Category Archives: Resources

The Dreamcatcher – New Scientist interview with Joe Griffin

Here is an oldish interview with Joe Griffin answering questions on REM sleep, depression, psychosis, trauma, conflict and cult behaviour, published in New Scientist in April 2003:

JOE GRIFFINWe live in mad times. The WHO predicts depression will soon rank second in the global disease burden, suicide rates are rising, and the trauma caused by war, conflict or domestic abuse is everywhere. The toll is horrific: mental illness costs Britain alone £32 billion a year. And people looking for therapy face a confusing tower of psychobabble, with 400-plus often warring schools of thought. Enter JOE GRIFFIN, who says there is a way to lift depression in a day, and told BARBARA KISER he can prove it.

How can you deal with serious depression in just a day?

The important thing is to know how depression is manufactured in the brain. Once you understand that, you can correct the maladaptive cycle incredibly fast. For 40 years it’s been known that depressed people have excessive REM sleep. They dream far more than healthy people. What we realised – and proved – is that the negative introspection, or ruminations, that depressed people engage in actually causes the excessive dreaming. So depression is being generated on a 24-hour cycle and we can make a difference within 24 hours to how a person feels.

Continue reading

The Effects of Expectation

PsyBlog’s latest post is a wonderful summary of a study conducted in the 1962 by Schachter and Singer on the effects of expectation.. to avoid spoiling the aims of the experiment, I’ll just let you read the post:

“Euphoria induced by Experimental Trickery”

“To illustrate this nomination for my top ten psychology studies I’d like to tell you a story. Imagine it’s the 1960s and you’re a first year psychology student at the University of Minnesota. Being a brave soul, along with wanting a better final grade, you’ve agreed to take part in a psychology experiment.

You’ve heard that it involves testing a new vitamin injection but that hasn’t put you off. These are the days when men are real men and psychology experiments are real psychology experiments. Innocent days before ethics committees and lawyers took over and stopped psychologists injecting people and lying about their motives in the name of understanding human behaviour.

So you turn up to the lab where a white-coated man tells you they are testing the effects of a vitamin injection on vision. You roll up your sleeve and concentrate on those extra marks you’re going to receive as result of participating in this experiment…” Read more

Read a related article by Joe Griffin about the power of expectation here at the online archive.

Posted by: Eleanor

P.s – Happy Valentines Day!

The fatal consequences of not treating PTSD

The almost unbearable tragedy reported today of the former soldier David Bradley, who had not been detraumatised from the experience of serving in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Northern Ireland (discharged in 1995), and who killed four members of his family with a pistol before giving himself up to police – reminds me of a short but poignant case study published in the Human Givens Journal in 2003 about a Falklands War veteran who had lived with severe PTSD for over 20 years until being detraumatised in one session using the rewind technique. He describes his experience:

Ken is a 49 year old Falklands veteran who, between March and June 1982, experienced three terrifying events. A missile hit HMS Antelope, but did not immediately explode. Twenty four hours later, it exploded. Ken had to pull bodies out of the water as he was helping to get his colleagues off the ship.

Ken rated his wellbeing, as a result of these events, as 5 out of a possible 50. He described his life before rewind: “I don’t go to parties because of the noise. I know the balloons will bang. I pre-empt by ducking under a table. I start to sweat; it’s sheer terror for me — it takes me back to the war. I vomit — people think I’m drunk or on drugs. I feel I am back on board; I’m swaying.

“I have lain on the bathroom floor for hours because I feel so physically sick. For days I am on edge, sometimes unable to walk. I avoid sleep because of the nightmares and, after several days, I get hallucinations, I sit in the flat in total darkness for days, curtains drawn. I imagine the bus going by is a jet. The smell of fuel oil, ‘burnt pork’ makes me feel sick. I’m sweating profusely but I am cold and shaking, in a state of mental confusion.

“I was like a zombie, a robot. I saw my GP in 1983, after leaving the navy. I saw a psychiatrist for a year. It did not help; it was a waste of time. I have no recollection of what they said, apart from being told I was a manic-depressive. Medication did not stop the nightmares. I have been prescribed Valium, Mogadon, antidepressants and I’ve been given antipsychotic drugs, and they did not help.”

