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Wise Counsel Interview Transcript: An Interview with James Gordon MD on Mind Body Medicine and His Book 'Unstuck'

David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

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David Van Nuys, Ph.D.: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview   series sponsored by, covering topics in mental health, wellness and psychotherapy. 

My name is Dr. David Van Nuys I'm a clinical psychologist and your host..


David: On today's show we'll be talking about the book, "Unstuck" with my guest Dr. James Gordon. James S. Gordon, MD, a Harvard educated psychiatrist is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety and psychological trauma.

He's the founder and director for the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. He's also a clinical professor at Georgetown Medical School, and he recently served as chairman of the White House Commission on complimentary and alternative medicine policy.

Dr. Gordon has created groundbreaking programs of comprehensive, mind-body healing for physicians, medical students and other professionals. For people with cancer, depression and other chronic illnesses, and for traumatized children and families in Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel and Gaza, as well as in post-9/11 New York, and post-Katrina southern Louisiana.

His most recent book is "Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey out of Depression." Now, here is the interview.

David: Dr. James Gordon, welcome to Wise Counsel.

James Gordon, MD: It's nice to be here with you.

David: Why don't we start out by having you share with our listeners a bit about your background, your education, your training and so on?

James: I received the very sort of complete and conventional training in psychiatry. I went to Harvard Medical School.

After I finished Harvard College, did an internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco in 1967-1968, then came to Albert Einstein College of Medicine where I did my residency in psychiatry there.

A very exciting time; a time of real interest in community psychiatry, and interest in therapeutic communities. Then after that I spent almost 11 years at the National Institute of Mental Health where I was very focused on helping people, particularly young people, to understand and help themselves. Also creating communities to help troubled young people, especially run away and homeless young people, but really many different kinds of young people to do that all across the country.

In the course of my work at NIMH, I became increasingly interested in--I suppose at that point I would have said, other than conventional or holistic approaches to healing the body as well as the mind. What happened was for a number of years already, I'd been interested in how through psychotherapy and through creating therapeutic communities, we could create situations with individuals and with groups of people that would help people to transform their lives.

I began to wonder a professional way, at the same time I was exploring in a personal way, whether there were ways to make the same kind of transformational change in biology, as I was doing with individual psychology or doing with groups.

So about that time, actually even by the late '60s and certainly by the early '70s, I'd become interested in meditation, and acupuncture, and Chinese medicine, and nutrition and herbs. There was really a question in my mind: What did these approaches from the world's healing traditions, what did they potentially have to contribute to making a model of healing richer, more effective in addressing the body, as well as the mind and the spirit, as well as the emotions and our mental state? What do they have to offer me personally?

What do they have to offer the people with whom I was working, whether it be the psychotic adults and adolescents at Albert Einstein, or later at NIMH, or troubled adolescents and their families?

David: Well that's a fascinating trajectory, all the way from Harvard undergraduate, Harvard Medical School.

I live in the San Francisco Bay area myself. I have to wonder maybe somewhat stereotypically, if that internship that you did for awhile in San Francisco had anything to do with your move towards exploring alternative approaches?

James: It certainly encouraged me. I'm sort of laughing. [laughs] You say that in such a nice, understanding way. It was a time of incredible ferment and experimentation. I was there as an intern in 1967-1968.

David: Oh yes, that was a ...

James: One of the things that I think was extremely helpful was the comparison between, if you will, kinds of treatment that were offered in two settings in which I worked. So, most of my time, as with any intern, was spent at my hospital, at Mt. Zion Hospital, but two days a week I volunteered at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic.

At Mt. Zion, I remember working in the emergency room, as well as doing a couple of months on psychiatry there. If a kid came in that was on a bad drug trip, that was treated as a kind of medical as well as a psychology emergency.

The young person was asked a whole bunch of questions, and had to fill out forms, which they were not always capable of doing. We brought them into a room of fluorescent lights, and sat them on an examining table and took their vital signs. A number of those kids were on bad drug trips, who came in because they were having disturbing hallucinations usually. They had to be admitted to the psychiatric ward.

