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Mystery illnesses reveal the power of our minds to influence health, New Scientist

Discussion in 'Health News and Research unrelated to ME/CFS' started by hinterland, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. hinterland

    hinterland Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The rest of this article is behind a paywall, so I don’t know if ME gets a mention... (as some people persist in lumping it in this broad category).

    https://www.newscientist.com/articl...l-the-power-of-our-minds-to-influence-health/

     
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  2. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Annoying that this paywalled. It would be interesting to know what, if anything, new is being said.

    What I don't get is how this tells us about how the mind affects health. What is this 'mind' other than brain. It certainly does not seem to be conscious mind if it is now decided these are not 'faked' seizues etc.
     
  3. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    None of it makes any sense, it is the epitome of magic medicine. We are just beginning to understand the role of glial cells, the way sleep is an ordered succession of waves and processes, the way the nervous system connects with the microbiome, I could go on and on, but unless there is a big hole to be seen it must be to do with thought processes or "the mind"

    The list of symptoms ascribed to FND is like a medical dictionary and includes things like interstitial cystitis in contrast to the recent finding that urine is not sterile but contains bacteria that do not grow on agar plates - something that should give the proponents of FND to step back and consider their "no physical cause" stance.
     
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  4. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think we should invest all of our planet's resources, for the next thousand years or so, to finding the manual.

    It's probably quite big and could be easily found by moving a mountain sized object, such as a mountain, a few hundred miles to the left, retrieving the manual, and then putting it back (as we don't want confuse any goats).

    We may even be able to pay for all of it by using some form of 'paywall' after it's found.

    Even the user guide could be helpful, possibly.
     
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  5. wdb

    wdb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Probably this Amanda Payne who has written a lot of posts here, leads me to believe the New Scientist article is about Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder (NEAD)

    From here:
    • A non-epileptic attack is a type of seizure. It can look similar to epileptic seizures or fainting spells, but it is not caused by abnormal electrical discharges or blood pressure.
    • The term 'non-epileptic seizure' can lead to a lot of confusion amongst people. It is actually a well-recognised and common disorder that affects one in four patients coming to epilepsy clinics.
    • Another term we use is 'dissociative seizures'. This is because the main mechanism for seizures is a normal brain reflex called dissociation that seems to go into overdrive in some people, causing symptoms like seizures.
    • Non-epileptic attacks happen when the brain can’t handle particular thoughts, memories, emotions or sensations. They can also sometimes relate to stress or a previous experience of trauma, i.e. something outside your control which feels too hard to bear.
    :sick::thumbsdown:
     
  6. ladycatlover

    ladycatlover Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a very irritating article, but it doesn't mention ME/CFS so far as I can see. It does use quotes from O'Sullivan who wrote that irritating book. Mentions of Andy Clark (Uni of Edinburgh), Jon Stone (Uni of Edinburgh), Mark Edwards (St George’s, University of London).

    Sorry, too tired to try make any sort of report on it right now.
     
  7. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Someone kindly provided me with the text.

    I don't think the science being reported is all bad but there is a huge amount of confusion both from the journalist gettong things wrong and frpm the scientists.

    As far as I can see Stone, Mark Edwards amd O Sullivan are all going for an updated version of hysteria in the sense of unconscious aberrant behaviour, but to varying degrees dissociated from the psychological guilt baggage.

    There is a lot of stuff abput how there is a 'new understanding' but most of the ideas seem prety old recycled stuff.

    One thing that is interesting is that they say this is not psychosomatic - you wouldn't make it up. Nor is it biopsychosocial. It seems to be entirely physical activity relating to brain circuits. But of course the title and the text reveal the journalist's confusion - saying it is not physical but mental.

    And unfortunately Mark Edwards's attempt to bring in the 'predictive coding' theory of brain computation doesn't actually make any useful sense.

    The whole thing is of onterest to me quite apart from the relation to ME and bps because I work on theoretical issues of the fundamental physics of 'mind'. Neither the philosophers nor the cognitive scientists seem to understand the fundamentals so we get this sort of garble.

    Anyway, it is intetesting that in a sense this is saying Sharpe amd Cchalder are wrong. It is mot about repressed trauma. But then the patient seems to think maybe it is!
     
  8. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    All this talk of "mind" made me blow the dust off Bertrand Russell, both literally and metaphorically.

    His comments are quite telling. The earliest known use of the concept, albeit in a rather different form, he attributes to Anaxagoras born about 500 BC and says "Both Aristotle and the Platonic Socrates complain that Anaxagoras after introducing mind, makes very little use of it. Aristotle points out that he only introduces mind as a cause when he knows no other. Whenever he can he gives a mechanical explanation."

    Plus ca change.,
     
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  9. Londinium

    Londinium Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    No, (I'm an NS subscriber) general focus is on non-epileptic attacks and inexplicable paralysis. On the latter, the 'distraction technique' is interesting but if you read that across to ME/CFS it'd explain why you'd believe something as ridiculous as the LP might work - 'repeating "I'm strong like a tree" is merely a distraction technique'(!)

    True, though the box in the article does start mentioning adverse childhood events (albeit only in 24% of cases vs 10% of general population). That said, I agree that the article doesn't immediately scream 'treat with psychotherapy' nor would it support those scientists who attend conferences with 'malingering illnesses' in the title...
     
