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Cure Acne Naturally with the Mind, Body, and Spirit

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How do your thoughts and emotions help you to clear your acne?


Interviewer: Today, Dr. Peter Goertz, MD, psychiatrist who’s practiced at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and is now practicing at a hospital in New Orleans, is going to help us to explore this answer. Hi Dr. Peter Goertz. How are you?


Dr. Goertz: Good. Good morning.


Interviewer: Good morning. So what do dreams teach us about the connection between our mind and our body?


Dr. Goertz: I think it’s very obvious and palpable for us, because we all dream, and obviously, we’re not running around outside or doing the things we’re dreaming of, but it definitely is real during the dream; and it’s even so real that people have nightmares, they start sweating, they have palpitations, they have sexual dreams, they have orgasms, so there’s a real physiological connection between what’s going on in the dream as far as your thoughts and emotions, and what actually happens physically, which is very obvious than in dreams. So that’s a very palpable, obvious sign and fact that shows the connection between thoughts, emotions, and physical occurrences, which is fascinating and fun, let’s put it that way.


Interviewer: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense, I think for a lot of people out there, they’ve probably woken up in the middle of the night with their body, their skin, warm and moist and sweating, but they haven’t been doing any physical activity. So what is it that you think causes that effect physiologically, do you have any ideas?


Dr. Goertz: My ideas would be that it’s our thoughts and emotions as very frequently because just like with blushing, our thoughts influence our whole body, our skin; if we get anxious, we start sweating, and that can happen in dreams. And it, of course, varies from person to person, but definitely, our emotions can affect our physical reactions, our physical well-being, and it really varies a lot. That reminds me, when I was about 19, I was stuck in an elevator, I was in a disco, this was in the 70s, on the seventh floor, and the elevator was only meant for six people, and at the end of the night, I don’t know it was 2:00 a.m. or something like that, people just packed into that elevator wanting to go downstairs from the disco, and there were 11 people in that elevator, which was only built for six people. And the reactions of people were totally different, they were physically in the same situation, but mentally in very different situations. So some people got angry, started kicking the door, some people started panicking, screaming, other people laughed; and it was one of those elevators with the window, old elevator where the doors swung out, but it could not swing out on the ground floor because it was too heavy for most people. So we were actually stuck in there for 45 minutes, and that, to me was a very clear example of how our thoughts influence our well-being, our emotions, our physical states, because different people had totally different experiences of the same external world they were in which was the elevator, how our mind and emotions really create our experiences, not necessarily the external environment per se, it’s how we process, how we feel about it, how we think about the external environment.


Interviewer: Yeah, and a lot of neuroscience and epigenetics recently has been showing how stress and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms, so it’s almost as if, for all of our members and viewers out there, that it’s sort of like with whatever skin condition you’re going through, a lot of the cause behind it can be taking place in your mind and your mind can be like your own sort of elevator. And so what experience do you want to have in your mind or in your elevator, you can choose to sort of laugh at life and have a good time with it, or you can choose to kick and kind of scream and stay in a state of fear. What are you seeing in the medical community as a result of these discoveries with epigenetics and neuroscience? Are you seeing any trends or changes?


Dr. Goertz: Well, genetics, in general, I’m a psychiatrist, so people are doing a lot of genetic testing regarding people’s ability to metabolize medications. So that’s one part, but that’s not epigenetics per se. But epigenetics to me is absolutely fascinating, because it means that our environment actually can change the way our DNA is read, can change and dictate which parts of the DNA are used to make proteins and which ones not, and that is actually then inherited by our children. To me, that’s absolutely fascinating, because we can actually change our own DNA and then the DNA of our children by changing our environment, potentially changing our thoughts, changing our stress level, nutrition, exercising all that. So it’s absolutely fascinating to me that the DNA is not written in stone, and, of course, that affects all aspects of life, including how people mentally process things, how people do psychiatrically.

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Interviewer: Are you seeing, in your practice, any ways that doctors are starting to use this information in the way that they treat patients?


