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Positive Thinking, The Secret, Huna....

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Joyful Lady, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Let's say I'm a type A personality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_and_Type_B_personality_theory). This has been clearly associated with an increased incidence of heart disease. So we get confused and say that this way of thinking causes heart disease.

    But if we carefully untangle the threads, it's the associated behaviors that cause the illness. If I learn to relax in the face of my triggers, loosen up when things feel crazy, etc, I won't start the cascade of physiological events that lead to heart problems.

    So yes, sometimes we can create profound effects on our health by changing our thinking (eg deciding to relax if we're hyper-tense). But this is not the same as having control over illnesses.
     
    SunnyInside likes this.
  2. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    Don't really know how to respond to most of that. "Cortisol is biology." Huh? Not sure how that's relevant to the fact of stress-related illness. Other biochemicals and things like inflammatory mediators are biology, too. And?

    "On anorexia, there is a genetic link. So thoughts plus genes plus environment cause it - its complicated." Where is the evidence of that? I don't think there's definitive proof of anorexia being caused by genetics any more than there is of what you're disputing. Iow, that POV is engaging in the same "logic" that you're criticizing: "We don't know what it is, therefore it's genetic."

    One of the most obvious example of the mind affecting health is the placebo effect. Do you dispute there's a placebo effect, too? :confused:

    Sorry, it all sounds a little like trying to dismiss something simply because you don't want it to be true.

    Again, solid evidence shows that mental phenomena like chronic anger can cause heart disease. They might not know the exact mechanisms, but the evidence is clear. It's not like this is any kind of esoteric information, either. It's even on WebMD, for god's sake. :p

    How Anger Hurts Your Heart

    "Yellers, ragers, and door slammers beware -- frequent high levels of anger have now been linked to heart disease."

    http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/how-anger-hurts-your-heart

    I guess the answer is that anger is genetic? :confused:
     
  3. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Not following this thread closely now, as I'm not sure how I should respond to Joyful Lady.

    I'm really sorry she's had to face such difficulties, and they would explain much of her current mentality... but also, I think it's really wrong to charge people money for expertise based upon the barmy claims she was making about positivity, quantum mechanics and re-growing limbs.

    Sometimes my idealised and abstract commitments to debate and our responsibility to engage in an honest pursuit of truth come up against people for whom it feels inappropriate and bullying. I think it probably would be best to keep pushing her to defend her claims, even if it does feel unpleasant. I don't feel much hope that she'll suddenly realise that she's spouting nonsense.

    Also:

    Evidence in this area just seems to be a mess. An association with heart disease is looking much stronger than the one that was claimed for cancer though.

    What about fainting? Some people can suffer really badly from that (related to anxiety).

    I think that there might be a kind of circularity emerging here.

    When it's not just normal thought processes, it's neurological not psychological; when it's normal thought processes, it's not an illness. Something like anorexia, where many of those with the condition say that they've chosen not to eat, seems almost definitively psychological. All aspects of our minds are the result of the functioning of our brains, but we can still understand people's beliefs and expressed preferences at the level of the mind.

    Also, it really depends upon other definitions too. eg: If emotional trauma messed someone up psychologically/neurologically, then even you're saying that you do not think the impact this had upon the development of their brain could directly lead on to increased risks of certain health problems, surely you'd accept that it could have behavioural changes that would increase health risks.

    I may have misunderstood you though, as a lot depends upon semantics, and I've skimmed the last couple of pages to this thread, so may not be following the flow of discussion properly.
     
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  4. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    Actually, it's not the behavior. It's the pattern of thought. A person could sit and seethe without acting on any behavior and the anger would still have the deleterious effect on the person's health. Maybe acting it out in some way would actually even help alleviate or reduce it, in fact.

    Learning to avert the anger cascade is really just saying "if I learn to control my thoughts when I start getting angry so it doesn't lead to anger." You're trying to differentiate between a "behavior" and a thought, when the "behavior" you're referring to is actually just a thought. Or set of thoughts, pattern of thoughts, etc. What you describe is called a cognitive strategy, in fact. ;-)

    And yes, that does in fact give a measure of control over illness. You actually can prevent getting a stress-related illness by changing the thought patterns that are producing the stress. That's a lot of control! ;-)
     
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  5. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    Buzzword......control. Control equals resistance. I think it is when we stop trying to control that transformation can happen. I would like to share the experience of a woman by the name Anita Moorjani who wrote the book......Dying to be Me.....My journey from Cancer to near death to true healing. Oh........but how i wish we could all experience such transformation. Coming up later............
     
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  6. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    OK, I'll go for more clarity. I've meditated for years and years. I watch thoughts. If I attach to one, and let it link to emotions, then I can watch the cascade of physiological effects created by my choice to entangle this thought with my emotions.

    In my experience, the thought itself doesn't cause anything physiological. I can choose to just let it float by.
     
