Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Authentic Happiness

Read a book called Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. In it, the University of Pennsylvania professor talks about how to be happy and taking a salugenic approach to health. Medicine now takes a patheogenic approach., strictly treating disease. A great emphasis should be put in not just bringing our bodies from being sick to normal, but from normal to healthy. The book has a lot of tests in it on things like emotional intelligence but not all of it was geared towards my topic of study. He teaches things on how to make ones life happier and have more meaning. The book tries to make the reader more aware of themselves. It had very little scientific data that i could use.

A link to buy: http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Happiness-Psychology-Potential-Fulfillment/dp/0743222989/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196840851&sr=8-1

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Hour II

Went to a panel discussion on happyiness and here are my notes from that day.

Dr. Lloyd, a philosopher, pointed out not to confuse happiness with contentment. She tried to explain that being human is the highest plain of existence and we don’t want to go lower. She seemed to reflect a sort of Buddhist mentality of human being the highest level of existence before one can reach nirvana. She ranked a dissatisfied pig as lower than a dissatisfied human.

Dr. Gustafson from the English department talked about the history of the United States and the guaranteed right to pursue happiness. Ironically, the original saying was not “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” When Locke published his book he was concerned with “life, liberty, and estate.” Meaning, Locke felt property was a natural right. This fact has always fascinated me personally. The Declaration of Independence has brought a new meaning to what the originator had intended.

Dr. Lindsey mentioned the Harvard happiness class and Dr. Seligman as well. She talked about the meaning of authentic happiness.

Dr. Redekopp was, I felt, the most unusual speaker for the panel. He explained that so much of society is geared towards achievement and not geared towards happiness, or a better word, joy. He said that when he lived in Ghana the people didn’t have many material positions but the possessed joy. He said that achievement should be balanced with joy, especially long term joy.

The last speaker was Dr. Lamy of the international relations school. I haven’t had a chance to experience Dr. Lamy but as an IR minor, I’ve heard great things. I enjoyed his discussion the most too. He had jokes and spoke very frankly. He says his job is to try and educate the people around him. Most of the time this just leads people to be unhappy. He reiterated the age old saying that ignorance is bliss. He talked about how the world is happiest when there is security and empire not by humanitarian missions or solving global problems. This was interesting because we would like to think that humanity is the most calm when the individuals in it are happy. Yet most people wouldn’t call being under the eye of the government or being under tyranny as a happy time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


So i discovered that the field of medicine i was researching into is called psychoneuroimmunology. It looks at both mental and physiological aspects of disease, mainly chronic diseases. There is a journal article by Lutgendorf and Costanzo called Psychoneuroimmunology and health psychology: An intergrative model which looks to correlate aging and stress. They found that disease processes through psychosocial processes and health behaviors. Psychosocial processes were factors like mental health, mood factors, life events, personality characteristics, and resources like social relationships. Health behavior was activities like exercise, nutrient and smoking. Certain factors like social support and exercises were thought to enhance resistance while others like depression and cigarette smoking were thought to increase vulnerability. This concept is the basis of the biopsycosocial model and the factors interact to create vulnerability to disease. They found in their review that each person could tolerate a certain level of stress before they become symptomatic. Examples include a shift from a Th-1 response to a Th-2 response as one ages. This type of immune shift is thought to be important to the body’s ability to fend of diseases. Common models to illustrate the affects of stress are the stress of caring of a spouse who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. The caregivers were given immunizations to the influenza virus and those who care for their disabled spouses were four times less likely to build up the proper antibody response. In fact, only 30-50% of older adults were able to mount the response as opposed to 70-90% of younger adults. Protective factors like social support, active coping strategies and sense of meaning in life were important imuno-boosting factors (Lutgendorf). This review shows that health psychology and psyconeuroimmunolgy is a budding field. Stress seems to be a factor in amplifying age-related immune dysfunction. As for a response, behavioral interventions, especially support groups, appear to help mitigate these factors.


Costanzo ES. Lutgendorf SK. Sood AK. Anderson B. Sorosky J. Lubaroff DM. (2005). Psychosocial factors and interleukin-6 among women with advanced ovarian cancer. Cancer, 104, 305-13.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

National Geographic Speical

This must have been a feature in National Geographic but they have this interactive website on longevity. The photojournalist went to three separate cultures in the world and tried to observe why the people lived so long.

The first was Sardinia, Italy. There the men live as long as the women do. This is an impressive feat. The scientists theorize that it has to do with the fact that the "women wear the pants" in the family. This goes to alleviate a lot of the stress on the men and perhaps its the more stress free lifestyle that has allowed for longer life. In addition, there is a strong family bond. In the journalist's example, there is a family in which 4 generations always have a sunday meal together. The journalist asks whether is will last. The Sardinian culture is fading and the younger generations are leaving and moving away from the home. Compounding, the young are living more sedentary lives and eat less natural foods, more processed foods.
In Okinawa, Japan, there are many people living over 100 and the people who are living in their 90s are going 8 miles out to fish and biking around the village. There is this woman who is lving in a kamoi (??? spelling) which is esentially a support group. It's a group of people all living together. Again, the social support is important. The last component of the Okinawan lifestyle is a low caloric density intake. The food is full of fish, carrots, potatoes, and seaweed.
The final group is from Loma Linda, Ca. The town is mainly comprised of Seventh Day Aventits. The religion positively supports the people's lifestyles. To be an Aventits they have to be vegitarians, not smoke, and take a full day of sabbath on saturday. The journalist followed a 100 year old woman who just got her driver's license renewed and lifts weights and cycles every morning. Interesting to not, this final group is the only group who is "keeping" their longevity and not loosing it.

It's interesting to see that the modern world is actually living shorter. Have we actually reach a point in society that we've reached at least a temporary limit in our age that we are regressing? Just brainstorming, I know that Chinese, and Asians in general, live longer than their Caucasian counterparts. What sticks out is the familial bond that exists. I think this social support is a driving factor in "propping up" the lifespans of these people. It'll be interested to see if I can find some more scientific evidence. These three genetically dissimilar groups share one thing in common: lifestyle change.

If you want to watch the commentated slideshow I watched, it's here: http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0511/sights_n_sounds/index.html

Friday, November 9, 2007


Added myself to Technorati!

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

What it's all about?

Medicine in the West has always been about finding the problem and fixing that one specific problem. All the different specialities are only a testament to this way of thinking. Eastern medicine has always taken a more holistic approach, looking at body together. Considering eastern medicines like Chinese medicine have been around for so long, they might be doing something right.

Doctors have always to some extent known that the mind plays a role in disease outcome. There has not been much clinical evidence in the past. More recently, anecdotal evidence is now being supported by hard clinical research.

During the course of the next couple months, I am going to be looking into the "emerging" field of holistic medicine and its affects on disease outcome. I'm going to attempt to find terminal disease and see how well they play out with different forms of psychotherapy. The worst thing i could discover is that it the whole mind stuff doesn't work. I don't expect to find out that having a positive mental outlook is bad for a disease outcome. Hopefully, I learn that having a positive attidude is going to increase the rate of possitive outcomes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

test post!