Psychonutrional Therapy

This blog is mainly interested in the connection between mood disorder, such depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD and nutrition. Articles are for educational purposes only. Self-help therapy should only be in partnership with qualified health care practitioners

Friday, January 2, 2015

Domestic Violence - What can we do?
Notes by Jurriaan Plesman BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr
Domestic Violence is serious social  and public health issues and affect especially women in intimate relationships. It may range from : physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and intimidation, economic and social deprivation, damage of personal property and abuse of power.
"Domestic violence causes fear, physical and/or psychological harm. Living with domestic violence has a profound effect upon children and young children and constitute a form of child abuse." Snapshot Report 3 & 4 November 2006 NSW + Health
Here are some quotes:
The Victims
  • One in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
  • Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
  • Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
  • Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
  • Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
The Families
  • Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
  • A 2005 Michigan study found that children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
  • A 2003 study found that children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death.
The Circumstances
  • Domestic violence is most likely to occur between 6 pm and 6 am.
  • More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.
  • The Consequences
  • According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
  • In New York City, 25% of homeless heads of household became homeless due to domestic violence.
  • Survivors of domestic violence face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress.
  • Domestic violence contributes to poor health for many survivors.  For example, chronic conditions like heart disease or gastrointestinal disorders can become more serious due to domestic violence.
  • Among women brought to emergency rooms due to domestic violence, most were socially isolated and had fewer social and financial resources than other women not injured because of domestic violence.
  • Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults.
  • Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation.
  • Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.
Violence, especially domestic violence needs to be stopped at any costs.
Women who are usually the victims of violence should be informed as to what can be done when they are caught up in domestic violence. They should be aware of the various agencies and women's refuges that are available. Their escape should be meticulously planned with the help of special counsellors, police or perhaps Probation and Parole Officers dealing with these issues.
As a retired Probation and Parole Officer I am familiar with domestic violence and its devastating effect on partners and their children.
Of course, my perspective had to deal with the perpetrators of domestic violence, who attended my rehabilitation groups if they showed enough motivation to do so. Most available advice on domestic violence is for victims, but there is not much in the way of advice for offenders who eventually may be released into the community.
Motivation is essential.
Motivation for rehabilitation and reform usually emerges after an offender has reached "rock-bottom", that is to say that his logical arguments as to why he justified his violent actions is not making any sense to him anymore either. He has reached the point where he cannot explain his own actions anymore. He has now arrived at a point, where it is impossible to escape the consequences of his behaviour and personality.  And when he asks himself the question, "why?"  he has just about reached sufficient "insight", where he could possibly benefit from "treatment". He may be ready to seek help.
But for therapy to be successful he needs more than just negative motivation - that is avoiding an unfavorable situation - but rather having a vision of a positive goal in  his life. For motivation to work he needs a positive motivation.
If one wants to assess one's motivation in life, the chapter in my book "Values Clarification" or the article may give some understanding of how important our values constitute motivation. Some clients became motivated to embrace therapy after mastering the principles of values clarification.
In nutritional psychotherapy it is a cardinal principle to treat an underlying physical or biological imbalance in a person affecting his personality, BEFORE embarking on "psychological"  treatment. No amount of talk-therapy will help a person overcome a physical illness!  It applies equally to a violence-prone person. Most people with anger-management problems can be shown to have an underlying malady, that may be responsible for uncontrolled outbursts. See references below
Fortunately, not all people with this illness finish up in prison, but if they could be treated like any other person with this kind of illness, a large proportion of them may avoid jail. The use of alcohol is very much associated with violent behaviour, but this is not to say that alcoholism is the cause of violence. Alcoholism is a symptom and not  a cause of an domestic violence, it is an illness that can lead to violent behaviour including family violence.
Anger management is at the root of not only trivial disputes in intimate relationships, but may lead to the most extreme forms violent behaviour, murder or mass murder and family violence. It inexorably involve a negative self-image turned inside-out, where a person cannot stop himself hurting people he professes to love. In fact, a person with an unacknowledged low self esteem will unwittingly create a situation, that will show to him that is NOT loved, in accordance with his expectations of life or the rules of self-fulfilling prophesy. And tragically many people with a low self-esteem tend to be attracted to people with similar ilk.
Hence the importance of following up any psychonutritional therapy with a course in psychotherapy equipping a person with the necessary, self-confidence, social skills to handle and recognize unstable personalities.
One way of explaining an uncontrollably violent person is by reading:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

by Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr.

