Friday, July 29, 2016

Massaging Your Reward System Might Bring Healing Power!

For some time I have written and spoken about the power of the human brain and my speculative belief that the brain contains the power to heal. We are simply at a point in our evolution that such power has not been tapped or understood. In some circles, such speculation is routinely refuted as nonsense. I will remain fixed on my belief and time will evince what I believe.

The Human Brain is simply too complex for us to not have the ability to manage our health from within. The brain carries the blueprint for what the rest of the body is to do and this is precisely why we are alone in our ability to derive happiness or misery from a single thought!

In my recent book, What is the Purpose of My Brain: Spiritual Healing and Salvation (2016-Tate Publishing), I explore the importance of the reward system in our brain. This relatively old collection of neural structures deep inside our brain is the area that is responsible for us feeling pleasure, joy, and most importantly Love. Love is the greatest medicine we have and trumps all others. Love is God and in my book I make the argument that our brains have been granted us to commune (or refute) God.

I argue that we have the ability to massage our reward system through expression of love, forgiveness, faith, humility, kindness, and hope. These are the lessons taught us by St. Paul many years ago and I am simply suggesting they are the neurospiritual medicines that can bring us health and peace. We have to practice though on a daly basis and our brain will flood with positive neurochemicals and hormones.

I read a recent published article with great interest as it seems to back my speculation. The paper was published in Nature Medicine and the argument is that by "ticking" our reward system we help to enhance our immune system. This is a specific example of my idea that the brain carries the blueprint to affect the body. It underscores again the mind-body connection. While this study was done in mice there is reason to believe that such a response may also occur in humans.

If we fiind that the immune system is enhanced and triggered when our reward system gets engaged we have the potential for an entire new therapeutic approach and indeed a pathway to self-healing!

It is my contention, that our technological advancement is simply exposing what we should expect, the brain has the mechanism for health and healing!

Dr. Nussbaum

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thanks Mom

A Day for Mom

My Mother
My Mother, my friend so dear
throughout my life you're always near.
A tender smile to guide my way
You're the sunshine to light my day.
Author Unknown

I can recall being taught in my earlier days that I should love and respect my mother because you only get one in this world. To this day, I remember that free advice and do my best to follow it. My mother is 92 and blessed with a keen mind, a strong spirit, and complete independence. She is quite stubborn though I do believe one needs to be stubborn to live to 92 and beyond. Getting older and keeping one’s health is not a passive sport. That is why living a healthy lifestyle is so important beginning early in life.

We have a day in the United States called “Mother’s Day” and it is meant to be a time to stop and reflect on the blessings of having a mother. I understand and respect that not all relationships with a mother are positive. However, most are indeed not only positive, but powerful and everlasting. Mother’s Day is a celebration world- wide typically celebrated in the months of March or May and honors the mother of a family as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

History of Mother’s Day

In the United States, the Mother’s Day celebration began in the early 20th century. It is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. Mother’s Day is celebrated by at least 40 countries on an annual basis.

According to Wikipedia, the modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in WV.  The International Mother’s Day shrine is now housed at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the U.S. began in 1905, the year her mother died. Her mother was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers of the American Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Ana wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, because she believed mothers do more for you than anyone.

In 1908, the United States Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday. However, Anna Jarvis’ efforts lead to all states observing Mother’s Day by 1911 with some recognizing it as a local holiday, the first being West Virginia in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Early Ideas on the Roles of Mothers

I can recall in my early studies in psychology the strong emphasis placed mothers with raising children. Indeed, there was an almost overt neglect of the role of fathers, something that has now been recognized as wrong since both the mother and father are so important to children’s development. However, the role and importance of the mother in our lives cannot be overestimated.

Throughout the years the roles that mothers have assumed have varied by generation. In the early part of the 20th century mothers took on a traditional role of raising the children and fortifying the home. Today in the 21st century it is quite common to see women working as hard and as much in the workforce as men. It is also true that some women continue to choose to stay out of the workforce and to manage the home. Still others serve many roles such as employee or business owner, homemaker, and spouse. The modern day mother in the United States is incredible, but the same is true since our nation was born.

Value of Mom

You are the only one who can determine and define the value of your mom. Mothers in general provide so much that it is nearly impossible to list. Mothers first give unconditional love in big doses, care and compassion, an unending ear always present to listen, common sense, direction, support, confidence, and the ability to forgive and forget. Mothers are our biggest cheerleader and best friend. Mom knows exactly when things are not right with us and she can set us straight using some tough love, soft love, but always with love. Maybe we get all these goodies from mom because we came from mom and we are always a part of mom.

