How In-­Utero & Childhood Environments Lead to Mineral Imbalance and Psychological Disorders in Adults


by Rick Fischer C.H.H.C., h.T.M.A.P.


As parents we want the best for our children -­ raising them healthy, self-­aware, confident, feeling worthy, and raised in an environment that instills every possibility for their own future success. Often this includes not having them repeat the same hard mistakes we as adults have made. Our words, love, encouragement and lessons in life all can help in this endeavor. However, there are at least two deeper undercurrents than run in all of us that can so easily sabotage even the most dedicated efforts of parents. Beliefs, and mineral patterns. That's right, mineral patterns. As we'll examine in this article, beliefs can literally alter mineral levels in the body, while mineral levels can have a profound effect on how one views the world and, consequently, one's beliefs.

What happens between parents in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but what happens in childhood might stay with that child for life. Children are imitators, they often learn by copying what they see others doing around them, especially their parents. In those early formative years, from age 0 to 7, children are like sponges, absorbing things that as adults we might not even realize we say or do. The interaction they see between mommy and daddy, their exploration of the world around them, the messages they receive, and their own interpretation of those messages, create their beliefs. Some are empowering, some are disempowering. Sometimes, when the message is so disempowering (or traumatic), the child creates coping mechanisms to bury the emotional pain. (As we'll get into later in this article, or as I also discussed in this video interview, this can show up in the person's mineral pattern). These mechanisms can remain with the person for life, subconsciously keeping the individual from a life more fulfilled.

Before we delve into the all­‐important mineral connection, let's look at some innocent situations that can create disempowering beliefs in a child.

Situation 1: A child is learning to tie his shoelaces as he and mommy are about to go somewhere. In a rush to leave, mommy innocently says "here I'll do it for you." Through this, the child picks up a belief that he's not good enough to do things himself.

Situation 2: Daddy was never around as the child grew up. As a toddler's world revolves only around herself, the little girl grows up feeling she's not fully lovable (I'm not good enough for daddy to love me, that's why he's never around); or abandoned, or believing that important men will always leave her (as her daddy did). She then grows up with an underlying fear of abandonment, following in her mom's footsteps as a single mom, abandoning anyone who comes too close before they might abandon her.

Situation 3: Every time the child cries or asks a question, the parents shhh the child. The child grows up feeling his or her voice isn't important, and is afraid to ask for what s/he wants.

As parents it's so important to be aware of these potential incidences, and counter any innocent mis-­step with immediate positive reinforcement. This positive reinforcement (and challenging any negative beliefs the child may verbalize) is so vital in these early developmental years. Otherwise, the child unconsciously searches for evidence to back up the disempowering belief, and the more evidence it gathers, the more the belief becomes ingrained. (The same of course goes for empowering beliefs). Just as a child will want to do something again for which it's rewarded, the child will seek to avoid any future experiences that will lead to the negative emotional pain it felt during the disempowering moment. It's easier for a child to accept (and adopt) the negative repressive belief than it is to not understand why something happened, and thus the negative belief is so easily adopted.

Now let's fast forward to adulthood. With enough supportive and empowering guidance during childhood, the adult now has the tools to question his or her environment and thoughts. Limiting (or difficult) patterns may begin appearing in life (such as in finances, relationships, health, etc), but with enough awareness, reflection and searching, often the underlying cause of these patterns can be traced back to their origin, worked through, and resolved. But what happens if the awareness isn't there -­ or disappears?

The awareness behind certain decisions and actions can become numbed when stress or pain (physical, mental, emotional, or a combination thereof) becomes too much to tolerate. To understand this dynamic, one needs to understand the interrelationship minerals have with each other and the relationship those minerals have with stress. This work and understanding is based on the foundational work and research of Dr. Hans Selye (acknowledged as the 'Father' in the field of stress research); Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D. (physician, biochemist, founder of orthomolecular psychiatry, and who did some of the most important early research in the fields of schizophrenia and trace metals), Dr. Paul Eck and Dr. David Watts who's life works revolved around the establishment and utilization of HTMA to better understand mineral patterns and ratios and their corresponding health effects both physically and psychologically), and Dr. Rick Malter, Ph.D (nutritionist and child psychologist who for over 40 years through the use of HTMA data has further developed the understanding of how copper and other minerals affect one's psychology).

