Dr. George Pratt – The Code to Joy
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Jonathan: Hey, everyone, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus, Smarter Science of Slim Podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show. We have a licensed clinical psychologist with us. This is a gentleman who you’ve seen on Larry King. You’ve seen on MTV. He’s a bestselling author. He has served as the Chairman of Psychology at Scripps Memorial Hospital for many, many, many years, and he has written books. He is speaking. He’s doing all kinds of stuff helping people to live happier lives.
In fact, his most recent book is called Code to Joy: The Four-Step Solution to Unlocking your Natural State of Happiness. I had to have Dr. George Pratt on the show because he’s got the research, he’s got the practice and he’s got such an inspirational vision for helping people to live better lives. Dr. Pratt, welcome to the show!
George: Hey, Jonathan, it’s a pleasure to be here and got to be careful that many, many, many, many years. We’ve got to watch that.
Jonathan: Just one ‘many’. Just one ‘many.’
George: I’m having a good time. I’ve been around for a while. I’ve learned a lot. I have a wonderful time helping people more effectively.
Jonathan: George, one of the key reasons I wanted to have you on the show was psychology and psychologists so often… when someone maybe thinks of a psychologists, they think of someone who is, not thinking like a dentist, but almost like it’s someone you would work with when things are bad, and it’s sad and it’s all about recovering from terrible things, rather than maybe just saying “I’m pretty good. I just want to be even better.” It seems that you also do a lot of things in terms of that, “I’m already pretty good and I just want to be better” arena. Is that true?
George: Right. I’ve always kind of split my practice into two halves from starting some time ago, as we were saying. I help people to fix problems and now, with the newer tools. When I started out in psychology, the tools were essentially cognitive behavior, all those changing thoughts, identifying distortions and it was a little like bending steel. Now, we have tools that integrate different techniques, which I’ll talk about in a moment, that make them much easier.
For example, in our book Code to Joy, what makes us distinctive is, we are using the conscious mind, which cognitive therapy does, but that’s a very, very, very, very small part of the picture. Then the subconscious, which is a very large part of the picture and then a relatively very infrequent part of the whole project is the body’s energy system. When I started doing some work in clinical hypnosis when I was in graduate school, I saw the value of the subconscious, and so I expanded on that. Then, we had it in EMDR which is nice, rapid technique for resolving problems but also helping people achieve their goals.
As you can see on the Code to Joy on the back of the cover, well, number one, it was nice because Larry King wrote the introduction, which is the only introduction he had ever written. I had been on the show four times, and I worked with the staff and him and was about making things better. On the back of book, I’ve got Olympic Gold Medalists helping them to achieve higher levels. Rob Dyrdek, I was actually on his show. He is for a younger demographic but very popular.
He has a show called Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness. He saw me a long time ago for making things better, and I saw him intermittently on and off for quite time; so he kind of went from not performing very well at a world level in terms of skateboarding to becoming an icon, very successful building skateboard products. Now, having two shows running concurrently on MTV broadcasted by 90 million people on the planet, and he’s an incredible force to be reckoned with.
Well, what happened is on the show he wanted me to go on and just do what I did with him but with his cousin on the show, so that was actually an episode. His cousin had some blocks from childhood. We identified some of them, and I’ll talk about how to do that and why. I am just going to tell you what the outcome was. He went from really not doing much of anything. He was kind of literally staring at walls, and he got into gear as a result of that one intervention.
Rob gave me a quote for the book, and he said, “Guess how much Drama made last year. He had started a clothing company. He made $12 million the previous year. This is for kid that was doing nothing. Anyway, it’s very exciting to help people overcome emotional blocks, to live a better life, happier, healthier, resolve depression or anxiety, etcetera; but then to achieve the goals financially, in terms of love or just being the best they can be.
We are naturally able to experience joy, happiness and what I would say is positive feelings, accomplishment and love and contentment; but many of us feel blocked from that. We feel like our lives are going okay, but having talked to lots of those people, feeling like “Okay, I don’t have a trauma. I don’t particularly have a problem, but there is something kind of missing.” The previous book that we did Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions was a book on fixing problems, traumas, etcetera. This book was about creating happiness. Many people are blocked from these feelings even though to the rest of the world they look like they are happy and doing fine. One of the major reasons it’s causing this is they have underlying beliefs about themselves and the world or about the future that developed usually when they were pretty young between ages zero and six.