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  7. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    Just to be clear...........I don't think that every disease is caused by negative thought patterns.............just saying that it is possible. Alot of the posts from Jeffrez seem pretty practical to me. I really don't understand why alot of people have ripped Joyful lady up oneside and down the other?
    Perhaps I missed something?
     
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  8. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    I think people might be getting a little burned out on this thread so I think I am going to post the perspective of Anita Moorjani under Cort's thread on thinking and being ...........probably tomorrow if anyone is interested...........might be more appropriate under that thread anyway. Cheers...........and I would like to give all of you a purple heart for all you have endured with this illness.
     
  9. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    I think understandably for many people it's upsetting because the "be positive - you'll feel better" message really is so anti-empathic. Arguing for a positive attitude to alleviate illness, at least in this manner, leaves no room for an understanding of why that person might be feeling "less-than-chipper". The message that is being put forward is only part of the problem.
     
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  10. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    I understand your viewpoint Adster.........For me personally...I didn't take her message that way.
     
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  11. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    Yep, and that's fair enough I think. Obviously, being positive when possible has lots of, well, positives!

    I wonder though, if you are going to strongly argue that particular point in a forum for people that are really really unwell with what is generally accepted to be a clearly physiological illness, that you also need to be willing and able to hear empathically why others don't subscribe to the idea. I guess I'd like to see a bit more awareness to the sensitive nature of the argument.
     
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  12. Whit

    Whit Senior Member

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    It's insulting because of what it implies about the kind of person you would have to be to be this sick because of your state of mind or perspective. Look around at the kinds of people who are way healthier than we are.
     
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  13. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    Lastly...........(.because I really don't want to be misunderstood) I in no way think it is our fault that we are sick. I have always had a hard time relaying in words or writing what I am thinking in my head.....so please please don't misunderstand me.
     
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  14. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    Thanks, understood :)
     
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  15. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    In saying these theories are supported by the psychogenic fallacy, I do not claim they are necessarily wrong, just that the reasoning and evidence they base their conclusions on is wrong. A fallacious argument can have a correct conclusion, but the premises or reasoning are wrong.

    WebMD isn't always right. Its been estimated by some that half of all medicine is wrong. Psychiatry has a particularly bad batting average. For example, what does WebMD recommend for CFS .... CBT and GET. What a surprise. They do at least discuss other options too, including Rituximab.

    Anger in particular is not proven to cause heart disease. Its suspected of causing heart disease. Its an hypothesis with some evidence. Getting angry causes many physiological changes. If someone is close to having a heart related incident that might push them over the edge. Similarly adrenal fatigue could have an impact if one is close to an incident. The actual causal path, if it exists, has not been determined.

    What I am saying is that these hypotheses should be called hypotheses. They are not Divine Revelation. They are not even particularly well understood, nor are the mechanisms.

    With anger and heart disease, what I see is association. They then jump to conclusions, rather than saying "its an unproven hypothesis". The same process goes on with psychobabble. So let me make a counter example. What if these people are angry due to a genetic drive to produce too much adrenaline, or in response to particular environmental triggers including foods? They make too much adrenaline and cortisol, so they are more angry. The damage may also be caused the same way. In this case the thought process are just a modifier, increasing or decreasing risk slightly, they are not fully in control of the process.

    Could the conclusions be right? Yes, but its not substantiated by the evidence or reasoning to date. Association is not causation. This is a failure of reasoning.

    I believe the original push of psychosomatic medicine is still valid - to investigate the relationship between mental and physical factors in disease. However to step outside of association and deal with causes they have to focus on mechanisms. Mostly this is not being done. It could be done. They just fail to do so.

    Bye, Alex
     
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  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    On anorexia and genes, here is one of many studies:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4032517...risk-may-be-determined-genetics/#.UGZ7KVGvYTc

    The difference between what I am saying is one of logic. I do not say "we do not know what it is, therefore its genetic" at any point, nor is it implied. I am saying that genetic risk factors have been identified. They could be wrong of course, but for now there appears to be a snp risk. Genes sometimes can cause disease on their own, but frequently they require some factor to modify their expression - that comes from the environment.

    Here is a comment from Wikipedia on placebo effect:

    "Since the publication of Henry K. Beecher's The Powerful Placebo [9] in 1955, the phenomenon has been considered to have clinically important effects.[10] This view was notably challenged when, in 2001, a systematic review of clinical trials concluded that there was no evidence of clinically important effects, except perhaps in the treatment of pain and continuous subjective outcomes.[10] The article received a flurry of criticism,[11] but the authors later published a Cochrane review with similar conclusions (updated as of 2010).[12] Most studies have attributed the difference from baseline till the end of the trial to a placebo effect, but the reviewers examined studies which had both placebo and untreated groups in order to distinguish the placebo effect from the natural progression of the disease.[10] However these conclusions have been criticized because of the great variety of diseases—more than 40—in this metastudy. The effect of placebo is very different in different diseases. By pooling quite different diseases the results can be leveled out."

