The following is my attempt to summarize a lecture I recently watched featuring Antonio Damasio, M.D., a renowned neurobiologist producing ground-breaking thoughts on health and healing. The lecture was videotaped in 2004 at a conference in Germany on the future of health care. If you choose to watch the video (about an hour long), and I highly recommend it, then scroll down to the opening lecture, and click on one of the icons for your preferred media player. Please don't let the first couple of minutes, during which Dr Damasio is introduced, scare you away because you hear a little German language! The lecture is in perfect English!
Health tends to conjure up the notion of the body. Good human health begins in the mind.
Good health requires not just the traditions of medicine, but also all sorts of wisdom that can come from a better understanding of the the management of our environment and it's effects on thought, emotion and well-being.
Emotions happen constantly in reaction to our environment. Emotions have an immediate effect on the body.
Once you have a stimulus that causes fear or negative emotion, it triggers the amygdala, which leads to activation of the hypothalamus, adrenals, and so on which affects the body's whole regulatory system.
Emotion happens in the brain and mind and have an immediate effect on the body. Changes entail a decrease in efficiency of homeostatic regulation which we experience as pain.
A disease not originally caused by negative emotion can certainly worsen it.
One should do everything possible to control negative emotions because they have everything to do with chronic diseases. This is not to say to avoid negative emotion, but rather to recognize it and learn to deal with it in more productive ways. We can fine tune our emotional processing.
We can learn to cultivate personal pleasure and joy, but it must not at the expense of the happiness of others if it is to be healing.
Emotion needs to be harnessed, manipulated, and is the engine of will if we are going to deal with the problems of health at the personal level.