I mostly use this blog to highlight key points, concepts, and ideas from the material I research. Topics covered in posts include health, medicine, meditation, lifestyle hacks, consciousness, energy, content recommendations, data visualization, and excerpts from my favorite books and personal journal. I also include the occasional music recommendation. Check out excerpts from past posts (attached below) if you’d like to get a better feel for the type of content you’ll find on it.
Excerpts from past posts
The Roseto Effect
- The video below summarizes the findings of scientific research on the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania.
- The results of this research strongly suggest that our relationships may play just as large a role in influencing our health as our diets and exercise habits.
- “In the 1960s, a U.S town called Roseto was an anomaly in America. No one under 55 had died of a heart attack, or showed any signs of heart disease. The local death rate for men over 65 was half the national average.”
- “A team of researchers, led by Dr. Steward Wolf, considered whether this was due to their diet, location, family history, or exercise habits, but on the surface, nothing was different from the rest of America.”
- This might just be the most mind blowing article I have ever read. I think it should be required reading for every medical student.
- It discusses cases of patients with multiple personalities. These personalities alternatively gain control over a single body.
- When a given personality is in control, the body may exhibit certain reactions that are not present when another personality is in control.
- “When Timmy drinks orange juice, Timmy has no problem. But Timmy is just one of close to a dozen personalities who alternate control over a patient with multiple personality disorder. And if those other personalities drink orange juice, the result is a case of hives. The hives occur even if Timmy drinks orange juice and another personality appears while the juice is still being digested. What’s more, if Timmy comes back while the allergic reaction is present, the hives will cease immediately, and the water filled blisters begin to subside.”
- “In people with multiple personalities, there is a strong psychological separation between each sub-personality: each will often have his own name and age, and often some specific abilities and memories. Frequently, for example, personalities will differ in handwriting, artistic talent, or even knowledge of foreign languages.”
- “For more than a century, clinicians have reported isolated cases of dramatic biological changes in people with multiple personalities as they switched from one to the other. These include the abrupt appearance and disappearance of rashes, welts, scars and other tissue wounds; switches in handwriting and handedness; epilepsy, allergies, and colorblindness that strike only when a given personality is in control of the body.”
Excerpts from When the Body Says No
- “Several decades ago, David Kissen, a British chest surgeon, reported that patients with lung cancer were frequently characterized by a tendency to “bottle up” emotions.1 In a number of studies, Kissen supported his clinical impressions that people with lung cancer “have poor and restricted outlets for the expression of emotion, as compared with non-malignancy lung patients and normal controls.”2 The risk of lung cancer, Kissen found, was five times higher in men who lacked the ability to express emotion effectively.”
- “Kissen’s insights were confirmed in spectacular fashion by a prospective study German, Dutch and Serbian researchers conducted over a ten-year period in Cvrenka, in the former Yugoslavia.”
- “Nearly 10 per cent of the town’s inhabitants were selected, about one thousand men and four hundred women. Each was interviewed in 1965–66, with a 109-item questionnaire that delineated such risk factors as adverse life events, a sense of long-lasting hopelessness and a hyper-rational, non-emotional coping style. Physical parameters like cholesterol levels, weight, blood pressure and smoking history were also recorded. People with already diagnosed disease were excluded from the research project. By 1976, ten years later, over six hundred of the study participants had died of cancer, heart disease, stroke or other causes. The single greatest risk factor for death—and especially for cancer death—was what the researchers called rationality and anti-emotionality, or R/A. The eleven questions identifying R/A measured a single trait: the repression of anger.
- “Indeed cancer incidence was some 40 times higher in those who answered positively to 10 or 11 of the questions for R/A than in the remaining subjects, who answered positively to about 3 questions on average.”
Organization I’ve been learning about: The University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies
Excerpt from their website:
- “Founded in 1967 by Dr. Ian Stevenson, the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies (UVA DOPS) is a highly productive university-based research group devoted to the investigation of phenomena that challenge mainstream scientific paradigms regarding the nature of human consciousness. DOPS researchers objectively document and carefully analyze data collected regarding extraordinary human experiences.”
- “The DOPS core research mission is the rigorous evaluation of empirical evidence for exceptional human experiences and capacities that bear on whether mind and brain are distinct and separable and whether consciousness survives physical death.”
If you’d like to learn more about what the key people in the Department of Perceptual Studies have to say, you can check out this talk, delivered at South by Southwest. Note, the first couple minutes are a repeat of the video linked to above. Skip to 2:05 for the beginning of the talk.
A few more examples of the power of expressive writing therapy
- As I’ve discussed in this post, expressive writing therapy is a technique in which one writes about their deepest traumas and emotional upheavals. It has been scientifically proven to lead to improved health outcomes, and boosted markers of immune function.
- I recently found out about a few more ways in which writing about one’s traumas has been shown to be beneficial. The excerpts included below are taken from this article.
- “…in 1999, Joshua Smyth and Arthur Stone and colleagues at SUNY at Stony Brook assigned patients with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis either to write about the most stressful event of their lives or to write about a neutral topic. Four months later, asthma patients in the experimental group showed improvements in lung function and arthritis patients in the experimental group showed a reduction in disease severity. In all, 47 percent of the patients who disclosed stressful events showed clinically relevant improvement, whereas only 24 percent of the control group exhibited such improvement.
- A joint 1994 study by psychologists and outplacement firm Drake Beam Morin followed 63 professionals who had been laid off from their jobs for eight months after they were assigned to one of three writing conditions. In the experimental condition, participants were instructed to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about the layoff and about how their lives, personal and professional, had been affected. In the control condition, participants were told to write about their plans for the day and their job search activities. In the no-writing condition, participants were given no particular writing instruction. After five consecutive days of 30-minute writing sessions, researchers started tracking employment status. Participants who wrote about losing their jobs were much more likely to find new ones in the months following the study.
- At the Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies, (James Pennebaker) and his colleagues videotaped interviews with more than 60 Holocaust survivors (about their traumas) while taking their physiological measurements. Later, they classified each survivor, based on the interview, as a low, midlevel or high “discloser.” High and midlevel disclosers were significantly healthier a year after the interviews than the low disclosers.
- The above example helps to demonstrate that speaking about one’s traumas can exhibit the same effects, and that the effectiveness of doing so is largely a function of the degree to which one is able to be completely open about their experiences. Research has conclusively proven that keeping trauma secret is bad for one’s health, although it would be my guess that after a person has thoroughly discussed their traumas with a few people, they would begin to experience diminishing marginal returns (from a health standpoint) with every additional retelling.
- For anyone interested in learning how to do expressive writing, I’d recommend reading this book: Expressive Writing: Words that Heal, which was written by the practice’s inventor, Dr. James Pennebaker.