Do we talk about disease too much? by Brenda Evers

Kate welcomes a valued member of her Blog Team, Brenda Evers. as a guest blogger this week.

 

Time to stop tattling  by sandmarg, flickr.com

Time to stop tattling
by sandmarg, flickr.com

For many decades we’ve been educated to believe that the way we can prevent illness is by becoming more informed about it, being aware of its symptoms and prognosis.  This is the reasoning behind Breast Cancer Awareness Week, Heart Disease Month, plus the onslaught of advertising for flu season and lyme disease season.  On the surface, few, if any in the healthcare world have reason to question this.

Yet, doctors have known for awhile how fear, confusion and hopelessness affect their patients, which is why they are becoming more careful in their bedside manner to not frighten the patient with negative information.

It may seem counter-intuitive stuff, but simple examples of the effect our thinking has on our health exist, such as yawning and crying.  Have you ever been with someone who yawns…and immediately you feel this irrepressible urge to yawn? Have you ever cried because your friend is crying…or someone on the big screen is crying?

Granted yawning and shedding a few tears can’t be compared to the seriousness of an illness.  But more and more evidence is popping up in the medical literature concerning how thinking and talking about disease actually contribute to ill health.

Some have recognized the harm caused by reading the side effects of medication.  Others have seen a connection between the warning label on cigarette packages, not the content of the cigarettes themselves, to lung cancer.  And then there is the case of the wind turbines.  Apparently, the arguments of anti-wind turbine advocates regarding these machines possibly causing disease can cause the disease, whether the turbines are actually present or not! .

Just how long have we known about this connection between thought and health? Well, Mary Baker Eddy, a health researcher who focused on the role thought and Christian spirituality play had this to say in 1875.

“We weep because others weep, we yawn because they yawn, and we have smallpox because others have it; but mind, not matter, contains and carries the infection. When this mental contagion is understood, we shall be more careful of our mental conditions, and we shall avoid loquacious tattling about disease, as we would avoid advocating crime.”

“Loquacious tattling about disease”!?  “Aimless” or “foolish” chattering, says Websters. And, if we want our lives to be healthier, we can increasingly see how foolish, maybe even dangerous, incessant talking about disease might be.

Maybe it’s time to change the public discussion, including advertising, as well as our private conversations. We might even want to ponder what would happen – given the connections we now understand – if we spent our time talking about health.

Brenda, a member of Kate’s blog team, is a writer who loves to learn about and share with readers the connection between spirituality and health. In addition, she is a Christian Science Practitioner. She and her family spent many wonderful years in Southern California and now are happy to have returned to beautiful Maryland.

 


2 Comments

  1. I heard a talk given by Anita Moorjani who had cancer, went into a coma, had a near death experience, learned unconditional love, and came back – to life and health. She discussed how we spend billions of $ on cancer awareness in the U.S. In her book “Dying To Be Me” she shares that in countries like China and Japan they do not do this and they also have a lower incidence rate of cancer. She asked, “What if we spent billions of dollars on health awareness instead of cancer awareness?” She talked about looking for health instead of looking for disease. Your point is well taken – it’s time for the habit of focusing on health.