Now, on Tuesday and Thursday and nights when I could, when I wasn't on call, and I worked at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, those same kids, or kids that were as far as I could tell absolutely identical, came in with the same symptoms. Instead of being treated as this major medical and psychiatric problem, the way they were approached initially by the kind of peer helpers who worked at the free clinic and later as I learned by me, was very differently.

We said to them come on in. Here's a comfortable, safe place to sit. Here's some music to listen to. Lie back on these cushions, what you're going through is OK. On drug trips there are difficult times, as well as good times--things are always changing. You'll stay here with us, we'll take care of you, and you'll be fine.

In all of the times I volunteered in that clinic, maybe 40-50 times anyway in the course of that year, I think only saw one kid who had to be hospitalized.

So what was so striking was here they're presenting with very, very similar conditions. But if you change the setting, if you treat them as if this is a more or less natural part of exploration that you're doing, rather than as a kind of aberration and something very dangerous, if you change your set and you create a setting that is hospitable and encouraging, the nature of the condition changes.

David: Yes.

James: That's what I learned, that was the deepest lesson I think I learned.

David: Yeah, and I can see how formative that experience was in your later work. Also as you mentioned, you were for many years, I think you said 10 years, you worked at NIMH, which must have kind of given you the experience to work at a very large level, at a broad scale level.

I noticed that since then, you are the Founder and Director of the Center of Mind-Body Medicine in Washington D.C., which really has some very ambitious goals. Tell us about the work of the center.

James: I think you are right. At NIMH, I wound up both creating and then running a national program for runaway and homeless youth, which was quite a significant program.

I started the Center for Mind-Body Medicine because I really wanted to bring the model that I'd been working on and developing myself and from colleagues, really, around the world. I wanted to see if that model, which really focuses on self-awareness, self-care and mutual-help as central.

If we could make that model central to all of health care, including, of course, mental health care, make it fundamental to the training of all health and mental health professionals and also to the education of our children. With that modest goal ...

David: Yes, right.

James: I did the Center for Mind-body Medicine. I also wanted to create a place that would be--and this really does go back to all my experience early on working in therapeutic communities-- that would be healing for the professionals who were working with me, as well as for all the people for whom we were working.

I wanted our focus to be on education and on teaching people this model, giving professionals primarily the experience of this model and then helping them to use it with all their patients and all their clients, wherever they might be.

So that's how we started. We started with no money, no paid staff, a lot of my vision and a whole bunch of wonderful people who, in many ways, shared that vision and really made it possible for the center to work.

David: And now what's the size of your center, in terms of staff and so on?

James: Now we have about 15 paid staff here in Washington, D.C., including a research director, clinicians and administrative people. We have an international faculty who work with us on a regular basis of about 100.

Those are clinicians who have come through our training programs, who are expert in this model of self-awareness, self-care and mutual health, who not only are using our work in their own practice and their own teaching and their own institutions, but who come together with us for a number a week's every year to train others all over the world.

David: Yes, I noticed you seem to have extensive training programs. Some people would probably regard this approach to be, what, left of center? [laughs]

On your website, though, you emphasize that the techniques are scientifically proven techniques which include self-awareness and self-expression through words, drawing and movement, relaxation, meditation, exercise, diet, bio-feedback, visual imagery, self-hypnosis. So you find that there is scientific support for these kinds of approaches, I take it?

James: I would say these are fundamental approaches of which we have, too often, loss sight. These are basic to all the sort of high systems of classical medicine, as well as aboriginal medicine.

These approaches and the way that they're used, this is the basic grammar of human change and human feeling to which is added a number of other things that require professional intervention. So, that's on the one hand.

We're radical. You said, "Left of center." I would say radical in the sense of going back to the roots of what medicine and healing are all about. These techniques and these approaches are very much there in our Hippocratic medicine. At the same time, we bring a very high level of commitment to scientific methodology and to making available the research which justifies the use of these techniques.