I would like share with you how I personally got involved in nutritional therapy.
With me, it all started off - now many years ago - with having anxiety attacks. In the end, I started suffering from depression. It got so bad that I was fearful to go outside my home. If you would describe my symptoms in diagnostic terms of today, it would have had anxiety attacks, clinical depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (because of my WWII war experiences), but my diagnosis of the time was that I was simply “neurotic”.
I went to psychiatrists, and they pumped me full with psychotropic drugs. The result was that I became dependent on drugs, and that I became an iatrogenic drug addict. In my days - about 50 years ago - you had mainly tranquillising drugs like Nembutal and Valium. Nembutal is a very potent drug, with little difference between dose and overdose. Hence, I accidentally overdosed a couple of times.
I was really lucky that I was a reader of books. I came across a book by Roger Williams by the title of Nutrition Against Disease, telling us that hypoglycemia can cause drug addiction.
I went on a hypoglycemic diet and, lo and behold, I started to feel immediately better. At the time, I was working as a student volunteer in drug rehabilitation centre. I immediately passed on this information to my clients, and they also recovered very soon. After I finished studying psychology at the University, I realised that nutrition had a much bigger role to play in one’s moods.
Now it must be understood, that nutritional therapy does not work like drugs and have immediate effects. If you want to withdraw from drugs, you'll need to first treat the biochemical abnormality which is responsible for the symptoms of mood disorders. After all, you can't cure a physical disease by talk therapy. This may take between three weeks or one year depending on the drugs and/or the particular illness for which you have been using them. The important point is, that you do not change your medications without the approval of your doctor. Withdrawing from drugs, whether legal or illegal, can be lethal!
It was soon thereafter, that's my clients reported these findings to their supervisors in the Probation and Parole Service of NSW. Soon, a very progressive director of Probation And Parole Service at the time contacted me, and ask me if I was interested in getting a job in the Probation Parole Service.
So, I started a career as a Probation And Parole Officer in New South Wales with the specific object of rehabilitating drug addicts in the prisons department. It is to be understood, that 85% of prisoners have an addiction problem as a co-morbid condition of their offence. Drug addiction is often a sign of a more fundamental mental illness. It is merely self-medication. This means, In effect, that most of prisoners in jail have a mental disorder that caused them to be in jail. Thus, prisons have replaced the old-fashioned mental hospitals.
As I arrived at my new job, I was already running groups for drug addicts and mentally ill people mainly at nights. So my group members consisted of both clients of the prison department and private clients. The department had no objections to this. For this was part of preventing the rise of the prison population in New South Wales. Moreover, parents and family members of clients could participate in the group. So they became part of the rehabilitation team. By the way, how groups were run is described in my book “Getting Off The Hook” (…). This book is freely available in whole on Google Book Search FREE OF CHARGE. My groups were basically about teaching people a combination of nutritional influences on behaviour and self-help psychotherapy. This would enable them to do their own therapy or help their friends to do the same. The course would aim at you becoming your own psychotherapist.
It was at this time, that I started to study for a post graduate diploma course in clinical nutrition. Just as well, because within the department there was a growing opposition to the idea that one could treat mentally ill patients by nutritional means. Many, but not all, of my colleagues in the Probation and Parole Service scorned me “feeding bananas” to clients.
The argument ran, that I was not a qualified nutritional psychologist. There is no such profession by the way. Psychiatrists, as represented by the RANZCP, started to criticise the department that I - a Mr Jurriaan Plesman - was playing psychiatrist, for which he was not qualified. I told them that I had a Post Graduate Diploma In Clinical Nutrition, but to no avail.
