A review of sulforaphane and aging

This 2019 Mexican review stated:

“We describe some of the molecular and physical characteristics of SFN, its mechanisms of action, and the effects that SFN treatment induces in order to discuss its relevance as a ‘miraculous’ drug to prevent aging and neurodegeneration. SFN has been shown to modulate several cellular pathways in order to activate diverse protective responses, which might allow avoiding cancer and neurodegeneration as well as improving cellular lifespan and health span.

NF-κB is in charge of inflammatory response regulation. Under basal conditions, NF-κB is sequestrated into the cytosol by IκB, but when pro-inflammatory ligands bind to its receptors, the IKK protein family phosphorylates IκB to degrade it via proteasome, so NF-κB is able to translocate into the nucleus and transcript several inflammatory mediators. Sulforaphane is capable to inhibit IκB phosphorylation and NF-κB nuclear translocation.

SFN upregulated Nrf2 expression by reducing DNA demethylation levels of the Nrf2 promoter. In another model using the triple-transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (3 × Tg-AD), the use of SFN regulates the expression of the Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) via HDAC inhibition, thus increasing H3 and H4 acetylation on the BDNF promoter. Enhancing BDNF expression as an effect of SFN treatment increased the neuronal content of several synaptic molecules like MAP 2, synaptophysin, and PSD-95 in primary cortical neurons of 3 × Tg-AD.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6885086/ “Sulforaphane – role in aging and neurodegeneration”


I came across this review while searching PubMed for sulforaphane commonalities with presentation topics in Part 2 of Reversal of aging and immunosenescent trends with sulforaphane. The review outlined some aging aspects and presented relevant sulforaphane studies. Others such as eye and muscle maintenance weren’t addressed.

Since sulforaphane’s “a ‘miraculous’ drug” in the Abstract, I expected but didn’t see corresponding excitement in the review body. Just phrases like “it is known” and non-specific “more research is needed.”

Other papers published after this review were found by a PubMed “sulforaphane signal aging” search:


Part 3 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane

Part 1 focused on the study’s clinical biomarkers. Part 2 highlighted its epigenetic clocks. Now we’ll look at rejuvenation of cognitive function.

Charts for this study’s most relevant human aging applications – measured by the new human-rat relative biological age clock – were in supplementary data due to combining the study’s untreated tissue samples into clock training data. Reanalyses showed:

“Using the final version of the epigenetic clocks, we find that the treatment effects become even more significant especially for the hypothalamus.”

Human-rat relative clock percentages of rejuvenation were:

  • “Blood 70.6%
  • Liver 79.4%
  • Heart 61.6%
  • Hypothalamus 20.9%”

The Discussion section addressed hypothalamus rejuvenation:

“Why does plasma fraction treatment not reduce brain epigenetic age by the same magnitude as it does the other organs? We can only begin to address this question after having first understood what epigenetic aging entails.

As it stands, our knowledge in this area remains limited, but it is nevertheless clear that:

  1. Epigenetic aging is distinct from the process of cellular senescence and telomere attrition,
  2. Several types of tissue stem cells are epigenetically younger than non-stem cells of the same tissue,
  3. A considerable number of age-related methylation sites, including some clock CpGs, are proximal to genes whose proteins are involved in the process of development,
  4. Epigenetic clocks are associated with developmental timing, and
  5. Relate to an epigenomic maintenance system.

Collectively, these features indicate that epigenetic aging is intimately associated with the process of development and homeostatic maintenance of the body post-maturity.

  • While most organs of the body turnover during the lifetime of the host, albeit at different rates, the brain appears at best to do this at a very much slower rate.
  • While most tissues harbor stem cells that are necessary for replenishment and turnover, stem cells in adult brain have only been detected in a defined and very limited area of the subventricular zone, olfactory bulb (in rats), hippocampus and hypothalamic proliferative region.

As such, if plasma fraction treatment’s rejuvenating effect is:

  • Mediated through the process of development and
  • Involves tissue stem cells

then its effect on the epigenetic age of the brain would appear to be modest, which indeed it does.

It is to be noted however, that improving brain function does not depend on neurogenesis as much as it does on synapse formation and factors such as NMDA receptors which decline in density with age.

Assessment of plasma fraction treatment on cognitive function (learning and memory). Rats were subjected to Barnes maze test – nine consecutive days of test where the time (in seconds) required by the rats to find the escape hole (latency) was recorded and plotted. The error bars depict 2 standard errors.

