[asa] Body to Mind and Mind to Body effects

From: Dave Wallace <wdwllace@sympatico.ca>
Date: Sun May 06 2007 - 13:38:08 EDT

Randy Isaac wrote:
  It reminds me of one of the talks given at the 2004 ASA
> annual meeting on faith and healing. The talk described the health
> benefits of faith. But in response to a question after the talk,
> admitted that these benefits were independent of the objective existence
> of the object of that faith.

In the Christian milieu we are very suspicious of Mind to Body effects
especially when the mind is in some way calling upon a higher power for
help. Typically and rightly so in my mind we stay far away from that.
But in some cases I accept that there are very real effects that do not
necessarily rely on God and that possibly we would do well to find ways
to appropriate. Western medicine is also not good at dealing with
effects that go either way at least that has been my experience.
Somehow modern science is not very good at quantifying such interactions
and thus for some, at least if you can't really quantify it, maybe it
does not really exist. Of course just like testing complex software
systems, it is very often hard to know what you are really testing or
where the real problem is when dealing with humans.

During and prior to my school years, I had asthma seriously enough to
pass out from lack of oxygen or to be unable to get out of a chair but
it was essentially never treated at a so called "Christian" Boarding
school (SIM) as those in charge said that there was no physical basis
for asthma and that it was all a mental disease and a cry for attention.
Even the odd time a doctor saw me the house parents (if you can call
them that, we the ex-inmates use, much less polite terms) refused
treatment. In fact once frost came, and I naturally got better without
ragweed around, they sadistically assigned me to clean two flights of
stairs weekly, using a feather duster and dustpan, not good for someone
with off the scale reactions to dust mites. Quite a number of years
later, while sitting waiting for my son to get patched up after a small
ski accident, I was reading in the emergency waiting room, that in fact
the mind can only have very limited impact on asthma and that typically
the effects go much more from the body to the mind creating fear,
depression, thoughts of suicide, lack of being loved and uncertainty.

I certainly well know that my mental state can make an attack worse but
also that the body condition effects brain state and general mental
health to a great extent. By the way in this note I am not trying to
reopen the child abuse thread, although I do plan a response there that
I have been thinking about and will reference this note. Sometimes if
someone thinks that alternative medicine is helpful, then as long as it
is not seriously risky, I think it best to leave them thinking that it
helps even if they are getting a mind body effect or vice versa.

Dave W

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Received on Sun May 6 13:38:40 2007

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