DNRS by Annie Hopper
(Dynamic Neural Retraining System) Review & Criticism

" Dated, thin in original content and there are better options on the market available. Save yourself the money."

-Angie (Purchased DNRS July 2020)

IntroA summary of treating chronic pain via the Biopsychosocial Approach.A side by side comparison with another similar program, CurableThe Placebo Effect is Great Business
Free resources & info. Create your own "Brain Retraining" Program. You DON'T need DNRS
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13 minute Read

"Dynamic Neural Retraining System" is Just fancy Jargon for some health improvement strategies that you are probably Already familiar with. Hint: Placebo Effect and Mindfulness

what it is

DNRS is course designed for chronic pain, fatigue and chemical/environmental/food sensitivity sufferers* for whom physical causes have been ruled out by MD’s. Prices starts at $249.95 USD. The company is based in Victoria BC. Canada. https://retrainingthebrain.com/

reason for the rating

The program itself feels like one big infomercial for a psychological distress management strategy that can be explained in a more compact way. There is enough useful information, but it feels padded, and the presentation dated looking.

Apps such as Curable Health and Pathways offer the same type of treatment support, but are more tech-savvy and engaging. All for less than half the price of DNRS, and a better return policy.

For people with a history of trauma or abuse that complicates their pain or phobias, these types of programs will still be helpful, though not likely sufficient. Studies show that 73% of chronic pain sufferer fall into this category. For extra help, you don't necessary need a therapist affiliated with DNRS, just someone who is a good fit for you.

DNRS is different in that it also addresses chemical and food sensitives whereas Curable and Pathways focuses only on pain. However, the cause and treatment method is identical.

I did ask for an early refund, which they gave to me, but was required to pay a 15% admin fee, which is almost the full price of some of the better options out there, so the whole experience was a waste of time and money.

If you have been recommend this by a health practitioner...

I contacted Pain BC, one of the leading resources providers for pain sufferers and physicians in the province and asked if they had ever heard of DNRS. The answer was no.

It claims to be based on neuroscience, yet this Yale neurologist here debunks DNRS: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/dynamic-neural-retraining/

I watched all of their instructional lessons, and only did the “program” for one month. My review here will go over why that was ample time to for me give a useful, thorough assessment.

This Review Covers:

  • My background

  • A summary of treating chronic pain via the Biopsychosocial Approach.

  • A side by side comparison with another similar program, Curable

  • The Placebo Effect is Great Business

  • Free resources and information. Create Your Own "Brain Retraining" Program. You DON'T need DNRS

My Background

I had a bike accident about 7 years ago and injured my right arm.  After I healed physically, I still experienced lingering pain, though all tests came back normal. It affected my ability to work, though for the most part now, I'm back to normal. Basically, I was diagnosed with phantom limb syndrome of sorts. This article is about the strategy that aided my recovery (though I'm not 100% pain-free), and my realization that some people may be sucked into paying more than they need to for this treatment. According to the experts, I fit the profile of a person who suffers from chronic pain: perfectionistic, tendency towards depression and anxiety and not so great at practicing self-care, etc., so if you are like me, you might find the info here helpful.

The program was recommended to me by a Medical Doctor in Vancouver. I was not necessarily impressed by the information on the website prior to my purchase, but only went ahead because of the MD’s recommendation and that the program claimed to be “different”. It also offered a refund, if there was no improvement after 6 months of use.

But after starting the program and going through most of the information, I concluded that it was pretty much a lesser version of another program I was using, and finding helpful, but I didn't inform the specialist at the time, hence the cross over.

A summary of treating chronic pain via the Biopsychosocial Approach.

Pain, Phobias, and Chemical/Environmental Sensitives can be caused by a brain that is over-reacting to a threat that is not there. It is an evolutionary protective mechanism that is misfiring. This is what DNRS calls “Limbic Impairment”, which is basically a “Fight or Flight" fear response that is stuck in the fear mode.

In recent years, a biopsychosocial approach has emerged as an effective treatment. (more info about it here.)

fear response causing pain
Relax, there's no wild animal chasing you.

To Break the Cycle of pain You need:

  • Education about how the brain works.

  • Faith that healing is possible. Success-story testimonials are motivating.

  • Daily, repeated long-term practice of telling yourself that your brain can respond differently to stimuli. That you are in fact, safe and not in danger.

  • Regular, non tech, mental exercises that help you make different associations

  • Understanding that emotional distress and ineffective coping strategies can cause pain. Addressing these emotional issues with a counsellor who is a good fit, or taking time to express your grievances, fears and sadness in diary will help you on your path to healing.