I call my mother every day and we discuss sports, family, politics, current events, her day and memories. At 92 I realize these calls are a blessing and that time on our planet is not infinite. I continue to try to live by the lesson taught me earlier in my life that we only get one mother. In some ways, Mother’s Day is really every day especially if we understand how important she is in our lives.

I hope every mother who reads this will feel appreciated, loved, and respected. You are a great person and someone so vital to your children and family. As a grown man, I am grateful to my mother, the mother of my children, and to all mothers who provide everything to us so that our lives can be filled with joy, love, and grace.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Dr. Nussbaum

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Week and our Present Juxtaposition

For millions of Christians Holy Week is an emotionally turbulent time if one permits him or herself to become immersed in the reality of the events. One can experience a full range of emotions including loss, fear, anxiety, depression, joy, hope, and eternal love. Indeed, this is by design with Easter Sunday representing a day of triumph and celebration of faith.

Today, it is nearly impossible to not experience the same roller coaster of emotions granted us by the seemingly endless parade of evil in our world. Consider your emotions stirred by these events and as we witness horror on our television screens or computers.  I watch with obvious concern as to how humans can get to such a point as to hate and to kill fellow humans. I listen to men and women share ideas of how to cleanse the planet from such evil and I continue to be led to the teachings of Christ.

We are again a planet and people confronted by evil while simultaneously living in real time the Holy Week celebrated by so many and understood by even more. The obvious lessons this week teaches all of us continue to be so critical today, especially today. Love will always triumph over hate;  forgiveness, no matter how difficult or evil the deed against us, brings us salvation. Our answers we seek will not be found by earth-bound beings. Such answers lie in a greatness far greater than us and I believe our entire human race is in dire need of connecting with the greater power we call God.

For all Christians and all humans, I pray we can take some time this Holy Week and regardless of one's background or religion, consider the teachings of Christ. He was put to death by evil and yet he forgave so that we might also be forgiven. Love triumphs even when juxtaposed to hate and evil.

If you read this anywhere on the planet, reach out to someone and express love to them (perhaps even a simple "high five" for love). It sounds basic, but there are many more of us who are filled with love than those filled with hate. Follow the teachings of Christ this week and let love guide us to a more peaceful planet.

Happy Easter to All.

Dr. Nussbaum

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TBI: Get the Facts
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths.1  Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.  Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives.  Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).  These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities.
What is a TBI?
A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury).  Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.2
How big is the problem?
  • In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States. 
    • TBI contributed to the deaths of more than 50,000 people.
    • TBI was a diagnosis in more than 280,000 hospitalizations and 2.2 million ED visits.  These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.
  • Over the past decade (2001–2010), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 70%, hospitalization rates only increased by 11% and death rates decreased by 7%. 
  • In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. EDs for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.3
    • From 2001 to 2009, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, rose 57% among children (age 19 or younger).3
What are the leading causes of TBI? 
  • From 2006–2010, falls were the leading cause of TBI, accounting for 40% of all TBIs in the United States that resulted in an ED visit, hospitalization, or death.  Falls disproportionately affect the youngest and oldest age groups:
    • More than half (55%) of TBIs among children 0 to 14 years were caused by falls.               
    • More than two-thirds (81%) of TBIs in adults aged 65 and older are caused by falls.
  • Unintentional blunt trauma (e.g., being hit by an object) was the second leading cause of TBI, accounting for about 15% of TBIs in the United States for 2006–2010.
    • Close to a quarter (24%) of all TBIs in children less than 15 years of age were related to blunt trauma
  • Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI (14%).   When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths (26%) for 2006–2010.
  • About 10% of all TBIs are due to assaults. They accounted for 3% of TBIs in children less than 15 years of age and 1.4% of TBIs in adults 65 years and older for 2006–2010.  About 75% of all assaults associated with TBI occur in persons 15 to 44 years of age.
Risk factors for TBI
Among TBI-related deaths in 2006–2010:
  • Men were nearly three times as likely to die as women.
  • Rates were highest for persons 65 years and older.
  • The leading cause of TBI-related death varied by age.
    • Falls were the leading cause of death for persons 65 years or older.
    • Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause for children and young adults ages 5-24 years.
    • Assaults were the leading cause for children ages 0-4.
Among non-fatal TBI-related injuries for 2006–2010:
  • Men had higher rates of TBI hospitalizations and ED visits than women.
  • Hospitalization rates were highest among persons aged 65 years and older.
  • Rates of ED visits were highest for children aged 0-4 years.
  • Falls were the leading cause of TBI-related ED visits for all but one age group.
    • Assaults were the leading cause of TBI-related ED visits for persons 15 to 24 years of age.
  • The leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations varied by age:
    • Falls were the leading cause among children ages 0-14 and adults 45 years and older.
    • Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of hospitalizations for adolescents and persons ages 15-44 years.

