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Professor Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London

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Title: THE SCIENCE OF LOVE: IS THERE SUCH A THING? Author: Psychology Last modified by: spjtgdw Created Date: 10/29/2004 12:55:06 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Professor Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London


1

MIND OVER MATTER
  • Professor Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London

2
PSYCHOKINESIS
  • Literally the capacity to influence the
    physical world by mind power alone (e.g., moving
    objects, influencing dice, bending spoons).
  • No evidence for this that could not be explained
    by publication bias. Anyone with such powers
    would make a fortune in Las Vegas. Magician James
    Randi has offered 1million to anyone who can
    demonstrate it under properly controlled
    conditions so far no takers.

3
FIRE-WALKING
  • Walking across hot embers is performed by
    Japanese priests as a purification and endurance
    ritual. Often regarded as a mystical
    mind-over-matter phenomenon but explanation is
    physical anyone can do it given the right
    conditions, without superpowers or incantations
    (often done on office motivational weekends).
  • Dangerous though Embers must be in late stages
    of burning and not contain metal debris.
  • Need to walk at a steady pace, not run (which
    causes the foot to plunge too deep).

4
HOMEOPATHY
  • An alternative treatment based on theory that
    like cures like and the more dilute the better.
  • Remedies often double diluted to point that no
    molecules of active substance are left - they
    are just water.
  • Despite that, many feel better for various
    reasons (e.g., withdrawal of unpleasant medical
    treatments).

5
THE PLACEBO EFFECT
  • Placebo I shall please Belief one is being
    treated and expectation of improvement will
    alleviate distress, regardless of any medical
    mechanisms (c.f., Mummy kissing it better).
  • Prescribed by many doctors but seldom blatantly.
    Usually as vitamin tablets or mild,
    over-the-counter analgesics that might give some
    general benefit (thus averting ethical dilemma).
  • .

6
PLACEBO COMPONENTS
  • Many factors contribute to effect in clinical
    practice, including bedside manner, spontaneous
    recovery, regression to the mean (patients
    seeking treatment when at lowest point) and
    hello-goodbye effects.
  • Drug trials try to minimise all but true
    placebo effect but usually unsuccessfully.

(Schematic pie-chart from Ernst, 2007)
7
PERCEIVED POTENCY
  • Trappings of medical authority help (e.g., white
    coat, stethoscope, diploma).
  • Enhanced by expense (e.g. Bayer Aspirin beats
    generic form).
  • Large pills better than small two better than
    one.
  • Colour hot best for stimulants, green for
    anxiety, blue for insomnia.
  • Capsules more effective than tablets injections
    beat both.

8
SHAM SURGERY
  • Despite ethical issues, bogus surgery
    (anaesthesia, incisions, declaring the op a
    success) sometimes as effective as real surgery.
  • Studies include ops for angina, arthritis of the
    knee, spinal infusion for osteoporosis and
    neuronal implantation for Parkinsons.
  • Results show staggering placebo effects (c.f.,
    psychic surgeons of Indonesia).

9
PLACEBO RESPONDERS
  • Trait optimism predicts placebo response (Geers
    et al, 2010).
  • Ego-resiliency, altruism, straightforwardness
    and low anger/hostility predicted placebo
    analgesic effect (together accounting for 25 of
    variance) along with higher endorphin release and
    reduced cortisol secretion (Pecina at al, 2012).
  • (Placebo response thus not down to stupidity,
    gullibility or weakness of personality).
  • Effects, when observed in the brain, generally
    mimic equivalent active medication, e.g., placebo
    analgesia similar to effects of opiates (hence
    they are real).
  • PET scans from
  • Petrovic et al,
  • (Science, 2002).

10
ACUPUNCTURE
  • Inserting manipulating needles in various body
    areas reduce pain and stress in some sufferers.
  • Difficult to find control procedures for true
    double-blind evaluation (hard not to notice
    youve been stuck with a needle).
  • Differences between true and sham procedures are
    small evidence that either exceeds placebo is
    unconvincing.
  • Release of endorphins a better explanation than
    traditional Chinese theory of meridians and
    energy balance.