  • Healthy diet and exercise.

  • Opportunities to relax, have fun, experience joy

This list of things you need to do is what Annie Hopper calls the “Dynamic Neural Retraining System."

New, but not new. More info About this Approach to Healing:

buddha meditating
People who meditate regularly can actually see changes in their brain scans.
  • Biopsychosocial programs have been practiced with success in the many prestigious pain clinics around the word. It’s not complicated and does not necessarily require any high tech. But commitment and repetition are paramount.

  • It shares commonalities with mindfulness meditation and prayer, which has been around for thousands of years.

  • Good counsellors, therapists and doctors world-wide have always known that emotional distress can manifest as physical pain, phobias and environmental overreactions.

  • Artists, poets, playwrights, and writers have been creating works about the human condition since the beginning of time, and have always understood and observed the concept of mind/body connections. (the heartbroken person with no appetite and whose hair goes grey, etc.) What makes a good story is portraying people as being both capable of change, and also stubbornly resisting. “Neuroplasticity” is fancy science talk, but it’s observation in practice is nothing new.

  • Medicine over the past few decades has been coming around to the understanding that pain is an “opinion” that comes from the brain. Sometimes it’s caused by real physical damage, other times, it is not. “Holistic” treatments, sans quackery are becoming mainstream.

A Comparison of DNRS with Curable Health App

*I am not affiliated with Curable Health in Anyway.

DNRS

An online program accessed via web browser. You can view everything on mobile, but some features aren't necessarily designed for mobile.

Curable Health App

An app you install on your phone, also accessible on desktop

product pitch

Lots of scientific jargon and buzzwords, which can either read as impressive or scammy, depending your intrepretation.

Sells this as a cure for chemical sensitives and others, as well as pain.

Very infomercial, MLM marketing like.

Explains that this approach is different from more conventional pain treatments, but states on their website that it’s a  translation of an approach that has worked elsewhere.

Sells this as a cure for chronic pain only

There is some hype.

Visual and technical user experience

Early aughts throwback style. Videos/graphics and user interface is dated. For those who like things at a snappier pace, some of the longer videos come across as longwinded.

Videos require a lot of bandwidth, and the player itself is hard to navigate on a small screen, so best to use this on a desktop

Play everything on your phone. Launched in 2016. Up-to-date, nice to look at. Nothing too special though. They break up their material into bite-size chunks and leverage technology to make the experience more engaging

Content includes

  • Education

  • Videos featuring Annie speaking to group or to the camera. Looks it was recorded on on of her education seminars. Goes through many topics in detail.

  • Meditation/Music

  • Writing Exercise, Exploring Inner Self

  • Brain Training Exercises

  • Emmbeded YouTube videos related to the topic. Not a great consumer experience to pay for the privilege of watching stuff that’s freely available. Also, if they do not have licensing rights, it is in violation of copyright laws to insert it in the paid portion. Read Ted Talk Policy

  • A lot of video testimonials. This is a big part of what make the whole program feel like a big infomercial, and not valuable content in itself.

  • Course requires you to do it in sequence. You cannot move to the next without hitting "completed".

  • Education

  • Ai Robot “Clara” guides you through lessons. Audio clips from the makers of the program and various guests. All audio and visual components are concise.The app remembers where you last played.

  • Meditation/Music

  • Writing Exercise, Exploring Inner Self

  • Brain Training Exercises

  • All original content with their own video animation and graphics that are used to explain various concepts.

  • Panic button exercises if you are experiencing a freakout moment

  • Testimonials are on their website (access for free). They don’t consider the Testimonials as part of their program, which it shouldn't be

  • The app adjusts to your preferences, so you do it on your own customized sequence.

Cost & refund policy

$249 USD per year

6 months return policy

No Free Option

There is Annie's book as well, for an additional $20. ( No refund on book)

$120 USD per year

(currently half price because of Covid 19)

30 days return policy

Free subscription with limited features

Recommendations

Recommendations by MD's.

Also by naturopaths who sometimes claim the "doctor" title, but don’t bother to make a distinction that they aren’t MD’s.

I think some credibility is loss if you are trying sell a product based on science, but science has debunked or challenged the claims of the practitioners promoting your product. Some articles about the problem with naturopathy:

National Post Article

Medium.com Article

All professionals quoted on the site are MD's or are in professions that have not been accused of quackery.

As stated in one of the articles to the left, what Naturopaths offer, that is lacking in medical doctors, is kind of “emotional support”.  MD's are not necessarily better, but the failings of MD’s shouldn’t be an excuse to peddle solutions that simply don’t work.