It was argued that a Postgraduate Diploma In Clinical Nutrition was not a necessary qualification as a Probation and Parole Officer (PPO).The local director of the Probation Parole Service in my area, was fully aware and personally approved of what I was doing to help my clients. But as he said, as a local director of a state department he had very little influence on policy.
The Director of RANZCP went so far as to apparently write a letter to the director of the Probation and Parole Service (PPS), that I be stopped or perhaps dismissed.
The immediate head of the Probation Parole Service in my area had been instructed to stop me from helping clients with nutritional therapy or running groups. I told him, that I was not prepared to tell a client I was not allowed to tell them why, if they couldn’t, for instance, sleep, that there was a simple nutritional remedy for insomnia. Thus, the department set in train to get rid of me. In a public department you can only be sacked for a misdemeanour.
The only way of getting rid of a public servant in a department is by making one’s job as uncomfortable as possible. So they sent me on country duties. This meant I had to travel all over NSW which would supposedly interfere with my family relations.
However, it happened to be the case that my wife and I enjoy travelling in the countryside in a caravan. We simply enjoy the countryside and going bush. So in the latter part of my career as a Probation And Parole Officer we travelled around the country from place to place where there was a probation service. My immediate area director told me privately, that he couldn’t prevent me giving advice to my clients about nutritional treatments, however he expected me to do so in an unofficial capacity.
My experience of practicing clinical nutrition in a public department shows how official policy by governments for preventing mental illness and criminal behaviour by nutritional means is simply non-existent. And this seems to be the case at all over the world. It is not far fetched to believe that this is due to the overall influence of commercial pharmaceutical companies that control governments. The USA - one of the most supposedly modern countries in the world and seemingly at the heart of behavioural science – may well be regarded as the worst example.
Yet, there are many more medical practitioners – familiar with nutritional medicine – around the world, that are able to help people overcome their mood orders without necessarily resorting to toxic drugs. One may wonder, are they a threat to pharmaceutical conglomerates? This is not to say that drugs can't be used under any circumstances. In case of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia drugs are still necessary at this stage of our knowledge.
Nutritional therapy can only happen, if most people in the community are educated enough to know the connection between nutrition and mood disorders.
Wouldn't be wonderful to live in a society, where making a buck is less important then being healthy, where the power of science is more important then selling drugs for the sake of selling. When are we going to live in a society where science helps us making more rational decisions as to where we are going?
It is all a matter of education. Living in a society where education is being downgraded, there seems to be little hope for improvements.
Nevertheless, it is up to the individual in society to make decisions regardless of his or her environment. It is up to the individual to look after his own health with the help of appropriate well educated health practice practitioners and who are up to date with their health science. It is up to you - the individual - to choose.
NOTE: I must admit that the alleged dismissing of me from the Department of Corrective Services is real or imagined. The fact remains that I was not allowed to teach Clinical Nutrition and Psychotherapy.
Perhaps a more objective account of my experiences as a Probation and Parole Officer is given by in Dr Jay Harley’s book ( “Where Two Ways Meet: Probation and Parole Services in New South Wales – Their organisational history and development” in pp 228.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Index to Specific Topics and Research by Jurriaan Plesman

