The Hidden Pathway in the Brain from Stress to Joy
Natural Solutions|Summer 2020
The Hidden Pathway in the Brain from Stress to Joy
The emotional brain is the ultimate nurturer. Its role is to save us from stress and return us to a state of optimal wellbeing – joy. How can we tap into our natural drives to get from stress to joy? It takes using emotional tools as the resilience pathways reside in the emotional brain.

Advances in healthcare are emphasizing the importance of moving away from focusing on thoughts and actions, and instead – going under them to the emotions that control both. More than 100 years ago, Sigmund Freud postulated that the unconscious mind, the emotional brain, was what controlled the quality of our lives. Unfortunately, his psychoanalytic therapies to treat that emotional brain were viewed by other psychologists as fanciful and capricious. That criticism led to behaviorism and cognitive behavioral therapy. Both have kept us from learning how to control our emotions and our emotional brain. Often, we have learned to suppress our emotions, which only adds to our stress.

By now, Sigmund Freud’s theory that our focus should be on changing the pathways in the emotional brain has been proven by neuroscientists. What has been missing is a practical way to change that brain by processing our emotions. Over the last 30 years, my colleagues at UCSF and I have developed a simple, structured, and safe way to do just that. We call it emotional brain training (EBT).

Emotional processing is seen now as the way we reduce stress and keep ourselves out of the chronic stress that causes health problems. The faulty pathways in the emotional brain that trigger stress overload are a root cause of 75 to 90 percent of health problems and the epidemics we face now, including anxiety, depression, obesity, diabetes, and addiction. Discovering and using the hidden resilience pathways in the emotional brain is fundamental to health. Already EBT has shown impressive results, improving depression, stress, obesity, addiction, and blood pressure, and not only in the short-term. These changes persisted two years later. That’s why we call the strategy of using EBT “Brain-Based Health.” It is to use the brain for its highest and best use – optimizing our power to take charge of our responses to life.


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Summer 2020