Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Source of All Illness

By Lorenzo P.

For thousands of years humans have been trying to cure illnesses afflicting body and mind. Endless types and strands of disorders seem to be ever changing and constantly mutating into more complex forms. We try hard to study and understand them with a scientific methodology, but we often have hard time making progress because our scientific models fail to describe much detail of how the human body works. While the science of health is making great steps forward, there is still a lot of guess work involved in applied medicine that often is more like a form of art based on the experience and gut feelings of the doctors, than a science with clear rules.

When we study illness, we notice the symptoms and we explore them; this research gives us clues on how to fix the symptoms, and often we discover possible causes and we attempt to attack these as well. This approach is similar to the approach we take when a car breaks, except that it is much more difficult given how complex the physical body is. It often works, but often doesn’t fix the cause, and the illness comes back to hunt us again. Many times things just resolve themselves and we have no idea what the problem was, and why it is gone.

I remember when I was a teenager I started having troubles breathing at night. I was a young and healthy, much into all kinds of sports and always active. Nevertheless, this night breathing problem was bothering me a great deal. I went to my doctor. He asked me if I had that problem only at night, which I did. He also asked me if I had that problem while in vacation somewhere else, or if I had any known allergies. I answered “no” to both questions. In fact, I could sleep just fine while in vacation, and I had no known allergies. He asked me if I spent much time in my room, which I did. That’s all he needed to hear. His prescription was “Change your room around! Move the furniture, take whatever is on the walls and change it with something new, paint the room with a different color. In short, make it feel new”. I thought it was an odd cure for my problem, but he is a very experienced doctor and I trusted him. Well, believe it or not, that “cure” fixed my problem, which never came back again. Later he explained that I had problems breathing because I was associating my room with something bad that happened in my life, putting me in a negative state of mind and stress. Changing the room around was a way to deactivate these negative memories.

He didn’t really understand all the details of why that negative state of mind was causing the problems with the breathing; he just knew that it worked that way.

What is the real cause of illness? Most important, why is the body sometimes unable to fix itself?


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