Seven to 10 days after rewind, he said, “The memories don’t seem to bother me anymore. I’m not fearful. I’m unsure — it’s like bereavement. I’ve had 20 years of a wasted life. It’s like coming in to the light. I felt jolly, joking and then — but what am I going to ‘do with it’? I feel all over the place. I feel like I’m born again at 50.”

Three to six months later, he commented, “I feel my face has changed. The light has come on from within; it’s a spiritual light. I am more relaxed, more at peace. I think I am content. I have laughed more in the last weeks than the last 20 years. I sleep much better; I eat well; I can relax. I feel much more in control. This has been life changing for me — no more flashbacks or nightmares; it was like a prison sentence. My partner has noticed the difference in me. She likes what she sees.”source

The surviving family of David Bradley released a statement saying “My sister and I try to cope with this by trying to believe it was not David who did this unspeakable crime but some other entity that slowly took him away from reality and into some other dark world.”

PTSD indeed strips away reality, leaving suffered ‘trapped’ in a world of heightened emotional arousal, so Bradley was in ‘some other dark world’, and the charges against him were rightly dropped under grounds of diminished responsibility due to’ mental illness’.

It breaks my heart to read about the terrible consequences that can arise from people not being effectively detraumatised after horrific experiences (not just soldiers) – so if you know anyone suffering from PTSD or panic attacks please read this article published in the Human Givens Journal (2005) which decribes how the rewind technique, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR), and emotional freedom therapy EFT or ‘tapping’) share a common mechanism that explains their often miraculous effects on traumatised people, and also explains why the rewind technique in particular is taught to and used by human givens therapists to great effect.

Posted by: Eleanor

The wrong end of the.. cake.

Someone asked Nasrudin to guess what he had in his hand.
“Give me a clue,” said the Mulla.
“I’ll give you several,” said the wag. “It is shaped like an egg, egg-sized, looks, tastes and smells like an egg. Inside it is yellow and white. It is liquid within before you cook it, coalesces with heat. It was, moreover, laid by a hen…”
“I know!” interrupted the Mulla. “It is some sort of cake.”

I have just come across this ancient teaching story and couldn’t help but notice how true it is. An interesting one to think about.

Posted by: Eleanor

2007 Human Givens Conference

Healthy Minds in a Changing World

For anyone interested in the fundamental connection between psychology, psychotherapy and education — the human givens — and committed to making a difference, the Third Human Givens Conference (which is being held at Sunningdale Park, Ascot, Berkshire on 19th-20th May) promises to be one of this year’s most stimulating and thought-provoking events.

Although it is only ten years since the term ‘human givens’ was first coined, the uptake of the rich ideas encompassed by it has been phenomenal. Now countless people in a wide range of fields, including the NHS, education and social services, use this holistic framework to improve their work and the lives of their clients, often dramatically.

As well as celebrating this anniversary, this year’s conference is a great chance to meet up with old friends, make new ones and hear about, and be inspired by, the ongoing work of people using the human givens approach.

New discoveries about the origin of mental illness and how to enhance emotional wellbeing will be presented, along with fascinating case histories and descriptions of the visionary ‘whole community’ work many HGI members are involved in.

There will be a variety of speakers (including Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell) and the planned topics include:

  • Human givens: not a new branch of psychology but its missing trunk
  • How schizophrenia can be created in 24 hours
  • Amazing transformations: working with molar memories
  • Hope for the future: using the human givens approach in schools
  • Why emotional arousal is the handmaiden of tyranny
  • Case histories from HG practitioners
  • The importance of practice-based research and the HGI PRN
  • What does the human givens approach bring to ethics?
  • Crime and young people: the inside story
  • The AGMs of the HGI and the Human Givens Foundation will also be held during the weekend

The two-day event is open to both HGI members and anyone interested in the human givens approach.

If you would like to book a place, please call Kathy Hardy on 01323 811440 or download the booking form, print it out, complete it and send, along with your payment to Kathy Hardy, at: The Human Givens Institute, Chalvington, East Sussex, BN27 3TD, UK.

The cost is £235.00 per delegate which includes attendance at both days with lunch, a Saturday evening anniversary dinner, tea/coffee at each break and conference materials. (There is accommodation available at Sunningdale Park which can be booked separately.)