As stress increases, mineral levels within the body are affected. For example, stress will increase sodium, calcium and copper while decreasing magnesium. While physically a high ratio of calcium relative to magnesium can lead to muscle tightness and spasms, unstable blood sugar, and increased risk of heart attack, psychologically this high Ca/Mg ratio increases addictive behavior and cravings, increased risk of alcoholism, and co-­dependency in relationships. In fact, a high Ca/Mg ratio, especially when seen along with a high sodium to potassium ratio (which we'll look at next), is a common pattern seen in addicts and alcoholics as well as in their co-­dependent partners who stay with, or return, to their abusive partners.

Sodium is the primary stress mineral, and as stress rises, the ratio of sodium over potassium becomes greater. As this Na/K ratio increases, it not only 'burns' magnesium leading to an even higher Ca/Mg ratio and more of the aforementioned symptoms, it also intensifies anxiety, fear, depression, low self esteem, entitlement, loss of emotional control, agitation to the slightest irritation, fight or flight, and denial. It also increases the person's "Judge" (inner tyrant) while shrinking the person's "inner child" (true self)(1). The rise in these negative feelings and loss of emotional control will lead to a need to numb feelings. Sometimes the person will turn to an external method such as alcohol or addiction. Alternatively, the body's own natural defense might kick in naturally and numb the person before they even become aware of what's happened to them. This natural defense is called the 'Calcium Shell'.

The calcium shell is a high level of tissue calcium that accumulates as the body's ultimate defense against stress. This calcium level, along with the aforementioned ratios, can easily be spotted on a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis test/profile. The calcium shell serves to block feelings, deaden emotions, and diminish awareness so that the person does not have to 'deal' with some underlying pain or stressor that led to the calcium shell formation in the first place.

In alcoholic or other dysfunctional families, there seems to be a strong tendency for a child to develop a calcium "shell" as a natural self-­‐protective mechanism which helps to constantly deaden feelings of vulnerability and anxiety. ...By adversely affecting glucose metabolism, the high Ca/Mg ratio also tends to predispose the individual to a higher risk of alcoholism or other addictions. Thus, TMA profiles allow us to observe and explain how psychological stress within a dysfunctional family can affect critical mineral patterns which then increase the person's risk to repeat the addictive and dysfunctional behavior. Over an extended period of time from childhood to adolescence, a high Ca/Mg ratio may become chronic and entrenched. Psychologically, a chronic high Ca/Mg ratio tends to be associated with denial or covering up a problem with which the individual cannot or will not deal.
~ The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Volume 9, Number 2, 1994

In the past half century the increasing use of birth control has had a silent yet profound effect on the psychological health of the population. By way of increasing estrogen, copper retention in the female body is increased. Copper, as it rises to bio-unavailable levels, further increases stress, while lowering magnesium and increasing calcium (leading again to a greater tendency toward the high Ca/Mg traits previously mentioned). The use of copper IUDs and vegetarian diets have a similar effect -­ both directly raising the copper level in the body. When copper in a bio-­unavailable form becomes too great in the body, it overloads the liver leading to adrenal fatigue and eventually impacts neurotransmitter balances in the brain, leading to a variety of psychological conditions including depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, and with the calcium shell, a sense of apathy and detachment. (Perhaps this offers a clue as to why statistical rates of conditions such as depression and ADHD have been rising consistently over the past few decades). What mothers need to be aware of, even if they themselves are not aware of exhibiting obvious symptoms, is that copper (and toxic metals too) gets passed down in-­utero via the placenta to their fetus, and their child then begins life with an elevated copper level (and/or toxic metal level), and is thus pre-­disposed to an increased risk for mental and physical health concerns as they grow up. In fact, 60 years ago the world's population as a whole had far lower levels of tissue calcium and copper in their bodies than they do today. With each new generation this copper 'toxicity' problem becomes worse and as a result children are becoming more and more predisposed to conditions such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, bi-­polar reactions, adrenal disorders (as excess copper weakens the adrenals(2)), liver problems, and other psychological disorders. In fact, high copper levels break down histamine, and this high copper low‐histamine trait is found in over half of all schizophrenics. Behavioral symptoms in high-­copper histapenia include paranoia and hallucinations in younger patients, but depression may predominate in older patients.(3)

