[MOL] The Power of Emotion [00689] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] The Power of Emotion



THE POWER OF EMOTION

    This chapter describes the power of our emotions to influence our
health. The normal and healthy organism will move toward emotional pleasure
(comfort) and away from emotional pain (discomfort). Emotional pain is
experienced when needs are not being met and the person experiences or
anticipates deprivation. Experiencing or anticipating deprivation signals
the person of danger and readies him to remove the threat. Emotional
pleasure is experienced when there is gratification of psychological,
emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and desires.

    While experiencing a state of emotional pleasure/comfort, the
parasympathetic nervous system is cathected (engaged), and the person's body
experiences chemical changes which create a state of physical ease mixed
with normal levels of excitement (unfolding growth potential). Optimal
physical health occurs in this state. When a person's sources of pleasure
are blocked or are perceived as blocked, the natural "movement toward"
process becomes unavailable. The natural pursuit of emotional pleasure will
not occur, and the person will instead "freeze" that desire rather than
discharging it. This "pleasure-freeze" sets up a physical and emotional
state of tension that can adversely affect our health.


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THE CANCER-PRONE PERSONALITY

    We will explore in depth in this next section the concept of emotional
needs and how they relate to stress responses in individuals. In Chapter 9
we will cover Dr. Taibi Kahler's concept of psychological needs when we
discuss the Kahler Stress Profile for Cancer. This Stress Profile was
adapted for Cancer by Dr. Janet Hranicky. It accurately correlates an
individual's psychological needs with their personality structure. The
Kahler model shows how, when we are not getting our primary psychological
needs met consistently, we will predictably move into distress symptoms.

    By understanding the concepts of emotional needs and psychological needs
and how they relate to the process of stress, we can begin to identify
specific steps for intervention to maximize recovery potential.
Unfortunately, stress has become one of those over-used and
little-understood concepts. In attempting to locate sources of stress, a lot
of emphasis has been placed on situational factors, such as divorce,
conflicts in relationships, death of a loved one, promotion, job change, and
so forth. Although these situational factors are certainly important, many
people experience such events every day, yet do not develop cancer or other
illnesses. And conversely, many cancer patients have no greater number of
these situational factors in their lives than others who are cancer-free.

    This section will describe how stress is determined not only by
situational life events, but more importantly by our individual responses to
those events. Many cancer patients have developed a stress-prone
personality, resulting in the chronic long-term stress of emotional and
psychological needs going unmet, accompanied by attitudinal beliefs about
not being able to ever have what they truly want or need to attain personal
happiness. Coping with such long-term stress can overwhelm a person's
defense system and predispose him/her to an inability to handle a series of
situational stressors when they arise. This chronic stress response is
present not only in cancer, but also other immune-related diseases as well.
The recovery process in general requires changing how we are responding
emotionally, attitudinally, and behaviorally.



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EMOTIONS AND CANCER

The Logic of Emotions (Emotional Needs)

    Experts have long asserted that there is an important relationship
between emotions and cancer. A great deal of evidence exists linking an
individual's emotional responses not only to the development and course of
his/her cancer, but more importantly to their response to treatment as well.
However, these links have been fuzzy, lacking sufficient clarity to provide
a much needed understanding of exactly how these two interrelate. This
section will describe this relationship in detail by introducing the logic
of emotions, then showing you how emotions influence the course of disease
and how you can make positive use of them. This program endorses the growing
belief that learning to alter your emotional responses provides an important
additional weapon, along with standard medical treatment, in the
intervention of cancer.


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DESCRIPTION OF A NEW THEORY

The Hranicky "Pleasure-Freeze" Theory

    The "pleasure-freeze" is a psychological theory of cancer development.
It can also be generalized to apply to other immune/endocrine-mediated
diseases that are influenced by stress. This theory encompasses and builds
upon previous theoretical work regarding psychological factors related to
cancer development, stress theories, and theoretical contributions from
experts in the field of emotionality to present a more complete and
comprehensive theoretical understanding of psychological factors related to
cancer development.

    The development of the cancer-prone personality begins early in
childhood, most likely as a result of early bonding issues between the
eventual cancer patient and his mother. This learning is reinforced
throughout childhood and adulthood as a dysfunctional life pattern. The
dysfunctional aspects of this life pattern are not primarily behavioral, but
rather emotional and attitudinal. In order to understand this pattern, we
must first understand what is meant by emotionality; and in order to
understand emotionality, we must first understand the logic of emotions.