Within a month of plasma fraction treatment, the rats exhibited significantly reduced latency to escape, i.e., they learned and remembered better. After the second month, the treated rats began with a slightly reduced latency period compared to the untreated old rats, and once again, they learned much faster than the latter.

By the third month, it was clear that treated rats remembered the maze much better than the untreated ones even from the first day of test as their latency period was significantly reduced and by the end of the test period their latency was similar to that of the young rats. This feature was sustained and repeated in the fourth month.”

Not sure why there’s a 62-day gap between “Second month” and “Third month.” Maybe it had something to do with “First month” starting 10 days after the first treatment and “Third month” similarly starting 13 days after the second treatment?


A 2019 Italian paper Polyphenol Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Disorders: A Review and Meta-Analysis analyzed pathetic results of cognitive function experiments with polyphenols other than broccoli sprout compounds:

“Current treatments to halt cognitive decline are limited to counteract symptoms and have a positive impact on cognition and behavior only in a transient manner, without affecting the underlying pathology.

Although some polyphenols might improve specific markers of cardiovascular risk and cognitive status, many inconsistent data are present in literature. Therefore, definitive recommendations for the use of these compounds in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline are currently not applicable.”


Many of us know older people who lived well past the time of good cognitive function. We see how they’re helpless and dependent. We see how others take advantage of them as they decline past the end of their healthspan.

We can make personal plans for that day, sure. But let’s also put some urgency into applying this study’s new human-rat relative biological age clock, and make:

“A step change in aging research. Although conservation of aging mechanism could be equally deduced from the existence of multiple individual clocks for other mammals (mouse, dog), the single formula of the human-rat clock that is equally applicable to both species effectively demonstrates this fact.”

Part 2 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane

A rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane focused on the study’s clinical biomarkers and not its biological age measurements. This Part 2 curation of the study highlights its epigenetic clocks because:

“While clinical biomarkers have obvious advantages (being indicative of organ dysfunction or disease), they are neither sufficiently mechanistic nor proximal to fundamental mechanisms of aging to serve as indicators of them. It has long been recognized that epigenetic changes are one of several primary hallmarks of aging.

DNA methylation (DNAm) epigenetic clocks capture aspects of biological age. The discrepancy between DNAm age and chronological age (term as ‘epigenetic age acceleration’) is predictive of all-cause mortality. Pathologies and conditions that are associated with epigenetic age acceleration includes, but are not limited to, cognitive and physical functioning, centenarian status, Down syndrome, HIV infection, obesity, and early menopause.

The [new] human-rat clocks apply to both species. The two human-rat pan-tissue clocks are distinct, by way of measurement parameters. One estimates absolute age (in units of years), while the other estimates relative age, which is the ratio of chronological age to maximum lifespan; with values between 0 and 1. This ratio allows alignment and biologically meaningful comparison between species with very different lifespan (rat and human), which is not afforded by mere measurement of absolute age.

Relative age estimation was made using the formula: Relative age = Age / maxLifespan where the maximum lifespan for rats and humans were set to 3.8 years and 122.5 years, respectively.”

From Supplementary Table 3, old control and old treatment subjects were males 109 weeks old, 55% of their maximum lifespan (109 / 197.6). Young control subjects were males 30 weeks old, 15% of their maximum lifespan.

The money charts for this study’s human aging applications – measured by the new human-rat relative biological age clock – were buried in Supplementary Figure 12, bar plots M through P:

“Human-rat clock measure of relative age defined as age/maximum species lifespan. Each bar-plot reports the mean value and one standard error.”

From Supplementary Table 8, the percentages of rejuvenation for the above bar plots, calculated as “(100 * (1 – Old Treated / Old Control)” were:

  • “Blood 70.6%
  • Liver 79.4%
  • Heart 61.6%
  • Hypothalamus 20.9%”

Let’s return to clinical biomarkers for comparison purposes. The current study measured pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 blood plasma levels at every time point, but didn’t publish numbers. Bar plots and narrative were:

“Inflammation is an important response that helps protect the body, but excess inflammation especially in terms of duration of this response can have very detrimental effects instead. This occurs when inflammation fails to subside and persists indefinitely; a condition referred to as chronic inflammation, which for reasons not well-understood, increases with age and is associated with a multitude of conditions and pathologies.

