20 What Basic Functions Must Animals Do To Stay Alive Psychoneuroimmunology, Mind-Body Psychology and the Fight or Flight Response

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Psychoneuroimmunology, Mind-Body Psychology and the Fight or Flight Response

While the mind-body connection is more often discussed in health care, it is a common mistake to believe that the study of the mind-body connection is fairly new. Would you be surprised to know that this field of study began in the early 20th century? This is also not entirely true. The mind-body connection was proposed by the Greek philosopher Galen in the 2nd century, but Walter Cannon, a professor of physiology at Harvard during the 20th century, initiated interest in the connection between emotions and physiology in his work with animals and digestion . He found that animals under emotional stress such as anger, fear and anxiety resulted in the stomach completely shutting down its digestive functions.

The most influential research paper of Dr. Cannon in this field, Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear and anger, was published in 1915. In this paper he discusses the physiological results of the fight or flight response. In the last almost 100 years, we have now learned that, not only does digestion shut down when fight or flight is activated, all non-essential physiological activities cease.

The fight or flight response has one purpose and one purpose only… to keep you alive. Whether you fight with all your might to stay alive, or choose to run as fast as you can to get out of danger, your body mobilizes all its resources to help you do so. After all, staying alive is of great interest to him. What the body does is shut down any non-essential activity and redirect everything to what your body needs to stay alive. You don’t need digestion or libido to fight for your life. You need more blood in your limbs. As your heart rate and blood pressure increase to get blood moving to power your arms and legs, your body gives up on digesting food.

This is great for the short term. The problem is that our society has so much stress that the fight or flight response is active a large part of everyday life. The body gets stuck in fight or flight. Digestion doesn’t reactivate, so you have indigestion and your blood pressure doesn’t go down, so your doctor wants you to take medicine to lower your blood pressure.

Psychoneuroimmunology is concerned with the physiological outcome of emotions. Mind-body psychology is about teaching people strategies to get the body back to its normal way of functioning. Mind-body psychology teaches various anti-stress strategies, including managing your thoughts and emotions, as well as meditation. Today these strategies are often discussed as research continues in this area.

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