  1. Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2010.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries Related to Sports and Recreation Activities Among Persons Aged ≤19 Years — United States, 2001–2009. MMWR 2011; 60(39):1337–1342.

Friday, February 12, 2016

All You Need is Love

Each year we are provided with a day to celebrate Love and it is called Valentine's Day. This day involves the typical last minute anxiety laced behavior by men to select their sweetheart a special gift.  It is true we men sometimes wait until the last minute, but hopefully the thought and gesture is well intentioned and sincerely felt.

The day also is an opportunity for all of us to become conscious of the most powerful energy on the planet-Love. Sometimes referred to as an emotion, chemical, force and more, Love has been the subject of stories both romantic and tragic since the written history began. Our most intelligent people have not been able to define or understand Love and the phrase "love is blind" has more neuroanatomical truth behind it than most realize!

While all the gifts are nice and the time spent with our loved ones is so important, I want to emphasize how important it is now that all humans begin to tap into, feel, and express Love not just this day, but all days. I believe the human race is in some serious need of a good dosage of Love as we have become rather bitter, hostile, and angry towards one another. There is too much war and unnecessary death. Each of these are the exact opposite of Love and once again a completely different set of systems in the brain are being used.

God gave us a brain and in the brain a reward system that carries with it the ability to love and to feel the euphoria of love. Let us all try to spend a little time each day using this gift and sharing this thing called Love with as many people as we can. This means even with those who we might think least deserve it.

In the words of St. Paul, "in the end there are but three truths, Love, Hope, and Faith and the greatest of these is Love."

Happy Valentine's Day,

Dr. Nussbaum
Brain Health Center

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas and A Prayer for Love, Forgiveness, and Hope

            The Christmas Holiday Season is upon us and represents a very important day for Christians all across the planet. This season brings an opportunity to stop, reflect, and to heal. Regardless of belief system or background, all humans benefit from feeling and expressing love, forgiveness, and hope.

            Today, we are a nation in need of healing in many ways. We seem to be split on too many factors from politics, socioeconomic structure, religion, race, gender, etc. Our days are spent engaged in hurtful and harmful behavior, judgment, and gossip towards one another. We seem to have lost a sense of grace, kindness, and compassion and we might need to be reminded that we are all humans with so much in common.

            It is not difficult to turn the television on and witness much violence, hatred, and killing across the world. Once again, humans with so much in common have instead turned to rage and hatred that splits us and keeps us from the greatness the human race can and should be.

            We often turn to political leaders to resolve such issues and we might believe there are laws that can fix the problems we face. While that will continue to be a strategy worldwide, I think Christmas offers another strategy, one that is much more human and indeed real.

            My prayer for this Christmas and Holiday Season is for all Americans and indeed all humans on planet earth to turn to the greatest healing medicines of all time: Love, Forgiveness, and Hope. Let us work to express our love for one another, to forgive those who have hurt us, and to offer hope to those in need.

            It is very true that there are those in our world who will not join me in this prayer. However, there are millions of us on this planet who are filled with Love, Forgiveness, and Hope and together we can unite our nation and world for a better tomorrow.

            Jesus taught us to love others, as we want to be loved, to forgive those who trespass against us, and to always have hope. We are meant to help others and to be compassionate to those most in need. We are to free ourselves from angst and bitterness and all anxiety. Each of us has this power within and it really is the best path to our healing and feeling whole as a world again.

            Join me this Christmas and Holiday Season in prayer for and expression of Love, Forgiveness, and Hope!

God Bless Everyone,

Dr. Nussbaum

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Money and Dementia: A Crisis Starting to Happen

It seems that there is always a looming catastrophe on the horizon as the huge group of boomers move toward their senior years.  With boomers turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day and this phenomenon continuing until 2030, any problem skyrockets into a catastrophe.  Add to the vast number of boomers becoming seniors, the fact that $42 trillion (yes, that’s a T) worth of assets rests in their hands and the hands of their parents.  Now as wealth and large groups of seniors converge, stir in the projected incidence of dementia and you now have a picture of an impending crisis.

