Psychic Energy & Fatigue
Psychic energy is the really important stuff of
existence. We expect to cycle daily through a sleep-waking cycle, characterized
by fluctuating energy levels. As energy levels drop, we feel fatigue and
then sleepiness. Normal fatigue develops as the waking day proceeds and promotes sleep
preparations after 14-16 hours of waking consciousness. Abnormal fatigue
stretches through the day and interferes with daily activities. Abnormal fatigue
is a multifaceted problem and is difficult to evaluate. When you are very tired,
you cannot localize the problem very well. Patients often make the distinction
between physical and mental fatigue. With physical fatigue you want to be active
and have ambitious plans but cannot implement them. With mental fatigue, you
just want to rest, you withdraw and sleep rather than seek activity.
Freud and Libido
Psychic energy is discussed metaphysically in the psychoanalytic
literature. Freud introduced the hydraulic metaphor "libido" to describe
psychic energy. In his metaphysics, libido was a fluid-like energy
distributed through three compartments in the psyche. The source of Freudian
psychic energy is the sex generator of the ID. Sexual desire and drives are
the Freudian absolute energy and all other human activity borrows from this
wellspring to accomplish other things.
Freud would explain depression as trapped libido. If the animal impulses
in the ID compartment pour libido into your censoring Superego during some
hidden battle within your "mind," there would be a deficiency of libido to
energize the ordinary Ego transactions of life. As a metaphor, Freud's idea
can be fun, but for practical purposes, it is absurdly out-of-date. In other
psychoanalytic traditions the unconscious was viewed as the source of
psychic energy with a variety of primitive instincts fueling consciousness
with drives and ideas. Esther Harding, a Jungian psychoanalyst, wrote a book
on psychic energy, stating, for example: "Beneath the decent facade of
consciousness with its disciplined moral order and its good intentions lurk
the crude instinctive forces of life, like monsters of the deep - devouring,
begetting, warring endlessly."
This metaphor of psychic energy as the subconscious volcano full of the
dark energy of instinctive forces refers to brain structures which
determine our feelings and behavior at a primitive and unconscious level.
The old brain has species memory built in and read out like read-only memory
in a computer (ROM). Old programs in ROM such as hunger, thirst, rage,
predatory and territorial aggression will emerge daily in the experience and
behavior of every human being. We do not think that psychic energy
fluctuates because of the activity of unconscious ideas. Psychic energy is
determined by body input and the physical properties of body-brain.
Psychic Energy and Brain Chemistry
Psychic energy can be equated to the power supply to the brain. The brain is
an electrochemical information processing system, requiring a
well-regulated, continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to function
properly. Unlike other organs, the brain does not store oxygen and nutrients
and is, therefore, critically dependent on the molecular flow brought to it
by its blood supply.
Brain activity makes high energy demands on body metabolism. At rest, the
brain consumes at least 50% of its peak operating energy consumption,
manifesting a continuous readiness to act. In contrast, resting skeletal
muscle consumes less that 10% of peak energy consumption. Even in sleep,
vigorous brain activity during the dream phase or rapid-eye-movement sleep
(REMS) consumes peak energy.
Glucose is the main fuel of the brain and must be supplied as a continuous
flow in the blood. Our brain tries to self-regulate by keeping blood sugar
flowing by internal means - information flow to the body - and by external
behavioral means. Appetite regulation is partly designed around blood sugar
maintenance. The idea that low blood sugar is responsible for much brain
dysfunction is popular. Sudden episodes of fatigue, foggy thinking,
dizziness and weakness are often attributed to hypoglycemia when more
complex mechanisms are at work. Hypoglycemia is a common symptom in
diabetics who have unstable blood sugars. True hypoglycemic actually causes
anxiety and irritability associated with a desperate hunger - a dose
of sugar will reduce the symptoms within minutes. Fatigue is associated with high sugar levels and anxiety with low sugar levels.
patterns of food allergy dramatic shifts in brain function occur after
eating with symptoms such as sleepiness, weakness, dizziness, and cognitive
dysfunction - the onset may be delayed a few hours and the food connection
not noticed. The day's food may have a major impact on the night's sleep.
