UPDATED: In memory of the amazing Candace Pert, who passed away on Sept. 12, 2013, here's another look at this fascinating interview with the renowned author and researcher.
by Mitch Rustad
Researcher and author Candace Pert has already earned full-fledged icon status. Widely known for bestselling 1997 book, Molecules of Emotion, Pert is also the Scientific Director of RAPID (Receptor Active Peptides Into Drugs) Pharmaceuticals in Washington, DC, which is centered around AIDS research.
Pert’s cameo in the hit indy movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? in 2004 that brought her worldwide fame and turned her into an cult figure for the New Age and Hollywood sets, and her latest book, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d, adds to her already impressive career.
In part two of our exclusive interview (use "What is Peptide T?" link at right for read part one), Pert touched on a wide range of topics—the mind-body connection, science and spirituality, the role of discrimination on health and wellbeing and the path to vibrant health.
You've mentioned that bodywork, meditation and guided visualizations are effective methods of healing. But is it really that simple?
All of these healing modalities are effective. The ultimate solution is really simple—love yourself and love others. A lot of the projections we make to the outside world are actually what we're projecting inwardly about ourselves. If you're angry, take a look at whom you're really angry at, because that angry vibration inside could mean you're actually reacting against yourself. Love is an integrator and a healer, but you have to do the work to love yourself and you can start by loving others. That's the core of human health.
The punch line in substance abuse treatments—also in many types of complimentary treatments to therapy—is that if you can't love yourself, then at least realize that God loves you.
My own life journey has led me to not only not dismiss a spiritual approach, but to embrace it. I'm a scientist and I feel very strongly about that; I realize that there are a lot of answers there. Studies have shown that in overcoming alcoholism, appreciating a higher power really works better than anything. That's a key aspect of 12-step programs, so there's science around the spiritual. You're not really alone and isolated, that's an illusion. But often spirituality gets confused with religion. I came to spirituality through science, while trying to explain my scientific work and then putting it all together with my own life experience.
How can this reinforce or enhance someone's ability to love themselves?
There's a divine order and you wouldn't be here unless you were part of this natural law, and you're here for a purpose. Louise Hay suggests something simple, which she calls mirror work, where you just look into you own eyes in the mirror and say, 'I love you.' If that's difficult for you, treat this exercise like you're taking your daily meds. Just do it. There are studies that prove how affirming this work can be.
It seems like a lot of people just get 'stuck' in their lives, even after much therapy or treatment.
The key is to recognize that we're all a multitude of different people; we all have a number of personalities. I'm excited about this term I coined which I call 'selves-esteem' and I think this is at the root of feeling well adjusted, happy and blissful. We need to acknowledge all of our different personalities.
Being stuck merely means you're stuck in one of your personalities, such as a depressed personality, or stuck in a personality consumed by self hated and blame, and you're not yet able to access a healthier personality. I greatly believe in the healing powers of music and movement when you're stuck. Stop thinking about everything and get out and move, if that's possible. If you can't get out, listen to guided imagery tapes, or healing affirmations with background music. This can tweak and nudge things and move you towards a healthier self.
Can you explain how this works physiologically?
We're not static beings, we're always making new cells, even as we're just sitting here. At any time, no matter how much old training and programming you may have, you always have the potential to literally change your mind.
Each cell in our body is constantly vibrating, often in several different shapes, and our receptors vibrate as well. It's a dance that's constantly taking place in our bodies, and every cell is talking to every other cell in a rhythmic, ongoing way. In fact, the frequencies of your cells are even in sync with the audible sounds around you, which is why music and words can be very healing. Every cell is a mirror. One great way of feeling good is to eliminate the excess static in your life, and the antidote for negativity in our lives is positive affirmations. Research has shown that neurons are strengthened by repeated phrases and empowering words.
How can someone overcome the damage many, especially in the LGBT community, often face because of religious discrimination and persecution?
It might be that you have to reject that old religious training in order to love yourself. Affirmations work, whether you bring God into it or not. Forgiveness is very huge. An affirmation like, I know forgiving myself and others for errors of the past allows me to heal, is a good example.
It's the difference between spirituality and religion. Some religious practitioners have been hypocritical and negative about gays; it's just grotesque. So people shouldn't confuse that with spirituality-that has nothing to do with one religion or another. It's more free form, where science meets intuition. What is the definition of God? God is a field that is completely in line with the physical laws of the universe, not someone who says who's bad and tells you what you're supposed to do. That's how I've come to it and this approach works for me.
It's interesting to hear a scientist talk so openly about God.
I've had people say 'her PhD should be sent back because she believes in God!' There's this strong reaction against the right wing religious people who have been politically idiotic. Some react and think that people who believe in God are stupid. It's all rhetoric and it's silly.
Any parting advice?
You're a very active participant in how good you feel, it's a scientific fact. Our physiology is perfectly designed for bliss and this perfection is dynamic, so taking responsibility for your own health is important.
*Originally published in 2007