Healing Brain Seminar: February 1987


A One-Day Symposium
Saturday, February 21

On the University of California, San Diego Campus

The poster for The Healing Brain

The brain minds the body, and state of health and disease are profoundly influenced by state of mind. This symposium will present some of the recent advances in the behavioral sciences that shed new light on the vital role of the brain as a health maintenance organization. The brain contains many “small minds.” Emotions have profound effects on our physiology and emotional changes, like those associated with lying that are sometimes healthy and sometimes unhealthy. The brain even produces its own opiate-like chemicals with striking effects on pain perception, mood, and thought. These and other findings of major clinical importance will be explored by a distinguished faculty of researchers and clinicians who will provide an up-to-date review of emerging trends in behavioral medicine.


Philip A. Berger, M.D., is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and director of the Norris Mental Health Clinical Research Center. His major research interests include the neurobiology and neurochemistry of mental illness about which he has written numerous scientific papers. In addition, he is co-editor of several books on psychopharmacology, psychiatry, and behavioral neurochemistry.

Paul Ekman, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and director of the Human Interaction Laboratory, department of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco. His major areas of research include nonverbal communications, facial expressions and human emotions. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and books including Telling Lies and Emotion and the Human Face.

Robert E. Ornstein, Ph.D., is visiting professor of human biology at Stanford University and president of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. His research interests include the function of the two hemispheres of the brain, perception, and communication in the human sciences. He is author of numerous books including The Amazing Brain, The Psychology of Consciousness, Psychology: The Study of Human Experience, and The Mind Field.

David S. Sobel, M.D., MPH,
 is chief of Preventative Medicine, Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Jose and medical program director of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. His current areas of interest include behavioral medicine, health promotion and public health education. He is editor of the book Ways of Health: Holistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine.


Robert E. Ornstein

Although we live in a thoroughly modern world, we do not have a thoroughly modern mind. We do not have a single brain; we have a multiple one. It is a complex and unorganized collection of special purpose solutions to meet different circumstances. These “small minds of the body” control health. The brain contains several different and independent centers of action each of which has a “mind of its own.” Significant problems in our own health arise when our separated, small minds disagree.

Emotions, Moods, Traits, and Emotional Disorders
Paul Ekman

Current understanding of moods, emotional traits, and emotional disorders will be reviewed along with the latest techniques of generating and exploring the physiology of emotions. Anger, irritation, hostility, aggression, and violence are over-lapping terms often used to describe the same actions. However, anger is not unhealthy but hostility may be. Aggressive people may never be violent and violence may not involve anger. Everyone becomes sad, while only people with serious psychiatric problems have depression. What the emotions feel like, what they look like, what they sound like, and what causes people to feel them will be illustrated.

Lying About Feelings and Feelings About Lying
Paul Ekman

Emotions play a crucial role in lying. Why do lies fail or why do they succeed? How can we spot clues to deceit and when won’t there by any clues? While lying is a commonplace activity and part of almost everyone’s life, there are some illnesses which involve extensive lying.

The Chemical Brain: The Biochemical Basis of Mental Health
Philip A. Berger

The past decade has witnessed dramatic advances in the biological sciences that have contributed to the identification of some biochemical correlates of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and mania. These advances have stimulated the development of many new somatic therapies for mental illnesses and opened the door to a new experience of the chemical nature of the brain.

Endorphins: The Brain’s Natural Opiates and Mental Health
Philip A. Berger

One of the most exciting discoveries in neurochemistry is that the human brain produces chemical compounds called endorphins that have pharmacological activity identical to morphine and other opiates. Endorphins may be involved in the perception of pain, positive reinforcement, schizophrenic hallucinations, and perhaps “runner’s high.” The current evidence in the role of endorphins in normal and abnormal moods and behaviors will be explored.

How the Brain Minds the Body
Robert E. Ornstein

The principal function of the brain is not the creation of rational thought, language, or art, but rather the maintenance of the health of the organism. From food avoidance to weight maintenance, the brain has developed sophisticated, intrinsic healing systems to protect the integrity and stability of the individual and social body. The brain is first and foremost a healing brain.