Just got back from the annual convention of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. What great programs they had this year! The theme was The Mind-Body Connection. Two sessions on this theme were particularly interesting and enjoyable:
Dr. Sheldon Cohen, professor at Carnegie Mellon University summarized his research on who is most likely to catch a cold. He and his colleagues found that stress and and lack of friendships are more important factors than diet, exercise and other health practices. In other words, taking vitamins and supplements - and even an apple a day! - are not nearly as effective in preventing colds as nurturing friendships and learning to manage your stress. Here is a news article describing his research. And here's a link to a list of Dr. Cohen's publications.
Another session that impressed me was by Brother Bernard Seif, Ed.D. Dr. Seif is a Catholic monk, a licensed psychologist and a doctor of natural medicine and Chinese medicine. (And not surprisingly, his mp3 player is the "Creative Zen" brand....)
Dr. Seif practices complementary and alternative medicine with a scientific approach. Although it's not quite clear how certain attitudes and practices enhance one's ability to recover from serious illness, the research shows that the relationship between mind and body is definitely a major factor.
Check out these mainstream sources for articles, news and clinical trials: