Posted by: cg00n | May 31, 2008

Request for Comments

Since asking yesterday I have had only one response to the mind-body question I posed:

I am curious to know what you, my faithful readers, think about the mind-body relationship when it comes to recovering from some physical illness or other. At this point I won’t bias the discussion by revealing my thoughts but if any of you would like to comment, preferably citing credible references, I would be fascinated to hear what you have to say.

Come on! Here’s your big chance to contribute something to my recovery, or at least longevity while I read the answers. The book I am working my way through is The Healing Code by Dermot O’Connor, the cover of which summarizes the book as “One man’s amazing journey back to health and his proven five-step plan to recovery”. There is a lot of stuff here which will be familiar to many of you: a healthy diet, the development of psychological associations between feeling well and things like food, laughter, music etc., meditation, self-hypnosis or prayer, specific exercises and so on. The author is clearly completely convinced that having the right perspective is more than half the battle in overcoming a disease. What do you think?

Finally, today, what do you make of this article entitled Melanomas gone in just seven days? Are they on to something or is this just National Enquirer quality reporting?


  1. I read the newspaper article with interest. The innovative ideas created by “out of the box” thinkers sometimes work! The injection into the tumour seems effective when the cancer has not spread. The vaccine appeared to help the body identify the cancer cells as foreign, and thus help the body erradicate them. These are obviously early works but with cancer treatments can sometimes progress from the research to the treatment stage remarkably quickly.

  2. I’m a little skeptical about the whole mind-body connection vis-a-vis healing powers. However, I do believe (having experienced it myself) that having a positive outlook does wonders.

    I’m saying that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination; we’re all going to die sooner or later and if one thing doesn’t get us, another will. The unfair bit is that even if we duck all the fatal events, we’ll still expire of our own accord. We can see it as The Way Things Are, or we can see it as life in general telling us that death is just existence telling us, “Time’s up, pencils down, please turn in your life’s history”.

    Having a positive outlook is one of the enablers for us to lead a positive life that people will remember us by. Some days, it’s a major struggle just to get out of bed. I submit that we can either look at it as “Fudge, I have to get up, darn it anyway” is an option, but that “I *will* get up, because today is an opportunity to have a memorable fun day” is equally valid. I further submit that the mental discipline needed to get up in the morning is the same one that enables us to do great memorable things in our lives.

  3. I further submit that perfection is not only unnecessary for a good life, that it is in fact an impediment towards a good life.

    Embracing the fact that my life is imperfect through the combination of me screwing up and life surprising me in nasty ways was one of the toughest lessons I had to learn and repeatedly relearn.

    Life is. The only choice we have is play the hand we have been dealt well, or poorly, or fold.

  4. I’m a skeptic, and yet “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” So I try to keep an open mind. As someone who has been living with MS for about 2 years, I’m always interested in learning more about controlling the disease. I seem to be doing ok so far, with diet, vitamin D and exercise, so perhaps a positive outlook adds to the mix.

  5. I emailed this but can add to this discussion.

    Research shows what determines health has very little to do with medical intervention. Some of the most significant factors are income, education, employment conditions, having a healthy childhood, social support, being forgiving (or self and others) and an attitude that problems can be resolved (versus brewed on).

    The research positively links meditation and other mind-body-spirit therapies with a better mental health during adverse events in our lives. There were some diseases which were more positively influenced than others, but overall the research I read was fairly neutral when it came to being able to influence medically measured outcomes in many diseases.

    Last summer CBC (I think it was Cross Country Check Up) did a show devoted to some recent research that demonstrated measurable positive outcomes through use of prayer. It was a randomized controlled trial with various groups. The ones I recall are a) patient prays, physician unaware, b) physician prays, patient unaware, c) third party prays both physician and patient unaware. They did not limit it to praying in any one faith … perhaps that will be the next study 🙂 Lots and lots of people phoned in … it was amazing really .. most amazing that it was on CBC!

    This is not a recent reference but Florence Nightingale said that the role of health care is to put a person in the best possible environment or state for nature to act … also that
    apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, fear of surprise do a patient more harm than exertion.

  6. Blog your way to a better bod

    I’m rabidly agnostic about corporo sano in mens sano and such, but I just came across this article in the latest Scientific American that claims that blogging “reduces viral load in AIDS patients,…speeds healing after surgery”, makes cancer patients feel “markedly better” and cures spots before the knees in young girls. So I had to share it with you. On the other hand, CBC reports: “Being the strong, silent type who bottles up feelings after a traumatic experience may be beneficial in the long run” ( But that’s really about people who are forced to open up (have blogging thrust upon them?).

    I definitely think you should look deeper into what the Sydney Melanoma Unit are up to. Who knows whether it’s useful to you, but it doesn’t hurt to look. And no, it doesn’t sound like Enquirer style mangling.

  7. Well that’s nice. It gives me a lovely little box labelled “website” to put the URL I’m talking about into and then just links it to my name. Here’s the sciam blogging link:

    It’d be nice if they made this text box bigger too – it’s very claustrophobic in here…

  8. Clean mind, clean body–take your pick. I’ll take the naughty mind most days.

    can you naughty your way to health? Might be amusing in the trial thereof.

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