In my last blog I wrote that we live with a continuous, largely automatic and unconscious, two-way communication, in that our bodies have an effect on our minds and our minds have an effect on our bodies.
The ‘White Coat Effect’ is a well-known example, where concern about having blood pressure checked by a doctor actually causes a rise in blood pressure.
This happens so automatically it can be tough, if not impossible, to know what is creating any particular problem we may encounter. Especially as there tends to be a combination of both:
1. attitudes that make an impact on the physical body – and
2. physical states creating effects on consciousness.
How can we possibly know which is the more significant contribution?
As an example, it was once believed that depression developed through ways of thinking; distorted beliefs such as, “there’s something wrong with me” and “things can only get worse”. In the past few decades, though, serotonin deficiency has become the far more common explanation. In other words, the body – in this case the brain and the part of our body that produces serotonin, which is the gut – has an influence on our state of mind.
The more recent theory of systemic inflammation suggests that depression is the brain’s inflammatory response to diet and stress. The diet part being a body-mind explanation, and the stress perhaps more mind-body.
The emphasis varies between disciplines. The more traditional, medical models tend to favour the body as the cause, while self-help and alternative approaches often focus on the mind as the key factor.
Surely the smart money is on both, and no matter what is the problem in question, approaching from both ends is more likely to meet in the middle with success.