“Most psychologists treat the mind as disembodied, a phenomenon with little or no connection to the physical body. Conversely, physicians treat the body with no regard for the mind or the emotions. But the body and mind are not separate, and we cannot treat one without the other.”
~ Candace Pert
Dr. Candace Pert died earlier this month. Science lost a voice for persistent experimentation, out-of-the-box thinking, and leading edge descriptions of neuroscience, bio-chemistry, and how emotions actually work in the body.
Those within energy psychology knew Candace as a friend who understood from a grounded scientific viewpoint that emotions are the biology, and that energy and consciousness are the ground of material being.
For me as a psychologist interested in integrative understanding of human experience, Candace was a beacon that embodied integrating usually very separate worlds. I knew her more through her work, including her book Molecules of Emotion: The Scientific Basis Behind Mind-Body Medicine. I leaned on that book heavily in one chapter on emotions when writing Conscious Calm: Keys to Freedom from Stress and Worry in order to explain the more intricate workings of emotions as embodied phenomena. Candace was a frequent participant (and occasional keynote speaker) at the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology annual conferences.
When it came time to ask some people to review and possibly provide an endorsement for Conscious Calm, I thought immediately of Candace. I was interested in her take on the book, and wanted to make sure I represented her work accurately and did it justice. I decided to try to contact her and see what happened, although I was sure she was probably inundated with requests to review books. With a little digging, I found the address for Rapid Labs, the research company where Candace served as the Chief Scientific Officer. I sent a letter in an overnight package, describing the book and giving her several ways out if she was too busy or otherwise not interested in reviewing yet another book. I included a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a sheet where she could just check off or add in her response to me if she chose.
I soon received a voice mail. “Laura, this is Candace Pert.” Instead of sending a note back in the mail or writing a quick, easy email, Candace had decided to call me directly. She was enthusiastic and supportive, and said she only endorsed books if she had read them thoroughly, and looked forward to reading Conscious Calm. I was of course delighted, and also touched by her generosity in calling me so quickly. Candace read the book quickly too, and turned around an endorsement (one of my favorites) in record time. She wrote a generous blurb that also made me smile with its reference to adrenaline junkies and stress relief.
As usual, Candace had brought enthusiasm and passion to her work, and as usual, she had included her own brand of humor. For me it was one of the highlights of getting the book done and out into the world. Candace made contributions to biochemical and pharmacological science, to energy psychology, to HIV/AIDS research specifically – and she also made contributions and left a legacy in how she moved through the world in her interactions with others. I’m grateful for her style and her groundbreaking scientific work, and I am also grateful to have experienced her humanity and generosity on a personal level as well.
Dr. Laura Maciuika is a psychologist and the author of Conscious Calm: Keys to Freedom from Stress and Worry