Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mind-Body Connection: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Have you ever heard something so profound that it completely changes the way you look at things? That’s what happened to me when I first learned about the mind-body connection in health. I remember it vividly. I was attending grand rounds at my local hospital. The speaker mentioned something, almost in passing, about child maltreatment increasing the risk of irritable bowel syndrome in adults.

That sentence hit me like a thunder bolt. I had studied the effects of child maltreatment on adults for many years. But like most of my colleagues, I had only studied the mental health consequences of childhood events. That speaker’s comment raised such an interesting question. Could childhood events impact both body and mind? These questions started my journey through the fields of health psychology and behavioral medicine, and I learned much about the miraculous connection between our bodies and our minds. That is what I would like to tell you about.

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a health psychologist, researcher, medical school professor, author and educator. I teach health care professionals all over the world about what I have learned. Health care providers often tell me that it is the first time that they have heard of this research. That’s a real shame—and something I’d like to change.

Mind-Body Connection is a way for me to let people know what is going on in this field--and to write about it in plain English. In the process, I hope to make this amazing field more accessible to both health care providers and regular folk.

As we journey together, I believe you will also be convinced of the importance of this work. And I hope that you will realize that what you don’t know about the link between your body and mind can indeed kill you. But what you find out can save your life.

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