Some MD's also peddle woo. But none listed here do.

other support

Online support group

Trained counsellers (additional fees)

Online support group

Bootcamp available (additional fees)

Summary

I do believe that Annie is sincere in wanting to help people, and clearly she likes giving lectures and sharing what she knows. For people who don’t like to use apps or just prefer to sit back and watch a real person give a talk, then Annie’ style might be right for them.

However, it's way overpriced for the value delivered and they should change their refund policy to 30 days, not 6 months.

As a basic DIY program, Curable succeeds. There is not much info about the "bio" part of healing, but overall they've been careful not to come across as overreaching, though, what they offer is basically a mindfulness practice with pain education, but with pro graphics and good marketing.

Their refund policy is good and it's priced fairly, though you could complete everything in only a few months.

General note

In reality, these "programs" are just education and support systems that pull together information that is already out there. They give you the structure to succeed in implementing the strategies. They are proprietary in execution, not in content. But they are helpful. For me, I found vast improvement, but not a solid cure. 95% of the time I'm able to function without pain, which I'm happy enough with, though I wish it would be 100%.

Though I was already familiar with these concepts prior to using Curable, I liked having the app installed on my phone, as it gave me a "security blanket" type of feeling and made daily practicing easier.

Realistically, a number of people won't have success, or only partial success in curing what ails them via this method. If you have longstanding childhood trauma and abuse, these types of programs have their limits. As well, there are probably still physical explanations that remain unknown. Solving human suffering on multiple levels is just challenging in general, and nobody’s found a magic bullet. And no one should expect a magic bullet. It’s irresponsible to suggest so. So this treatment model is just one more available option.

The Placebo Effect is Great Business

Two Problems within the "healing" industry

1. People wanting to claim authority and possession of 'secret knowledge". ( The Power Seekers )

2. People who want easy answers to complex problems and don't want change or put in any hard work. ( The Sheep)

So long as these two exist, there will always be a lucrative market for products that are placebo effects. Though the world "placebo" has gotten a bad rap. It implies that a product doesn't work. But that's not what it really means. It simply means that many human ailments are rooted in a stress response that physically alters the body. By relaxing the stress response, the body can naturally repair what is repairable. There is nothing anti-conventional medicine about this, nor is there anything revolutionarily scientific about it. Businesses hijack this idea to support their claims either way.

jesus talking to followers marketing
The original hyped-up marketing

In a highly competitive marketplace, hyperbolic marketing strategies will always exist, so that's why insightful consumer reviews are essential to helping businesses operate with more integrity and improve their products, and to help others navigate the smorgasbord of options.

Here's that cliche joke about alternative medicine:

What do you call alternative medicine that actually works? Medicine.

From this perspective, both DNRS and Curable are actually programs that teach you how the placebo effect works. The value lies in the structured content they provide.

" I don't care how it works, so long as it does" - Says everyone cured by the placebo effect

Everyone says you need to do this for every type of ailment, but it's hard work:

  • Healthy Diet and Exercise

  • Change the way you relate to yourself and the world. (Most helpful if you have a good therapist)

But in practice, a lot of things in the world also need to change for us to all fully flourish, such as improving childcare, changing business practices that harm people and the environment, creating better social safety nets, restructuring our cultural values, and so on. "The Placebo Effect" type solutions are proposed in every field. But that would be another topic on its own.

Free Information & Resources

Create your own "Brain Retraining" Program

So, if you are suffering from health issues, and exploring what your options are, this compilation might be helpful. These are way better resources similar to what's in DNRS.

About Neuroplastcity

Some snippets of info about the brain, and how rewiring is possible.

Basic Brain Training Exercises Paradigm

I actually thought  DNRS would be a complete collection of many exercises like these that were customized specifically for pain. Both DNRS and Curable provide guidance on how you can change your associations of pain/negative stimuli with more neutral or positive connections, but have not created such games. (But that would be a great idea).

The "Stroop Effect" (as shown in the videos) is the brain's natural tendency to associate x with y, based on past development. It's possible to make new associations, but it takes repeated practice.

The Stroop Effect is similar to "Implicit Bias", and is a concept that in recent years has been used to describe how racism, sexism, ageism and other "isms" operate. Our understanding of how to combat discrimination now factors in this type of subconscious brain response, as evidence shows that simply changing laws don't necessary lead to people behaving in more egalitarian ways. You can take Harvard's implicit bias test here. So understanding this concept is helpful for more than just pain management. It's just simply a fact of how the brain works.

