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Molecules of emotion by Candace B. Pert, , Scribner edition, in English. 5 editions of Molecules of emotion found in the catalog. Add another edition? Download ebook for print-disabled Download Protected DAISY. Editorial Reviews. From Library Journal. Intrigue at the "Palace": back-stabbing, deceit, eBook features: Highlight, take notes, and search in the book; In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition; Length: pages; Enhanced. In her groundbreaking book Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert -- a neuroscientist whose extraordinary career began with her discovery of the opiate.
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Chi ama i libri sceglie Kobo e inMondadori. Pert, Ph. download the eBook Price: Choose Store. Skip this list. Ratings and Book Reviews 0 4 star ratings 0 reviews. Overall rating 4. How to write a great review Do Say what you liked best and least Describe the author's style Explain the rating you gave Don't Use rude and profane language Include any personal information Mention spoilers or the book's price Recap the plot.
I remind myself that, in spite of the spotlight I am about to step into, first and always I am a scientist, a seeker of the truth -- not a rock star! I silently vow that I won't let any of this go to my head -- although that could easily happen, and did happen occasionally at one time. At last I hear my name and rise from my chair to begin the long walk onto the stage.
I remember to breathe deeply as I pass the front row and feel all eyes in the room turn to focus on me. A few whispered words reach my ears as I move along: "There she is! Is that her? She doesn't look like a scientist! I wonder with an inward chuckle. I am still a woman, a wife, and a mother. Don't I fit their pictures of the scientist? Of course, they have their own ideas, and many of them fit the standard cliche of the conservatively dressed, intense-looking, usually male scientist.
Not too long ago, I wore those serious little boxy suits, the dress-for-success uniform, conforming to the more buttoned-down image people expect. But now, my own transformation is boldly reflected in the way I present myself, an image that better matches my message these days.
In keeping with the evolution of my scientific ideas, my dress has evolved so that I now look more like the ladies in the flowing robes, my clothes looser and more colorful, more comfortable, even more purple!
These days I dare to be more outrageous, although those who know me insist that outrageousness has always been the hallmark of my personality, however submerged I've tried to keep it at times to survive. Taking my place at the podium, I wait while the technicians fumble with my mike and make last-minute adjustments to the projection screen at my side.
As I look out on the sea of upturned faces, I am struck by how perfectly still people sit. I know they won't move until I crack a joke, giving them permission to enjoy themselves and explode in laughter, animating the room and filling it with energy.
My audience is ready and so am I -- hundreds, sometimes thousands of people are seated before me waiting for my words.
I take one last minute to focus inwardly on my mission: to tell the truth about the facts that were discovered by my colleagues and myself. First and foremost, I am a truth-seeker. My intention is to provide an understanding of the metaphors that express a new paradigm, metaphors that capture how inextricably united the body and the mind really are, and the role the emotions play in health and disease.
The house lights dim as I clear my throat and my first slide comes up on the screen. I have become quite addicted to this experience, ever since when I gave a lecture to the National Endocrine Society and accidentally brought down the house with a joke that was intended to cover a mistake I'd made.
Now I don't waste any time. I start right off with a cartoon that never fails to elicit hearty, if sometimes nervous, laughter. My first slide looks like this: [John King, See -- it wasn't psychosomatic] I use this joke to make the point that as a culture we are all in denial about the importance of psychosomatic causes of illness. Break the word psychosomatic down into its parts, and it becomes psyche, meaning mind or soul, and soma, meaning body.
Though the fact that they are fused into one word suggests some kind of connection between the two, that connection is anathema in much of our culture. For many of us, and certainly for most of the medical establishment, bringing the mind too close to the body threatens the legitimacy of any particular illness, suggesting it may be imaginary, unreal, unscientific.
If psychological contributions to physical health and disease are viewed with suspicion, the suggestion that the soul -- the literal translation of psyche -- might matter is considered downright absurd. For now we are getting into the mystical realm, where scientists have been officially forbidden to tread ever since the seventeenth century.
It was then that Rene Descartes, the philosopher and founding father of modern medicine, was forced to make a turf deal with the Pope in order to get the human bodies he needed for dissection. Descartes agreed he wouldn't have anything to do with the soul, the mind, or the emotions -- those aspects of human experience under the virtually exclusive jurisdiction of the church at the time -- if he could claim the physical realm as his own.
Alas, this bargain set the tone and direction for Western science over the next two centuries, dividing human experience into two distinct and separate spheres that could never overlap, creating the unbalanced situation that is mainstream science as we know it today.