Posted by: Eleanor

Subscribe to the Human Givens Institute e-newsletter

The latest HGI e-newsletter has just dropped into my inbox so I thought I’d put information on how to subscribe here for anyone who wants to keep up to date with latest news about the Human Givens.

Simply click here, enter your email address into the box and you’ll recieve our regular e-newsletter which contains news, case histories and new applications of the human givens approach. (You can unsubscribe at anytime by sending an email to
Posted by: Eleanor

PTSD after July 7 bombings, “The Trickster: medicine’s forgotten character”, and the Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust

- The health protection agency has release a report stating that 80% of survivors of the London bombings of July 7th last year have been left with with “emotional upset”. 80% of these were referred to counsellors and specialised post traumatic stress disorder services. Read what Joe Griffin has to say about treatments for post traumatic stress disorder here.

- I would also like to draw your attention to an interesting article I put up on the archive section of our HGI website yesterday from a 1996 edition of The Therapist (renamed the Human Givens Journal) called The Trickster: medicine’s forgotten character:

“In modern psychology ‘Trickster’ is often used to refer to a universal force or pattern within the mind — what Jung called an archetype — that represents the irrational, chaotic, and unpredictable side of human thought and behaviour. This aspect of the mind is contrasted with the logical, analytical, and intellectual side that values order, precision, and control. According to the tenets of depth psychology, a balance between these two vectors of the psyche is required for optimal mental heath. When either the rational or irrational side dominates, self correcting forces come into play to restore some semblance of harmony between the two. The countless Trickster tales describe how this process plays itself out in everyday life…” click to read article

- Further to our post yesterday, I also wanted to add that the Human Givens Institute wholeheartedly supports the Tom ap Rhys Pryce Memorial Trust, which is raising money to help provide disadvantaged individuals with appropriate educational facilities to enable them to lead lives in which the “kicks” of criminal activity will not be required to fulfil emotional needs.

Posted by: Eleanor

The UK needs more than ‘Supernannies’

A few weeks ago it emerged that the Youth Justice system in the UK has reached a crisis point – with literally only a few beds available.

In response, the Government is targeting parents with their £4 million “super nannies” scheme – which will install 80 child psychologists in high crime areas to teach parents good parenting skills.

I was speaking this week to an array of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other health workers at a MindFields workshop and they were all in agreement that, whilst the intentions of the Government may appear to be good, changing the way children are brought up cannot be done as a short-term, ‘sticking plaster’ task of the kind politicians love so much. No one in the room felt able to trust politicians’ ability to do much to change things for the better. The feeling expressed was that they are floundering on the major issues of parenting, mental health and anti-social and criminal behaviour in just the same way they are over the war in Iraq.

To really make a difference requires long-term – a project lasting decades. That requires a bigger, more ‘true’ organising idea about what makes for a good life if it were to carry the population with it. The work would involve changing the very nature of our culture and its priorities. Just sending in 80 child psychologists to deprived areas to give ‘parenting classes’ only scratches the surface and, ultimately, will fail unless the fundamental needs of people can be met in the environment in much better ways than they are at present.

And it really must be seen as long-term endeavour. The brains of some children are already so damaged by their upbringing that they will remain a burden on the rest of us until they die. To stop this sad state of affairs getting worse will require an almost superhuman effort driven from a clear vision that guides the work over decades.

Until all agencies, education, health, government, media, work in tune with nature – the ‘human givens’ – and start to create a healthier culture by pushing for the kind of changes needed, there will be no meaningful improvements made.

The group I was talking to were unanimous that current government policies, by encouraging the infantilising of the population instead of helping it mature, are incapable of working because the laws and systems are too complex and hopelessly unrealistic. If this is a true reflection of the world we are now living in it’s not surprising then that many children are not growing up to fulfil in healthy ways what they might otherwise be capable of.

However hard parents try, many can’t help the fact that they are bringing up their children in a deeply uninspiring, criminally inclined environment that is culturally shallow. They live in a world where greedy, selfish behaviour is encouraged by strong exhortations to emotional expression that are constantly demonstrated and encouraged through the media (strong emotions, happy or sad, keep us ‘stupid’ and easy to condition) and families are collapsing.

