By Stefan Deutsch, NYS certified Psychotherapist
There is an epidemic sweeping the country and no one seems to be out of harm’s way.
It assaults everyone from college students to doctors and nurses, from corporate executives to teachers and police officers. Unfortunately there are fatalities, lots of serious medical and psychological illnesses, and billions of dollars lost.
The epidemic is the results of anxiety and stress — it is called burn-out — depression — chronic physical illnesses.
Dr. Ivel De Freitas and myself, psychotherapist Stefan Deutsch, are getting very positive preliminary results from a 1-year long clinical trial we started at Danbury Hospital, CT that will conclude September 2017. We feel that integrating the latest advances in the field of functional medicine with the latest breakthrough in psychology, that produced a functional definition of Love as nourishment, and applied to self-care, produced results we believe will herald a revolutionary new era in stress management and burnout prevention.
The medical profession has been extremely susceptible to burnout. Dr. Ivel De Freitas started noticing the symptoms back during her residency and was determined to find a ‘cure’.
Years of studying causes and solutions to stress, burnout, toxicity, as well as wellness, meditation, nutrition, exercise, Epigenetics, the relaxation response, etc. in places like Harvard and Yale made her open her own wellness clinic where she treated doctors, nurses, residents, executives as well as the general population. Although her clients were happy with the results, Dr. De Freitas was disappointed.
It seemed to her that what they accomplished during treatment often did not become a permanent lifestyle change and that those who needed her medical solution to stress and burnout the most, were least likely to seek help.
She decided to do a clinical trial and 3–4 hospitals were interested in her project. The trial would measure cortisol levels, BIA, Mashloch Burnout Inventory, etc. Yet her intuition said ‘something is missing.’ She wasn’t sure what that was.
Then a serendipitous thing happened. While treating my mother at Aventura Hospital for pneumonia and a broken hip, we became acquainted. Although a psychotherapist, my interests focused on the philosophy of human development. I had postulated a theory of lifespan that included a functional hypothesis of what love is some 30 years ago, which I used successfully with clients, documented, and taught at major psychology, adult development, and psychotherapy conferences around the world. That theory was advanced by the 8-year long research study of Barbara Fredrickson, PhD and published in 2013.
Dr. De Freitas shared with me her desire to do a clinical trial, and had a few questions for me. Why don’t people, especially doctors, nurses, residents who have access to all the information about health and wellness, and prescribe exercise, healthy diets, meditation to their patients, take better care of themselves? Why do people start dieting, exercising, meditating, etc. and abandon such endeavors? It didn’t seem to make sense and she felt it might have to do with people’s emotional/psychological state. Perhaps I would have the answer that could make her clinical trial more effective.
I pondered the questions and shared with her the insight I believed to be foundational. The SELF-LOVE needed for self-care was missing. Academicians use terms like self-esteem, self-worth, self-support, self-care but rarely self-love. That is left to the spiritual community. People don’t realize that taking care of their own needs; eating, drinking, brushing their teeth, showering, wearing clean clothes, going to work are all acts of self-love.
My own clients conceded that they were on the bottom of their Totem Pole of priorities. Everything in their life came before their own health and wellbeing; the job, the house, the kids, the family, the car, finances, and so forth.
People who prioritize taking care of themselves are often thought of as selfish and self-centered — two of the worst characteristics people can be called.
The problem is that people have a hard time reaching for balance in their lives — it seems to be anathema for too many.
I asked Dr. De Freitas, what was the point of giving people all the information about stress, toxicity , Epigenetic;, all the strategies for being healthy and stress free; if using that information, Spending a little time out of their busy schedules, was not an option most people were willing to take.
How can we teach people to take better care of themselves without first teaching them that it is OK to take care of themselves? Just saying they should has never worked.
Excuses people have are a lack of time or skepticism that something can help. Translate both? Everything I am willing to commit to is more important than taking care of myself.
Dr. De Freitas had noticed this pattern in her own life. She wanted to learn my theory of love — that Love is literally nourishment like air, food, and water — which is why we feel so deprived when we don’t get it. It follows then that people need to be taught ; 1. That it is as OK to love self as it is to eat and drink, 2. How to do it effectively, and finally 3. that we all need to become self-sufficient feeding ourself love, as we are feeding ourself food.
The scientist in Dr. De Freitas had her start by applying this new information to herself, and once being convinced of it value, slowly using it with her clients. She immediately began to see the results, both with herself and her clients. At that point she asked me to join her team of physicians and help develop a module for doctors, nurses and residents.
Which bring us to the small pilot clinical trial at Danbury Hospital in CT. Doctors and nurses are perhaps the most notorious for not taking care of themselves. The trial has in-person workshops and webinars — and is believed to be the first program that integrates medical science with the new psychological and emotional science of self-care through self-love.
“The preliminary results of the Love2Care Clinical Trial are another proof of the healing power of nourishing love ( as opposed to romantic desire). By empowering physician and nurses to embrace self-care through self-love we have seen a significant improvement in burnout markers, such as decreases in; depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, stress perception and improvement in professional satisfaction. Although still early these results suggest that by training healthcare providers with this novel, integrative multidisciplinary approach we may not only improve their own well being, but also optimize provider-patient results and provider-provider communication and relationship, thereby creating a ripple effect that can positively transform current negative healthcare/hospital culture. When applied to other corporate settings we see the probability of even better results.” Dr. Ivel De Freitas.
“As Benefits Director for 130,000 employees and executives at The TJX Companies for 26 years I had the opportunity and responsibility to evaluate numerous programs designed to assist our associates dealing with daily life issues as the principal objective to maintaining their physical and mental health as well as their general well being. Clearly this is the basic foundation every corporation strives to achieve in their workforce as a necessary function of being productive and successful.
The program designed by Deutsch and De Freitas confronts the assumption that people are ready and waiting for a wellness program to be dropped in their lap. Fact is those who need it most are the least likely participants. Corporations’ participation rate averages only 4–5% — and is mostly a waste of financial resources. D&Ds focus goes to the heart of what is required to triumph over the inner obstacles people have to overcome in order to sign up and successfully handle stress, maintain good health and the desire and vigor to lead a productive life. It accomplishes this objective in a revolutionary way compared to other programs I have evaluated.” Camillo Davis, Director of Benefits, TJX
“I believe Stefan Deutsch and Dr. Ivel De Freitas have identified the keys to generating participation and results that last beyond the treatment period to a more permanent lifestyle change- self-care through unconditional loving behavior. I attended one of the four workshops during the clinical trial period on Stress and Toxicity, and heard the magic expressed by those attending: The medical science of how to take care of oneself + self love equaled laughter. And laughter is the fireworks of a smiling soul.” Michele Risa, President, The Manhattan Holistic Chamber of Commerce.
Stay tuned for updates as the work unfolds a new chapter in stress and burnout prevention and wellness.
Ivel De Freitas, MD is a Board Certified Internal Medicine practitioner
● Internal Medicine at Danbury Hospital (Yale University);
● Mind Body Medicine at Benson Henry Institute (Harvard Medical School);
● Integrative Nutrition at Institute of Integrative Nutrition (SUNY);
● Founder and Medical Director of Leaf It Up MedSpa and Onogen.
Stefan Deutsch, NYS certified Psychotherapist
● Author — Love Decoded 2016
● President of The Human Development Company, a 501(c)3 Educational-Research Organization
● Organizer of The First International Symposium Toward A Unified Science Of Love, NY 2016
● Developer of The Continuum Theory of Human Development — including a new theory of Love
Originally published at medium.com