To illustrate one example of how powerfully a simple mineral can both affect as well as treat a person: An 18-­year old schizophrenic patient had a hair copper level of 41 mg% (normal is 2.5 mg%). She hallucinated and attempted suicide twice while in the Scottsdale Camelback Mental Hospital in Arizona. When her copper was brought back into the normal range with a nutritional balancing program, her symptoms disappeared and she has remained well ever since. [~Dr. Malter]

Another example of how mineral balancing can affect personality is the case of a 9 year old boy exhibiting extreme ADHD symptoms. He was a 'fast oxidizer' with a very low sodium level relative to potassium (a trademark commonly found in ADHD children) along with excessive levels of heavy metals and a high level of latent (hidden) copper. Over a roughly seven month period under the careful monitoring through HTMA and nutritional balancing (by Dr. Rick Malter, Ph.D), his copper dropped to near normal, the heavy metals were eliminated, and his sodium and potassium came back into better balance. The result -­ the child's behavior improved dramatically, with a substantial decrease in hyperactivity.

These examples show how the simple adjustment of mineral levels can profoundly affect one's personality.

As parents it's so important to understand the effect that copper (and other minerals and metals as well) have on children, detect any imbalances in childhood, and correct such imbalances naturally before the 'medical system' places them on anti-­depressants, stimulants, and other dangerous psychotropic drugs. Likewise, as a mother-to-be, it's important to understand your own nutrient imbalances before getting pregnant. Prenatal nutrient care is most important prior to pregnancy, plus of course during the first trimester since this when the organs and tissues of the fetus are laid down and nutrient levels play a huge part in healthy development.  HTMA is the best lab test to detect such imbalances. If the mother-to-be has excessive levels of toxic metals or copper, it would be wise to detox these toxins prior to pregnancy so as not to pass them down to her child.  That said, almost all children today are being born with some level of nutrient deficiencies and toxic excesses.  Correction of these inherited imbalances is easier to do in childhood. Left undetected, the imbalances can get worse. Specific to copper, if you live in a home with copper piping and your child is drinking tap water, this will lead to a further increase of copper. If you have a daughter, as she reaches adolescence and her estrogen rises, this will further raise her copper levels. Stress that your child experiences in childhood and adolescence will also increase copper. Left undetected, this can manifest years later in any number of conditions including adrenal burnout and / or a calcium shell which, as mentioned, numbs the person and decreases the awareness of what's happened to them.

Another thing that can happen in adulthood is the recurrence of memories associated with minerals patterns that were created earlier in life. Take for example a child with strict parents who were always scolding him, or a young girl in an early relationship with an abusive partner. Both of these situations caused the person tremendous stress, which would have created a particular stress-­induced biochemical mineral pattern. Years later, when that same mineral pattern is recreated either through stress, nutritional balancing or some other life event no matter how innocent, those painful past memories and thoughts can be triggered and brought to the surface. This is very similar to how the scent of something like homemade cookies can bring back happy memories of vacations at grandmas, or a song triggers painful memories from a past relationship. A similar thing occurs with mineral patterns, yet this trigger happens in the subconscious and the person is not aware of why they suddenly may feel a certain way.

Beliefs and emotional issues developed in childhood can not only exacerbate the extent of mineral pattern / problem, but can also block the correction the mineral imbalance. A person with a copper toxicity issue (or other extreme mineral or heavy metal imbalance) may be unaware (or unwilling) to look at what happened to them due to their calcium shell, toxic metal levels, as well as their high Na/K ratio which inflates their Judge over their Inner Child. Emotional issues can in effect block the correction of the Na/K, copper level, and other ratios (as well as override the effect of supplementation) as "the issues are imprinted in the brain and nervous system at a sub-­cortical cell and tissue level" [Malter]. In other words, mineral patterns (and numbing mechanisms) that developed in childhood from stressful events (or the child's interpretation of events) can cause a cascade of changes in the child's mineral pattern that then becomes entrenched and can last a lifetime unless detected through HTMA. 

