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No. 45: May-Jun 1986

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Be happy, be healthy: the case for psychoimmunology

Hints are accumulating from many clinical studies that one's mental state has much to do with the effectiveness of one's immunological system. Happy, unstressed people get fewer colds. Introverts get worse colds than extroverts. Men who have just lost their wives have lowered white-cell responses. Although many physicians and medical researchers think it too early to claim that mental stress significantly suppresses the human immunological system and thus leads to more illness, one can see the pendulum start to swing away from the timehonored belief that mind and body are entirely separate entities.

The foregoing studies and others like them are discussed in a recent survey of psychoimmunology by B. Dixon. Toward the close of the article, Dixon asks why humans (and other animals, too) have evolved an immunological system sensitive to stress. Evolutionists can always find some sort of justification in Darwinian terms, and Dixon's is rather ingenious. Suppose a primitive human was attacked by a saber-toothed tiger (what else?). If the human survived, his immunological system would immediately go into high gear to clean up the wounds and repel invading germs. The trouble is that a revved-up immunological system (especially the white blood cells) can go too far and chomp up healthy tissue, too. However, evolution has constructed animals such that stress (saber-toothed tigers are stressful!) suppresses the immunological system to restrict the consumption of healthy tissues. While this short-term damper on immunological activity may have been useful to primitive humans, the stresses on modern man are less intense and long-term. We are sick a lot, particularly with cancer, because evolution has not yet adjusted or finetuned us to the new environment.

(Dixon, Bernard; "Dangerous Thoughts," Science 86, 7:63, April 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #45, MAY-JUN 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987