Paul Lezchek & Re-Setting the Amygdala
Paul Lezchek, PhD, (1920-1993) studied neuroscience at the University of Chicago in the late 1940s and 1950s. Far ahead of his time, he identified the amygdalae as the brain areas most central to trauma-generated symptoms such as anxiety/depression, and also a key to PTSD recovery. He was also a musician– I am reminded of Joseph Ledoux, PhD (NYU, author of The Emotional Brain, Synaptic Self and other books) and his rock band the Amygdaloids. With his earnings from playing music professionally he bought property off the grid near Pike’s Peak, CO. He thought that one key to reducing trauma symptoms was to temporarily unplug from modern culture and re-establish a connection with nature, including no electric power.
Lezchek developed a technique for trauma recovery, “re-setting the amygdalae.” His patients would live in nature and practice this meditative visualization, and excellent results were reported. The method consists of visualizing the amygdalae (one inch deep below the temples on each side, and one inch behind the eye socket). When the felt-sense of the brain area is well-established, the subjects imagine orienting the amygdalae toward the forehead, away from the brainstem. Descriptions of the visualization include imagining “tickling” the amygdalae with a feather to nudge it forward. Another visualization is to imagine that there is a great movie being shown on the “screen” of the inner wall of the frontal bone, and that people in the audience (the amygdalae) lean forward in total fascination with the movie scene being displayed.
The idea of an anterior orientation includes references to the more modern frontal lobes being better-enabled for sophisticated mental powers, compared to the more ancient brainstem (reptilian brain).
Today, Lezchek’s legacy has been preserved and enhanced by Neil Slade (www.neilslade.com) who has created numerous books (including Tickle Your Amygdalae), DVDs and audio products for learning and practicing the method.