Dr. Goertz: I don’t think it’s become mainstream, but I really – these things cross my mind when with patients because I’m realizing how they process things, how they think about their lives, like you were saying, how they look at the experience in the elevator, so to speak, what their view of it is, how they see it emotionally really affects their entire being including their DNA, their physical well-being, and ultimately can really make a difference in whether or not they have serious physical illnesses. These things can be very serious, and one example is, I remember a gentleman, when I used to work at the VA. I worked at the VA for about four and a half years, and this gentleman had an argument with his girlfriend, and then shortly after that, he ended up in urgent care with chest pain. So stress, anger, anxiety can definitely affect our heart, probably the coronaries; the amount of blood that goes through the coronaries, things are very connected, and especially via the autonomic nervous system, which is the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. And interestingly, a lot of the psychiatric medicines affect norepinephrine, serotonin, and norepinephrine is a major, is a transmitter in the sympathetic nervous system, for instance. So these things have definite, very important physical consequences. It’s not just that we’re playing around and thinking it’s fun, which it is to me, to think the mind-body, emotions-body connection, but people really suffer if they don’t have a healthy view of their lives, if they don’t have a healthy view of their elevator.


Interviewer: Yeah, it’s a really good point, and so, I think, for all of you watching, you might want to ask yourself, how can I change my point of view inside my mind and start there instead of starting perhaps outside of yourself, when looking for a certain cream to rub on your skin, or even a diet – diet is great and very supportive. But I think a lot of what we’re learning is how powerful our thoughts and feelings are because they are directly affecting your stress and anxiety each day, and each day, as you read content online or watch films or have conversations with people, you always have these choices that you can make as to how you want to perceive the situation, how you want to filter that information, do you want to get stressed about it, do you want to go down a negative pattern of thoughts interfere, or do you want to choose a more positive outlook that’s more empowering for you and your physical health.


Dr. Goertz: Now, what’s your addressing Kit is really crucial, and underneath that, of course, it can be a little tricky, because at least in psychiatry, many, many patients have been through quite traumatic lives. One example would be, let’s say, a little girl grows up in an alcoholic family; every day, the father comes home drunk, beats the mother in front of the kids and the kids are standing there terrified watching this every night. And gradually, the little girl looking at that every night might start believing subconsciously, that’s just the way life is, there’s nothing I can do about it, that’s going to happen to me when I grow up. And that subconscious, that kind of subconscious belief can be very difficult to root out. For example, if a girl grows up like that, often, when she’s an adult, she ends up letting a man like that into her life, who maybe alcoholic and beat her. And it’s never about blame or fault, of course, not the girl’s fault that she grew up in a family like that; it’s never about blame or fault; but if she still has those subconscious beliefs, maybe even unconscious really beliefs, she’s not in touch with at all potentially, if she still has those beliefs, she can divorce the first man; the next man maybe the same, if she still subconsciously believes, no matter what I do, I’m going to get beaten. So these things can be very tricky to control consciously, if there’s a lot of trauma, for instance, in the past, and some things are subconscious, unconscious and buried, but very firm beliefs. So a woman like that, if she ends up going into psychotherapy, let’s say, in the mid 30s, finally, she can start working on those things and gradually connect with those subconscious or unconscious beliefs, and then it can become a lot easier to shift our beliefs consciously, and she won’t have to choose a man like that, she won’t have to be exposed a man like that, or any kind of abuse. I mean, a lot of what I see is people have a pattern of abuse that whatever the format is, it could be a man, could be their workplace, if they have this subconscious belief, no matter what I do, I’m going to be abused, that can just perpetuate itself.


Interviewer: Yeah. So that’s a really good point that sometimes you are not sure that you’re having very negative thoughts that are causing you anxiety, because they could be happening at a subconscious level. So can you tell some of our members and viewers out there a little bit about what the subconscious mind is, and how it can make it more challenging to know what you’re actually thinking?


Dr. Goertz: Yes, it can be very tricky, but I don’t want to sound negative, it can be very tricky, but that does not at all mean that it’s not workable. But it can be a lot of, it can take some time, and a lot of work, because the subconscious beliefs have been created over years, so we can’t just expect them to necessarily resolve within minutes. But just the intention of wanting to work on ourselves already is a huge start, I think. And as far as how to deal with the subconscious beliefs, and how to access them, they frequently come up and bite us, whether we like it or not. Let’s say, a woman was sexually abused in childhood, and has not thought about it, is not even consciously aware of it; but then let’s say she’s sitting at home at 25 and watches a movie, and there’s something about sexual abuse there, all of a sudden, everything floods back into her mind, and she can get overwhelmed, even suicidal. So that’s another caveat. If we’re dealing with subconscious beliefs, they can be very powerful, they can be very deep rooted; and we want to be very careful in not flooding the person all of a sudden with subconscious beliefs or subconscious thoughts and experiences that they weren’t aware of for years, because that can make them suicidal also. So there’s some tricky aspects to this, but overall it’s definitely workable.