Also, and I think even more importantly, to using the best scientific methodology to study the outcomes of the work that we do. For example, the work that we do with health professionals, in terms of how our training affects them.

The work that people we've trained have done with war-traumatized children and adults. I think for the first time, what we're doing, the vision of medicine is let's use all of the approaches and techniques that are available.

Let's emphasize self-care, which is absolutely crucial to dealing with the chronic conditions, whether they're physical or emotional or spiritual--that beset our population, and then let's study them. Let's bring rigorous methodology to the study of these approaches. I think it's the best of several different worlds.

David: Well, that all sounds good to me. Now, I noticed that you're located in Washington, D.C. Is that just because you were there for the NIMH--by the way, I should say NIMH stands for National Institutes for Mental Health. Is it because you happened to be located there for that job, or is it so that you can lobby for changes in health care, to be closed to the centers of power?

James: I would say, "Yes."


David: Both, huh?

James: I thought I would be at NIMH for two years. That was an alternative to military service. That was my requirement. I love doing the work. I never thought I'd be there for 10 or 11 years, but I love working there.

As I experienced being at NIMH, I saw work for President Carter's commission on mental health which I was at NIMH. I began to meet with people in Congress. I got a sense that by being here in Washington I could both be helpful in a therapeutic way to people who are trying to make what I considered positive changes in government in general.

Also, that I could have some influence on sort of bringing forth this new model of medicine. It was really, I started, I stayed here and part of my rationale, certainly, part of my understanding was, yes, I did want to have a significant effect.

Over the years, I think partly because I was here and for other reasons as well, I've had public positions where I have been able to help to study, evaluate this model, help to promote it where it's been effective and helped to educate people in the bureaucracy, in the executive branch and in Congress about some of these approaches.

David: Yes, it looks to me like you've been uniquely effective in being able to promote this model and kind of bring it front and center and make it more respectable. My guess is that you've probably made a lot of important people-connections during your years at NIMH, which have helped as well.

James: This is not something I ever expected when I came down to Washington, D.C, in 1971. But I have been in a very good position to be somebody with the appropriate medical and psychiatric and scientific credentials, the government experience, so that I could be in a position to be a spokesman for investigating this new approach and for making it a part of our health care and medicine.

At the same time, it, of course, is a model, really, whose time has come. We cannot solve the health care crisis that we face just using the same-old, same-old...

David: Yes.

James: It doesn't work and it costs us more and more money. I think there's now enough evidence for many of these approaches. I think, as you know, I've been focusing a great deal over the last few years on depression and that's a prime example.

But there's more and more evidence in many areas that we really need a fundamentally different, fresh, more comprehensive and more effective approach. More and more people are both--to use a couple of cliches--feeling the pain and seeing the light.

David: Well, I'm glad to hear that. Now, your website also talks about global trauma relief. I mentioned that you're working on a large scale. Tell us about that and your approach to treating trauma.

James: About 12, 13 years ago, I began to get interested in seeing whether this approach that we teach to professionals here, that we use--it's now being used in 15 medical schools here in the U.S., including Stanford and Hopkins and Georgetown, Michigan, a bunch of others--if this approach could also be helpful to people who are in the most desperate psychological situation -- and when I say this approach, it includes various kinds of meditation, guided imagery, as you said earlier, self-expression in words, drawings, and movement.

We use genograms, or family trees, to help people find strength from their family, from their community. And we use a model of small group support that's both educational, in that we're teaching people these techniques, and also meditative, in the sense not only that it teaches several different kinds of meditation, but that it encourages group members to be quiet, to pay attention to what's happening to them, to notice their own reactions, their own thoughts and feelings.

So we have this model, which we began to see already by the mid-'[90s was proving very effective for people with anxiety and depression. We didn't yet have the research, this was just based on clinical accounts with medical students who were stressed out, with HIV-positive patients and people with cancer.