How to reframe your pain/phobia- Graphics

You can use this Wizard of Oz metaphor for how you can "retrain" your brain. I created this for myself and find it an easy to remember reference. Your pain is the witch that melts with a splash of water. Your healing and place of safety, accessible by clicking your heels. So every time you are tempted to fixate on your pain, remember:

wizard of oz path to healing
This is the OZ version of the healing paradigm of DNRS and Curable.

practice 1

If your pain is raging or your body reacting to food/stimuli in an anxiety provoking way:

Imagining clicking your heels and saying
"There's No Place Like Home"

and view home as your emotional safe refuge. This is the idea behind the concept that you have within yourself the ability to soothe your negative emotions surrounding pain.

practice 2

Imagine your pain and sensitivities as an ice cream cone that can easily melt away:

You silly pain, you can't hurt me!

I am safe.

I am safe.

I am safe!

off the beaten path pain recovery

practice 3

Imagine two paths diverging. One paved already, your usual route, and another you haven't treaded before, which represents the understanding that your pain sensation is just a quirk of evolution. This is the path you want to take. Say to yourself:

" I will take a different path, and be set free!"

This is the basic gist of "neural dynamic brain training/rewiring". You need to practice this regularly.

Free Meditation/ music Resources

Of course, no program on pain and stress reduction is complete without some kind of meditation and soothing music.

For mindfulness meditation apps, here's a good article on some free options:

Free desktop options:

However, I would suggest that any type of music you like would be helpful in reducing your pain and emotional suffering.

According to pain specialist Ingrid Federoff, people who feel a sense of injustice following a car accident are more likely to experience chronic pain vs those who do not. This insight was helpful to me. https://wwdpi.thinkific.com/courses

Music, since the beginning of human history, has been one of the greatest sources of comfort and upliftment in the face of injustice. The Irish, oppressed by the English, African slaves brutalized by their white slave masters, and many more, leave behind a legacy of music that originates from this pain. Heartbreak, grief, loneliness and also joy and fun, are expressed by music in a way that transcends spoken or written words. Music of all genres, by connecting us with others, can help put things in perspective and soften the rage you feel.

Free therapy & Journaling apps

Pain is not fun and neither is the accompanying glut of frazzled thoughts. There are probably ways you can reframe a situation to ease your agony. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one such tool. Lots of apps out there, but Anxiety Canada offers a free one: https://www.anxietycanada.com

Journaling helps. You can use this free app to record your thoughts: https://jour.com/

Or even Better, Use a voice to text app to journal:

Talking is less work than writing, so learn how to convert voice to text. You can use MS Word or similar.

Comedy

"The Stroop Effect" in comedy. Watch and see if you can laugh and be aware of pain at the same time (it's hard).

Affordable therapist

Nothing beats one-on-one therapy with another human being who is there to listen to your story. Publicly funded or volunteer based counselling might be available or on a sliding scale, but typically, sessions are limited and you probably won't get a chance to dig deep enough to untangle most of your emotional pain triggers. Support groups can be helpful, but aren't for everyone.

If you don't have extended health benefit coverage or have maxed it out, reprioritizing so that you can afford to see a therapist is probably one of the most loving things you can do for yourself. It will take time to find a good fit, and don't expect a perfect saviour. You can find some lower cost options at www.e-counseling.com

Exercise & Healthy eating

https://makeyourbodywork.com/how-to-exercise-at-home/

https://the-fit-foodie.com/

Not just these, there are tons on online info on exercise and food. Getter better means eating healthier and moving more. No way around this.

MOre Videos

These are some of the freely available videos you can find in the DNRS program.

Some end notes:

* A partial list of disorders that DNRS claims can cure: MultipleChemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain,Food Sensitivities, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Irritable BowelSyndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Lyme Disease,Chronic/Latent Infections, Environmental Allergies and Others.

Here's a scathing review of DNRS. I agree with it, though in my review, I've set the tone differently.

The best way to get a refund for anything you've bought online is by contacting your credit card company. This is what I did. I said their website was misleading, and that they are selling a product that might be in violation of copyrightla ws. Just didn't see the point of "doing" their "program" for 6 months when I already had a better, similar program on hand.

Conclusion: I Don't Recommend DNRS

DNRS does offer information on how to overcome/reduce pain and sensitivities that originate from an exaggerated fight or flight responses. However, there are savvier resources available that you would probably enjoy more. Just remember that in all honest self-help programs, there really is no magical OZ, but rather, just good witches who can show you the power that you already have. Good luck with getting better, and becoming more informed!

Questions? Feedback? You can email me at smartselfhealing@gmail.com

This page was created with the sole intent of provide useful information for others. I'm not affliated in anyway with any of the recommendations here.