The levels of two of the most reliable and common biomarkers of chronic inflammation, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), are found to be considerably higher in old rats, and these were very rapidly diminished, within days by plasma fraction treatment, to comparable levels with those of young rats. This was especially stark with IL-6.

In time, the levels of these inflammatory factors began to rise gradually, but they were once again very effectively reduced following the second administration of the plasma fraction on the 95th day.”

Let’s compare the above IL-6 graphic with IL-6 concentration improvements of our 2018 model clinical trial, Effects of long-term consumption of broccoli sprouts on inflammatory markers in overweight subjects, calculated as (100 * (1 – Day _ mean / Day 0 mean):

Mean pg/ml | % improvement | Period | Broccoli sprout consumption

  • 4.594 | 0% | Day 0 | “One week before the beginning of the intervention period, subjects were asked to avoid the consumption of Brassica vegetables (broccoli, radish, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, mustards, among others) and their derived products.”
  • 1.748 | 62.0% | Day 0 to 70 | Subjects ate 30 g raw broccoli sprouts every day, and stopped eating them after Day 70.
  • 0.896 | 80.5% | Day 0 to 90 | “After the intervention period, a follow-up recovery period for all subjects continued for another 90 days with no ingestion of broccoli sprouts.”
  • 2.170 | 52.8% | Day 0 to 160 | Subjects had not eaten broccoli sprouts after Day 70.

Study results were similar in that:

  1. IL-6 levels improved during early treatments through Day 8 and Day 70, respectively.
  2. IL-6 levels continued decreasing shortly after treatments for 7 days (through Day 15) and 20 days (through Day 90), respectively.
  3. IL-6 levels rose after Day 15 and Day 90, respectively, but were still significantly below Day 0 values at Day 95 and Day 160.

The current study measured Nrf2 but didn’t publish numbers. Bar plots and narrative were:

“The reduction of these inflammation markers is consistent with the profile of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2 protein (Nrf2), which plays a major role in resolving inflammation, in part by inhibiting the expression of IL-6 and TNF-α. Nrf2 also induces the expression of antioxidants that neutralizes ROS [reactive oxygen species], which is also a significant feature in inflammation.”

A PubMed search on “nrf2 sulforaphane human” didn’t turn up relevant 2020 human in vivo studies. I disregarded reviews, cancer studies, disproven hypotheses, and other compounds listed in the below graphic.

I won’t repeat the entire Nrf2 section from the Part 1 curation, just one graphic and paragraph:

It [sulforaphane] is not only a potent Nrf2 inducer but also highly bioavailable [around 80%], so that modest practical doses can produce significant clinical responses. Other Nrf2 activators [shown in the above image] not only lack potency but also lack the bioavailability to be considered as significant intracellular Nrf2 activators.”


As noted in Reviewing clinical trials of broccoli sprouts and their compounds, there are no sulforaphane clinical trials that also use epigenetic clocks. Broccoli sprouts and their compounds’ effects on human aging is an area that hasn’t drawn attention and funding.

What are the effects that broccoli sprouts and their compounds may have on human aging? With this new human-rat relative biological age clock, researchers can get reliable answers from rat studies, with human clinical trials needed only to confirm those findings!

As rejuvenation research continues, what could people do easily, cheaply, and today for their long-term selves? Don’t know about the hypothalamus, but their blood, liver, and heart biological ages may decrease as they reduce inflammation and oxidative stress by eating broccoli sprouts.

I’m at a similar relative percentage of species maximum lifespan as were the study’s old subjects. It’s my choice as to what my healthspan will be.

There isn’t evidence today to definitively say that changing my inflammatory phenotype with broccoli sprouts has had / will have rejuvenation effects on biological ages of my cells, organs, and body. But if eating broccoli sprouts every day not only reduces chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as expected, but also makes me younger, I could probably learn to live with that. 🙂

Continued with Part 3 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane.

A rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane

The founder of the epigenetic clock methodology with the coauthor of Aging as an unintended consequence released a 2020 rodent study “Reversing age: dual species measurement of epigenetic age with a single clock” at https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.07.082917v1.full.pdf:

“We employed six clocks to investigate the rejuvenation effects of a plasma fraction treatment in different rat tissues. Two of these epigenetic clocks apply to both humans and rats.

The treatment more than halved the epigenetic ages of blood, heart, and liver tissue. A less pronounced, but statistically significant, rejuvenation effect could be observed in the hypothalamus.