11
NOCEBO EFFECTS
  • Negative (noxious) effects on health also occur.
  • Voodoo curses, pointing the bone, being bitten
    by a non-venomous snake, etc. can cause death by
    shock or self-will (e.g., starvation).
  • Chinese Japanese regard No.4 as unlucky.
    Cardiac mortality peaks on the 4th day of each
    month no such effect in White Americans
    (Phillips, 2001).
  • Doctors have a moral dilemma about informing a
    patient their condition is terminal some give
    up hope and die more quickly.

12
HEADED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE?
  • Feelings of well-being lower mortality in both
    healthy and diseased groups (Chida Steptoe,
    2008).
  • People more likely to die just after a major
    birthday or holiday than before.
  • People with ve initials (A.C.E., V.I.P. etc)
    live longer that those with ve initials (P.I.G.,
    D.I.E. etc). Due to self-esteem? (Christenfeld et
    al, 1999).
  • Catastrophes such as earthquakes and military
    conflict have cardiac consequences.
  • When England lost a penalty shoot-out to
    Argentina in the 1998 World Cup hospital
    admissions for coronaries increased 25 (Carroll
    et al, 2002).

13
PERSONALITY ILLNESS
  • Little evidence that personality is prognostic
    with respect to cancer proneness or survival, at
    least not extraversion, neuroticism, or
    suppression of emotion (De Vries et al, 2012).
  • Hostility (one component of so-called Type A
    personality) predicts coronary proneness but
    effect size small and cause and effect unclear.
    Irascibility could be early sign of disease
    process.
  • Better evidence for Type D Distressed)
    personality. Negative affect (anxiety,
    depression, anger) is associated with poor
    cardiovascular outcomes.

14
IMMUNE FUNCTION
Stressful childhood current stress reduce
ability of immune system to fight certain
diseases. Fagundes et al (2012) found that child
neglect combined with recent life stress led to
increased vulnerability to basal cell carcinoma.
BCC is common non-malignant skin cancer, but same
may apply to lethal cancers normally kept at bay
by the immune system (e.g., melanoma and ovarian
cancer). Cohen et al (2012) stressed individuals
more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the
virus (due to immune suppression).

15
GUIDED IMAGERY
  • Guided imagery is a kind of meditation in which
    patients thoughts are turned toward places that
    are safe, happy and relaxing. One approach is to
    picture the immune system gobbling up cancer
    cells and the tumour shrinking.
  • Supportive in reducing stress, anxiety pain
    but little impact on physical symptoms and no
    evidence that it cures cancer (Roffe et al,
    2005).

16
FORGET THE PAIN
  • Mindfulness is an approach to therapy derived
    from Buddhist meditation. Argues that people are
    happier when their thoughts are focused on the
    present. (A wandering mind is an unhappy mind).
  • However, depends on circumstances. In prison, or
    dentists chair, preferable to fantasize?
  • Evidence that distraction, e.g., performing a
    difficult mental task, can be harnessed as
    analgesic in the treatment of chronic pain
    (Sprenger 2012).

Marquis of Anglesey to Wellington at Waterloo
By God Sir, Ive lost my leg.
17
ELECTRIC ZEN
  • Knowledge of results is a major principle in
    learning. Biofeedback works on theory that if
    person can observe their own physiological
    processes they are better able to exert control
    over them.
  • Devices include EEG, ECG, skin conductance and
    skin temperature.
  • Clear evidence that biofeedback is a useful
    adjunct to treatment of many conditions such as
    stress, hypertension, headaches, urinary
    incontinence (Yucca Montgomery, 2008).

18
CONVERSION DISORDER
  • Psychogenic (hysterical) symptoms such as
    blindness, paralysis amnesia are well
    documented.
  • Famous case studies of Breuer Freud but still
    occur today.
  • May be difficult to distinguish from deliberate
    malingering and somatic causes.
  • Signs include (1) precipitated by extreme
    stress, (2) belle indifference, (3) secondary
    gain (4) retention of normal reflexes.

19
A HELPING HAND
  • Since hysteria (wandering womb) is more common
    in women, many psychiatrists considered sexual
    frustration to be the primary cause. Since
    masturbation was considered dangerous to health,
    mid-body massage became a favoured treatment
    approach - popular with patients and doctors
    alike.
  • May have given some relief at a time when female
    orgasm was little recognised but today the doctor
    would be struck off.

