Posts Tagged ‘Mind-Body Problem’

Stress Illness and The Health Care System (1)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Physical illness caused by psychosocial stress is a clinical dilemma that was known to Hippocrates nearly 2500 years ago.  We still don’t have a good solution.  Medical clinicians aren’t trained to ask about people’s lives and connect what they find with symptoms.  Mental health clinicians don’t see too many patients whose main concern is pain or other body symptoms.  But I’m optimistic that in the 21st century will see growing use of good solutions.


Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (6)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

At a high school track meet some years ago, one of my sons high-jumped over a bar set at 6’10” (2.08m).  If I had spent my entire youth with the best high jump coach in the world I could not have come close to that.  I remember telling my children that our abilities resemble Manhattan island, with some buildings reaching a great height and others much lower.  (My ability in carpentry resembles a hole in the ground in that analogy.)


Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (5)

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Continuing the story of Carla’s uncontrolled vomiting, I had concluded that it was due to her fear of divine retribution for having a child outside of a marriage and then giving the child up for adoption.  She feared that God would punish her by causing her unborn second child to be malformed or diseased.


Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (4)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Continuing the story of Carla’s uncontrolled vomiting, at that time I had much to learn about stress illness.  Weeks were needed to see how the pieces fit together because, as is usually the case, Carla herself did not comprehend and could not explain what was happening.  The first clue was that her illness began when she was a teenage unwed mother who gave up her son for adoption.  Second, when Carla was a child, her mother lived just 20 miles away but completely ignored her, causing Carla to feel unworthy and to assume guilt for many life events.  Third, she had a strong belief in a God that played a direct, active role in her daily life.


Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (3)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

How does empathy help me in understanding a patient’s stress illness?  The diagnostic process in stress illness is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when you: (more…)

Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (2)

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Empathic skill is unusual in the world of medical clinicians trained in physiologic diagnosis.  Part of the reason for this is that admission to school depends heavily on achievement in chemistry and biology where empathy is of little importance.  Professional training continues the emphasis on science that can readily be quantified.   Also consistent with the objectivity of numerically oriented science is the tradition of maintaining a demeanor of detached concern toward patients.  As my friend Jodi Halpern, MD has written: “The ideal of detached concern is justified by the argument that only an unemotional physician is free to discern and meet patients’ emotional needs without imposing his own.” (1, p 25)


Empathy and the Mind-Body Problem (1)

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The N-body problem is one of the most famous in classical physics, first posed by Isaac Newton in his most important book Principia Mathematica (1687).  The problem is to describe the motion of bodies in space once their velocities, masses and initial positions are known.  Two hundred years later a work describing the relatively simple case of three bodies (sun, earth and moon) ran to 1800 pages.  The N-body problem refers to any number of objects and gets even more complex if velocities approach the speed of light.  Approximate solutions were developed in the 20th Century.