Anyway, so I began to wonder, is it possible to use this approach with people who have experienced some of the worst trauma that this planet confers on us human beings? And so I began to go with a colleague of mine, Susan Ward, who is a family physician, to some of these places.

We spent a little bit of time in Mozambique with former child soldiers. We spent time in South Africa with victims of apartheid and then began in earnest to develop a program in Bosnia. This was a little over a year after the Dayton Accords were signed. And there and in the U.S., we were working with leaders in health and mental health -- as it happened, some of the leading psychiatrists, psychologists, the head of the Islamic University, the monsignor of a Catholic church, and others, to teach them this model that they can use it with others.

And while we were undertaking that training, the war in Kosovo started. This is 1998. And so we went to Kosovo during the war and began to work with many women and children who had been driven out of their homes -- these were Kosovo Albanians who had been driven out of their homes by the Serb army and paramilitaries. We also began to work with the peacekeepers who were having to come between the warring parties.

To make a long and very interesting story, which people can read more about on our website, short, we worked in Kosovo till the NATO bombing came, worked with Kosovo refugees in Macedonia, came back into Kosovo after the NATO bombing stopped, and eventually trained 600 people in Kosovo.

David: Wow.

James: I'm sorry?

David: I said, "wow."

James: Yes, indeed, including everybody who works in the community mental health system and a number of teachers, as well as physicians and mental health professionals. We had developed a faculty there, the heads of psychiatry and neurology at the university hospital and the head of psychiatry at the national level, and other leaders in psychiatry and psychology.

And our program became an integral part -- and I think this is probably the first and so far only place in the world where a country has mind-body medicine as an official part of its health and mental health program.

And the success of that work -- and we'd been publishing studies on the effectiveness of our work, most recently a randomized control trial on the effectiveness of our model with war-traumatized kids, which is the first ever randomized controlled trial of any intervention with war-traumatized kids.

So, the program in Kosovo was working extremely well and I began to look for, OK, where else is a great need? And subsequently, through these wonderful, interesting coincidences would happen. An Israeli psychologist and a Palestinian psychologist emailed me at almost the same time in almost identical words, and they said, "We are very highly skilled, we do a great job with individuals, and we are totally overwhelmed by the current situation. Would you consider coming here to help us?"

So we were just trying to decide where to go. These emails came. I had wanted to be there, even though I kind of resisted. It's one of these situations where you say, my God, what can I do. There was such -- not just such long-term trauma, but such chronic conflict. But of course that's really exactly where I'd like to be.

So we began to work there and we've now trained 300 Israeli -- again, mostly, mental health professionals, mostly psychologists, although a number of psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, school psychologists. And we've trained in Gaza 90 Palestinians, and our work is now part of many of the mental health services in Israel, an integral part. And it's part of, I would venture to say, every major mental health service in Gaza. In Gaza every week now, in a middle of an incredibly chaotic situation, we had 75 mind-body groups meeting.

David: Wow. This is all so inspiring. I have to say. I know of quite a few people who practice, you know, on a very small scale of coming from a similar philosophical base, but to put this so much on the map and to implement it on such a large scale -- I just think it's quite a wonderful bit of work that you're doing here.

James: Thank you. It is great. I mean, I love it.

David: Yeah. [laughs]

James: That's part of what it's all about too. The reason it happens and the reason, I think, we're so committed, is because we've seen the differences it can make for ourselves, everywhere we go. Now, we've been working for a couple years in New Orleans and southern Louisiana. We're now working on an increasingly large scale with U.S. military coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

And people, the psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, surgeons, they experience our work, they see the difference it can make for them, and they want to do it. They really enjoy doing it with the population. So it's both a clinical intervention, but it's also a kind of movement, and it's also part of creating a community of people who are helping themselves and each other.

David: Yes. Yes. Now earlier you mentioned starting to work on depression, and I want to talk about a new book you just released, a 2008 book titled "Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression." So are we talking about severe depression or mild depression here?