But much of that is now changing. A growing number of scientists recognize that we are in the midst of a scientific revolution, a major paradigm shift with tremendous implications for how we deal with health and disease. The Cartesian era, as Western philosophical thought since Descartes has been known, has been dominated by reductionist methodology, which attempts to understand life by examining the tiniest pieces of it, and then extrapolating from those pieces to overarching surmises about the whole.
Reductionist Cartesian thought is now in the process of adding something very new and exciting -- and holistic. As I've watched as well as participated in this process, I've come to believe that virtually all illness, if not psychosomatic in foundation, has a definite psychosomatic component. Recent technological innovations have allowed us to examine the molecular basis of the emotions, and to begin to understand how the molecules of our emotions share intimate connections with, and are indeed inseparable from, our physiology.
It is the emotions, I have come to see, that link mind and body.
This more holistic approach complements the reductionist view, expanding it rather than replacing it, and offers a new way to think about health and disease -- not just for us scientists, but for the lay person also. In my talks, I show how the molecules of emotion run every system in our body, and how this communication system is in effect a demonstration of the bodymind's intelligence, an intelligence wise enough to seek wellness, and one that can potentially keep us healthy and disease-free without the modern high-tech medical intervention we now rely on.
In this book I've tried to give pointers about how to tap into that intelligence, and, in the Appendix, I've provided a listing of organizations that practice various aspects of bodymind medicine, so that those of you who are interested can get some guidance on getting the most out of that intelligence, allowing it to do its job without interference.
The Appendix also contains some basic tips for healthful living, distilled from my own experience. Shift happens! The Ptolemaic earth at the center of the universe can give way to the Copernican sun-centered theory -- but not without considerable resistance. Witness Galileo, who was brought before the Inquisition for his role in promulgating that theory over a century after it was first proposed! Or ask Jesse Roth, who in the s found insulin not just in the brain but in tiny one-celled animals outside the human body.
This gave the reigning medical paradigm a good shake, because everyone "knew" that you needed a pancreas to make insulin! In spite of his eminence as clinical director for the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Roth couldn't get his papers published in a single reputable scientific journal for quite a while. The reviewers sent them back with comments such as: "This is preposterous, you must not be washing your test tubes well enough.
Jesse's story illustrates one of the paradoxes of scientific progress: Truly original, boundary-breaking ideas are rarely welcomed at first, no matter who proposes them. Protecting the prevailing paradigm, science moves slowly, because it doesn't want to make mistakes. Consequently, genuinely new and important ideas are often subjected to nitpickingly intense scrutiny, if not outright rejection and revulsion, and getting them published becomes a Sisyphean labor.
But if the ideas are correct, eventually they will prevail. It may take, as in the case of the new discipline of psychoneuroimmunology, a good decade, or it may take much longer. But, eventually, the new view becomes the status quo, and ideas that were rejected as madness will appear in the popular press, often touted by the very critics who did so much to impede their acceptance. Which is what is happening today as a new paradigm comes into being.
They've been disgusted with the reigning medical model for years and have, in fact, been working actively to overturn it. It's largely through their efforts that such formerly dismissed techniques as acupuncture and hypnosis have gained the credibility they now have. But even when I talk with the average health-conscious consumer, people who have no ideological animus one way or the other, I'm always astonished at how deep their anger at our present health system is.
It's obvious the public is catching on to the fact that they're the ones paying monstrous health care bills for often worthless procedures to remedy conditions that could have been prevented in the first place.
In order to grasp the enormity of this revolution, you have to first understand some of the fundamentals of biomolecular medicine, which is what I like to explain at the beginning of my talks. How many of us can close our eyes and picture or define a receptor, or a protein, or a peptide? These are the basic components that make up our bodies and minds, yet to the average person, they are as exotic and remote from everyday experience as the Abominable Snowman.
If we're to understand what role our emotions may play in our health, then understanding the molecular-cellular domain is a crucial first step. I also like to provide some historical context to help people understand the impact of the recent discoveries. It's a version of one of those lectures I'm putting on the page here to provide a broad overview of my work, the basic science that makes it all decipherable, and fun.
But I also have a story to tell, one that is more personal than scientific, even though parts of it do make their way into some of my more informal public lectures. The narrative of how I was transformed by the science I did, and how the science I did was inspired and influenced by my growth as a human being, especially by my experience as a woman, is as informative, I believe, as the facts of my scientific adventures, and equally as important.
