behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, My Story, Uncategorized

23. Behaviourism: to fix us? (part 3)

Behaviourism: can this be used to fix us?

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John B. Watson (1878-1958) formally introduced behaviourism with the publication of his book ‘Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist’ (Watson, 1919) where he showed psychology to be completely objective (with no need for introspection). He promoted the use of scientific methods which involved the control of variables, and accurate measurements to gain observable, reliable results. Cognitive learning processes, genetic influences, any innate differences, and the artificial conditions of the experiment were not taken into consideration.

Maladaptive behaviour would therefore be seen by the behaviourist to be learned (maladaptive) behaviour, learned through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning. Therefore, if a female adult presented with a fear of spiders, for example, the fear would be explained by her childhood experience (classical conditioning) of a spider suddenly appearing on her hand (fright paired with stimulus) as she reached to the back of the wardrobe to pick up her shoes. Since then her continual avoidance of spiders would have negatively reinforced (operant conditioning) the behaviour to the point that she would later fear leaving the house in case she encountered a spider.

With the additional aspect of cognition, where the cognitive steps behind the behaviour are taken into consideration, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating adult anxiety disorders, and in this case, the technique of systematic desensitization would help by gradually exposing the woman to the feared stimulus (i.e., the spider) so that the maladaptive behaviour could be unlearned (extinction). This technique might begin with simply mentioning the word ‘spider’, talking about a spider, and gradually progressing on to looking at a picture of one, until eventually she could actually be in the same room as a spider and finally be able to come into contact with a spider without feeling anxiety. Behaviour modification techniques have also been shown to be effective in anxieties, phobias, depression and multiple sclerosis amongst many other disorders.

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Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, My Story, psychology, thoughts influence on physical body, Uncategorized

Freud (part 3)


Freud: emotions and the past


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Although criticisms of Freud are perhaps more known nowadays than his actual work, many of Freud’s ideas are still used in the fundamental core of today’s counselling environment. Freud’s belief that one’s past emotions could cause problems in one’s present was ground-breaking and this concept is accepted by many psychologists today. His idea that mental illness is not (necessarily) due to physiological but psychological reasons, which can be helped by talking openly and honestly about what is on one’s mind, remains accepted today.

The idea of talking freely is still at the heart of psychoanalysis and many counselling therapies in general today with the additional advantage of bringing “hidden” thoughts and feelings from one’s unconscious into one’s conscious. Similarly, many further therapeutic techniques have built upon this concept. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) attempts to help the individual modify their habitual patterns of cognition. These patterns of thinking have usually been learned as a child and although they served well in childhood, are no longer helpful in adulthood. Such patterns of cognition are only accessed through the client becoming consciously aware of their internal thoughts which can then be altered appropriately.

Today’s clients are more aware of the process of counselling from the outset, and are encouraged to talk about their thoughts, feelings and past with an empathetic, genuine, non-judgemental therapist who offers unconditional positive regard (in the case of client centred therapy).

Freud also used “free association” as a “talking freely” technique whereby the client responds to a word by saying what springs to mind in association with it. Freud claimed that this was accessing the unconscious mind. He believed too that unconscious thoughts and feelings slip out verbally from time to time (“Freudian slips”) revealing what one is really thinking and feeling.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!


Storr, A. (1989) Freud: A very short introduction, New York, Oxford University Press Inc.

Brain Injury, MS and Ketogenic Diet, My Story, myelin, Uncategorized

4. MS and Myelin

MS and Myelin

What is Myelin?

Myelin is like the plastic insulation around an electric wire. It helps electricity pass through the wire effectively and efficiently, in other words, quickly and smoothly. Myelin helps signals pass through the brain “wires” quickly and smoothly. Myelin is actually fatty and is white in colour.

Yellow Coated Wire Near Black and Blue Coated Wire

For decades, it was believed that myelin could not be repaired or improved, and that MS was incurable. I was told that it was not possible for my brain to heal, and that, despite having initial signs of improvement, any improvement would most likely halt soon. However, over the last decade, this idea is beginning to change!

Damaged myelin: what happens in multiple sclerosis (MS)

Damaged myelin is like the insulation of my neural “wires” having holes, similar to an old electric wire where the inner copper wires can be seen through the holes. I imagine some of the signals from the brain getting lost through these holes or changing shape as they pass through this holey pipe. This means that signals from the brain are not going to get through as quickly, if at all, or they may be distorted.

