produce serotonin, which as you know, is very important in terms of, of mood. If we have lots of serotonin, we are not depressed, if there is a lack of serotonin, many people get depressed.

Unknown Speaker 13:43
Now, some of these bacteria destroy the the medications, the anti anxiety pills,

Unknown Speaker 13:52
the antidepressants, and that is why some people don’t benefit from them. So the thing to do, the thing to do is to discover what kind of bacteria we have, and whether they will help us

Unknown Speaker 14:08
to benefit from whatever drugs we are being given or not. So it really, it really asks for a different approach to health, then what we have been sort of engaging in up to the present one more example that that you will appreciate. There are millions and millions of people who are taking statins in the United States and Canada, okay, that that is in order to prevent getting high blood pressure and ulcers and stuff like that statin inflammation. Statins are, you know, one of the window drugs, but many of the statins don’t work in in, in people because of particular gut bacteria that actually destroy them. This has been shown the research is there. So these are

Unknown Speaker 15:00
The kinds of things that will happen if people really become aware of the importance of the body below the neck instead of just the body above the neck.

Unknown Speaker 15:15
That makes a lot of sense. Did you say it was Princeton that was doing a good job? Yes, yes, that is doing a wonderful job. I think MIT and Stanford University have started interdisciplinary centers, but we need many, many, many more. Is it? Is it that they are blessed with more wisdom? Is it that they have more courage?

Unknown Speaker 15:41
I think they have more money, money. That’s

Unknown Speaker 15:47
That was my next question. Unfortunately, you know, that, that that kind of guides, everything that happens in the Western world, you know, it’s unfortunately, very money oriented. These are universities that have huge, you know, huge beneficiaries. And they can get money for pretty well, everything. Smaller universities, these have trouble is that. Yeah, for sure. And your experience, imagine that the incumbents are not necessarily thrilled with with your work. How has that been?

Unknown Speaker 16:27
You mean, how people have reacted to it? Yeah, I’m sure that there are people with money that want to keep things the way they are?

Unknown Speaker 16:35
Yeah, I’m sure I am sure they do. But, you know, I have been, I have been in private practice for a long time. So I really don’t have first hand experience with that. But certainly, you know, in my university days, you know, when I was studying at Harvard, for example, I mean, it’s a wonderful, wonderful university. And on one hand, they have incredible funding, you know, from people who have attended Harvard in the past, including, you know, everybody who is anybody more or less than the United States beginning was the Kennedys.

Unknown Speaker 17:15
But on the other hand, they are also very, very stingy, very stingy. And when I was there, actually, since you’re asking a more personal question, when I was there, I was there on a scholarship, I went an Eli Lilly international fellowship. And when they found out that I was actually getting a scholarship, they wanted to stop paying me my regular fee, which they contracted for,

Unknown Speaker 17:50
because I had a fellowship. So why why pay you, you know, you are getting more money than then the other than the other students. So I was ready to, to take them to court. And they relented, and they continue paying, Nick, but it’s just a small example of how stingy they can be, at the same time that they have this incredible amount of funding.

Unknown Speaker 18:15
Yeah, but anyway, that’s not important. The important thing, the important thing is that we have to start, you know, we have to start thinking of the embodied mind instead of the end Skald mind,

Unknown Speaker 18:30
scientists, for a long time have looked at the mind as an epiphenomenon. In other words, a function of the brain, just like urine is a function of the kidneys, for Bile is a function of the bile of the bile duct and the liver. So the mind, they think, they continue to think that is a function of the brain, and nothing, nothing could be further from the truth. It simply does not compute. And I think what does compute much better, although I don’t think it’s the final answer. But I think what computes much better is that, you know, we have to substitute the unskilled mind, with the embodied mind. In other words, our whole body, our whole body is constantly reverberating. And you cannot tell where one thing begins. And the other thing ends. It’s one reverberating interacting circuit. And so the mind has to be a function of that, instead of just, you know, the little brain that’s up there and,

Unknown Speaker 19:43
and is doing sort of much too much work

Unknown Speaker 19:48
compared to the rest of the body, according to the scientists, but not according to me. Yes. Yeah. I think that that, it strikes me that that, that, that makes sense to me.

