February 6, 2012

Is epigenetics relevant to the solution-focused approach?

I've just finished reading Epigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance by Richard Francis. This is a new field of research in molecular genetics which has revealed that certain chemical which are attached to DNA can alter the behavior of genes. These gene regulating attachments can have long lasting effects (sometimes life-long). Also, in some cases, epigenetic attachments can be passed on, along with the genes to which they are attached to the next generation. Click on the picture on the right (from Wikipedia) to see a brief overview of epigenetics.

What is interesting about all of this, I think, is that these epigenetic attachments, which regulate gene expression, and which can sometimes be inherited, are themselves caused by external influences not only within body cells but also from far away in the body and even outside of the body. For example, a social interaction you are having may be stressful for you which may set in motion a process, through a series of steps, of creating certain epigenetic attachments.

The traditional way of viewing the gene as the director is being overhauled. The gene itself is directed by the cell which is being directed by outside influences. Genes remain very important but the degree to which genes are expressed is a matter of how genes are regulated from the outside.

My question is: Is this relevant at all to the solution-focused approach? If so, how?


  1. Hello Coert,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and so relevant great question. Epigenetics regards the field of the biomolecular information between the cells. DNA represents the inheritance or the "bricks" of our biological cells. Each single cell of our body has the same DNA code. However, you can't imagine having a toe instead of an eye or the other way around. Epigenetics covers the study of the info or the "mortar" between the cells. So, what is Epigenetics relevance to SF Approach? Clear and simple, if I may say. As we talk or write, we exchange information. OK, great, we all know that. Now let's say that, you, dear Coert, you are getting thirty as you are reading my comment (well,I hope that you are reading my comment!). I give you the info: "Please go and get yourself a glass of water, Coert!" I am being really nice but not helpful. I cannot materialize the glass of water via email. Sorry, but our body needs to absorb a certain quantity of H2O in order to extinguish our thirst. Louis XI, one of our middle age very sharp French king, was not exactly the nicest guy in the world. For instance, he would enjoy to starve his prisoners in dungeons located near the kitchen to make sure they would be smelling great cooking food odors (biological info). It happened he was a gourmet, so you can imagine. Let's go back to psychotherapy which is an information field. If in therapy, a therapist exchange info on what is missing i.e. appetite, sleep, peace of mind, etc. the therapist create more of the same problem. The medical model, problem-centered conventional therapist, is a kind of Louis XI in her/his way to approach people in trouble. The SF therapist, on the other hand, is totally in sync with our natural way of dealing with issues. We react in a certain way to everything. If people have the good idea (and take action on their good idea) when in trouble, to choose a SF therapist, they give themselves a chance to further elaborate on their natural unique resources, skills and abilities, and then move on towards their own solution future.

  2. Hi Sophie, thanks for your response. I don't fully understand your explanation yet. Could you tell a bit more about how Epigenetics is related to helping people in a way that is in sync with their natural unique resources, skills and abilities?

  3. Hello Coert! Thanks for your feedback. Let me try to be more clear about how Eoigenetics is related to our natural resources, skills and abilities. I first need to tell you how I got myself in tune with the Epigenetics field. It was recently at an International Homeopathy Conference, that happens every other year, organized by the Center for Education and Development of Homeopathy (CEDH). In September last year, it was in Rheims. In 2013, it will be in Toledo (olé!). The main topic of last year conference was "Inflammatory Processes and Responses in Homeopathy". From the four corners if the world, all kind of homeopath doctors showed up: General Practioners, Pediatricians, ENTs, OB/Gyn, Hematologists, Internists, Surgeons, etc. No psychotherapist (SF or non SF) and no psychiatrist either, were in attendance. The only incognito SF agent, myself, was representing the SF field at a homeopathic level, if I may say so. As you certainly know, homeopathy is considered irrelevant, just like a placebo effect medicine by allopathic medecine. It is not taught in med school because it is not a quantitave, scientifically measurable medicine. If it works it is because people believe it works. Period. that is how homeopathy looks really like a witch, alternative, unreliable, charlatanesque medicine compared to our real, scientific, modern "hard fact" medicine. In any case, over there, in Rheims (beside drinking Champagne in a very allopathic manner), I attended among others, to one of the main interventions of a researcher specialized in Oncoepigenetics who made a brilliant and very scientific demonstration showing nice slides of cells, a little bit like the Wikipedia picture, stating that we are only at the infancy of this new field of Epigenetics. This researcher explained that basically, the genome/ DNA code = the bricks of the cell nucleus => specific unique DNA of the cell nucleus present in each cell, the same basic code specific to the individual. Study of the genome is quite advanced today. However, Epigenetics which = mortar of the cell => Interface between cells, i. e. how the the cell communicates info or "talk" to her neighbors, is practically Terra Incognita. She was saying that homeopathic medicines which, are dilutions of substances of a substance Mother Tincture, are undetectable as a quantity in the blood stream. However those homeopathic medicines have an effect, immediately visible, like for instance Apis Mellifica in case of an accute skin rash. Homeopathy acts as a qualitative medicine, giving an immediate specific information at the cellular level triggering a physiological response in the same direction of the first body response which is, in case of inflammation: Rubor, Dolor, Calor. Homeopathic action could also be detected by nanometric means. We are now able to detect the presence of one single drop of milk in a pool of Olympic size. Moreover, I would say that the homeopathic model is to the allopathic medical model what the SF model is to the traditional psychotherapy model. Homeopathy may just work like a Miracle Biological Response when correctly prescribed within the right indication. Interestingly, Homeopathy is indicated for overcoming emotional, behavioral response to stress, loss, abandon, frustration, etc. which may precipitate depression, anxiety, ADHD, insomnia symptoms to name a few. The SF therapists know well the extraordinary value of the "Miracle Question". Now with the study of Epigenetics, the SF practice combined to the homeopathic model allows the Bio Miracle Response to be simultaneously experienced (by the patient) and witnessed (by the therapist). Simply mind blogging. Let me know if I am more clear. Thank you Coert!