The treatment was accompanied by progressive improvement in the function of these organs as ascertained through numerous biochemical/physiological biomarkers and behavioral responses to assess cognitive functions. Cellular senescence, which is not associated with epigenetic aging, was also considerably reduced in vital organs.

Plasma fraction treatment consists of two series of intravenous injections of plasma fraction. Rats were injected four times on alternate days for 8 days. A second identical series of injections were administered 95 days later. In its entirety, the experiment lasted 155 days.

Overall, this study demonstrates that a plasma-derived treatment markedly reverses aging according to epigenetic clocks and benchmark biomarkers of aging.”

The study hasn’t been peer reviewed, so can’t be viewed yet as conclusive. Given that researchers’ single-most valuable asset is their reputations, though, will the findings have major revisions?


I was alerted to the study by Josh Mitteldorf’s blog post Age Reduction Breakthrough, who did his usual excellent curation:

“Most of the explosion in aging research (and virtually all the venture capital startups) are looking to treat aging at the cellular level. Their paradigm is that aging is an accumulation of molecular damage, and they see their job as engineering of appropriate repair mechanisms.

The truth, as Katcher [the lead lab researcher] understands it, is that, to a large extent, aging is coordinated system-wide via signal molecules in the blood. The problem is that there are thousands of constituents represented in tiny concentrations in blood plasma, but conveying messages that cells read. Which of these are responsible for aging?

The two-species clock[s] was [were] a significant innovation, a first bridge for translating results from an animal model into their probable equivalent in humans. Besides the methylation clock[s], the paper presents evidence of rejuvenation by many other measures. For example:

  • IL-6, a marker of inflammation, was restored to low youthful levels;
  • Glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and other antioxidants were restored to higher youthful levels;
  • In tests of cognitive function (Barnes maze), treated rats scored better than old rats, but not as well as young rats.;
  • Blood triglycerides were brought down to youthful levels;
  • HDL cholesterol rose to youthful levels; and
  • Blood glucose fell toward youthful levels.

These results bring together three threads that have been gaining credibility over the last decade. Mutually reinforcing, the three have a strength that none of them could offer separately.

  1. The root cause of aging is epigenetic progression = changes in gene expression over a lifetime.
  2. Methylation patterns in nuclear DNA are not merely a marker of aging, but its primary source. Thus aging can be reversed by reprogramming DNA methylation.
  3. Information about the body’s age state is transmitted system-wide via signal molecules in the blood. Locally, tissues respond to these signals and adopt a young or an old cellular phenotype as they are directed.”

Several of these aging measurements are also positively affected by sulforaphane. Using Sulforaphane: Its “Coming of Age” as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease as a reference:

1. “Chronic inflammation”

“Antioxidants in general and glutathione in particular can be depleted rapidly under conditions of oxidative stress, and this can signal inflammatory pathways associated with NF-κB. SFN [sulforaphane] has been shown to inhibit NF-κB in endothelial cells.

Two key inflammatory cytokines were measured at four time points in forty healthy overweight people [our model clinical trial, Effects of long-term consumption of broccoli sprouts on inflammatory markers in overweight subjects]. The levels of both interleukin-6 (Il-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) declined over the 70 days during which the sprouts were ingested. These biomarkers were measured again at day 90, wherein it was found that Il-6 continued to decline, whereas CRP climbed again. When the final measurement was taken at day 160, CRP, although climbing, had not returned to its baseline value. Il-6 remained significantly below the baseline level at day 160.”

OMCL2019-2716870.010

2. “Oxidative stress”

“As a mediator for amplification of the mammalian defence system against various stressors, Nrf2 [nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2] sits at the interface between our prior understanding of oxidative stress and the endogenous mechanisms cells use to deal with it. Diseases known to be underpinned by oxidative stress are proving to be more responsive to amplification of cellular defences via Nrf2 activation than by administration of direct-acting antioxidant supplements.

SFN, with absolute bioavailability of around 80%, [is] capable of increasing several endogenous antioxidant compounds via the transcription factor, Nrf2.

Nrf2 is ubiquitously expressed with the highest concentrations (in descending order) in the kidney, muscle, lung, heart, liver, and brain. Nrf2 was shown to prevent endothelial cells from exhibiting a proinflammatory state. Nrf2 is required for protection against glucose-induced oxidative stress and cardiomyopathy in the heart.