For this reason, I have included my personal narrative in this book, sandwiched in between sections of my lecture, where I hope it provides a perspective that enlightens as it reveals the human story behind the molecules of emotion. As befitting my own evolution, the personal and the scientific do eventually intertwine as my story progresses, underscoring the fact that science is a very human pursuit and cannot be truly appreciated if it appears as a cold and emotionless abstraction.
Emotions affect how we do science as well as how we stay healthy or become ill. The first component of the molecules of emotion is a molecule found on the surface of cells in body and brain called the opiate receptor.
It was my discovery of the opiate receptor that launched my career as a bench scientist in the early s, when I found a way to measure it and thereby prove its existence.
It is the very foundation of the modern scientific method, the means by which the material world is admitted into existence. Unless we can measure something, science won't concede it exists, which is why science refuses to deal with such "nonthings" as the emotions, the mind, the soul, or the spirit.
But what is this former nonthing known as a receptor? At the time I was getting started, a receptor was mostly an idea, a hypothetical site believed to be located somewhere in the cells of all living things. The scientists who most needed to believe in it were the pharmacologists those who study and invent drugs because it was the only way they knew to explain the action of drugs in the organism. Dating back to the early twentieth century, pharmacologists believed that for drugs to act in the body they must first attach themselves to something in it.
The term receptor was used to refer to this hypothetical body component, which allowed the drug to attach itself and thereby in some mysterious way to initiate a cascade of physiological changes. Only he said it in Latin to emphasize the profundity of the concept.
Now we know that that component, the receptor, is a single molecule, perhaps the most elegant, rare, and complicated kind of molecule there is.
A molecule is the tiniest possible piece of a substance that can still be identified as that substance. Each and every molecule of any given substance is composed of the smallest units of matter -- atoms such as carbon and hydrogen and nitrogen -- which are bonded together in a configuration specific to that substance, which can be expressed as a chemical formula, or, more informatively, drawn as a diagram.
Invisible forces attract one molecule to another, so that the molecules cohere into an identifiable substance. These invisible forces of attraction can be overcome if enough energy is applied to the substance. For example, heat energy will melt ice crystals, turning them into water, which will then vaporize into steam as its molecules move so fast, with so much energy, that they break loose of each other and fly apart. But the chemical formula remains the same for each state -- in this case H2O, two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom -- whether that state is an icy solid, a watery liquid, or a colorless vapor.
In contrast to the small, rigid water molecule, which weighs only 18 units in molecular weight, the larger receptor molecule weighs upwards of 50, units. Unlike the frozen water molecules that melt or turn into a gas when energy is applied, the more flexible receptor molecules respond to energy and chemical cues by vibrating. They wiggle, shimmy, and even hum as they bend and change from one shape to another, often moving back and forth between two or three favored shapes, or conformations.
In the organism they are always found attached to a cell, floating on the cell surface's oily outer boundary, or membrane. Think of them as lily pads floating on the surface of a pond, and, like lilies, receptors have roots enmeshed in the fluid membrane snaking back and forth across it several times and reaching deep into the interior of the cell.
The receptors are molecules, as I have said, and are made up of proteins, tiny amino acids strung together in crumpled chains, looking something like beaded necklaces that have folded in on themselves. If you were to assign a different color to each of the receptors that scientists have identified, the average cell surface would appear as a multicolored mosaic of at least seventy different hues -- 50, of one type of receptor, 10, of another, 1,00, of a third, and so forth.
A typical neuron nerve cell may have millions of receptors on its surface. Molecular biologists can isolate these receptors, determine their molecular weight, and eventually crack their chemical structure, which means identifying the exact sequence of amino acids that makes up the receptor molecule.
Using the biomolecular techniques available today, scientists are able to isolate and sequence scores of new receptors, meaning that their complete chemical structure can now be diagrammed.
Basically, receptors function as sensing molecules -- scanners. Just as our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, fingers, and skin act as sense organs, so, too, do the receptors, only on a cellular level. They hover in the membranes of your cells, dancing and vibrating, waiting to pick up messages carried by other vibrating little creatures, also made out of amino acids, which come cruising along -- diffusing is the technical word -- through the fluids surrounding each cell.
We like to describe these receptors as "keyholes," although that is not an altogether precise term for something that is constantly moving, dancing in a rhythmic, vibratory way. All receptors are proteins, as I have said. And they cluster in the cellular membrane waiting for the right chemical keys to swim up to them through the extracellular fluid and to mount them by fitting into their keyholes -- a process known as binding.