We don’t really have any conscious filters from messages we received from family, friends, school, etcetera. We can develop these blocks that stick with us for a very long time. I’m going to give you some examples in a moment, and then from about six to twelve we have some buffering, past twelve we have more buffering, but we can still be affected by it. We have these inhibitions that affect how well we do and how much we enjoy our work, our love, our play and these are life-limiting believes in some way.
Let me go back to conscious and subconscious. In the book, we call it The Flea and the Elephant. The flea is the conscious mind. The subconscious is the elephant. If the flea wants to go to the beach, and the elephant wants to go inland, you’re going inland. I don’t care how much you want to go to the beach. The subconscious mind is one million times more powerful and one million times faster than the conscious mind. That’s why just using cognitive therapy alone is like bending steel. When you can engage the subconscious, I’ll tell you how to do that in a moment, then it’s a different world.
We also have… most people are familiar. If you have, we call them asteroid hits. If we have something very powerful happen in our life, we are usually pretty aware it; but most of us are not aware of the effect of microtraumas, which are small asteroid hits that accumulate over time. I’m going to talk about those in a minute. Then, we also have an electromagnetic system within us. We know that we’re electrical. When we’re in the hospital we have EKGs, EEGs, etcetera, so we’re electrical.
Actually, many diagnostic medical procedures and treatments are actually based on the fact that we are electrical. When you run electricity, you also create a polarity; and we’ve known since Yale Medical research in the 40’s that all living organisms have polarity and that lead Robert O. Becker, an orthopedic surgeon in the United States, to actually develop the bone grow stimulator so that if you have bones that don’t heal, you put in this magnet or you can strap on a magnet or have one implanted after surgery to speed healing, so we have polarity.
When you incorporate this bio field, this electrical system that operates around this kind of like old field of energy along with the conscious and subconscious mind, you are off to the races. It’s how we apply identifying the targets to work on and then finding these beliefs and then correcting these beliefs that are really beyond your usual awareness; and when you do, you can create huge change. That’s the exciting part of it. I’ll give you just some of an example of these beliefs. Just think for a moment, think about your life and think about “How happy am I?”
You might have some frustrations, but you might think “Life is pretty good. I’m doing pretty good.” And just think over the whole course of your life, would you like to feel more safe? Safety is big one for people. Would you like to feel more worthy? What we’re doing is kind of identifying the top seven beliefs right now. Would you like to feel a greater sense of personal power? Would you like to feel that you can love yourself and that you are loveable? Would you like to feel that you can trust yourself and appropriately trust others? Would you like to feel that you’re a good person? Would you like to feel connected?
Now, the opposite of these is feeling unsafe, unworthy, powerless, not loveable, can’t trust that you’re bad in some way or alone. Just identifying these, you can do wonderful things in a very short period of time. In the book, we have a four-step process to identify, to locate these events that are frequently operating below the surface of detection that are influencing you. So how we can detect them… let me give you some examples. There was a woman, and this is referenced in the book; a high-achieving woman came to see me. She came in with quite an attitude. She was very frustrated by the time she got to see me.
She said, “Listen, what makes you think you can help me?” That was her opening statement. “I have seen the best psychiatrist in…” she said, “New York, London and San Francisco. What makes you think you can help me?” I said, “I have no idea.” But she said, “Two people referred me to you.” I said, “Well, let’s just see what we’ve got.” In the book we have a self-guide, where you go and check off events that have happened that can kind of trigger an awareness of these issues to identify. Then, there’s also a method I’ll talk about it later on.
That’s called the neuromuscular feedback or muscle testing, and that’s when you think of something when you’re properly aligned. When you say something that’s true, all the muscles in your body are five to fifteen percent stronger, and that’s been validated in many medical studies including a big one in 1999 at Jefferson Medical College. Dr. [Monty 12:59] studied, they hooked up… fill you out on a little bit of science. They hooked up medical students to computers and dynamometers and have them at congruent and congruent statements, and their muscle testing, the strength their muscles were five to fifteen percent stronger reliably. So, it’s a quick little tool that is really kind of monumental. I had her there so this isn’t the first interview. She said, “What happened is, I have been… something is not quite right. I have enough money. I have nice kids.” She’s like “I had some stomach problems.” I said, “This is usually, frequently a stress thing.” She said, “The doctors say that there is nothing physically wrong.” Etcetera, etcetera. Well, what it turned out to be, she had a business. She started off in the mail room.
She eventually worked herself up to CEO of an advertising company, and then she ended up sabotaging it in some way and lost it and went into bankruptcy. Well, she still was okay financially, but it hurt. She said “There’s something wrong.” I said “I agree.” So I did a little muscle testing with her. Anyway, I was saying is there anything that ever happened regarding money, etcetera, etcetera, and so what came up for her was age seven and it kind of showed with the muscle testing, too. She said “Seven, seven.”