Well in excess of 500 genes have been identified as being activated by SFN via the Nrf2/ARE [Antioxidant Response Element] pathway, and it is likely that this underestimates the number as others are being discovered. Of the available SFN clinical trials associated with genes induced via Nrf2 activation, many demonstrate a linear dose-response. More recently, it has become apparent that SFN can behave hormetically with different effects responsive to different doses.

It [sulforaphane] is not only a potent Nrf2 inducer but also highly bioavailable so that modest practical doses can produce significant clinical responses. Other Nrf2 activators [shown in the above image] not only lack potency but also lack the bioavailability to be considered as significant intracellular Nrf2 activators.”


The study’s most relentlessly questioned, scrutinized, and criticized findings may be the two new epigenetic clocks that apply to both humans and rats. The researchers invited other researchers to validate these clocks because:

“If validated, this would be a step change in aging research. Although conservation of aging mechanism could be equally deduced from the existence of multiple individual clocks for other mammals (mouse, dog), the single formula of the human-rat clock that is equally applicable to both species effectively demonstrates this fact.”

The commonalities of this study with efforts to change my inflammatory phenotype with broccoli sprouts were summarized in the Discussion section:

“Apart from rejuvenating the vital organs of the treated rats, plasma fraction also impacted two fundamental physiological processes that underlie a great number of pathologies, namely oxidative stress and inflammation. Within a week of treatment, the markers of chronic inflammation (IL-6 and TNF-α) were significantly reduced and remained low throughout the entire experiment.

Likewise, markers of oxidative stress in brain, heart, lung and liver, which were very much higher in control old rats, were at the end of the experimental period, indistinguishable between plasma fraction-treated old rats and young ones. Concomitant with this drastic reduction in oxidative stress was the augmented levels of antioxidants (GSH, Catalase and SOD) in these tissues, indicating that modulating the levels of ROS [reactive oxygen species] to that of youthful rats is at least one way by which plasma fraction suppresses oxidative stress. It remains to be ascertained whether the rate of ROS generation is also reduced.

The levels of Nrf2, a transcription factor that impacts on oxidative stress, as well as inflammation, were raised by plasma fraction treatment of old rats to those of the young ones, indicating yet another level by which this treatment modulates these two critical processes. Collectively, these results show that plasma fraction treatment impacts not only the overt performances of organs, but also the underlying physiological processes that are pivotal for optimal organ function and health.”

Great stuff, huh? Are you ready to change your phenotype?

Continued with Part 2 of Rejuvenation therapy and sulforaphane.

I’m kind of asleep right now

This should stay up on YouTube for a while since it uses satire. If it used informed opinions like:

YouTube would censor it.

“I’ll stay at home for the rest of my life if they tell me to. Who knows how to make the best choices for my health and my life? Definitely not me.

The last thing you want is for people to have the freedom to make their own choices and then experience the consequences of their choices.

This new scientific data is irrelevant to me. I already made up my mind when I was the most frightened, and I’m going to keep on believing what makes me the most frightened. Because it’s more congruent to my being that way.

The more scared I am, the more obedient I am.

Yes, I would like a mandatory vaccine. Sometimes the best medicine is like the best sex: non-consensual. They work on the same premise.

It’s pretty well proven that being proactive and taking care of your health won’t keep you healthy. Our only hope is in the pharmaceutical companies protecting us. They have a very good track record of never harming anyone.

I’d like two microchips please. Just to keep me extra safe. Or maybe we should just do a baby step, and use a mandatory tracking app on our phone to keep us safe and then go to the microchips.”

 

It was known to everybody that the lockdown would cause a catastrophe

To follow up If people don’t stand up for their rights, their rights will be forgotten which YouTube has taken down, here are excerpts from a subsequent interview which YouTube has also taken down:

“If you don’t present bad news, that’s not good news for the media.

On April 17, the Director of the CDC presented at the Presidential Briefing, this graph. Its a count of hospitals reporting some sort of symptom that might be influenza. If the number of people who show up at the hospital peaked around March 18th, that means the number of infections peaked around March 8th.

People don’t go to the hospital for their first symptoms. They give it three or four days, and if it doesn’t get better, then they go to the hospital.

If infections peaked around March 8th, then shutting down schools and the economy ten days later is totally absurd. Shutting down the economy ten days after the curve had already turned down is heartless.

New York hospitals were not overflowing. They were laying off people. 500 sick people is a drop in the bucket for the New York City hospital system.