20
MESMERISM
  • Origins of hypnosis are in animal magnetism.
    Mesmer initially thought effect was physical
    (c.f., electrical brain stimulation). Since it
    worked especially on hysterical conditions,
    soon recognised that the mechanism was
    suggestion. Patients were responding to his
    personal magnetism and persuasion.
  • Freud favoured psychoanalysis because not all
    patients could be hypnotised. Amazed at how often
    female patients recalled sexual episodes with
    their fathers, he attributed hysteria to child
    sex abuse (later revised this as fantasy/desire
    on part of patient).

Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) found that waving
magnets across hysterical patients could
alleviate their symptoms.
21
MODERN HYPNOSIS
  • Suggestions of sleep/relaxation, attention focus
    and compliance are used to induce a trance state.
  • Suggestibility is a stable trait, not a mental
    weakness. Good subjects engage with the
    hypnotist and use imagination but seldom behave
    in ways grossly out of character.
  • Used as therapeutic tool in dealing with common
    problems such as pain, anxiety, phobias and habit
    control (e.g., smoking).
  • Effects go beyond simple role-play (more like
    total absorption in a movie) but little evidence
    for super feats of strength or memory.
  • False recollections may be elicited (e.g. of
    past lives, alien abductions, child sex abuse).

22
FAITH-HEALING
  • Works best on conversion symptoms. Some
    miraculous cures have apparently occurred,
    dating from Biblical days. Still popular within
    Catholicism and charismatic (e.g., Pentecostal)
    churches.
  • Pilgrimages to Lourdes are popular, where
    praying or drinking the waters are believed to
    heal the sick. Miracle cures are rare (Vatican
    has validated 67 out of 7000 claims) but many
    more might benefit from stress reduction and
    placebo.

23
STIGMATA
  • Crucifixion-style wounds have appeared in devout
    Catholics, since Francis of Assisi, 1224.
  • Generally poorly documented. Some are fraud,
    some self-inflicted in trances during fasting.
  • A few may be psychogenic purpura purple
    blotches resulting from powerful self-suggestion
    (c.f., markings of alien medical exams appearing
    under hypnosis).
  • Appearance on palms rather than wrists owes more
    to mediaeval paintings than Roman execution
    procedures.

Padre Pio, a celebrated stigmatic, canonised in
2002, was accused of using carbolic acid to
create his wounds (Lazzatto, 2007)
24
HYSTERICAL CONTAGION
  • Mysterious illnesses strike throughout the
    world. After environmental toxins are excluded,
    are put down to hysterical anxiety.
  • Symptoms include fainting, swooning, tics
    paralysis.
  • Victims typically socially cohesive teenage
    girls.
  • Theatrical, attention-seeking (histrionic)
    individuals most susceptible.
  • Social stress often implicated (c.f., Medieval
    dancing plagues possessed nuns).

Outbreak of fainting in a Kenyan school
25
THE TOWN THAT CAUGHT TOURETTES
  • A recent episode in the town of Le Roy, NY
    (2011) was subject of a Ch.4 documentary.
  • Several teenage girls from the same school
    showed violent tics convulsions.
  • No plausible organic basis found but those
    affected seemed to have difficult life
    circumstances and feelings of neglect.
  • Treatment with antibiotics helped some to
    recover but probably a placebo effect.

LeRoy students present symptoms on TV chat show.
26
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MANHOOD
  • Not only women affected. Outbreaks of koro
    (belief that ones genitals are shrinking) occur
    sporadically in S.E. Asia, usually in times of
    social stress. Men may apply pegs or clamps to
    prevent total retraction (thought fatal).
  • In W. Africa, outbreaks of penis shrinking and
    theft are attributed to evil magic. Those accused
    are likely to beaten to death (at least 14
    penis-thieves were put to death in Nigeria in
    2001).

27
MIND MATTERS
  • Mind and body closely intertwined. Few disorders
    purely physical or mental.
  • Peptic ulcers were once attributed to stress
    alone. Then discovered that 80 involved
    helicobacter pylori. However, most people
    colonised by h.pylori are asymptomatic, so not
    just an infectious disease.
  • Warts are due to viruses but often disappear
    mysteriously, so the wart-charmers remain in
    business. Seems that stress impairs immune
    resources that normally keep these disorders at
    bay.
  • Psychosomatic effects are real, not imaginary
    their action can be observed in the brain. Need
    to study interactions between mind and body in
    order to optimise treatments and benefit health.
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