Controversial documentaries such as “The secret” are convincing people that our minds can think of things we want to accomplish and if we think about it enough our thoughts will manifest itself and give us what we want. Self-help books have gained popularity and it is convincing people about the powers of being optimistic. Can wishful thinking shape us to have better minds? or healthier bodies? No one really knows for sure. Some articles and studies explore the notion.
Improving general health is always of interest to the public. The relationship between mind and body may correlate with each other. Researchers are saying that “those who frequently experience positive emotions live longer and healthier lives. They have fewer heart attacks... and fewer colds too” (The Economist, 2012). Studies need to prove this in order for it to be more convincing. Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok at the University of North Carolina published a study in psychological science to prove it. The study, in-short analyzes the values of the vagus nerve in the nervous system by measuring vagal tone. The study says “high vagal tone makes it easier to generate positive emotions and that... this drives vagal tone still higher” (The Economist, 2012). The study is convincing, but more research needs to prove the relationship between positive thinking and health.
There is research that shows the effects of exposure to violence to health. This may prove that there is a link between the well-being of the mind and health. An articled featured informative research conducted in Wayne State University School of Medicine illustrated that “people exposed to war are at increased risk to develop chronic problems...years later” (O’Connor, 2012). The researchers in WSU concluded that exposure to violence may cause health problems. Arnetz who is one of the researches at WSU said, “It’s a known fact that the more exposure to violence you have, the more likely you are to report PTSD and depression...the more likely your actual health will suffer in five to 10 years” (as cited by O’Connor, 2012). Exposure to violence has short-term and long-term effects to an individuals health. Surprisingly, exposure to violence may also negatively impact the health of war refugees 5 to 10 years after.
Another study linking the relationship between mind and body was done on older adults. The research study found lonely older adults with a positive attitude may avoid the risk of acquiring health problems. A study conducted by Carsten Wrosch, a professor in psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development may offer some hope. The study showed that “among lonely older adults, the use of positive thinking helped protect against increase in cortisol secretion” (Desjardins, 2012). The research followed 122 senior citizens for six years. Having a positive outlook may prevent health problems in the aging population.
Positive thinking and reducing stress may not only benefit the health of the aging population, it may also benefit the younger population as well. A study focused on young adolescents in their teens linked the effects of stress in teenagers. The study focused on an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein or CRP. The study shows “CRP has been identified as an indicator for the later development of cardiovascular disease” (University of California, 2009). Andrew J. Fulgini is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. He said “Those everyday kind of stressors, such as a fight with a parent or a peer, are among the most frequent and powerful predictors of... distress among individuals” (as cited in Teenage stress, 2009). The study showed that teens with a lot of stress had high levels of CRP. This study highlights the importance of stress-management in young individuals to help aid health.
The placebo effect has been known about for a long time. In addition, there have been a wide range of research that demonstrates a