What effect does this have?

If the signals from my brain are distorted or prevented from passing through, the desired action may not be carried out properly. For example, when I try to walk, I have to concentrate on (mentally) telling my left leg to lift up once my right leg has landed on the ground. However, often when my brain sends a signal to tell my leg to lift up to take another step, the signal doesn’t get through so my leg doesn’t lift itself or, if the signal gets distorted, my leg doesn’t lift itself up enough, or it lifts too late. The outcome is usually that I trip!

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My personal thoughts on what causes the damage

What causes this damage? This is the big question! Although the cause is still not known, I have my own ideas on this. I am NOT a doctor, an MS expert, or a nutrition expert but I DO live with MS and have met many others with different severities of MS. The following is a summary of one of my personal thoughts on why I believe I have MS and I am not trying to deny any information that professionals believe. For me, I believe the main reason that caused holes to appear in my myelin is a lack of (good) FAT intake.

Since the age of 10 (1980), I was on a low fat diet most of the time, always trying to get thin. This meant that I avoided all types of fat and always opted for the low fat versions of everything, which are usually high in sugar/artificial sweeteners, for example, yoghurts, cereals, sauces, and spreads. I also drank a fair amount of diet, carbonated drinks, also high in artificial sweeteners, to satisfy my sweet tooth. Furthermore, I never ate oily fish, e.g. salmon and mackerel. Essential fatty acids, which are vital for brain function, are not produced by the body and therefore must be consumed. It is only now that I realise that the fatty myelin is important to my neural “wires”, and that possibly stopping the intake of “essential fatty acids”, such as omega 6 or omega 3, into my body for over 25 years (!), meant that my myelin could not replenish itself with the necessary nutrients and essential fatty acids. Little is known about both de-myelination and re-myelination (in the central nervous system and brain) but it would seem logical that a deficit in my fat intake over many years could lead to holes in my fatty myelin. Cholesterol is also required by the body to make vitamin D, the very vitamin deficit that has been linked to MS (For review of research see: Sintzel, Rametta & Reder; 2018)

More FAT

A couple of years ago, I read a book by Dr. Terry Wahls called “The Wahls protocol”, which explained how nutrients influence your cells. Dr. Wahls had been a practising GP when she became wheelchair-bound with MS. With her medical knowledge and personal experience, she produced a healthy way of living that she has shown to help MS and many other diseases. Today, Dr Wahls is walking again and even cycling and has helped hundreds of people improve their MS symptoms. I decided to try the high fat, low carbohydrate diet (cutting out sugar completely) and the results were amazing.

My improvements

It had been over ten years without any feeling in my left hand fingertips. I had assumed that the nerves had all died and that I would never be able to feel my fingertips again. After only a few weeks on this high fat, low carb (HFLC) way of eating, the feeling came back and I can feel my fingertips again.

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Likewise, I noticed a huge difference in my brain. Often my brain would struggle to think straight, would get tired quickly, would be easily overwhelmed, and would not cope well with over-stimulation. After a few weeks of this eating plan, I began to notice that my brain had indeed improved and still continues to improve. Another improvement has been the coordination between my left and right side, for example, my walking is more balanced, and my left hand can participate in everything again. The improvements really have been incredible and I am so thankful to have found Dr. Wahls and grateful for her book.


Diet has certainly played a huge part in my improvements and, before I move onto other things that have helped my MS, I will continue on this “food” theme. Next time, I will talk about the toxic effects of sugar/ sweeteners on my body function and brain. Thank you for stopping by and be sure to subscribe. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!







My Story, Uncategorized

2. When the brain goes wrong!

When The Brain Goes Wrong

At first, I couldn’t understand how the left side of my body could be “not working” and what it had to do with my brain. I couldn’t understand why the doctors were doing a Computerised Tomography (CT) scan and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of my brain! Amazingly, I could have drawn a (perfectly straight) line down the middle of my body separating what worked and what didn’t. Half of my face drooped whilst the right side was totally unaffected. It was upsetting when I caught a glimpse of my face in a mirror (before I lost my sight) and I could see that only half of my mouth was smiling! Even my left eye seemed to be droopy. The doctors originally diagnosed me with having had a stroke (cerebrovascular accident; CVA) and it wasn’t until four years later that I was finally diagnosed with MS.

