Food, Thought, and Behavior

Bad Behavior
Introduction to Ronald C. Dishinger’s book 
Bad Behavior and Illness are caused by Biochemical Imbalances

Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, FRCP 

Studies of human behavior are divided into many compartments, each one occupying the attention of scientists such as psychologists, sociologists, behaviorists, criminologists, psychoanalysts and so on. Psychiatry, one of the sub sets, is emerging from a chronic flirtation with psychoanalysis from which it is slowly freeing itself, but in doing so it has embraced an almost total adherence to tranquilizer and other drug medication, as if the psychology and other aspects of behavior mattered little. It seems impossible for psychiatry to find a middle ground where all these important aspects of behavior are recognized and dealt with. The long flirtation with psychoanalysis prevented a proper examination of the role of biochemistry and physiology for many decades. 

More recently clinical ecologists are studying the connection between human health and the environment, especially the impact of chemicals, natural or synthetic, upon the body and the psyche. The impact of nutrition on behavior, for centuries the subject of medical study and the only successful medical treatment, was forgotten beginning in 1950 when physicians turned this subject over to nutritionists, who could not study human behavior and did not ever see the impact of abnormal nutrition in producing abnormal behavior. After a deep sleep, medicine is slowly re-awakening its interest in nutrition, a movement 
that was started with the discovery that mega doses of vitamins had a marked 
effect in alleviating disease. 

The connection between food and thought and behavior has been known since antiquity, but generally modern medicine ignored the role played by food allergies and by defective nutrition. One of the first physicians to show a relationship was Walter Alvarez, the great gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic,who published a paper about 60 years ago. He reported that if he ate fowl on Sunday he was mentally confused the following Monday. That report nearly got him fired from the Mayo Clinic. The effect of alcohol, a pseudo food, is well known, and the effect of sugar stoutly denied by the industries who sell sugar in various forms is still vigorously denied. 

The use of vitamins in small doses began about 70 years ago and was accelerated before the last war, after which its use declined. Using mega doses of certain vitamins including vitamin E, vitamin B-3 and vitamin C, started in the 1940's. These studies were ignored, but when my colleagues and I found that niacin lowered cholesterol levels in 1955 there was a sudden surge of interest. This finding is credited with the beginning of the new paradigm, the vitamin as treatment paradigm. We also completed the first six double blind controlled experiments in psychiatry starting in 1952 until 1960, where we showed that adding vitamin B-3 to the treatment for schizophrenics doubles their two year recovery rate. Since then many other studies confirmed these conclusions. Every physician following the original protocols has reported similar recovery rates. This led to the concepts enunciated by Linus Pauling which he called Orthomolecular Medicine. 

Orthomolecular medicine emphasizes the use of nutrition and nutrients in optimum doses for the treatment of all diseases. It is used in combination with drugs when needed, much as one would use a crutch while the leg is being healed and would discard it when the healing is completed. Schizophrenics who recover require continued treatment with nutrients, much as do diabetics with insulin and diet.

Very few writers cover all of these areas of human behavior. They are written for their own disciplines and usually ignore the fundamental importance of nutrition and nutrients. This book by Mr. Dishinger is unique in that he reports recoveries that he has seen using all the techniques of modern medicine, including nutrition and nutrients and also support and counseling. Thus in contrast to early psychiatry of the 1950's which totally ignored nutrition in treating patients, and in contrast to modern psychiatry which totally avoids nutrition and the psychosocial aspect of the disease. His recoveries are achieved by paying proper attention to all of the important aspects of human behavior. It is his thesis that most if not all of bad human behavior can be explained on the basis of all these factors, and that recovery will not occur until they have all been given proper attention.

The book is written with a good deal of detail. I think this is important since it provides the reader with the information needed to follow these treatment procedures and to discuss them with their physicians or other therapists. 

The best way to convince physicians of the merits of any treatment is to show them how patients, preferably their own, recovered. The next best is to provide the information in books and in the other public media. The difficulty is in getting their attention to read the books and listen to the other information. The best way to achieve this is to have patients become knowledgeable and to pass this information to their doctors. If they persist in doing so some of their doctors will eventually become interested. 

I recommend this book as one of the vehicles for stimulating interest in the orthomolecular treatment of the schizophrenias: the most effective method known so far. It is much more effective than using tranquilizers alone because with these drugs it is impossible to become normal even though they are helpful. 

A. Hoffer MD PhD FRCP
June 22, 1998

(Ronald C. Dishinger’s Bad Behavior and Illness are Caused by Biochemical Imbalances is available, free of charge either on cassettes or as a printed book, from the author. Telephone (502) 684 9233. You can also read the entire book at his website,

Published by Medici Music Press, Inc., 5017 Veach Road, Owensboro, KY 42303 

Reprinted with permission of the author.


Andrew Saul, PhD

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