Self-control from autism to eating

Thanks for your interesting questions about the role of the ear in autism and in eating at

http://fiercefatties.com/2012/03/23/grave-dancers/?replytocom=14372#respond

The question of what causes weight gains and losses is complex; the degree to which choice is involved and how choice depends on the function of the dominant ear is where my expertise comes in. I will try to respond to that range of losses of self-control that span a spectrum from autism (little or no left cerebral dominance) to people with a specific behaviour issue where they have lots of left cerebral control except where they have low dominance in one area, such as food ingestion. As you will see, the reasons for losses of control do not depend only on the ear, but it may be the deciding factor where compulsions are concerned.

First, hyperacusis can be a sign of audio-processing deficits,and is usually is a sign of stapedius muscle weakness that is failing to protect the inner ear. Your ears have lost a protective mechanism. Hyperacusis can be helped by exposing the ear to very quiet high-frequency sound and very gradually (say, over a month of daily listening) gradually working up to normal (never loud) volumes of sound.

Autism Speaks have not studied the relationship between audition and autism. They call autism a “brain disorder” (linked to the immune system possibly), which is the common medical view of schizophrenia and all other “mental” illnesses. Few medical people know about Tomatis’s discoveries, for which he was decorated by the French government. His discoveries were in the 1950s, before there was good communication across the Atlantic. His colleague, Dr. Guy Berard published in journals and also wrote a slim  book. Neither doctor understood the mechanism of cerebral dominance that I have described,  so they were missing the overarching theory that explains the changes in behaviour their treatments brought about.

Tomatis was the first to cure a group of autistic children to the point that they could leave the mental institution and attend school. But that was a partial success because he could not defend those changes scientifically and his psychiatric theories were incorrect. The parents of other school children objected to “having those crazy kids in our school” and the almost-cured autistic kids were put back in their metal-cage cribs in the insane asylum.

I am talking about people who have used ear stimulation with high-frequency sound to completely cure or to greatly improve the symptoms of autism (infantile schizophrenia) and using the same or a similar method to cure adult schizophrenia (and other behaviour problems). My book and several other books describe such cures and improvements: you can Google — Annabel Stehli, Sharon Ruben, Tomatis Method, and AIT. Some researchers are finding that AIT works better for autistics when the treatment persists for months, not weeks, as I learned with Daniel and as Sharon learned with her daughter Ashley.

Not many people have watched a schizophrenic recover to become mentally normal. I have watched my son do that partially several times under the influence of his own music-making. But I watched him fully recover twice when he used focused listening. The first time I saw that happen, I realized the Tomatis Method must be able to cure schizophrenia as well as dyslexia and chronic fatigue and autism. But how?

The next time Dan became severely schizophrenic I started him on a listening program as soon as he could sit still long enough to listen. I began to see little changes in his behaviour that reassured me the treatment was helping, as it had two years before. I began to read about neurology and the brain. I found very little information about the ear and the brain in books on neurology. I started building a library of resources on the ear and behaviour from other sources.

I had noticed several things about Dan’s cognition during psychosis. One was that his levels of cognition fluctuated rapidly: he was less insane/more insane, every two minutes, all day long.  When I saw the differing abilities of the right and left halves of the normal brain discovered by the American neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, I realized that what I had been seeing in Dan’s psychosis was a switching back and forth between left and right cerebral  hemispheres: his four-minute cycle. I could see right away that music was changing that shifting so that he was becoming more and more left-brain dominant. But only when his EAR gained normal strength could his left brain become fully dominant. At that point, he lost all of his symptoms of schizophrenia.

Sound energy integrates the two halves of the brain at the speed determined by the frequencies of sound reaching the left hemisphere. I found part of the explanation for that neurology in Tomatis’s book The Ear and the Voice.

What does all that have to do with obesity?

Music cures mental illness and dyslexia and fatigue and has cured one of the worst forms of epilepsy. But various other symptoms from digestive problems to allergies and skin disorders often disappear at the same time, indicating that the hormonal and digestive systems are affected by ear function, too. That is because a fibre of the vagus nerve is attached to the stapedius muscle in the middle ear. The vagus nerve controls the function of most of the organs of the digestive system.