So what did the brain have to do with this?

Well, like the plastic insulation that is around an electric wire to help it conduct electricity more efficiently, the neural “wires” in your brain have myelin around them to help conduct the signals from your brain to, for example, your finger. So, when you decide to move your left index finger up by a centimetre, a signal is sent from your brain through the neural “wires” which reaches your finger and moves the finger up by a centimetre. On managing this, feedback is then sent back to your brain to update the finger’s new location.

How does MS affect this?

In the case of multiple sclerosis (MS), damage to the myelin (the insulation around the wire) may result in gaps or holes, which prevent good conduction of signals to and from the brain. The signal may be distorted, slowed down, or even completely lost. This means that the desired action of moving your finger is distorted, slow, or not carried out at all. If the damage to the myelin is significant, the signals simply cannot pass through the “wires” and therefore you are unable to move your finger, hand, or arm. In my case, signals were not getting through to my left leg or arm so I could not move them. They were like dead weights. I was mentally willing my finger to move but it wouldn’t move! No matter how much I concentrated on the finger, it would not move.


After six weeks in hospital, one afternoon while I was still trying to make my arm move, I felt the signal getting to my elbow. Of course there was no evidence of this and nothing moved, but I felt it! The next day, I could feel the signal reaching half way between my elbow and my wrist. A couple of days after that, the signal arrived to an inch away from my middle finger, and the following day I actually moved my middle finger a little bit!!!

These initial few weeks in hospital were absolutely hellish.  I continued to deteriorate on a daily basis and was scared to go to sleep for fear of waking up in the morning to find something else that wasn’t working. I just could not understand what was happening. Would I be able to walk again? Would I be dependent on a carer for the rest of my life? The thought of being a “burden” on someone filled me with horror. The sensation of a signal trying to get through to my finger was the first little glimpse of hope that I had had but would it be able to reconnect with my finger?

Next time, I shall explain how the brain controls the two sides of your body. Thank you for stopping by and be sure to subscribe. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, do let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

My Story, Uncategorized

Mindscope Counselling: The beginning

How did I get here?

In the summer of 2005, I had a multiple sclerosis (MS) “event”, which caused the limbs on the left side of my body to stop working. I spent two long months in hospital during which time I woke up one morning to discover that I couldn’t see and everything was blurry.  Soon, I began physiotherapy to help regain function of my leg and arm, i.e. to improve physically. This was great but what I really needed, even more than that, was some help with my head, i.e., mentally!

The doctors couldn’t say whether my left-sided limb function OR my sight would return or not and the thought of being dependent on others was too grim to even consider. I couldn’t think straight and the doctors were unable to tell me if I was going to make a full recovery or, at least, improve. Just three weeks before, I had been a “fully fnctioning” person driving home after having finished school (I was a teacher!) for the summer holidays, singing along to my music and here I was getting worse every day. I was shocked at my body not working properly, shocked that I no longer had control over my leg or my arm, shocked that I could not see, and shocked that I was suddenly stuck in hospital sitting in a wheelchair. The final straw was that I was forced to see my visiting mother every day, with whom I had not shared a close relationship. I was worried about my mental state and, in desperation, I asked to see a psychologist who advised me to talk to a counsellor instead.

Counselling, for me, was life changing. I felt inspired and compelled to become a counsellor so I could help others. I have since studied Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience and Humanistic Counselling to learn as much as I possibly can about the brain, the effects of brain injury, and how counselling can help untangle the confusion of thoughts, feelings and memories in the mind. I have also managed to help “repair” my brain through a mixture of counselling, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), meditation, and most importantly, a high fat/low carbohydrate diet.

I created Mindscope Counselling to provide a source of useful information on counselling, neurological disorders, NLP, counselling models and other related aspects of psychology, as well as offer a safe and open space to ask questions and talk to others. In addition to counselling individuals, I write a regular blog on lots of interesting topics, including counselling, brain injury, and my own personal experiences of MS and following a low-carb/high-fat diet. Please subscribe to be notified of new blog posts!