She says, “Oh, my gosh! At age seven, my aunt asked me to help her move furniture, and I did this for a couple hours; and I was so thrilled. I got my first quarter. I was so excited to show this to my parents that we’re having dinner that night. Relatives were over, and I proudly held up my quarter; and I was so excited. I said ‘Mom and Dad, I earned my first money today.’” She was criticized and harassed and made to feel very bad about herself. They said, “You don’t ever take money from family members. How could you do such a thing?” So she was demeaned, insulted, made to feel very, very bad about herself. She had this negative imprint about money, and she actually had several of those beliefs, including not feeling worthy and not feeling safe, etcetera.
Anyway, so what happened is corrected… gave her a treatment for that event of age seven block with her parents and money. I saw her additional times, but at that moment, things turned around. I saw her for just a few visits, and I heard back from her. She had started another company, and over a period of time, she started two companies, became very successful. Stomach problems went away, and she went from on a happiness scale of 2-10, she ended up going from a 2 to 10 rather rapidly. She had this stuck in her, and she didn’t realize it. That’s what you want to do is you want to identify these blocks, and there is a method in the book to do that.
Jonathan: George, with mental, physical, with all of these arenas in life there is, and one of the reason I wanted to have you on this show, is that you have obviously decades of experience. You’ve got three critical letters behind your name. You’ve been doing this. You’ve been helping people. You’ve been seeing results. What can we do – listeners, myself included – to separate the weed from the chaff when it comes to happiness plans? Because I experience this personally. I’m in the business of helping people to be healthier and in certain cases helping them to lose fat. Immediately, there’s like charlatan scam, diet pills. There’s so much garbage out there. We talked a lot about tools. What tools can we use when evaluating which tools to use to help us be happier?
George: Well, I think number one that is a great question, and because there is so much information out there and so much of it is rhetoric. I would look for people that have a background in helping people be successful and healing, so I would look to people that are licensed and well trained and like to help people. I’m an extroverted psychologist, and not all psychologists are.
There are plenty of people that are good who are very good at providing certain services whether they’re extroverted or not. You come into contact with people that want to be healthy, be the proper weight, have great health and again, you want to see people succeed; and so having proper training and background and also, having a sense of referral from the people that are satisfied. I think that’s always a nice way to do it, too.
Jonathan: George, there is a perception or there might be a perception that some psychological tools and this is probably due to some good reasons are more woo, woo than reality; but on the other end of the spectrum there is hard science behind a lot of these things, which seemed woo, woo. So it seems like there’s this category of things which on the outside looking in, a cynical person could just say “It’s all woo, woo.” And some of it, they would be accurate, but the big chunk, they would be inaccurate. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the tools which may seem woo, woo on the surface, but actually have a lot of science and neurobiology supporting them?
George: Right. Well, you ask a very good question. I am a kind of that interface. I do integrated procedures that combines sort of east and west technology. I have done brain imaging at Scripps Clinic, and at the same time, I have studied eastern technologies, too and have kind of blended them. I am a convert from the other side. The funny thing is so the… let me just go back. When I started doing hypnosis, a clinical hypnosis, it was a kind of an exciting thing. I wrote my first book on that, and some people still have a hard time understanding that, but it is a useful tool and people can learn it themselves.
I learned self-hypnosis, etcetera, even though there was lot of research on it. Then, the book that came out 12 years ago, Instant Emotional Healing, that is a book on tapping and that was one of the first books on tapping on how people could use this themselves. Now, what we know now, when you tap on certain acupressure points, you are stimulating those points. There’s lots of different theories on why it works so well, but it does work. Sometimes, there is a direct feedback loop to the amygdala, the fight, flight or freeze processing center in the brain, and it calms that and decreases stress hormones. I have personally done several thousand cases of trauma, all the way from severe kidnap cases to plane crashes. Yesterday, I did a world class athlete, helping unblock them for new performance, well known professional golfers, and then someone I was doing the case for a rape yesterday.
These tools span unblocking potential, as well as treating trauma. What we now know with brain imaging, particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging, when you have a post-traumatic stress effect, with an FMRI you can see the parts of the brain that light up when oxygen is being consumed, when that part of the brain is being stimulated while you are thinking about an event. The prefrontal cortex which is just above the eyes. When you have an FMRI with somebody that’s been traumatized, that’s going to be pretty dark. It’s going to be sort offline, and that’s because it is not being utilized. It’s dark so the judgment logic, they’re kind of offline.