"As an adult, if we find ourselves overreacting to stressors in our life with a heightened stress response – an argument with our spouse, a bill we weren’t expecting, a car that swerves in front of us on the highway – our inflammatory response stays on high, and this leads to physical disease and neuroinflammation, and mental health disorders. Mental and physical health disorders are a result of both the toxic stress response that developed in childhood, intertwined with our behavior — how we react to the adversity around us now - and together this becomes embedded deep into our biology. "   ~Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Inevitably as adults we create not what it is we say we want, but rather what we subconsciously believe we deserve. Let's say a woman finds the love of her life -­ something she's always consciously wanted. Or as another example, she wins the lottery. However, entrenched in her subconscious is the belief that she isn't worthy of such love, that she'll be abandoned, that she doesn't deserve to be rich, whatever the subconscious belief may be. Of course no one would consciously ever try to ruin such a relationship, or lose the lottery winnings. But the conscious doesn't run the show, the subconscious does. If the loyal & loving man of her dreams shows up yet she subconsciously believes 'men' will leave, or hurt her, because that's what her father did, she'll subconsciously create a story (or condition) to inevitably lose him. She'll eventually look for, or somehow create, evidence that supports her subconscious programming that 'it's too good to be true'. Somehow, unless brought into awareness, addressed, and healed, she will subconsciously take actions that will sabotage the relationship, or the money, or whatever the case may be. Something even as simple and good-intentioned as adopting a healthy vegetarian diet could be a subconscious way of hurting oneself by starving oneself nutritionally, building up that copper, and eventually leading to the formation of a calcium shell that, beyond the person's awareness, sabotages that person's life in some way yet aligns with some unconscious belief that was manifested in childhood.


"The intense stress of these early traumas impacts the child's neuro-endocrine system and related HTMA mineral patterns. The intense stress imprints on the mind/body system all the way down to mineral levels and ratios in the cells and tissues. The intense stress starts a cascade of changes in the child's mineral system that can last a lifetime unless the mineral patterns are detected with HTMA. That's why HTMAs are so powerful in helping an abuse victim use nutrition and lifestyle changes in her healing process." ~Dr. Malter, Ph.D.


It's my hope that all parents explore this topic further for the love and well-being of their children. It's never to late to start yourself, or your child, on a path toward better health and balance.  We cannot control how a child interprets events (even identical twins with the same DNA can interpret the exact same event in different ways, leading to completely different outcomes in their lives). However, we can control consistently giving empowering messages to our children, we can control setting good examples for them that they will want to follow, we can control the water they drink from and the balanced diet they eat growing up, we can choose to proactively investigate their mineral levels through HTMA when they are young and adjust through diet and nutritional balancing to give them the greatest chances for optimum mental and physical health as they mature; and we can choose as adults to incorporate relaxation techniques and lessen the stress in our own lives, to explore our own emotional healing, to investigate our own mineral levels and ratios to better understand how they may be affecting our own thoughts and actions, and to do all we can to shrink our 'Judge' (through balancing Mg, Na, Cu, K, and Ca especially) and rediscover our own Inner child -­ our true self.



1 The concept of the Judge is taken from the work of Dr. Rick Malter Ph.D. and his book Shrinking the Judge: Freeing the Inner Child. The Judge is the negative voice, the ego not willing to reason, the 'inner tyrant' that disempowers and criticizes. The Inner Child is the part of our consciousness that is playful, innocent, open, uncomplicated, and connected to our higher self, truth.

2 As adrenals weaken due to rising copper and stress, ceruloplasmin (Cp) production declines. Cp is a carrier protein that binds to copper to make it bioavailable. The weaker the adrenals, the less Cp is produced, and the more copper becomes bio-­‐unavailable, raising the level of stress on the body, and exacerbating a vicious cycle.



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