It may have been unfortunate for the patients that there were so many respirators. That’s a different story.

Double-checking never happened with these models. You’re never off by orders of magnitude. You’re off by 10, 20, 30%. [The Imperial College model for UK deaths from COVID-19 changed from 510,000 to 20,000 IIRC] That was more than two orders of magnitude.

It was known to everybody that the lockdown would cause a catastrophe.

Isolating the nursing homes would have been the thing that would have prevented deaths, and would have prevented hospitals from becoming overloaded. Not letting children and young adults from becoming infected and developing immunity would not prevent the load on hospitals.

You don’t need to do anything to prevent a respiratory disease from running. What you should do – and what was not done in the United States – was to protect the elderly. From the experience in Italy, we already knew that the vast majority of people who died were people in their seventies, eighties, nineties, who had comorbidities.

We also had that in Seattle, people with comorbidities died in nursing homes. At that point in time, one should have isolated at least the nursing homes.

To isolate the children, who are not at risk, and put those at risk at risk, is a catastrophe. It’s a human catastrophe that should have never, ever, happened.

I don’t know where the government finds these so-called experts who don’t understand the very basics about epidemiology.

I have never heard of him and never read any publications on epidemiology by Bill Gates but maybe I overlooked some of his qualifications.

I don’t understand this mantra that ‘We will never go back to normal.’ Why not? The virus is gone. Let’s go back and have a life.

If people would be more active. If they would take part in political decisions. If they would be more awake. If they would fight for their democratic rights. This would never have happened.

It’s a failure of the people to take control of the government, and let the government take control of them.”


The Professor misunderstood the United States form of government. As a general principle, the federal government doesn’t order the states to do such and such.

The state of Florida, for example, did exactly what the Professor suggested, “protect the elderly.” Other states didn’t, like Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and especially New York. Don’t know why those states’ residents don’t demand responsibility and accountability.

The Professor didn’t adequately present aspects of human behavior. For example, he cited a CDC chart of a drop in hospital reporting of influenza-like symptoms for his arguments without also citing the media frenzy to scare people away from hospitals for fear that they would catch COVID-19. So of course there were fewer instances of influenza-like symptoms reported by hospitals.

He also said “The virus is gone” but that statement had qualifications. Parts of this interview misplaced their relevant contexts.

We believe what we need to believe

While getting ready for bed tonight, I mused about how my younger brother had such an idealized postmortem view of our father. As he expressed six years ago in an obituary for our high school Literature teacher:

“I’ll remember my favorite teacher and how much he’s meant to my life. My father and Martin Obrentz were the two people who made me care about the things that make me the person I am today.”

Believe what you need to believe, David. But like I said five years ago in Reflections on my four-year anniversary of spine surgery:

“I don’t remember that my three siblings ever received a paddling or belting, although they were spanked. Even before he retired, 17 years before he died, the Miami-Dade County public school system stopped him and the rest of their employees from spanking, whipping, beating, and paddling children.”


It’s extremely important for a child to have a witness to their adverse childhood experiences. Otherwise, it’s crazy-making when these aren’t acknowledged as truths by anyone else. Especially by those who saw but disavow what they saw.

It didn’t really drum into my conscious awareness until tonight that I had such a witness. It wasn’t my mother, of course, since she directed most of my being whipped with a belt, and beaten with a paddle that had holes in it to produce welts. She has denied and deflected my experiences ever since then.

It wasn’t my siblings, regrettably for all of us. It wasn’t our Miami neighbors.

When I was twenty, I ran across a guy 300 miles north in Gainesville, Florida, named David Eisenberg, if I remember correctly. A couple of weeks after we met, he asked if my father was Fred Rice, Dean of Boys, West Miami Junior High School. He said he had been beaten by my father several times.

Those weren’t early childhood memories like mine. Those were experiences of a young man 12-15 years old during grades 7-9 that he remembered more than a decade later.

I was shocked. It came at a time when I wasn’t ready to face facts about my life, though. I needed fantasies, beliefs to smother what I felt.


I don’t expect that the impacts of my childhood experiences will ever go away. After three years of Primal Therapy that ended a decade ago, at least mine don’t completely control my life anymore.

Dr. Arthur Janov put self-narratives of several patients’ experiences into his May 2016 book Beyond Belief which I partially curated in February 2017. It was partial because I couldn’t read much past Frank’s horrendous story in pages 89 – 105, “The Myth of a Happy Childhood.”