Good quality sleep is critical in establishing proper energy and function
for the next day. Food allergy is regularly associated with sleep
disturbances. Difficulty falling asleep, restless legs, fitful sleeps with
nightmares and night sweats are common symptoms. Frequent waking to urinate
also disrupts sleep. Major food allergic syndromes such as migraine and
asthma often begin during sleep and wake the sufferer. Poor sleep means poor
psychic energy and contributes to on-going fatigue and mental and emotional
aberrations during the following day.
Psychic energy is a generic force in us, applied equally well to all our
activities and even to our passivity's as witnesses of sensory experience.
Good psychic energy is as equally important to the appreciation of a
glorious sunset or a symphony concert as it is to running the 4-minute mile.
Sexual energy is not a special entity, but simply one of the many directions
for psychic energy to go. Interest in sexual experience fails along with all
other interests and activities.
Consciousness and the Activating System
Consciousness depends on spontaneously emitted pulses from brain stem
neurons which ascend in a complex mesh of activating circuits to awaken
neurons in the limbic system, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. Without this
ascending activation, we lapse into a coma. Sleep is an organized inhibition
of the ascending activation, orchestrated by neurons within the same
activation complex. This is another stop-go system. Honest fatigue is a
normal prelude to sleep and represents the increasing activity of
sleep-inducing neurons. Some of the sleep-inducing neurons use serotonin as
the transmitter and malfunction when its precursor, tryptophan, is
deficient; thus, bedtime doses of this amino acid promote sleep. Extra
tryptophan during the day may make you feel tired and dopey.
However, the neurochemistry of arousal and sleep has proved to be
inconveniently complex. One of the problems is that a single
neurotransmitter, such as serotonin, is used in different brain circuits
with different functions that are sometimes contradictory or paradoxical in
their effects. Single-factor manipulations of brain chemistry do not give us
the selective control of brain-mind that once was imagined by scientists
inventing psychoactive drugs.
Patients have difficulty describing the daily changes in the clarity of
their consciousness. We do have good words for all the possible changes in
clarity of consciousness, and patients use descriptions like "blurred,
foggy, spacey, dizzy, dopey, intoxicated, drunk, and stoned" to indicate the
problem. Some will compare food-induced dysfunction to intoxication with
alcohol or drugs. Some food reactions will act more like hypnotic drugs or
anesthetics, putting the person to sleep. Sleep attacks are so severe in
some patients that they cannot work, drive, or carry out normal daily
Since the brain's arousal circuits determine our ability to attend to tasks,
disturbances in the arousal system will manifest as attention deficits. The
symptoms of difficulty in concentration, easy distractibility, and memory
deficit (most often failure to store recent memories) accompany other
arousal dysfunction in both children and adults. Attention deficits in
children are often cause "learning disability"
In children, we refer to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and
attribute learning disabilities to this dysfunction. Attention deficits may
manifest as apparently specific neurologic or learning abnormalities - the
so-called "minimal brain dysfunctions" such as dyslexia, and
perceptual-motor deficits. The apparent localization or specificity of
dysfunction is an artifact of ADHD, and it disappears when diet revision
therapy is successful. A subgroup of hyperactive children with attention
deficit, display aggressive, violent, and antisocial behavior. They often
respond well to careful management of their food supply using the
Alpha Nutrition Program.