  10. Londinium

    Londinium Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Only got around to reading the rest of this week's issue last night - worth noting there's an accompanying editorial: https://www.newscientist.com/articl...change-our-approach-to-psychosomatic-illness/

     
  11. Estherbot

    Estherbot Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Through my local library I have access to New Scientists.

    Here are some screenshots for Y'all

    Screenshot_20190413-122826.png

    Moderator note: Further screenshots have been deleted because of copyright. See Rule 7 here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2019
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  12. Estherbot

    Estherbot Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    PS check to see if your local library makes a selection of magazines available online ;)
     
  13. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    interesting note:
    "
    Article amended on 4 April 2019
    Wording in this article has been changed to remove reference to people thinking themselves ill";
    hmm so, what are they calling them instead?

    (anyone watch this episode of the Supervet? poor little Ralph)
    )

    not all in his head; or is it?
     
  14. strategist

    strategist Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Have they actually found evidence or is this just rebranding #412 of the same old idea?

    Evidence is needed because absence of evidence tells us precisely nothing, other than that we don't know.
     
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  15. Hip

    Hip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    With the articles's tantalizing intro phrase of "shedding new light on the nature of consciousness itself", I thought there might be more substance and ideas in the article than there actually is.

    Nevertheless, I did find the distraction technique interesting, and this may indeed shed some light on the nature of these functional illnesses, and on the nature of consciousness itself.

    The article says that distracting the patient's attention from, for example, the functional tremor in their right hand, by getting them to focus on some activity they are performing with their left hand, often results in the right hand tremor dwindling or disappearing.


    Attention is a key feature of consciousness: if you imagine the brain as a dark room filled with many items, then consciousness is like a narrow-beam spotlight which can illuminate any part of the room to that it can be inspected. So for example, you normally are not consciously aware of the incoming sensation in your little toe, or consciously aware of the memories of the last holiday you took (both are data items in your brain); but you can shine the light of consciousness attention on either those items any time you choose.


    It appears that in these functional illnesses, when the light of conscious attention is focused on the part of the brain which handles the dysfunctional limb in question (the shaking right hand in the above example), then that exacerbates the symptoms. Whereas if you can distract attention and focus consciousness elsewhere, then the functional symptoms abate.

    So how can consciousness itself exacerbate functional symptoms? Well, to try to answer that we immediately run into the problem that the nature of consciousness is far from settled.

    But it seems that by shining the light of consciousness onto the area of the brain responsible for a functionally abnormal limb, that worsens the functional symptoms.

    I doubt if these functional symptoms are due to consciousness itself though; I think they are more likely to be caused by some physical abnormalities in the brain (even if they are microscopic abnormalities that are not detectable at present). But is it certainly interesting that focusing conscious attention on the relevant part of the brain makes the functional issue worse.
     
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  16. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    In my specific case they are dead wrong.

    I have tremors, as well as both generalised and localised spasms/fits.

    These used to be much worse, and frequent, than they are now.

    If I ignore them they build and become uncontrollable.

    If I focus on stopping them, then provided they aren't too far along, I can. Not immediately, but I can.

    All things being equal, provided nothing interferes, I'm not distracted or incapacitated that is.

    I learnt at least part of how to do this from someone I knew who was epileptic.

    Until your post I assumed it was the way it was.

    Focus, get control, keep control, until it passes - if you don't then it will likely become uncontrollable.

    The idea that you control such things by ignoring them is outside, and counter to, my experience.
     
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  17. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Isn't mindfulness basically the exact opposite, yet pretty much promises the same magical benefits of the whole "don't think about your symptoms and they won't bother you"? Think about them in this special way and they won't bother you. Don't think about them and they won't bother you. Freeze this and it will heat up. Have your cake and eat it too.

    With the obvious, and predictable, explanation for those contradictory effects being merely a questionnaire artifact that doesn't actually measure anything beyond people's desire to please someone who tried to help them or trying to convince themselves that it works by making affirmations (i.e. pretty much The Secret, wish it and it will happen)?

    If there had been shifts between the two ideas it would be a bit more credible but both seem to have equal interest right now and there seems to be little scepticism about whether those effects may just be an illusion. In fact there is a pretty big visceral reaction against anyone who expresses healthy scepticism, a sort of magical thinking in reverse where people who question whether going down a wishful thinking path is wise are dismissed the same way people who would have evangelized the same a few decades ago would have been dismissed as woo peddlers.

    It just seems as if the recent desire to appeal to the higher echelons of Maslow's pyramid in holistic health care is neglecting its foundations entirely. We're really, really not there yet. This is skipping far too many steps and not looking back at the wreck in its wake.
     
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  18. JemPD

    JemPD Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    so what happened to poor little ralph?

    mine too. But in a different way. I was surprised to read the article because i have a functional symptom - distraction makes it worse not better. however so does attempting to control it. I find 'letting it be' just 'allowing' it, rather than trying to fight or stop it in any way, just letting it be & knowing it will pass, not reacting to it, but not trying to distract from or control it either, reduces severity & duration.
     
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  19. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Woo goo.
     
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  20. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    They did an MRI and found nothing wrong with his spine, but a really bad infection in his brain. He was having seizures. They treated him with antibiotics. Eventually he was back to 'normal' (ie out of pain) although he continued to have to have medication for 'minor' seizures.
     
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