    The placebo effect has only really been substantiated on factors with subjective responses. People who go through the Lightning Process can feel better without being better - some have had catastrophic relapse. The original data, and most of the supporting work, irrc, show that the placebo effect is effective at modifying pain perception. It modifies perception, its not a proven cure.

    While I am generally suspicious of Cochrane reviews, when I read this paper several years ago it did not appear to be particularly problematic. There are good reasons why the Cochrane group insist on RCTs in most cases. Many pet theories, with hundreds of supporting papers, not only turned out to be wrong, they turned out to be dangerous - a case in point being the use of anti-arhythmia drugs for heart arhythmia. I forget the estimated numbers, but its estimated that an extremely large number of people were killed by these drugs - possible millions irrc.

    So to get back to my reasoning. I conclude that the notion of a placebo effect as a cure is a fallacy. That does NOT mean it cannot happen, it means we do not know it is happening and cannot prove it, the argument does not support it. We also do not know why it might be happening.

    A placebo in most treatment trials is simply a control group anyway.

    Again to reiterate the point, a fallacious argument can have a correct conclusion. It can be fallacious because either the premises are false, or the reasoning is invalid. Arguments relying on the psychogenic fallacy are fallacious, period.

    Bye, Alex
     
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  17. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Joyful Lady,

    I just noticed your posts tonight, and have to say I feel pretty taken aback by your coming to this forum in the manner you did. Without even the courtesy of introducing yourself, you begin foisting upon us some of your philosophical and new age viewpoints. I understand these perspectives are likely important anchor points for you and probably feel you're doing us a favor by sharing them with us. But in case you haven't noticed by now, most of the members here have come to their own conclusions about how much of this kind of "positive thinking" pertains to their own ongoing health struggles.

    I see you authored a paper for "Biophysical Psychological Review", which would indicate you have a strong interest in the field of psychology. If you're looking to gain some insights into the "psychological health" of PR members on this board, I would suggest visiting the following thread:

    Some Sad News From Rich Van Konynenburg's Wife

    I think you'll find there is very little waxing of things philosophical, such as you presented in your numerous posts. Instead, it is filled with real people expressing real emotions, often quite eloquently. The profound sense of gratitude, appreciation, love and affection for a man who came to help us, and visit with us over a period of many years, is really quite extraordinary. During this time, he showed us unusual generosity, compassion, understanding, and so much more. Most of us never met or talked with him, but we loved him and cared for him, and we KNEW he felt the same about us.

    You say you came to offer some beneficial information and perspectives to consider. But it seems you're talking to us in a manner that does not even begin to connect with us in a meaningful way. Perhaps it would be good to carefully consider what our dear friend Rich brought us (above paragraph). He regarded (and accepted) us as courageous, intelligent people who happen to be struggling with a very difficult illness. He was brilliant in so many ways, but he was a humble man, and never talked down to us. In short, he was somebody who incorporated some core spiritual qualities, and then shared them with the world. An example to us all.

    Regards, Wayne
     
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  18. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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    Hi Alex - not sure if you have other sources than the msnbc article, but first of all it says "may," and secondly it says "increase the risk." That's not a cause, it's only suggesting that a gene or some genetic profile might make a person more susceptible to acquiring the disorder. And how is that likely to happen? Through thought and emotional processes, most likely. Regardless of what actually ends up causing something like anorexia, I think to uphold genetics as a cause while ruling out thought/mind as a possible causative factor is showing some pretty significant bias, especially when it would seem reasonable to conclude, provisionally, at least, that both factors as well as a host of others are probably involved.

    Regarding placebo effects, it's simply not true that it's only been observed regarding subjective factors. Researchers have observed changes in brain activity in people who get placebo, and we're even beginning to identify specific brain pathways and activation profiles that would make a person more susceptible to a placebo effect. People with cancer even have had tumors shrink from placebo. From a Scientific American article (entire article is behind a paywall, but the "In Brief" is actually a good summation):

    I think perhaps you are engaging in some pre-established selection bias in claiming the placebo effect is not valid, and by extension, in appearing to claim that mind cannot influence health or cause (or cure) disease. At some point, trying to be "super scientific" and deterministic from a purely physical standpoint (it's all b/c of genes, etc.), or ultra "logical" from a linguistic standpoint - the results of which don't always bear out in reality (a syllogism can be valid but not sound, for example) - becomes self-limiting imo, and exclusionary of a lot of information we are starting to discover with advanced brain imaging techniques and with more of an acceptance and understanding of the mind/body connection both in the general population and the scientific community. "Psychosomatic" does not always have to be a dirty word, when it actually is the psyche that's causing actual somatic issues. ;-) Although psychogenic might in fact be a better term.
     
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  19. jeffrez

    jeffrez Senior Member

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  20. Sea

    Sea Senior Member

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    Joyful Lady needs her belief system to be right. It gives her the illusion of control in an otherwise dangerous world. She needs others to believe it as well to strengthen her own position. It's a very common approach from those who blame the victim, but it's not really about us it's about their need to feel secure that such things can't ever happen to them. I feel sorry for such people.
     
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