07 September 2005

On Pain and Positive Thinking

US experts say they have strong scientific proof that mind over matter works for relieving pain.

Positive thinking was as powerful as a shot of morphine for relieving pain and reduced activity in parts of the brain that process pain information.

The Wake Forest University researchers say their findings show that by merely expecting pain to be less it will be less.

[ BBC News, Sept 5 2005 ]

My friend Watson suffers from painful bouts of migraine on a periodic basis. He has to have some kind of medication with him always, or else, its usually hell when he gets his migraine attacks. On a recent trip from Baguio City to Manila which he blogged about, he was caught off-guard with no medicine on hand, and simply had to sleep it off.

Now this news about the power of positive thinking as pain reliever might help Watson and thousand others who have regular episodes of pain attacks.

In the study, when the researchers classified the pain stimulus being given as moderate --- when in fact, it was severe --- the subjects thought it was moderate, and reported less pain felt. The brain indeed is a powerful influence peddler.

This might also be the reason why we Filipinos remain happy in spite of what's happening to us. In spite of the rising fuel prices, in spite of the daily traffic, in spite of the air pollution, in spite of the corruption, in spite of all other bad things, we remain happy.

In fact, among neighboring Asian countries, we are 93 percent happier! We are better off than Japan and Taiwan, which are just 90 and 89 percent happy, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics for suicide even ranks the Philippines as the lowest in Asia. Read more about us Happy Filipinos.

Leslie Caron, a French film actress I like, once asked: "In order to have great happiness you have to have great pain and unhappiness --- otherwise how would you know when you're happy?"

How true.

16 reactions:

thescrubsfamily said...

I really believe in this doc. Mind over matter. I don't get headaches at all. I don't take any medication for simple aches such headaches, toothache etc. I simply rest and sleep and relax if and when I have the above. It never fails to work. All these anxiety, headaches, ache is stress related and only if people listen to their body and just rest...they'll be fine. I also believe that Filipinos are the happiest people 'cause they know how to party and they have a sense of community. Dami silang support from all their barkadas. I think the research is accurate.

Dr. Emer said...

As Filipinos, we can tell from experience how much pain we have withstood just by plain mind over matter, Kuiipo. And that's good news always. We have a higher tolerance for pain. :)

Mec said...

with friends like you guys, it's hard not to be happy :)

rolly said...

Doc, you got me thinking. Japan has 90 as against our 93. Hmmm, I might settle without the 3%. HAHA

'Course not! I'm proud to be what and who I am.

TinTin said...

What an uplifting post. You may not be able to change the things around you, but you can sure change your attitude about it.

fionski said...

Psycho Neuro Dynamics taught a lot of people how to manage migraines without medication. It's more than just positive thinking, it's making your brain work for you, managing your brain waves. The program taught me 1 important thing: the mind is really powerful. Yun lang I dont get to practice this anymore. Hehehe. Que lastima.

Toni said...

It's all in the disposition. Mind over matter nga. :) Hey nice friends you have there, hehe.

Dr. Emer said...

Mec: You're equally lovable too!

Tito Rolly: Happy Birthday to you!!! We are happier to have you around.

Tintin: Attitude is a major factor in all things we do.

Fionski: Hello there! Kaya mo yan. Ikaw pa. :)

Toni: If we don't mind, then it doesn't matter, right? :)

Rygel said...

but i can't help but wonder if our (Filipinos) 'less worry' attitude contributes to our slow pace of development of our country.

Duke said...

this "happy" trait of Pinoys is one of the things I miss the most.Whatever weather we have, we endure every blow with a smile on our face :) i like this post, doc! thanks for sharing this info.

watson said...

Wow Doc na-feature pala ako dito. Thanks! Kahit na about migraine :-).

The first time I had it in college, I couldn't understand what it was, just remembered the pain and wanted it to go away. When I got to work, those were the most painful ones. I had to bang my head on the wall repeatedly when I got the attack unawares. I eventually became so attuned with it that I knew when it will come so I drank medicine right before it happened. Of course, it came with a price. I got "immune" to mefenamic acid. Wait, I posted about this :-).

But I still do believe in the power of the mind, as I am now able to sleep off the pain and not take medication. Although I have to take a leave from work sometimes to have my moment of silence. Thanks for this post, Doc. I'll keep this in mind. :-)

Dr. Emer said...

Rygel: Then, there's that aspect, huh? Yes, I do believe that part exists, but outnumbered by those who use 'happiness' positively.

Duke: That's probably also the reason why we endured 300+ years of Spanish rule. Our history tells much how 'happiness' has made us tougher people.

Watson: Ingat and always have medicine with you. I know all about migraine attacks and how burdensome it can be. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

you're right doc. it's just that i have these "moments". i go through that painful stage, then i'm okay afterwards.

Dr. Emer said...

Keep it cool, Mari. Ingat! :)

jey said...

true, doc. happiness is a choice and most of the time, we choose to be happy.

Dr. Emer said...

Hello, Jey.
There are also people who'd rather not be happy, and who unconsciously would rather dwell in their misery.