Let’s step back from the ledge for a moment and get down to the individual impact memory loss has on financial competency.  There are normal declines that occur to the brain as we age.  Problem solving skills diminish with age; memory, analytical reasoning and processing speed decline with age.  Reasoning skills actually drop steadily after a peak at age 53.  Finally aging erodes financial acumen resulting in mistakes with credit cards, home-equity loans, and how to pay for healthcare.

The ability to take care of our finances is termed financial capacity which includes routine tasks like basic monetary skills, carrying out cash transactions, managing a checkbook. bank statement, and exercising financial judgment.  Financial literacy takes financial knowledge a little farther.  Concepts of investing and inflation are part of the landscape of financial literacy.  And guess what – financial literacy decreases with age.  Older investors are less effective in applying their investment knowledge and demonstrated worse investment skill. 

Everything I just described occurs with normal aging and sustaining these types of losses puts older people at a greater risk for frauds and scams. 

Now let’s look at the financial abilities of someone who is cognitively impaired (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease).  Diminished financial capacity becomes apparent when it becomes difficult to identify and count money, understand debt and loans, conduct cash transactions, and pay bills– the most basic of financial skills.  Financial capacity is one of the first abilities to decline with the onset of cognitive impairment.  These declining skills are apparent even before a diagnosis of dementia is made.  Loss of financial skills is a dilemma for this group because in all other aspects of their lives they may appear to be performing normally.  So how are these people found out?  This might be the first indication to family members that there is a problem.  They stop in to say hi and see a pile of unpaid bills sitting on the desk.  They could notice receipts for outrageous purchases.  And they are usually met with resistance when asking about these issues because there is so much fear on the part of their loved one that they will lose financial autonomy.  Even though they are clearly not able to take care of their financial responsibilities, they don’t understand why this is a problem that needs to be attended to.

There are six warning signs of diminished financial capacity:
1.     Memory lapses: bill paying is dependent on memory – forgetting to pay a bill or repeatedly paying the same bill; multiple trips to the ATM or the bank to withdraw money; errors in check writing
2.     Disorganization:  handling bills, keeping track of finances, managing important financial documents – actions that are difficult to perform because there is so much disorganization of paperwork
3.     Decline in checkbook management skills:  this is one of the very first skills to decline; requires procedural skills which are dependent on executive abilities of the brain
4.     Arithmetic mistakes:  decline in both written and oral arithmetic skills
5.     Conceptual confusion:  new difficulty understanding financial terms and concepts
6.     Impaired judgment:  new interest in get rich quick schemes; change in risk preference regarding investment decisions; new found enthusiasm for questionable investments; new reports of erratic, unusual, or uncharacteristic purchases, withdrawals, or gifts.; with poor judgment comes the risk of succumbing to telephone, mail, and internet schemes; problem with impulsivity leading to gambling and overspending.

The inability to handle financial decisions puts this group at high risk for exploitation and abuse. This group possesses a large portion of our nation’s wealth.  A 2011 Metlife Mature Market study found older adults lose $2.9 billion annually.  1 in 10 adults is a victim of mistreatment.  5.2% experience financial mistreatment by a family member.  Of all forms of elder abuse, the highest rate of mistreatment was major financial exploitation.  Bringing this tragedy home was the appearance of Micky Rooney before Congress.  He testified how his family had mistreated him and exploited his finances.  This is a cold, heartless act of abuse.

Are there any solutions emerging for this impending crisis?  The financial industry is taking steps to put safeguards in place to protect their older clients.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority reported that some financial firms are including paperwork to access referrals to relatives, or others in the event that signs of diminished capacity surface with their client.  Wells Fargo Advisors launched an Elder Client Initiatives team to answer questions from their advisors around the country on how to handle cases of possible dementia.  AARP is working with the American Bankers Association Foundation on education materials for consumers, financial caregivers and bankers on age-friendly banking -> how to address dementia, fraud, and financial caregiving.

This educational push is critical to alert bankers, financial planners, and families on recognizing signs of dementia and appropriate steps to safeguard assets of clients and family members.  These solutions and safeguards need to be in place as soon as possible because this problem grows bigger by the day.

´  Ambrose,E. (October, 2015). Money and memory: a coming crisis. AARP Bulletin/Real Possibilities.
´ Financial Capacity and Competency in an Aging America. (Summer, 2012). Generations 36(2). Published by the American Society on Aging. 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1450, San Francisco, CA 94105-2938.

´ Ross,V. (Nov. 18, 2010). Older but not wiser? The psychology behind seniors’ susceptibility to scams. Retrieved September 4, 2015 from