Unknown Speaker 20:00
That it’s not just the encircled mind, I think that that’s a great term. But it’s it’s, it’s, it’s everywhere. And why wouldn’t we take an integrated approach to understanding what makes us healthy and vibrant and when something’s going wrong, not just to look at the brain or at whatever, at the one system, but to take everything into consideration and try to heal that way? Exactly, exactly. Yes, I’m glad you see it that way. And then the other important thing that I would like to leave with our listeners before we end is that this mind that we have this embodied mind is incredibly powerful, incredibly powerful. And we can do a lot of good visit. And of course, we can do a lot of parts of that. But just to give you an example of what a belief system can do for us.

Unknown Speaker 20:52
In, in, in the United States, New York, and New York, there was, there was a study done by a psychologist from Harvard by the name of Ellen Langer. And what she did was she studied at two hotel maids in New York. And to half of them, she said that their work actually met the US Surgeon General’s recommendation for daily exercise. The other 41, were not told that they were told something else, but not relevant. After one month, both groups had their had their biological measurements done. And what was found was that the group that believed that they were exercising, when in fact, they were doing nothing different from what they had always done.

Unknown Speaker 21:48
Only their belief system was different. They lost weight, they had a decreased waist to hip ratio, and a 10% drop in blood pressure plus other good things happening, just because they believe.

Unknown Speaker 22:04
And so, you know, I think that, again, there is a great deal of research to show that if we, if we believe something strongly,

Unknown Speaker 22:16
it can make a difference to our health, it can make a difference to the way we relate to people. And so again, the power of the mind, of the complete mind, the body mind,

Unknown Speaker 22:30
is underestimated. And it should really become more of a focus.

Unknown Speaker 22:38
So that old same, I believe that with every fiber of my being,

Unknown Speaker 22:43
that they were right, exactly, exactly as every fiber, I would say is every cell of our body. Yes, that’s beautiful. Judge, thank you.

Unknown Speaker 22:53
I’ll use that in the future. Perfect.

Unknown Speaker 22:58
This is the it’s like, it’s like, it’s amazing. So you read 5000 books, scientific papers, how long did it take you to when you made the decision to start this to when the book the book was actually produced? Seven years, seven years? credible, I wouldn’t want to do it, again, an incredible amount of work. And while you’re doing it, you know, I don’t know whether you have written a book or not. But while you’re doing it, you never know whether it will see the light of day. Okay, I mean, you might as well be working in it in the mind of 1550 miles under the under the roof. So something because here you are every day, hour after hour, reading research papers, making notes, trying to remember trying to make sense of it. And then you finally you know, write a proposal, and you send it out into the world and nobody wants it.

Unknown Speaker 23:59
And that’s terrible. That is just a horrible, traumatic experience. I had I had a literary agent in New York who passed away, unfortunately. So I have to find a new agent. Because without an agent, you cannot publish a book. The agents really do the publishers work by eliminating books that they feel are not worthy of publishing. So trying to find an agent

Unknown Speaker 24:29
is a very discouraging task. And I was lucky enough to find a very fine agent who would love the idea and love the book and was most helpful when I was when I was writing it later on. And so, you know, he was able he was able to place it. There was a good publisher of Pegasus publishing in New York. And and they published a very nice copy of the book. But now of course, it’s a question of people buying it and reading it.

Unknown Speaker 25:00
I think you know, so there are always these barriers, you know, always these barriers to overcome, you know, first you have to write it, then you have to find an agent and you have to find a publisher, then you have to find the public

Unknown Speaker 25:14
one step at a time, one step at a time. So, I suppose that’s a lot of faith right there, Thomas. Yes. Love it. What’s happening? Thank you so much for coming on. And thank you for that. Seven years of work and and everything else. Where can people learn more about you? How can they get a copy of the embodied mind understand the mysteries of cellular memories, consciousness and our bodies?

Unknown Speaker 25:40
They can get it on Amazon, Amazon carries it. They can also go to my website for more information about me and the book, my website is Thomas R. Verni. M D

Unknown Speaker 25:58
And I also have a podcast, which is called pushing boundaries with Dr. Thomas are

Unknown Speaker 26:09
excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show Dr. Thomas your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, pick up a copy of the embodied mind Amazon, go to Thomas R Vernie And check out the great information that he is putting out there and then check out the pushing boundaries podcast as well, because he certainly is. Thanks again, Thomas. Thank you, George. It was such a pleasure. Thank you. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. It’s we’re all in this together.

Transcribed by

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