Interviewer: Okay. So that’s great to hear and understand that all of us have a subconscious mind, and that there might be experiences from our past that have affected us negatively and caused certain thought processes or beliefs that are living inside of us, but below the surface, so it’s not so easy to see them or hear them. And one good example to just help explain the subconscious mind could be that when we’re driving a car we are maybe talking to the person next to us, but we’re not thinking about how to use the steering wheel or how to use the driving pedal, because that’s all happening subconsciously. So that’s an example of how thoughts can be controlling our life, sort of, without us knowing it, that would be an example of how the subconscious mind is helping us. So thanks for that explanation, I think that’s a really good point that it’s okay to be patient with yourself, and to change these thoughts that you have over time gradually, you don’t have to pressure yourself; and being patient with yourself is very compassionate and a very loving way to treat yourself and recover and heal.


Dr. Goertz: Now, my view may be a little bit skewed, because I work with a lot of people with quite pronounced emotional issues, and a lot of them have been through a lot of trauma. So if someone has been through enormous trauma, whatever it is, the Vietnam War, combat, sexual, physical abuse in childhood, if the trauma is really pronounced, it often is crucial that they work with someone, it’s hard to access subconscious beliefs alone, and people can get overwhelmed and, like I said, potentially suicidal. So it’s really important, if you can, to work with a professional psychotherapist, and the psychotherapist by training, could be a social worker, could be a doctor, psychiatrist, could be a psychologist, or could even be a spiritual person, someone who’s experienced with people having been traumatized and can make sure hopefully that they don’t get overwhelmed by dealing with this. Because when we’re talking about trauma, and a lot of I think what we are talking about with physical issues is trauma, the trauma becomes embedded in some way in the body. For instance, if I hear that someone has fibromyalgia, often, to me, that’s like, a bell goes off, uh-oh – potentially, this is someone who’s had a very rough life, a lot of adverse experiences, potentially abuse, because the body, especially if people are not consciously aware of something, the body tends to talk, the skin and other things. So if we’re not consciously in touch with our feelings, with our experiences from the past, if we’re not aware of them, the body tends to talk, almost like it’s telling us there’s something to work on, but it can develop into something serious physically, if we ignore that, if we ignore the early signs of the body trying to tell us something.


Interviewer: Yeah, great point, listening to the body, and understanding that our bodies can communicate with us; and that it happens in life but we ignore our bodies, and when we do that, the consequences, the symptoms can arise; and it’s not that our body is being our enemy or an antagonist, it’s just that your body is giving you feedback and communicating with you. So taking a very kind of compassionate and loving approach to your body and listening instead of blaming it or judging it, so body positivity is really important when you’re dealing with a skin condition to not further shame yourself.


Dr. Goertz: Now, I want to give another side of the coin, because it does not have to be negative. Like, I remember when I was an intern, we used to get a lot of gunshot victims; and I remember one gentleman who was incredible. He was shot in the head, entrance wound, here in the forehead, ricocheted off the, I think, it was the right back skull inside his head, crossed over to the left side of his skull and stayed in his brain. This guy actually survived and walked out of the hospital about two weeks later. So if we have a, how should one say, if we have an attitude to our body, that is positive in the sense of working with a body, believing that things can heal, believing that things get better, that can make a huge difference. And really drastic things like what I just mentioned, a gunshot wound to the head with a bullet ricocheted and went to the other side of the brain even, went to the back and the other side of the brain. Ridiculous! I mean, it sounds like a joke, almost. But this gentleman, it was for real, and he walked out of the hospital about two weeks later. So the mind and emotions can be extremely powerful, unfortunately, in both directions; they can drag us down or, like with this gentleman, they can pretty much, you know, extreme things can happen, and you can still have a good life.


Interviewer: That’s incredible, an incredible story.


Dr. Goertz: It sounds like it could be a joke, but it actually really is true.


Interviewer: I have a doctor, an old doctor friend of mine who works in Florida in the ER unit, and often tells me stories about the importance of thinking positive as a patient and how he sees drastic differences in results based on whether the patient has a positive outlook or a negative outlook.


Dr. Goertz: That reminds me of an example, another example from my internship, which was the opposite. It was a lady who came in for a minor surgery, a hernia operation; and for whatever reason, this lady kept on telling us, I’m going to die, I’m going to die, I’m going to die. And we proceeded the service, I wasn’t actually in that operation, but the surgical service did the operation, and sure enough, the lady died, from a minor relatively minor surgery, a hernia operation. So the mind really is extremely powerful, and I think, you know, I was an intern at the time, but even then, I was kind of scared by that. If someone has that strong a belief that they’re going to die, I think you want to take pause, and you may not want to operate on that kind of patient. And I think experienced surgeons are wiser than I was at the time and would have really kind of drawn the line and said, listen, this lady needs to calm down, and when and if she wants to have the surgery, that’s fine, it wasn’t emergent. So really bad things can happen if someone has the beliefs that are conducive to bad things happening. It’s almost like a witch doctor type experience then.