People with considerable left-brain dominance still feel that tendency of the right brain to assert an interval of dominance, even if complete alternation doesn’t occur. Slight left-dominance is the condition in infancy that we gradually strengthen by teaching the left brain self-control in dozens of ways — providing the child has normal ears and can learn normally.  It is during the right-brain surge of influence that addictions form, including addictions to food, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. People with low left-brain dominance (which may be low only in regard to specific strong urges such as hunger) cannot control their urges easily during those two-minute intervals of right-brain influence.

Next, the pressure of unsatisfied urges increases the strength of the urges, eventually overwhelming the capacity of the left brain for “will power.” That “driven” behaviour reinforces the strength of the right brain’s emotional connections and further compromises the ability of the left brain to dominate the emotions and primal urges mediated in the right brain. Various ways of strengthening the left brain to break that vicious circle include cognitive behavioural training (CBT) and 12-step programs and counselling, all of which tend to ask the person to LISTEN carefully for extended periods of time, which exercises and strengthens the stapedius muscle in the dominant ear — although most doctors and laypersons are not aware of what the effort of listening accomplishes in the ears’ muscles and, hence, in the brain. However, the churches and other religious institutions are founded on that neurology of listening attentively, and usually of singing and listening to music as well.

Once the person learns how to protect and exercise the ears with music, the muscles of the middle ear remain fit (“tonic” ) because they are exercised constantly by sound in the environment that they have become more receptive to. Flexible middle ear muscles allow the person to learn to control states of consciousness (the level of integration of the cerebral hemispheres) the way normal people do. The ear is the source of ALL rational, self-controlled (i.e., successful decision-making) behaviour, which of course includes choices about the ingestion of food and drink. .

The ear-controlled cerebral integration system is what makes people capable of all other behaviour within the range of “normal.” The ear controls your ability to go to sleep, wake up, be highly attentive, daydream, meditate and  pray, perform highly creative and complex tasks, learn, recall, and so on. The ear establishes your sense of time, the logical structures of language in your left brain, the tone and pacing of your voice (emotional prosody), the co-ordination of your limbs, the function of the digestive and hormonal systems.

Sound accounts for 90% of the brain’s need for energy apart from glucose and oxygen, according to Tomatis. If people cannot access that sound energy in their environments because of weak ear muscles, they have behaviour problems that include digestive disorders etc. (remember the stapedius connection to the vagus nerve that innervates most of the digestive organs). Such people (including me) experience fatigue and seek that missing sound energy in food (glucose) because energy is a genuine and desperate need of the brain and the need for sound has not been recognized and taught (socialized) except haphazardly. Also, people with normal ears but who live in sound-deprived environments (such as monasteries or remote locations) can develop behaviour and digestive etc. problems similar to  those of people with deficient ear muscles. he brain needs sound energy to function normally and direct the body’s processes.

Many or most people do not want to be “cured” of their schizophrenia, autism, bipolarity, depression, or other forms of behaviour that deviate sharply from “norms.” That may be OK if they are cool with their environments. However, most environments are not cool with such behavioural extremes. For example, most parents don’t want their children to remain autistic if there is an alternative. Society tends not to want to have schizophrenics running out of control, especially if they have access to firearms and other weapons. Subcultures form as people with audition problems try to protect themselves from hostile main-streamers. I am against electric and chemical shock, pharmaceutical controls and other coercive treatment of mentally ill people, although for their protection and the protection of others incarceration may be necessary. However, people with such extreme behaviours might be happier with the option of listening to music that will change their behaviour than with the option of being locked into special buildings that protect the community from them and them from self-harm but without changing their behaviour.

I am not suggesting high frequency sound is a cure for obesity. I know my obesity is complicated by other factors and I am not even sure what the definition of “obesity” should be or if we should have one. But it would be interesting to know how much change might be brought about in people seeking change simply by exercising the ear Focused listening is the easiest exercise program I have ever heard about.

Thanks for listening!

Laurna

About Laurna

Co-owner of Northern Light Books. Originator of the Tallman Paradigm of right-ear-driven left cerebral dominance in the integrative processes of the cerebral hemispheres. Author and speaker.
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2 Responses to Self-control from autism to eating

  1. Jason says:

    Hi Laurna

    Firstly thank you – as a musician/aspie/dyslexic/you name it – I find your research a revelation to my understanding of myself and the path I must take.