In adults with arousal disorders, we note shifting energy and mood
levels. Hyperactivity and attention deficits continue in some adults, as
long as they eat the wrong foods and drink the wrong drinks. Their arousal
disturbance is often associated with social withdrawal, disinterest,
disorganization, failure to complete work tasks, failure to honor personal
commitments and low self-esteem. In the worst case the arousal disorder is
disabling. Arousal disturbances are often bipolar, with rising and falling
mood and energy. In children and adults we observe sudden, dramatic shifts
in mood and behavior as a food reacts in. Often, the initial response to a
dose of reactive food is temporary relief, with increased energy but is
followed in 1-3 hours by a crash into a tired, despondent, dysfunctional
state. Cravings and compulsive eating seem to accompany mental and emotional
disturbances and perpetuate the eating-reaction loop.
The Food Allergy Complex
Fatigue, sleepiness, mood, and sleep-disturbances are consistent
symptoms of the food allergy complex. The clinical correlation of more
specific food-allergic symptoms (nose congestion, headache, and abdominal
pain) with fatigue and insomnia is so consistent that food allergic symptoms
which do not include a disturbance of the arousal system should be
considered unusual. Careful observation of family and friends before and
after eating and drinking should reveal consistent and rather obvious
changes in their arousal, attention, cognitive ability, and emotional
expressions. The food allergy sufferer manifests the food-brain connection
more obviously and will verbally report or act out some form of arousal
disturbance after a meal. Irritability and inappropriate, angry outbursts
may be as common as the antisocial withdrawal caused by arousal inhibition
in circuits of the brain. For example, some patients report extreme
sleepiness 20-60 minutes after eating. If there is no opportunity to sleep
after the meal, they continue to function at a compromised level, making
more mistakes in their work and having more difficulty with interpersonal
relationships. Milk products and grain-related foods seem to be the most
consistent sedative-hypnotic foods. All foods high in protein content may
have this effect. Coffee and tea will briefly postpone the sedative-hypnotic
effects of food, but at a cost to proper brain function. Alcoholic beverages
increase the brain-disturbing effects of other foods.
Hyperarousal is associated with food allergy and many patients report
restless dysphoria. Skin itching may be the beginning of this hyperarousal.
Itching progresses to squirming, pacing, restless legs and agitation. More
generalized internal itchiness and restlessness is also reported and may be
extreme enough to motivate bizarre behaviors and agitated searches for
relief. A cruel paradox of sleepiness accompanied by restless dysphoria is
often experienced at night while the evening's food and drink are being
processed in GIT and wrong materials trickle into the bloodstream. The sleep
disturbances of food allergy are usually accompanied by physical symptoms.
Arousal disturbances are often associated with memory disturbances. In
the food allergy complex, patients routinely report interference with
memory. Recent memory is often first involved. Little details, familiar
names and numbers, even common words just drop out. The ability to sequence
tasks is disrupted by forgetting what you just did or were supposed to do.
If you cannot remember what you just did or wanted to do, cognitive
performance is impaired, you become disorganized and life becomes very
difficult. In children, attention deficits are associated with disruption of
recent memory. Learning is impaired by the inability to recall the most
recent events. Reading, for example, requires words just recognized to be
held briefly in recent memory storage so that the meaning of whole sentences
and then paragraphs can be assembled. If short-term memory storage fails to
work properly, you cannot read and understand.
The physical procedures involved in storing and retrieving memories seem
to involve a sequence of biochemical steps, some of which require structural
changes in the brain. If protein synthesis in the brain is blocked,
long-term memory is impaired. A stream of molecules, originating in the food
supply and then passing through the brain, will either facilitate the brain
changes required for memory or interrupt them. Of the many problems in the
food supply discussed in this book, we think the most important for causing
memory malfunction are food allergy, alcoholic beverage abuse, malnutrition,
toxicity of chemical contaminants, coffee and prescription drug use.
The Alpha Nutrition Program is designed to improve chronic fatigue and
related disorders. The most definitive clearing program is a food holiday, using
an elemental nutrient formula (Alpha ENF), composed of nutrients in their pure
form with no other food intake. Alpha ENF allows a sick person to return to a
baseline of normal functioning, without the intake of numerous adverse
substances that may have been present in their food supply.