60 seconds – Dr Leaf and Anxiety

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Dr Caroline Leaf, communication pathologist and self-titled cognitive neuroscientist, says that “A chaotic mind filled with rogue thoughts of anxiety and worry sends out the wrong signals and affects you right down to the level of your DNA!” She also says that “Toxic thinking destroys the brain!”

In other words:

Anxiety → Toxic thought → DNA changes +  Brain damage

But that’s not what science says. According to modern research, anxiety disorders are the result of a genetic predisposition to increased vulnerability to early life stress, and to chronic stress [1]. The other way of looking at it is that people who don’t suffer from anxiety disorders have a fully functional capacity for resilience [2,3].

In other words:

DNA changes + External stress → Anxiety

Dr Leaf’s teaching is backwards. Perhaps it’s time she turned it around.

References

[1] Duman EA, Canli T. Influence of life stress, 5-HTTLPR genotype, and SLC6A4 methylation on gene expression and stress response in healthy Caucasian males. Biol Mood Anxiety Disord 2015;5:2
[2] Wu G, Feder A, Cohen H, et al. Understanding resilience. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience 2013;7:10
[3] Russo SJ, Murrough JW, Han M-H, Charney DS, Nestler EJ. Neurobiology of resilience. Nature neuroscience 2012 November;15(11):1475-84

Dr Leaf and Anxiety

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3 thoughts on “60 seconds – Dr Leaf and Anxiety

  1. More unscientific drivel from this woman. Sometimes I think she’s the one with mental problems because I really think she believes what she says! She’s just posted on twitter (because team leaf blocked me on Facebook) that her daughter is starting Ucla today to study neuroscience….lolz!!

      • Hi Leanne,

        Thanks for your sarcastic observation. My very serious response is that I do write about other things, but even if every word I ever wrote was about holding Dr Leaf accountable for her pseudoscience, then I would still be extremely proud of my legacy … certainly a much greater legacy than being just another gullible sycophant.

        I hope you continue to enjoy the rest of my site, and all the best to you.

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