    I wanted to ask you what you understood about the phenomena know as ‘ear worms’ or ‘musical hallucinosis’ as it is sometimes called in the medical community. It’s something I have almost constantly – if I am not talking/thinking about something else or if no one is talking to me then I hear music, particularly if under stress or if hungover (although I rarely drink these days). I have had such severe boughs before that I have lost several days of sleep. I have found that meditation has helped me a lot but my mind is quick to fill the silence if I don’t exercise precise control.

    Anyhow I was curios as to your understanding as to the mechanism involved in this. Sometimes being a human iPod is great but other times i really suffer.

    Many thanks again for you knowledge and wisdom.

    Jason

    • WildRose says:

      Hi, Jason,
      Thank you for your inquiry. My first reply to you has just disappeared into cyber-ether! I hope I can capture the main points. If you decide to experiment with amplified (gently) sound, please feel free to email me about what you are doing as I may have tips and advice for you.

      Each ear is specialized to the opposite hemisphere, although both connect with both. The preponderance of nerve connections are with the opposite half of the brain. Behaviour is a function of the flow of sound through each ear to the brain. You can see that there are “levels” to those routes of sound flowing into the brain and throughout the body. Normally, the right ear dominates because the neurological path of communicative sound from the right ear to the brain is shorter than that of the left ear. Sound from the right ear travels via the brain stem to the left-brain, hence to the larynx, which produces sound a flow of sound that the ear hears and adjusts as it passed through and on to the brain, completing the circuit of control by the ear. As Tomatis said, “We sing with our ear” by which he meant the RIGHT ear. That dominance of the right ear produces dominance in the left-brain during its integrative processes with the right brain. Thus, the ears become specialized: right ear to the rational left brain becomes attuned to speech and linguistic meaning; the left ear becomes attuned to the “music” of language (what psychiatry calls “emotional prosody”) that nuances language meaning tonally.

      Frequency deficits in the right ear, thus, affect rational perception of meaning in language. Frequency deficits in the left ear affect the energy reaching the emotional structures of the right brain, causing depressed mood. Berard actually pinned down the specific “peaks” of distortion that produce the range of depressions from mild to moderate to suicidal (1 and 8 kHz; 1.5 and 8 kHz; and 2 and 8 kHz, respectively. He healed all of his suicidal patients who came for treatment, most of them within 10 days.

      Now, you may have enough information to answer you own question about the ear worms. And please remember that my reply is based on very little information, so this explanation might have to be revised if I were to learn more about your hearing and other symptoms than those you have mentioned. Your right ear, which also causes your dyslexia, is not sending enough sound energy to your left brain for it to dominate those music memories playing in your right brain. Because your left ear is the relatively stronger one, those music memories are stronger than other types of memory — a double whammy. If you decide to strengthen your right ear, you must realize that you are going to change other symptoms as well and this could be distressing.

      I find that the older a person is, the more difficult the adjustment to increased sound energy reaching the brain. As Daniel said, “It’s like brain surgery.” At the time, of course, I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. Paul Madaule compares dyslexia to the feeling of living in a foreign country where everyone else knows how to communicate and you are “out of the loop.” However, I think for some people recovering from low-sound-energy syndromes that being healed or normalized is more like moving to a foreign country. We adjust to our ears; we have no choice but to live in the reality they create for us. If someone like me loses their normal ear function and falls ill, then the restoration of the ear that normalizes the sound flow is a welcome and wonderful thing. But for the person who has never known that level of stimulation, the change can be rather traumatic. I think Tomatis and Berard tended to gloss over some of those difficulties in their patients. But I have seen people really distressed by their “new normal” to the point that they medicate themselves one way or another to regain that familiar world. This is particularly true if addictions and obsessions are attached to whatever that baseline of familiar happened to be. The list of labels you have accepted as part of who you are right now suggest to me that you could be experiencing quite dramatic changes and you should think about what life will be like when that happens.

      If you decide to run this experiment with sound, please let me know as I would have other tips and suggestions. I have a questionnaire that would help you to think more about the connection between your ears and your symptoms. And I think the Asperger’s aspect probably is left-ear distortions, although no one has taught me that, it just seems logical as the emotional right brain is not providing enough energy to the voice and body. If you start with a right-ear focus, you should at some point balance that emphasis with attention to the left ear, too, either through binaural listening or by focusing on the left ear itself.

      That’s enough to ponder for the minute! Again, thank you for asking and do let me know what you decide to do.
      Kind regards,
      Laurna

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