To find a collection of research documents in relation to psychonutritional medicine go to


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Depression is a Nutritional Disorder

Depression is a Nutritional Disorder

by Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych), POstGrad Dip Clin Nutr

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr
I will try to be as brief as possible in giving some of my background. Now in the eighties, in my younger days I used to suffer from depression and varied forms of mood disorders from depression, OCD, PTSD, anxiety attacks and as a result of psychiatric treatment, drug addiction as well. I underwent drug and psychotherapy under the supervision of psychiatrists and psychologists. In my opinion this made things worse. I became an iatrogenic drug addict, with suicidal tendencies. Whilst in this state of mind I decided to go to university to study psychology in the hope of helping myself. After graduating in psychology I started volunteering at a Drug Rehabilitation Centre, where I developed the Positive Ego Training Program . This Program is described in my book "Getting off the Hook" freely available at Google Book Search Program. However I became aware that this program did not completely help me or my clients. It was during this time - in the 60's - that I became interested in the physiological aspects of drug addiction which later on extended to all forms of "mental illness'. BTW I consider "mental illness" to be a misnomer, as it really does not exist, because most forms of mood disorders are biologically based.
My career started off as a teacher of psychotherapy. Initially I was asked to train volunteer counsellors at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney, Australia. Soon clients, instead of volunteers attended my lectures. Since my classes included practical sessions of empathy and interviewing, and putting into practice nutritional- and psychotherapy, it developed into a method of helping people overcome their addiction. Thus a basic principle of the kind of psychotherapy I teach is that the client learns the tools of psycho-nutritional therapy, leaving it up to the client to be his own therapist. One of the tenets is that a client is not only his own therapist, but also is required to teach the tools of psychotherapy to other clients. Thus treatment of drug addiction hopefully could become some sort of snowballing movement in the addiction sub-culture.
As many of my clients at the time were on Probation by Court Order, my methods became known among the Directors of Probation and Parole in NSW. Because about 75% of all prisoners and offenders have addiction as a co-morbid condition, I was then asked by one of the more progressive directors of Probation and Parole Service of NSW (Australia) to join the Probation and Parole Service. It was understood that I was to continue teaching drug addicted clients my program as well as perform the other duties of a Probation and Paroles Officer. Later on, the Director who employed me was replaced by an other director and it is roughly from this time onward that I started to experience problems applying my program, as being "beyond the duties of a Probation and Parole Officer". My problems with the NSW Department of Corrective Services were really political and not scientific, driven along by a powerful medical lobby groups. It is set out here by Dr Jay Harley-McDonald. I am of the firm belief that the heydays of "psychological" counselling are over, and that biological psychology is going to play a primary role in the near future.
From now on I will continue to describe my career and experiences by references to articles I have already written, and I suggest you read the following articles: Read my book "Getting off the Hook " available at Google Book Search. Search my book "How groups were run". Assumptions in Psychotherapy, Why Alcoholics Drink?, Addiction (Alcoholism) is Treatable Disease Drug Addiction is Nutritional Disorder Depression is a Nutritional DisorderSilent Diseases and Mood Disorders The Forgotten Factor in the Crime Debate. For an overall view of my approach see: Self Help Personal Growth Program The psychological aspects of mood disorders are covered in: Summary of the self-help psychotherapy course
It has always been my hope that drug counsellors or for that matter any "mental health counsellor" ( I see drug addiction being only one example of a mood disorder) be trained in Nutritional Psychology as an ESSENTIAL part of their training!
Also read:  My Personal History as a Nutritional Psychotherapist and 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


To test for sufficient hydrochloric acid -

  • You need betaine hydrochloride tablets plus enzymes - they are available from health food shops.
  • Take half a tablet before the last mouthful of a main meal. Burning or indigestion means you have plenty of hydrochloric acid. Don't take any more tablets. Use antacid or teaspoonful of bicarbonate to relieve discomfort.
  • If no burning or indigestion, next day take 1 tablet in the same way. If still no burning or indigestion, next day take 2 tablets in the same way. If still no burning or indigestion, then you need more acid.
  • There are other tests for stomach PH but they're all invasive.

So if you need more acid, then you take 2 betaine hydrochloric acid tablets with main meals and 1 tablet with small meals. Swedish bitters can also help, as can wine with meals and eating calmly and enjoying food.