    An emotion is a total organismic response to an internal or external
stimulus. The emotional response is biologically based and causes chemical
reactions throughout the entire body. These chemical changes can be measured
in the blood and in the urine, and these biochemical changes are what
distinguishes emotions from feelings. Feelings are localized
neurophysiological sensations of the skin or body, or long-standing
thoughts; i.e., cognitive, conscious thinking processes. Emotions are
biologically based total organismic responses which affect the autonomic
nervous system and put in motion a major shift in the body's chemical
reactions. An emotion is a biochemical response of the adrenals and other
hormone-producing organs of the body, and the chemicals which are produced
via the emotional response affect every part of the body.


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THE LOGIC OF EMOTIONS

    Emotions are the body's response to the fulfillment or deprivation of
biological needs. As Dr. Abraham Maslow has so clearly described, human
needs include everything from thirst, hunger, shelter, removal of bodily
wastes, and sexual release to belonging, esteem, spiritual, and
self-actualizing needs. Since the body responds emotionally and
biochemically to the fulfillment or deprivation of any of these needs,
Daniel Casriel, M.D., who was an expert on emotionality and practiced
psychiatry in New York City for many years, concluded that all needs are
actually biological needs. When a person experiences or anticipates
deprivation of needs, he/she experiences emotional pain. In fact, emotional
pleasure can be defined as the experience or anticipation of need
fulfillment, and emotional pain as the experience or anticipation of
deprivation. Emotional pain and pleasure are the cornerstones of all human
emotional response and form the basis for the logic of emotions.

    Emotions are not logical when judged by the logic of intellect. Emotions
do not know good from bad. Emotions do not know ethical and moral from
unethical and immoral. Emotions do not distinguish between time, place,
person, or situation. These are valid systems of intellect, but not emotion.

    This does not mean, however, that emotions are random or haphazard in
human experience. Rather, the logic of emotions is readily understandable
through the concepts of emotional pain and pleasure.

    The normal, healthy organism will move toward emotional pleasure and
away from emotional pain. Emotional pain is experienced when needs are not
being met and the person experiences or anticipates deprivation.
Experiencing or anticipating deprivation signals the person of danger and
readies him to remove the threat. Drs. Daniel Casriel, Alexander Lowen,
Abraham Maslow, and others have noted that except when danger is imminent,
the natural state of the organism is desire, from which the individual seeks
growth and need fulfillment, accompanied by an experience of emotional
pleasure.

    Emotional pleasure is experienced when there is gratification of
psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs and wants. Maslow's
self-actualizing principle asserts that humans as a species move toward
growth, need fulfillment and pleasure. To the extent that this "movement
toward" is experienced and expected, the person experiences gratification,
pleasure, optimism, and hope. Optimism and hope are themselves positive
feelings associated with expectations of emotional pleasure. A person whose
needs are fulfilled, who experiences emotional pleasure, and who expects
more of the same (i.e., is optimistic and hopeful) is in a state of physical
and emotional contentment. The person has sufficient psychic energy to deal
with the present and has enough psychic energy left over to look toward the
future. Looking toward the future while experiencing fulfillment and
pleasure and expecting more of the same produces hope and optimism. This is
emotionally pleasurable, and the cycle continues.


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EMOTIONS AND THE PROCESS OF REGENERATION

    As stated earlier, while experiencing a state of emotional pleasure, the
parasympathetic nervous system is cathected (engaged), and the person's body
experiences chemical changes which create a state of physical ease mixed
with normal levels of excitement (unfolding growth potential). The
physiological state is termed anabolic, or pleasure-seeking, and optimal
physical health occurs in this state. Life consists of anabolic and
catabolic processes. In catabolic processes, cells are destroyed; in
anabolic ones, they are created anew. Cells are constantly dying in order to
keep us alive. For example, if the stomach lining did not die and replace
itself over and over, hydrochloric acid from the stomach juices would
dissolve a hole in the stomach, and the person would soon die.

    Thus, cell renewal is an ongoing and necessary process. Stomach cells
live for an average of five days. Skin replaces itself every 30 days. Your
skeleton replaces itself every three months. The red blood cells in your
body have a life span of 120 days, and must then be replaced. Each of the
different tissues of the body has its own natural life cycle.

    Research has shown that the pituitary is not only the "master gland" of
the body, but it also sends out signals that promot


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