It's sex on a molecular level! And what is this chemical key that docks onto the receptor and causes it to dance and sway? The responsible element is called a ligand.
This is the chemical key that binds to the receptor, entering it like a key in a keyhole, creating a disturbance to tickle the molecule into rearranging itself, changing its shape until -- click! The word ligand comes from the Latin ligare, "that which binds," sharing its origin with the word religion. Ligand is the term used for any natural or manmade substance that binds selectively to its own specific receptor on the surface of a cell.
The ligand bumps onto the receptor and slips off, bumps back on, slips back off again. The ligand bumping on is what we call the binding, and in the process, the ligand transfers a message via its molecular properties to the receptor.
Though a key fitting into a lock is the standard image, a more dynamic description of this process might be two voices -- ligand and receptor -- striking the same note and producing a vibration that rings a doorbell to open the doorway to the cell.
What happens next is quite amazing. The receptor, having received a message, transmits it from the surface of the cell deep into the cell's interior, where the message can change the state of the cell dramatically.
A chain reaction of biochemical events is initiated as tiny machines roar into action and, directed by the message of the ligand, begin any number of activities -- manufacturing new proteins, making decisions about cell division, opening or closing ion channels, adding or subtracting energetic chemical groups like the phosphates -- to name just a few.
In short, the life of the cell, what it is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not. On a more global scale, these minute physiological phenomena at the cellular level can translate to large changes in behavior, physical activity, even mood.
And how is all this activity organized, considering it is going on in all parts of the body and brain simultaneously? As the ligands drift by in the stream of fluid surrounding every cell, only those ligands that have molecules in exactly the right shape can bind to a particular kind of receptor.
The process of binding is very selective, very specific! In fact, we can say that binding occurs as a result of receptor specificity, meaning the receptor ignores all but the particular ligand that's made to fit it. The opiate receptor, for instance, can "receive" only those ligands that are members of the opiate group, like endorphins, morphine, or heroin.
The Valium receptor can attach only to Valium and Valium-like peptides. It is this specificity of the receptors that allows for a complex system of organization and insures that everything gets to where it's supposed to be going. Ligands are generally much smaller molecules than the receptors they bind to, and they are divided into three chemical types. The first type of ligand comprises the classical neurotransmitters, which are small molecules with such unwieldy names as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, histamine, glycine, GABA, and serotonin.
These are the smallest, simplest of molecules, generally made in the brain to carry information across the gap, or synapse, between one neuron and the next. Many start out as simple amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and then get a few atoms added here and there. A few neurotransmitters are unmodified amino acids. A second category of ligands is made up of steroids, which include the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.
All steroids start out as cholesterol, which gets transformed by a series of biochemical steps into a specific kind of hormone. For example, enzymes in the gonads -- the testes for males, the ovaries for females -- change the cholesterol into the sex hormones, while other enzymes convert cholesterol into other kinds of steroid hormones, such as cortisol, which are secreted by the outer layer of the adrenal glands under stress. I've saved the best for last! My favorite category of ligands by far, and the largest, constituting perhaps 95 percent of them all, are the peptides.
As we shall see, these chemicals play a wide role in regulating practically all life processes, and are indeed the other half of the equation of what I call the molecules of emotion. Like receptors, peptides are made up of strings of amino acids, but I'm going to save the details about peptides until a later point in my lecture. Meanwhile, one way to keep all this in your mind is to visualize the following: If the cell is the engine that drives all life, then the receptors are the buttons on the control panel of that engine, and a specific peptide or other kind of ligand is the finger that pushes that button and gets things started.
For decades, most people thought of the brain and its extension the central nervous system primarily as an electrical communication system. It was common knowledge that the neurons, or nerve cells, which consist of a cell body with a tail-like axon and treelike dendrites, form something resembling a telephone system with trillions of miles of intricately crisscrossing wiring.
The dominance of this image in the public mind was due to the fact that we scientists had tools that allowed us to see and study the electrical brain. Only recently did we develop tools that allowed us to observe what we may now call the chemical brain. But, yet-to-be-named neuroscience was so focused, for so long, on the concept of the nervous system as an electrical network based on neuron-axon-dendrite-neurotransmitter connections, that even when we had the evidence, it was hard to grasp the idea that the ligand-receptor system represented a second nervous system, one that operated on a much longer time scale, over much greater distances.