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Bear Psychology Podcast

Dr. Anna Baranowsky is a Canadian Clinical Psychologist, CEO of the Traumatology Institute, Founder and President of the Board at Trauma Practice. She is the author of two books on trauma, numerous courses to help train professionals in trauma mental health and the developer of the Trauma Recovery Program for Self-Guided trauma care. She works with trauma survivors and those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on post-traumatic growth and recovery.

Through her work she believes that when we share, dialogue and feel supported, it provides a powerful foundation for forward movement in our understanding and the care needed. In her own words "I have found that the most profound changes occur when a person truly feels heard and understood - I like to think of it as deeply BEARING WITNESS to life evolving. We can feel incredibly stuck when we live with our fears, stressors and troubles in isolation."

Dr.Baranowsky is the host of the Bear Psychology Show, focusing on bearing witness to Evolving Mood, Mind, Health. Her talks revolve around recovery, relationships, work and life adventures.

She is dedicated to assisting organizations and health professionals who help trauma survivors to ensure a trauma informed lens of care can grow in community health networks. With that vision in 1998, the Traumatology Institute Canada (TIC) was established. TIC has trained thousands of individuals nationally and internationally.

Dr. Baranowsky serves on the board of directors of the Academy of Traumatology and is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and is recognized by The National Center for Crisis Management. She has published in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress, Compassion Fatigue, and therapeutic relationships (the Silencing Response).

Copyright:  Dr. Anna Baranowsky, 2020

Jul 6, 2022

It seems clear to me, that if we are constantly striving to experience only pleasure we will certainly land in a hurting world of pain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (or chemical messenger, which the brain produces) that plays a big role in the experience of pleasure.

Instant hits of pleasure can keep us hooked into a cycle of gratification that results in an escalating need for reward, but instead leads to anxiety and a thirst for satisfaction that is never fulfilled. Our brains produce chemical jolts that can be evoked by emoji text messages; Facebook “likes”; shopping excursions we cannot afford; as well as drugs, alcohol and sex. Many of these reward pathways are more accessible than ever, often keeping us constantly seeking more, without a lasting satiety.

Listen to our conversation with Dr. Anna Lembke, M.D., Psychiatrist, Professor, Author.  She is Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic.  She is also the author of bestseller “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence” as well as “Drug Dealer, MD, How Doctors were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop”.

Dr. Lembke’s books help us to understand that brain chemicals are involved in a potentially dangerous reward pathway, especially where there is ease of access to ever intensifying stimulants/drugs and other activities that reinforce the pleasure cycle.  She explores meaningful strategies for withdrawing from pleasure, bringing balance through pain, or the capacity to tolerate discomfort.

In her book “Dopamine Nation” she shares her own experience of getting hooked into reading paranormal vampire novels which took her down a pathway of ever intensifying reading content.  She is a beacon of hope in understanding the complicated and deep struggles of those ensnared in the path of addiction, whatever the brand.

In her Ted Talk on the opioid epidemic and the connection to pain management, she is able to expose some of the drivers to over prescribing opioids, and the dangers related to this. She also goes over some socio-medico alternatives to more opioid prescribing.

She offers insight into the pleasure-pain mechanism and how it is wired into our brains.  She also brings recognition towards the fact that in an overabundant world, where we are encouraged to incessantly seek pleasures; we reduce our capacity to remain quiet, content or peaceful within ourselves.  She explains that the richest countries in the world have the highest rates of addiction, suicide, and pain.

Her book covers many examples of those struggling with addictions of various kinds and the dangers of avoiding pain of any kind.  She describes dopamine fasting and how profoundly beneficial this can be in resetting an overstimulated system to a greater place of balance.

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