James: Again, it's one of those yes situations. Both and. I think that, first of all, as you know, the umbrella of clinical depression has gotten larger and larger and larger. And people make that distinction understandably between, you know, we used to make a distinction between reactive and endogenous depression. Now it's mild or severe, or clinical depression, or minor depression, or just being unhappy.

The point that I'm making in "Unstuck" is that there is a common pathway to health and healing that is applicable to all of the people, all of us who are depressed, confused, or troubled. Anyone can make use of this pathway, and of those who are on this pathway, the vast majority do not need antidepressant drugs.

David: Yeah. Say a little bit more about that, about your position on Prozac and other anti-depression-type drugs.

James: Well, you know, for a long time -- I always seriously question the use of any drugs, in any situation, but I questioned the use of antidepressants. I saw that for many people they created a kind of emotional numbing, but I felt, well, OK, you know, if people want to do that, I suppose they're good for relieving symptoms, although I didn't see that as nearly as widely as the literature led me to believe.

Then I started looking more closely at the research literature and what I discovered was... and what we know now, not just as observations of several people like me, but of really careful studies. When you put together all the unpublished studies on antidepressants with the published studies, that is, the studies that the drug companies approved for publication and ones that they did not approve, one has to surmise because the results weren't nearly so good.

What you see is that antidepressants, even on the terms of these studies, are little if at all better than placebo for treating depression. Even for severe depression where it looks like they are somewhat better than placebo, that seems to be or that may be, because placebo is worse rather than the fact that these drugs are better.

But the bottom line for me is it's so clear. Antidepressant drugs have many side effects that diminish the quality of life. They create in many people a kind of emotional numbing and emotional distance which narrows life experience. They are difficult to get off of.

We don't know the long term consequences of their use. More and more reports are coming out about long term neurological consequences. They should be a last resort, not a first choice.

Last year 230 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants. And some estimates have it that 10% of the adults in this country are on antidepressants. That's madness.

So, the question for me has been: OK, if you're not going to use antidepressants, how are you going to work with people without drugs? What modalities are you going to include? What evidence is there for including them? And how do you put together a comprehensive and integrated program?

So that's what I have done in "Unstuck." I've described the modalities. I have created the program. I have provided the practical exercises. I have shown how the modalities I use: meditation, exercise, change diet, vitamin and mineral supplementation, group support. How all of these have expression through expressing your emotions. How all of those have been shown to make significant, not only psychological, but also physiological changes.

I've created a comprehensive and integrated program that is very much science based that anybody who's reading "Unstuck" can use. And the professionals can learn for themselves and begin to integrate into the work they are already doing with people who are depressed, anxious, confused, or traumatized.

David: Yes, and that certainly how the book comes across to me. I really think that it's packed full of very solid, useful information for both, as you say, for both practitioners and people who might be suffering from depression. Since you are so candid about the antidepression medications, most practitioners who are not going down that path are going to be using cognitive behavioral therapy.

What's your sense about that?

James: I think cognitive behavioral therapy is for some people very useful. There are certainly research evidence that shows it utility. I think it's a small part of the story. I think that in psychiatry and psychology there is so much emphasis on cognition right now. And that's only one part of one aspect of the way our mind works.

I think it's very important to work with emotions. I think it's very important to work with physical body. Many non-medical psychotherapists are very, they get nervous about the body. That's for the doctors, that's for the psychiatrists. I'm saying that anybody can work with the body.

Movement, exercise is one of the most powerful and most effective antidepressants that I know of. It should be part of everybody's regime. And every therapist, regardless if they are using cognitive therapy, or interpersonal therapy or psychodynamic therapy, should be recommending exercise.

I think one of the problems, one of the reasons I like cognitive therapy, not only because I think the observations about the people's way of looking at the world affecting their emotional life are very accurate, but also in cognitive therapy there is a partnership between the therapist and the patient or client. And that's more engaged than many kinds of psychotherapy. It's very active practical partnership.

And also people in cognitive behavioral therapy are doing exercises outside of the therapist's office. This is very important, too. Therapy is not just about what happens once a week or once every couple weeks. It's about what you do every day and in fact, every minute of every day.