Interviewer: Yeah, like practicing self-voodoo.


Dr. Goertz: That’s right, self-voodoo, that’s a good term.


Interviewer: You don’t realize it, but we’re practicing self-Voodoo every day. We hear stories of people who healed themselves in these in these, quote-unquote, miraculous ways, and then find out afterwards that they had very positive attitudes. So on one hand, I think we can look at this as a very scary predicament we’re in as human beings, or we can also look at it as a very self-empowering predicament. Either way you look at it, you are a very powerful human being, and you have a lot of power over your skin. So you have the power to cause more acne or inflame your skin condition or you have the power to improve it; you are basically a very powerful person and have a choice; I think choice is really a critical factor here in what we’re talking about.


Dr. Goertz: And the skin in psychiatry tends to be one of the organs we look at quite a bit. We have a lot of patients who cut themselves, not necessarily suicidally, a lot of people, again, especially with abuse histories, they get some relief from just cutting themselves, some emotional relief, a little bit of calmness from the intense emotions they’re having just by cutting themselves. And another patient of mine, I’m thinking of, scratches herself when she gets anxious and she has sores all over the place. Recently, she’s doing better with that, but she’s been having to see a dermatologist for years now for sores that get infected. And really underneath that, in my opinion, is a very toxic environment at home with her husband. It sounds, and what she’s describing, sounds like basically a poisonous relationship and the skin, it seems like feels this and she feels like she has to scratch, and she has a lot of – she had a lot of open sores, now it’s less. So the skin obviously is right on the surface, and very connected with our emotions. If our hair stands on end, if we’re all, it’s a very visible and feelable organ.


Interviewer: Are you seeing a parallel between this patient’s improvement with her skin and improvement that she’s making psychologically with her mental health?


Dr. Goertz: Oh definitely. The better she does mentally, the better her skin is, for sure. It’s just tricky, because we cannot control other people. So I cannot control how her husband acts, for instance; and people have financial issues, she can’t necessarily move out, things like that. So if someone is living in a very toxic situation, that can be very tricky, because if they don’t have the finances, it can be hard to get out of; if they’re under age, living with parents, that can be hard. So things can be quite tricky, just like with the subconscious beliefs, if someone is stuck, at least, I mean, in my opinion, there’s almost always a way out, but if someone has a very difficult time financially, doesn’t have a lot of options, at least that they can see, to move out or move away from a person, it can be very difficult to make changes mentally and physically.


Interviewer: So where do you think would you recommend them starting by changing themselves and their thought process and their mental health?


Dr. Goertz: That’s, like you were saying, I think that’s crucial, because we cannot control other people, but we do have the ability to influence our thoughts, our emotions, and that is very powerful. And it may take a little while, it may take quite a while, but ultimately, that’s going to – it’s unavoidable. Ultimately, that’s going to create some change. You’re not going to stay in a toxic relationship indefinitely, if you change internally, it’s just not going to happen anymore, in my opinion.


Interviewer: Okay, great. So I think that’s a great place to conclude that for all of our members and followers out there that ultimately, and this sounds like a cheesy lyric from like a Michael Jackson song, but change starts by looking at yourself in the mirror, and you have a lot of power, there is a strong connection between our minds and our bodies. And even if you’re in a difficult predicament with your lifestyle and relationships, there is hope for you. And as Dr. Peter Goertz recommended, start with yourself, start with improving your mental health. And even if it takes a little while, the journey is definitely worth it.


Dr. Goertz: But I would suggest try not to be hard on yourself, and it can be like a cycle, don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up. I would try not to put pressure on yourselves, especially, like I said, because it can be very tricky, a lot of things are under the radar, subconscious, unconscious. So try and be kind with yourself, give yourself whatever time you need. But again, my views are a little skewed because I work with people who have very serious issues often, mental issues, psychological issues, so if someone does not have that serious issues, things may be a lot easier.


Interviewer: Great. All right. I really appreciate your time. I think our members and followers do too. It’s been great talking to you, and thank you for your insight.


Dr. Goertz: Nice talking with you too.