When can we trust politicians?

We talk to a large number of people in the caring professions and education, thousands every year, and it is clear that there is a breakdown of trust between these people and politicians. No one expects politicians to do what is needed any more, yet they all expect politicians to interfere and make things worse. Despite this, changing our corrupting environment does require political leadership of intelligence and perspicacity. Even if only some of the taxpayer’s money that is wasted each year by government (£83 billion pounds according to the European Central Bank) was spent more wisely, much could be done to achieve what is actually needed, as required by the reality of the situation, instead of political ideology.

But on the present showing there seem to be no politicians interested in creating a healthier culture, or, if they do exist, they are so bogged down in power struggles and autistic bureaucratic political and civil service systems that they can’t operate. Whatever the reason, until politicians start to sincerely seek help from people who know how to facilitate making it easier for the innate needs of children and adults to be met more healthily in this country, and back them with money, the situation will deteriorate further. Children will continue to get their innate needs met but do so in ways that diminish them and society at large, as when a child’s need to connect up to larger groups and have status is satisfied by becoming part of the local delinquent criminal gang because they have no alternative.

Working with the givens of human nature should be the touchstone of any Government policy.

Posted by: Ivan

The Times: Parents demand prozac for high achieving children/anxiety “masks” depression?

Two articles about depression in The Times today came to my attention.

Firstly, Lucy Bannerman reports on research which shows that 36% of medical professionals feel “bullied” by parents into prescribing dangerous anti-depressant drugs as a “quick-fix cure” for children who are under pressure to do well in exams. What is even more alarming is that six out of ten GP’s feel obliged to prescribe prozac because they rated local, more “holistic” treatment health services as “poor” or “very poor”.

This lack of knowledge about how depression occurs and how to effectively treat it must be fought. There is a dramatic need to improve access to health services that treat depression quickly without drugs.

Secondly, an article by Thomas Stuttaford, the Times resident Doctor, discusses anxiety with relation to the cricketeer Marcus Trescothicks recent withdrawal from the Ashes cricket team and begins:

“Those who suffer from depressive illness, such as Marcus Trescothick, often also exhibit symptoms of stress, which can mask the true problem.”

Stuttaford then stumbles through the relationship between anxiety, stress and depression (sometimes implying that they are same ‘disorder’) and describes in depth the symptoms of each – without reaching any firm conclusion.He correctly identifies that anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but what he is missing is that anxiety eventually causes depression

“There is a close interrelationship between depression and anxiety. When I was a junior hospital doctor in a psychiatric team, one of my chief’s oft-repeated observations was that depressed patients also showed signs of anxiety, and in all anxious patients there was evidence of depression. It was therefore easy to miss the true diagnosis.”

The need for increased REM sleep (to dearouse unresolved anxiety) leads to waking up feeling exhausted with lowered motivation. Stuttaford touches on the connection between depression and poor sleep..

“The sleep pattern is altered — often the small hours are spent restlessly as despondent thoughts go round and round. All energy seeps away, as the patient complains of being tired and suffering an unnatural fatigue.”

..but the idea that worrying increases REM sleep and causes depression is not mentioned.

This connection is a fundamental development in our understanding of depression that needs to be far more widely recognised by the NHS and health professionals so that it can be treated more effectively.

See here for more information on the importance of dreaming and its relationship with depression.

Posted by: Eleanor

Ministers disguise conviction-based policies as evidence-based

“At best, ministers and shadow spokesmen cannot distinguish between anecdote and science. At worst, they can be dodgy operators who use research selectively to “prop up” policies, or even fraudsters who think nothing of scientific malpractice.”

Roger Highfield at the Daily Telegraph yesterday does not let slip by a report by the Commons Science and Technology committee that describes exactly how the government improperly uses scientific research to back up new policies to extents that go beyond “fuzzy thinking” and “ignorance”.

“… many politicians still seem unable to comprehend that science is a never-ending dialogue between theory and experiment, not the recruitment of convenient facts.

When the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, told one newspaper this year that more women should have babies at home, she signalled her determination by saying that she had even commissioned research to support her case.

What is even more ironic is that Tony Blair has affirmed “what matters is what works”. Evidently not.

Posted by: Eleanor