So in "Unstuck" and this is very much in harmony with the approach of cognitive behavioral therapy, there is specific exercises that I assign. Exercises that may have to do with belief, but also have to do with imagination, that have to do with the body. That have to do with how we eat and drink and how we relate to other people.

So all of these things can be taught and they can all be used by people at every age. This works with kids down to the age of four or five and at every level of education.

David: Yes, and you mentioned that in addition to cognition you mentioned emotions and exercise. I was particularly interested in your chapter on spirituality. You feel some connection to the spiritual is part of the healing process, as well.

James: Yes. I'm glad you like that. I think that's very important. Again, that's an area that, with the exception of those small branches of psychology and psychiatry, Jungian psychology, that we've for too long stayed away from. And I think that spirituality and spiritual side has to be understood in a very practical day to day way.

This is not about joining any particular group. The spiritual dimension has to do with realizing and experiencing a connection to something greater than ourselves, that helps to give meaning and structure and purpose to our lives. And this has been important to human beings for as long as we have been human.

The approaches that I use are again, very practical ways of experiencing spirituality.

David: Yes, for example, you emphasize the importance of love, gratitude, forgiveness, qualities like that. It's pretty hard to be experiencing gratitude and forgiveness and to be depressed at the same time.

James: It is hard, yes, and when that comes in, when that gratitude comes in, the depression begins to shift.

David: Yes.

James: When you say to yourself: maybe the fact that I'm depressed now is giving me time to really reassess my life. Maybe that's one of the gifts, as painful as it may be. That's certainly what I experienced 40 years ago when I was seriously, seriously depressed. And certainly what I have experienced at other difficult times in my life.

It's also what people I have worked with, the thousands of people I have worked with will, if you give them the opportunity and tell them it's OK, they are often able to find that for which they can be grateful, even in the midst of depression. That becomes a basis for the beginning of a shift.

I was talking with someone yesterday. I would say, probably the most depressed person with whom I work now. One of the things that his depression is giving him, we realized, is time off from work that just wasn't suiting him at all, from a career that was just too abstract and too removed.

It was forcing him to do something simpler. He doesn't like it. He doesn't like feeling that way, but he recognizes the wisdom of taking that time and working, doing much more concrete work than he has been doing for years. And that in that there is a kind of modesty and there is a kind of directness that he feels he is gaining some strength from.

David: Yes.

James: ... that he is depressed as well.

David: You mentioned your own depression from years ago and one of the qualities that I really like about your book is that there is a lot of self disclosure in it. You are not hiding behind some sort of very objective voice. It's really clear to us, as readers, the ways in which these practices have been rooted in your own experiences.

Once, I have to share a story with you. I really relate it to your story of getting halfway up a cliff an you realize you couldn't go up an you couldn't go down and how that led you to pray for your life, for your survival. I was in a very similar situation once where I...

It's easier to go up, it turns out, than it is to go down, because you can see where the next handhold is. But you can't look down as easily to see where to put your toes if you're trying to go down at cliff face.

I found myself in the situation when I got about halfway up. I couldn't see the next handhold and I couldn't see a way to get down. I froze and my limbs started trembling from the tension of it.

Fortunately, I was with another guy, who was a more experienced climber than I was. I said, "Do you think you can make it to the top? Maybe you can see another way." So he said, "Yeah."

So he scrambled up to the top and he said, "Oh, I see another way, I see another way, " which gave me enough courage to make it up to the top. Then I found that he had deceived me. In fact, he didn't see another way. But at least he had got me out and frozen.

So there I am, thinking, "Oh, my God. They're going to have to fly in a helicopter to rescue me. I was actually leading a kind of group.


That was just too humiliating thought. I just couldn't imagine myself being rescued. Fortunately, this wonderful guy was able to talk me back down. So that was my experience. Maybe you can share yours with the listeners.

James: Well, I think it is an experience where I really was talking about, where I was climbing on a cliff on Big Sur, on my cue, I have no talent, because I'm a farmer.