  4. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for your explanation. I feel a little uncomfortable to honestly have say this, since you're so enthusiastic about homeopathy, but I happen to be very skeptic about homeopathy.

    My interest is particularly in epigenetics. I feel epigenetics is relevant to SF because it invites a less deterministic view on human development and suggest a more dynamic view.

    This dynamic view fits, I think, with SF in the sense that it implies that is not all genes which determine what we become. Instead, how act, how treat one another, how we take care of ourselves and one another may have an important impact on how we behave and how we develop.

    Sorry for not sharing your enthusiasm for homeopathy but I think I'd better be honest about this.

  5. Hi Coert,

    Thank you for your answer.
    Coert, you were honest in your answer and I very much appreciate that. My questions for you are:
    - What would make you feel more comfortable about homeopathy
    - What would it take for you to become even be more honest about homeopathy?
    - Have you ever reach the conclusion that conventionally trained licensed MDs, who furthermore acquire a clinical competency in homeopathy through a speciality training with diploma (after passing a final exam), this training in homeopathy being officially recognized as part of their continuous medical education, that those doctors are frauds? If yes, do you think they are charlatans giving patients false hope while trying to take patients trust and money for a supoosedly alternative medicine that is just a placebo treatment only? Or do you think that some of those doctors are nice folks but foolish and gullible enough to be the enthusiastic believers of a placebo effect on their patients?
    - If this is the case, how many percent would you give to the frauds versus the enthusiastic gullible? Or maybe do you think that some of those doctors are both frauds and enthusiastics? What would be your percentage of those enthusiastic frauds compared to t:o the pure frauds and the pure enthusiasts?
    - have you ever made an exception to your skepticism of homeopathy?
    - If yes, what was it?
    Example: have ever applied Arnica gel on a fresh bruise on yourself, your wife or on one of your children?
    - If you have made this Arnica gel application as exception to your skepticism to homeopathy, did you notice a difference in the healing of the bruise? If you have indeed noticed a visible différence, can you describe it?
    - On the other hand, If you have never made an exception to your skepticism of homeopathy, would you agree to give it an honest try? Would you be willing to purchase an Arnica gel tube and use it on a fresh bruise? Knowing that an Arnica gel tube is inexpensive and safe to use.
    - If yes, would you be in agreement to report on your blog the result of your experimental trial?
    -  On the contrary, if you rather avoid trying the purchase and use of an Arnica gel, on a fresh bruise, what would be the first step for you to move towards your agreement of giving it a try? 

    I know it is a lot of questions, Coert. I just love asking lots of questions! I hope you will find the time to answer them. After your answers, i wiuld more than happy to go back on the Epigenetics and it's relationship of SF practices. I very much appreciate the wonderful opportunity to ask those questions on your SF blog Cort! 

    Thanks again,


  6. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for your questions. Becoming more comfortable about homeopathy is not a goal for me. It might have been if I had felt a fascination for it or if I'd had a high expectation of its effects but I do not.

    I appreciate you inviting me to become even more honest about what I think about homeopathy.

    Trying to be as honest as I can (sorry if this comes across as offensive, it is not meant that way!) I would say that I think that not only is the basic idea behind homeopathy not credible to me (in the sense that I would not expect it to work) but also I think that research does not show it works.

    With respect to your question what I think those practictioners who advocate homeopathy... are they frauds, are they foolish?

    I don't know. I haven't thought about it and that is not what this is about for me. I feel that I am not in a position to judge people who think differently and I don't think that would do any good, too.

    For me, the important things is: do I think it is valid? And I don't.

    Thanks for the exchange, Sophie


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