What is very, very active is the fight, flight or freeze processing center of the amygdala, which is sort of at the back of the head and a little lower, so that looks bright. After you give someone an effective treatment modality, whether it’s tapping, whether it’s EMDR, whether it’s any other effective treatment modality, but those are the two most powerful as far as I’m concerned. You see order restored in the brain. You see the lights coming on. You see increased activity in the prefrontal cortex. You see it getting brighter, and you see the part of the brain that’s almost inflamed, the amygdale. That gets calmer so you are restoring balance so the person can process and heal.
It is really amazing to see the effects. We’re talking about helping people being happier, but if it works in very, very, very serious conditions then unblocking regular life experiences — if your parents yelled at you, if your father told you’re never going to amount to anything — and that’s limited your financial ability to make money, then if you know it work for these serious things then you know it’s going to work for these. A fellow had taken off of from the airport here in San Diego. As the canopy started opening, he’s trying to hold on to the canopy. His plane started to losing altitude. He crash landed into wires by the airport. He was upside down with fuel dripping on him. He was trapped in there with his arm pinned under the canopy, and he was stuck like that for about a half an hour, fuel dripping in his face.
If you don’t think, he thought this was the end of his life, if you can imagine that fear. So he actually came in for a 90-minute session. I used these techniques, and he walked out and that trauma was gone; and then he took my seminar and wanted to learn how to do these things himself. So it’s very self-rewarding. Even for the instant emotional healing, we had one of the Apollo astronauts consult on the manuscript and offer a nice review; so these are nice tools for people that are very independent. Those guys are really independent. If you go to the moon, they are pretty darn independent.
Just like with weight loss, that’s a very complex situation, emotionally and biochemically. You want to have tools that can support you in all phases of your life and help you to feel empowered and worthy. By the way, since we are talking about what’s woo, woo and what’s not, a hundred of the top medical schools now include programs in energy where they didn’t before. Duke, Stanford, Harvard, all include some energy training so it’s a new world. From a person that had been traditionally trained, I had to kind of go out and develop some of these things and it’s been so much fun.
Jonathan: It seems just like there has been a dramatic research in what we can do to eat and how we can move our body to feel better and dramatic progress in that area over the past 40 years but some people don’t yet know that and continue to talk in the ways we learned 40 years ago. The same thing applies to the mind it sounds like, where there has been dramatic enhancements that are backed by science. It’s just that a lot of us may not have been told about it yet.
George: Right. It’s just on the cusp. These are being studied. It is just fairly recently that we’ve understood how aspirin has worked even though we’ve taken it for a very long time; so usually what happens is efficacy, how efficient something is begins to precede, truly understanding the mechanisms of action. One of the people that we had trained in the tapping a long time ago became a medical missionary, and she was one of the people in Rwanda treating the kids that lost their families there.
Then, there was later a team sent there of TFT practitioners, and of these children that had lost their families, many of them in front of them, a year later after a single application of that kind of treatment, 47 of the 50 no longer had PTSD. The results held at one year. It’s a different understanding of how the brain works, how energy works. My practice is in La Jolla, California. I’ve been here for the long time but I am from Minnesota, and so when I first… someone twisted my arm to get some acupuncture, I though, “Oh, God,” and that just turned me around. I thought “What happens if certain things actually did occur?” and my mind opened. I’ll tell you what, when you have an open mind and you evaluate things in the light of the day, it’s pretty darn exciting.
Jonathan: I couldn’t have it put better myself, George. In fact that it is such a nugget. I’d like to close on it. You’ve given us so many gifts today and certainly so much for us to dig into and explore; and if folks want to learn more certainly, CodeToJoy.com is going to be a wonderful resource, and that is also the name of your most recent book, Code to Joy. They can also visit your personal website which is DrGeorgePratt P-R-A-T-T.com, correct?
George: Right and there’s lots of videos on DrGeorgePratt.com, and there is about, I think, 35 videos on YouTube. The video with Rob Dyrdek is on my site, but you can see what happened and the results, which are pretty amazing. There’s a free half an hour download of the Deep Relaxation Experience on the home page, and it is just a great stress reducer.
It’s helpful for sleep and stress, etcetera, and it is just free. You can just download that because everybody needs a little stress reducer. It’s ocean in the background, my voice, just going through each part of the body and relaxing it deeply, and so it helps people to center and ground and feel more at peace; and that is just my gift.
Jonathan: Well, I appreciate that so much, George. Well, please keep up the excellent work. Listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did, and please remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, relax, listen to George and you live better. Chat with you soon.