David: Me, either, really.


James: In fact, I was afraid of heights. It was just something I felt I had to do for whatever reason you got. It feels so tiring and sometimes, not so young man, too.

David: Yeah.

James: So I got halfway up, even more than halfway up. That was about 60-70 feet up and I couldn't go up, couldn't go down. I did turn around and I saw there were rocks there and there wasn't anyone who could possibly help me even though I could see.

I think its really important when you're in these situations, physical and psychological, to have somebody there, like your guide, who you could count on. There was nobody there for me.

So I prayed and I never had prayed in any serious, really heartfelt, total mind-body felt way before in my life, "Please, God. There's so much I want to do. Can you help me? I don't want to die. Help me." And I found my way down.

David: Yes?

James: A toe hole appeared that has never been there before, so far as I could tell.

David: Well, that's great. Is...

James: For me, it gave me an experience of prayer. And I don't find to foist any kind of spiritual practice on people. I'd say, nope, I just share my own experience.

I also talk about another prayer that I learned from my old English professor in Harvard. Sometimes, it's very nice, a deeply, religious man. Sometimes it's nice not to pray for yourself but pray for somebody else. Or just say that "God, thank you for a very nice day." I do that sometimes. And that, that's about gratitude, as well.

David: Yes. I love that story. It has been wonderful speaking with you. I wonder, as we wind down here, any last thoughts that you'd like to leave our listeners with.

James: There are two, a couple of things. One is I really hope people would read "Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression" and see if it works for you and if it works for the people within your work -- your clients or you patients and you let me know how it works. I really want feedback from everyone who reads the book, especially form my colleagues.

Second message, I think it comes out of my own experience and I want to urge this to people. You really can do what you want, particularly those of us who have the privilege of having professional educations -- people who are psychologists in position, social worker ....

It's an enormous privilege that we can make a living. We have a license to be helpful to other people and we can work with them in ways that really, deeply makes sense to us as well as to the people for whom we're caring. I think that is really important.

I've seen so many people who feel so "stuck", and there's the word again, so stuck in what they're doing. This is the way I'm supposed to do it. This is the way my profession is.

So what I'm saying in "Unstuck" and in the work we do at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and in everything I do is that you can beyond where those boundaries, which you thought were limiting you. You can incorporate new approaches, you can work with people in a more affective, more experimental situation.

This will be the third point, that everybody has a capacity to understand and help themselves, that we had barely begun to tap in our conventional understanding of medicine and psychology. My work is about tapping that responsibility for myself, helping the people I teach, train, and helping all of them.

By now, hundreds and thousands of people within their work, all over the world tap into this possibility of understanding and taking care of themselves, and helping one another out.

David: Well, that's really wonderful. I'll be sure to put a link to your website in our show notes so that everybody who wants to get in touch with you or find out more about your center would be able to do so.

Dr. James Gordon, thank you so much for being my guest today on Wise Counsel.

James: Thank you. Thank you so much, David.

David: OK. Have a great day.

James: See you face-to-face sometime.

David: I would like that.


I'm sure that you were able to gather from the conversation that I'm quite enthusiastic about Dr. Gordon's Center for Mind-Body Medicine and about his book "Unstuck," which is published by Penguin Press.

If you were someone you know who is suffering from depression, I think you'll find this to be a useful book. If you're a professional and you're all intrigued of the approach you've heard here, you'll find details in the book about the practical approaches he discussed in the interview and you find the Center for Mind-Body Medicine on the Web, at

You've been listening to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by If you found today's show interesting, we encourage you to visit where you can add a comment or questions to this show's web page, view other shows in the series, or simply page through the site, which is full of interesting mental health and wellness content.

Access to show's page in show archive information, via the Podcast box on the home page. If you likewise counsel, you might also like Shrink Rap Radio, my other interview podcast series, which is available online at and rap is spelled R-A-P.

Until next time, this is Dr. David Van Nuys and you've been listening to Wise Counsel.